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Windows 95A (Initial Release)

The early versions of Windows that Microsoft created in the early 1990s represented a significant improvement to those who had been used to the mostly text-based and single-tasking environment that DOS represented. (Of course, Microsoft didn't exactly invent the graphical operating system! They just used their marketing muscle to make Windows the standard on the PC desktop. But that's a different matter altogether. :^) ) Still, early versions of Windows were very rudimentary in a number of respects. They ran on top of DOS and were limited to 16-bit applications. Multitasking capability was limited and problems were frequent.

In 1995, Microsoft introduced Windows 95, which represented the "next step" towards a comprehensive consumer-oriented graphical operating system for PCs (Windows NT had already been created at the time, but was geared towards businesses and servers.) Windows 95 is the great "compromise" operating system. In some respects, it has its own way of handling access to the hard disk, but in other ways it resembles, and even uses, standard DOS. This is how Windows 95 strives for performance while retaining compatibility with older software. As mentioned in the discussion of DOS, Windows 95 in fact includes a version of DOS, that is designed to work with it and its file structures.

When Windows 95 was released, it came with a new and updated version of the traditional FAT file system: VFAT. At the same time, Windows 95 was compatible with older FAT12 and FAT16 partitions and disks The initial version of Windows 95 is now sometimes called "Windows 95A" to distinguish it from later editions, or "Windows 95 Retail" in recognition of the fact that it was the only revision of Windows 95 officially sold to the public. It's important to remember that this version of Windows 95 does not support the now ubiquitous FAT32 file system. Since modern hard disks basically require FAT32 (or NTFS) for reasonably convenient management, those still running the first version of Windows 95 may need to consider an upgrade (Windows 98 or Windows ME being the successors to Windows 95, but certainly not the only choices.)

Tip: If you are not sure of which version of Windows 95 is on your PC, use this procedure to find out.

Next: Windows 95B and 95C (OEM SR 2.x)

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