Windows 95 (codenamed Chicago) is a consumer-oriented operating system developed by Microsoft. It was released on August 24, 1995, and was a significant improvement over the company’s previous DOS-based Windows products.
Windows 95 merged Microsoft’s formerly separate MS-DOS and Windows products. It featured significant improvements over its predecessor, Windows 3.1, most notably in the graphical user interface (GUI) and in its simplified “plug-n-play” features. There were also major changes made to the core components of the operating system, such as moving from a mainly co-operatively multitasked 16-bit architecture to a pre-emptively multitasked 32-bit architecture.
Accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign, Windows 95 introduced numerous functions and features that were featured in later Windows versions, such as the taskbar, the ‘Start’ button, and the way the user navigates. It was also suggested that Windows 95 had an effect of driving other major players (including OS/2) out of business, something which would later be used in court against Microsoft.
Three years after its introduction, Windows 95 was succeeded by Windows 98. Microsoft ended support for Windows 95 on December 31, 2001.