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The Arrival of Windows

Until now, I've talked mainly about the hardware. The stuff you can feel, pick up and see. But the software, and particularly the operating system, is equally important. It may be intangible, but it's the true lifeblood of a computer – it's what makes a computer tick.

It was shortly after the very first Pentium processors appeared that Windows 3.11 arrived, changing the face of mobile computing forever. Windows had been around in one form or another since 1985 with Windows 1.0, while many laptops (and desktops) still ran DOS in the early Nineties.

But it wasn't until Windows 3.11 that the operating system and the laptop started to work together. Until now, laptops had relied on custom BIOSs and drivers to extend the battery life of their machines. Now, rudimentary power management was built into the operating system for the very first time, making working on the move more practical.

Microsoft had, in fact, been working with Intel and IBM on power management for some time, producing the original APM 1.0 specification (advanced power management) specification in 1992, which was then implemented in Windows 3.11.

It was basic, but an important move forward. Microsoft followed up with Windows 95, putting some of those power management features in the hands of the user for the very first time, allowing user control outside the BIOS over features such as suspend and screen power down.

After this, it was a long wait for Intel's SpeedStep technology to provide the next big leap forward in power conservation.

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