It’s been 25 years since Windows 95 was released. I can remember people lining up at midnight at the local computer retailer, Harvey Norman, here in Australia, to get their copy. I didn’t line up at the time, but I do remember installing Windows 95 from those 13 floppy discs that came in the box!
Windows 95 Burst into Life
Windows 95 had a brand new interface, with the taskbar and start menu that we still rely on today. It introduced us to the concept of Plug and Play. The idea that you could plug any device into your computer, like a printer, a modem or a zip drive. With Plug and Play came the device manager that you’ll still find in Windows today. The file explorer too, took pretty much its current form. And for many of us, it was Windows 95 that introduced us to the World Wide Web. The sounds of dial-up Internet, and the mention of Netscape and Winsock will either evoke nostalgia or a cringe for those of us who lived through that era.
My Introduction to IT in the 90s
I wasn’t working as a trainer back when Windows 95 was released, but I was about to get into IT. Computers were pretty new to people in the 90s. Personally, I’d been using a computer since DOS. We wrote code in basic for fun. And we played Flight Simulator 1.0 and Space Quest on monochrome displays. My brother and I had used the earlier versions of Windows including Windows 3.11!
Windows 95 was a big milestone for Microsoft and us too. The number of people using PC’s had radically increased. And it was the springboard to the dominant position that Microsoft once held in IT.
Windows Training in the 90s
I remember many companies ran basic Windows training workshops back then, and many people attended. Computer training businesses really took off during this era, teaching basic Windows, Word and Excel skills.
But once we became accustomed to using Windows, we pretty much settled in. And when I look at what people are doing on their computers today, I’d have to say for the most part they’re doing many of the same things that they were doing back on Windows 95. Emailing, browsing, creating Word documents and the like.
Whatever Happened to Windows Training?
After 25 years, people stopped training on Windows! Now, it’s just expected that most new employees at any company have their Windows skills up to scratch. It’s no longer advantageous to put “Windows skills” on your resume. They’re just assumed. But I can tell you that is a mistake. Because a lot has changed in Windows over the last 25 years.
Windows Devices: 25 Years of Change
Today, the flagship devices that run Windows look radically different to anything that we could have imagined back in 1995. Over the last 25 years, we have gradually moved from chunky beige desktop PCs with CRT screens and floppy disks, to laptops with TFT screens and CD-ROMs. My first laptop weighed a circulation crushing 3.5kgs! But now we have small, lightweight, sleek 2 in 1 devices.
And the 2 in 1 form factor has become very popular in the corporate world. It’s not uncommon to find entire companies who issue a device like the Surface Pro to their employees, along with docking stations and desktop setups for the office. And windows has been transformed to cater for these devices.
Windows Software Advancements
But for every change to the devices that we use, there has also been equivalent leaps in the software. Windows is far more reliable than ever. It’s easier to manage, and practically any device that you plug in just works. There’s no longer time to grab a coffee and have a chat by the water cooler while you turn your computer on in the morning. My Surface only takes about 10 seconds to boot from off!
Windows has become far more secure, thanks to things like TPM, Bitlocker and Window Hello log in. Built right in is the best anti-virus and anti-malware software. In fact, last year there were twice as many malware threats detected on Macs compared with Windows PCs. And that was despite Apple’s recent attempt to dust of their famous PC guy meme,
Developments in Windows Standard In-Built Apps
And even the standard inbuilt apps have radically changed. Take a look at the Windows Calculator app over the years as just one example. Did you know that it can do currency, graphing and unit conversion today? And just to be radical, it’s even now open source; meaning that you can look at and play with the code to see how it works. That’s something that no-one in 1995 would have ever imagined to be possible.
True, we don’t have Solitaire and Minesweeper out of the box anymore. But we do have a new Maps app. We never had that back in Windows 95, and now we have a Maps app that you can draw on with your Surface pen!
You Can Keep Up
So I guess the question is, have you kept up with the changes? Or are you still using Windows like you were 25 years ago? So here’s a quick quiz for you to take. Find out if you need to do some work to bring your Windows skills up to date in 2020.
- Is there a sea of program icons, shortcuts and files on your desktop?
- Do you have more than five apps pinned to your taskbar?
- Are there more than 10 web tabs open in your browser at a time?
- Do you know and use more than 10 keyboard shortcuts?
- Can you quickly split the screen?
- Did you know you can use multiple Desktops?
- Do you use Focus Assist?
- Are you using your 2 in 1 device without the keyboard and away from the desk at least once a week?
- Do you take notes, jot down ideas, brainstorm with your colleagues and review documents with your pen?
- Do you write down your task list each day in To-Do?
If any of those 10 questions prompted some thought, you wouldn’t be alone. From running training face-to-face with thousands of people over the last few years, my observation is that most people do not have the skills to be efficient with their PC. Even those who work in IT – who you might think are up to date with everything – are often stuck in a bit of a rut.
Improving the skills related to these question could save you time… Lots of time each day. These skills can help you to maintain your focus, and they can help you to feel less stressed and more in control of the work you do.
Step into 2020: Improve your Windows Skills
So 25 years on, it’s time to re-invest in your Windows skills. Why is this important? For your time, focus and satisfaction. Because I don’t know about you, but I don’t see any future where you use a computer less. In fact, for so many people a computer is the tool that they use the most. But your PC is the only critical tool in the modern era that you can use without training, or any certification of competency. It’s a big problem when you think about it!
So if you want to gain competency using your Windows device, especially if it’s a 2 in 1 like a Surface, you’re in the right place. We’ve produced over 200 how to videos on our OzTabletPC Youtube channel over the last 5 years. Use these short, simple instructional tips to improve your Windows skills right now.
Invest in your Future
Despite all of the free tips that we provide, nothing beats face-to-face training and coaching. So if your company or organization uses Surface, and you want to propel your team out of the 90s and into the future, we now offer that service to people all over the world thanks to Microsoft Teams. If you want to know more about our training courses, head to our website.