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How Microsoft Windows came to dominate PC operating systems

From solitaire to its iconic start button and startup sounds, productivity apps, gaming and corporate computing, Windows changed the way we use computers. CNBC takes a look back at over three decades of Windows and how it came to be the dominant PC operating system worldwide.
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Sat, Jul 10 202110:15 AM EDT

Microsoft Windows debuted in 1985, and for the past two decades has been the dominant PC operating system worldwide. In 2020, Windows had almost 83% market share by unit shipments, while Google Chrome OS had 10% and Apple's Mac OS had 7%, according to research firm Gartner.

From its iconic Start button to its startup sounds, as well as support for corporate software and video games, Windows changed the way we use computers. Windows 95 helped propel the company to dominate the market in personal computing. Microsoft has introduced many versions of Windows since its inception, with some more well received than others. It's competed with IBM, Apple, and Google for market share. According to Microsoft, there are more than 1.3 billion devices running Windows 10 worldwide on a monthly basis.

Today, Windows only makes up 14% of Microsoft's total revenue but remains a critical part of the business. The company just announced the latest version, Windows 11.

CNBC spoke with former Microsoft employees, including Terry Myerson, Michael Cherry, Brad Silverberg and Tandy Trower, to get a look back at over three decades of Windows. Watch the video to learn more.