Windows

A retrospective of Windows packaging: Paper or plastic

It's all about the packaging

If you purchased Windows Vista, you know that the packaging represented a completely new design. The traditional cardboard box was gone and in its place was a small, hard, plastic container with sleek curves that gave a futuristic look. Unfortunately, the boxes were very difficult to open.?

?Recently, Microsoft revealed the packaging for Windows 7 and announced that the new design will look like the Vista packaging, but the new boxes will be much easier to open. ?

?In this gallery, we’ll take a look at the Windows packaging over the years.?

Images compiled by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

55 comments
NCWeber
NCWeber

Man, this stuff certainly takes me back. I had a Windows 3.0 box. It came in a clear, hard plastic snap case. And DOS 6.22. The good old days of setting up DOS shells. :)

maitoga
maitoga

i don't feel that old to remember most of them, and still keep a MS-DOS 5.0 book and MS Windows User Guide!

hideaway
hideaway

I think that the giant plastc boxes are a pain. They are way oversized, difficult to store and a terrible waste of resourses (costly & not recycleable). I prefer the OEM packaging (1 book, 1 disk & 1 Key sticker, shrink wrapped).

Mr.Newman
Mr.Newman

Thanks for posting the pictures. I almost started to cry after windows2000. This is not only history of Microsoft but also history of IT profs. Looking at the picture I remembered my college life, school life. When everything was so simple but same time was very interesting.... I really missed old days with dos.... Anyway,

vacuole
vacuole

Jeez.. you people are such MS fanboys.. it's nauseating.

basha
basha

Hi greg, can you let us download the images, nice for screen saver

WoW > Work
WoW > Work

Just going off memory, I have the following: Dos 6.22 (Disks only) Windows 3.11 (Disks only) Windows 95 (CD only) Windows 98 and 98SE (CDs only) Windows NT Server 4.0 (might even have 3.51) (OEM package) Windows NT Workstation 4.0 (again, might have 3.51) (OEM package) Windows 2000 (CD and Box) Windows ME (CD and Box) Windows XP Pro (CD and Box) Windows Vista HP (OEM) Windows Home Server (CD and Case) It's funny how you always see "Program to turn XP into Vista!" or "Turn your XP machine into Windows 7!" I clearly remember getting some type of theme to turn my Windows 3.11 into Windows 95. I don't think I have them anymore, but I also remember installing old Windows in Virtual PC, like NT4.0 and 98.

shasca
shasca

I used to work for Quark. In the mid 90's they developed allot of upgrades prior to the release of ver 4. We packaged them in brown open once cardboard containers. Customer service got a call from an irate purchaser. He was not accepting the fact that he didn't get a nice colorful box with the name on it so he could proudly display on his shelf. The poor rep got an earful. Finally the shipping & receiving manager got in the mix. Next thing you know down the shipping conveyor goes an empty box with the customers info on it for delivery. Never happened again while I was there.

kevin
kevin

I think I have a couple that are still shrink wrapped, some or just in the box. I can remember loading dos 6.22 from 4 floppies. Wow!

Zithrob
Zithrob

A copy on a 5 1/4 Floppy disk. Also, all of the DOS version from 2.1 - 6.22 on original disks. AND Mac OS versions 5.x - 10.4. But the packaging - not enough room on the shelves.

frank_s
frank_s

Where's the picture of Windows 3.0 with Multimedia extensions (supported CD-ROM drives)?

Cajuneer
Cajuneer

I've seen them all, as I started using computers with DOS 1.0. I started using IBM OS/2 before Windows and had hoped it would be the standard. Always have and still hate Microsoft, though I use it.

macgvr
macgvr

I own IBM Dos 3 in their original packaging, dos 6.2 Win 95 and mostly just discs for NT and 98 and beyond. What surprised me was the, "Works with Netware" logo on the Windows NT 3.5 Workstation box. If Novell had only known what was coming! I remember all that packaging. Guess that makes me old. I remember when DOS was the preferred OS because Windows slowed the computer down too much and in some applications that was unacceptable. There were some real concerns that the GUI front end, Windows, was too much of a resource hog. Even with windows server NT compared to Netware that was an issue, and selling point for Netware, for awhile. Of course we know how that turned out.

kevin.carrell
kevin.carrell

Is it my failing memory or did microsoft start out with games? I still have what may be the first microsoft flight sim for the Dragon 32 (32k of unbridled power in the early eighties)Well it says Microsoft on the package anyway Kev

victor.aberdeen
victor.aberdeen

The first version of windows to multitask was Windows 386, designed on collaboration with Compaq and Launched with the Deskpro 386/20. Quietly slipped the processor into protected mode where we all work now and out of the 64K segmented 640K base memory model of DOS. Some info here http://www.emsps.com/oldtools/mswinv.htm Enjoy Vic

gary
gary

Nice. I still remember the eight 5.25" floppies with Windows 1.0

dch
dch

Dos 3.1 was a particular favourite of mine, the basis of many a diagnostic floppy, Wordperfect 5.1...... Ah, happy days. Dave

davidt
davidt

I still have most flavors of DOS and Windows in some form of archive, but these are still shrink-wrapped (I just can't remember the exact version here at work, since they are stored at home).

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

How many of these boxes are in your collection of operating systems?

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

You'd think in this world of everyone "going green" that Microsoft would at least produce recyclable boxes.

Realvdude
Realvdude

I once worked on a Novell network that we ran a shared installation of Windows on. Your windows config (ini) files were stored under your home directory and the Windows Os files were in a common directory. The work stations booted DOS on floppy and connected to the network. Either your Novell login script started windows, or you started from the command line. FYI - The network was a mix of 10base2 (star topology) and 10baseT. Both had their problems. Someone would kick a 10baseT cable loose and everyone went down, or a 10base2 concentrator would lockup and some of would go down. It was a quick transistion from Novell for our clients when WFW 3.11 shipped. I shut down our last Novell server during the Y2K upgrade process.

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

is in the gallery, check the 286 version and read the comments. They do a 286 and 386 version, is explained in the gallery.

husserl
husserl

I hadn't for one minute thought that the day would arrive when I'd engage in an online Windows nostalgia session. It's like being in the pub with biker friends and talking about wasted spark vs CDI. Whose doing the cocktails? Dos High with an Umbrella anyone? ;-> Even so, them were 'days.

davidt
davidt

I can't believe I found a WordPerfect person...of course, you may be a lawyer (it seems they used it religiously). But I've always been IT, and WP was always my choice until MSOffice killed it.

lightspeed555
lightspeed555

Believe it or not, I still have most of these packages myself (as others said as well). Everyone once in a while I still have customers running DOS 3.11 or 6.22 on 386/486 machines. Reason? "I spent 20 to 30K on the software package and it still works for my needs" is what i'm told. I will say on these older machines you would not see the BSOD as much as you do today. Have we (or microsoft)overcomplicated things? You bet in my opinion.

trustmubaiwa
trustmubaiwa

this article just made me realize Windows really came far. in my cabinet i have most of these as well but i am sure i don't have all versions of Win ME... my daddy never got that..

Ron_007
Ron_007

The "jewel box" for Vista is actually a secret intelligence test. If you are too dumb to open the box without reading the instructions you are too dumb to use the OS. Most people failed because they gave up in frustration. Picture 5 says that the Win 7 box is like a "normal dvd" box, in other words easy to use, QED better sales than Vista. (WTF, it's as good a theory as any other ...) Office 2007 uses the same box, but in that case it was a warning to the effect "you really don't want expend the effort needed to figure out how to open this dumb box because you really don't want to expose yourself to this dumb Ribbon GOOEY" (GUI).

homemade
homemade

Yes I still have MSDos 5.00 3.5" floppies (yawn) but what I want to know is why is the Vista packaging made from plastic which you cannot recycle instead of card which you can recycle. There will be a lot of packages out there, most won't be kept for more than a few years.

mhbowman
mhbowman

I was an IT major in college in the early 80's, when dumb terminals and IBM PC XT's were all the rage. I couldn't help but notice the MultiMate software in the picture on the Widows 1.0 box. I typed many term papers using that software on the XT with the green monochrome 12 inch screen. Then printed them out on the dot matrix printer in bold so it looked like it was typed, and then carefully tore the tabs off both sides of page. High Tech!! Still better than a type writer though!!

rolltop
rolltop

I'm not sure how many of the original disks I have that are still readable. But I believe I have backup disc images of all the DOS versions, as well as Windows 1.0 through 98. I never bothered with ME or NT. We went straight from 98 to 2000 then to XP Pro. I've got a couple of machines running VISTA, simply because it came with the machine. There are no 8 inch floppys in the collection, but I still have one machine with a 5-1/4 drive and a EZDrive. Ah "the good old days" ;=)

j3hess
j3hess

I'm not a newbie myself, but ... I tossed all the boxes and kept the discs and manuals in ring binders. Collecting books is about the contents. Collecting software boxes reveals the depths of dweebness. Reminiscing about early versions of Windows - I don't even want to go there. Suddenly I feel very hip and cool - thanks! (Now, WordPerfect 5.1 - that's a different story.)

Ocie3
Ocie3

I was cheated. When I bought this computer that I am using now, as a new machine, I also bought Windows XP Home from the machine's vendor, for $100. (In retrospect, I should have bought Windows XP Professional for $150.) If I had not done that, then they would have installed Windows 2000 and I would not have received any disc(s) that contained the Windows 2000 software; I don't know how that would have worked out with regard to the Product Key and/or Product ID. But Windows XP Home was not given to me in a box, such as the one pictured in your gallery, when I arrived at the shop to pay for the computer and take it home. The Windows XP Home (upgraded with SP 1a) CD-ROM is in a sleeve which is glued to the outside of the last page of a thin "manual" that is about 6 in. vertical by 8 in. horizontal. The front cover of the manual has the words "For distribution only with a new PC" and "start here" (in a large font) written along the left vertical edge. In the center the title says, in a graphic display, "Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" with "version 2002" in the lower right corner. The manual seems to have been written by the marketing department. The "Product Key" is on a sticker that is pasted on the backplane of the desktop hardware case. However, the "Product ID" shown by Control Panel > System has the letters "OEM" following the initial 5-digit string. Microsoft acknowledged that the Windows XP operating system software that is installed on my computer is authentic, or genuine, and not counterfeit or "pirated". But they declined to provide any support, free of charge, for the system because of the "OEM" designation, and told me that I must obtain support from the "manufacturer" of the computer. :-( I wonder what Microsoft would say if I put the computer together myself from parts?? Would I have to pay more for the "retail version" of the OS in that case?? [please excuse the unintentional pun] It should be possible to buy, from a shop, a computer that doesn't have an operating system installed, take it home and install it myself. However, the shops that I know would insist that I buy a "retail version" of Windows "separately" and allow them to install it on the assembled machine, to make sure that the machine is working properly. They don't want to install their own for that purpose, and then wipe the HDD on which it is installed. But if I buy the "retail version" from them, frankly, I couldn't be sure whether that is what they provide in the transaction. In theory, at least, if I do buy the "retail version", then Microsoft is supposed to provide support for using Windows and for any issues that can arise, for example, while installing additional hardware. What actually happens after the sale would remain to be seen.

jean-luc.betin
jean-luc.betin

I'm in the IT world since 1984 I worked with PC-DOS 1 and IBM PC-DOS 2.0 I remember too Windows 1.0 all windows were in black and White Regards From Paris France JLBETIN

april
april

I own almost every one of these--still in shrinkwrap! My whole house is a time capsule! (I need to get out more....)

vic
vic

It's a kind of sad bit of nostalgia to note the pride that Microsoft had in assuring us about Windows NT Workstation that "YES It runs on NETWARE". As an old NetWare guy, it stirs some memories.

davidsont
davidsont

Oh, that is an excellent perspective! Whether it pertains to Windows, technology or even motorcycles .. it is downright funny! It's going to be a great day!

davidt
davidt

Win ME was the 90's version of Vista...I have no copy of that one, either

dch
dch

What a WP package that was - I think it would still beat the C**p out of Word. I think the history of our industry has been washed away by the great tide of "technological advance" (thank you Mr Moore) However Bill Gates and I have something in common - we both worked with Intel development kit and PDP 8's without which there would be no Dos let alone the the Mess ! Dave Hickman

jim_d
jim_d

You can purchase bare bones PCs with no OS and buy a system builder OS which is an OS with a serial number and media but no support or limited support from the software vendor. For example, Micro Center in my area sells both new and used computers with and without OS's ; you can also buy Vista or XP system builder disks at a lower cost. Hope that helps.

husserl
husserl

Wow. Was that the only splash screen for Windows 2 x? It's been so long now that I cannot remember what it looked like. Oh dreary me, and thank you Greg for tapping into the OCD like reminiscer that seems to be part and parcel of geekdom.

plandok
plandok

Actually, the first monitor I used (7") presented amber on black. We used a Canadian "luggable" called Hyperion (15 lbs?) which was highly regarded. The "best" program then was Framework which had little file cabinet icons and "put away" documents. Documents could have spreadsheets or other documents in them as "frames" long before Windows appeared. I think Framework was a product of the d-Base folks but I could be wrong. And it ran on all machines, even those not totally IBM compatible. The software came in thin cardboard boxes but had 3 ring manuals in slip-cases which told everything about the software. I still keep portions of them because much of the info can still be used eg. ascii symbol numbers (alt+), inline commands (run.....), etc. which are not available unless you've got copies of old Dummies books or want to probe the internet. Later, when we got AutoCAD (primitive) we found out there was a special version for Olivetti M64 machines which ran a special version of DOS. I could be wrong on any of these ideas as it was a long, long time ago (1987?). By the way, my first 386 machine was also an Olivetti had 1MB of memory which came on 4 boards the size of today's AT motherboard. This was to run Win286 for AutoCAD and some space-planning software from Australia. The memory cost over $1000. The machine cost $7000 and a monster 19" color monitor with BNC connections cost $3000. What a rad setup!!! The cooling sounded like a vacuum cleaner. Times change but under the hood, the OS still seems to have ports available for ancient input.

Paul
Paul

Memory in my study time was made of ferrite cores. Working and study with BIG Blue I in 69-70. And we called a computer for an Ordinator. Working with computer was different those days. And yes I had one of the first clones made in England. I still remember well The Altair 8800, build one my self in 1978. Worked with teletype ASR-33 1977 costing $ 680. That?s old, and FUNN. Still going strong and working with computers. Paul age 66 going on to 67.

Crash84
Crash84

Windows 1, yes remember it well. It was a DOS Shell and had an analog clock for a screen saver. I still have Win 1 in a box.

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

Beat you by 4 years in IT but I was using computers long before then.

joejervey
joejervey

Glad to see a little appreciation given to the trail blazers of this industry. I worked with MS-DOS 1.0 and 2.11 and all the releases along the way. I recall starting windows 1.0 to try and use EXCEL or WORD then I would close it back down because the system was so over taxed. I still service and support clients with MS-DOS systems. We are a s/w development company and we have been compatible or capable of running on all releases of MS operating Systems beginning with MS-DOS 1.0. I still have a few 8 inch floppies I keep as a reminder of where I jumped on the IT-Train. 16k of RAM with 128k of storage. 8" floppies do really flop.

Zenith545
Zenith545

Just thank the rest of us for subsidizing your "school" versions lol

LittleWashu
LittleWashu

Yeah, I think I got some original MicroSoft diskettes and their boxes for my C64, they still work too... Just gotta find them. :)

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

Windows ME and Vista was errors from Microsoft. They even agree with that.

PromptJock
PromptJock

And GEOS actually got ported to DOS with, if I remember, DR-DOS 3. I actually tinkered with it a bit, but discovered it "wasn't my byte of RAM". Typing about DOS environments, the ABSOLUTE BEST AND FINEST DOS versions ** WERE NOT ** from Micro$not! The best DOS releases were DR-DOS versions 5 and 6. Unfortunately, it was the release of the Windows 3.1 "upgrade" that killed the DR-DOS market as Win3.1 ** REQUIRED ** MS-DOS 5/6 to run. DR eventually released a patch that got DR-DOS to work with Win3.1, but "The Damage Had Already Been Done" and DR-DOS soon faded into cyberhistory.....

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

The GUI interface you are referring to for the Commodore 64 was called GEOS, which stood for Graphical Environment Operating System. It was originally made in 1981 by Berkley Softworks and included programs like GeoWrite and GeoPaint. It also had simple multitasking capabilities (e.g. running the calculator while GeoWrite was open in the background) a Commodore disk manager, and drivers to use various inputs and printers. All in all, it was a pretty advanced operating system that ran on only 64k RAM.

paul.ob.tech
paul.ob.tech

I remeber a GUI interface for the C64, but I'm sure it didn't do any MS interfacing. Even the original XT with 64K of RAM and cassette interface would have been hard to emulate on a C64

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

I'm pretty sure MS never made a version of DOS for the 64 since it had its OS in ROM.

Realvdude
Realvdude

I never realized that there was a MS-DOS for any of the Commodore 64 versions. I guess I may have seen it, but passed it off as for the Commodore PC, but too many years have passed to be certain.