This is an interesting article where someone has gotten Windows 1.0 installed in a Virtual Machine on a modern Windows machine and taken a look at the applications that were shipped with the release of this ancient operating system. Now this is a blast from the past, Windows 1.0 would run fine on a 286 machine if you could find one of those old machines that was still in working order. Windows 1.0 was advertised by Microsoft as having tiling Windows, and being revolutionary in terms of GUI design, even though the Xerox Star system had a GUI interface and mouse control, just like we have today. The GEM 1.1 DOS based GUI for x86 machines that provided a graphical user interface for computers, sort of like the GeoWorks system, that was finally supplanted by the arrival of the now ubiquitous Windows GUI. This was the cause of lawsuits from Apple against Digital Research for copying the Apple GUI to create the GEM GUI. The GeoWorks GUI for DOS was another attempt to create a graphical user interface to run on top of DOS. It provided a very good and very fast GUI for x86 computers and as a result of being programmed in assembly language it was faster than Windows 3.0 on the 386 and 486 computers available at the time. If it was still around today and still coded in fast x86 assembler language, then modern computers would be much faster than they currently are, especially those computers burdened with running Windows XP. That version of Windows is not suitable for running on modern computers and it is better to run Windows 7, or Linux would be preferable. The amount of malware for Windows these days should preclude someone from wanting to run it, but it is still installed everywhere you look. It is interesting that virtual machines can run such an old operating system, not that Windows 1.0 would be of any use to someone today except as an experiment to see if it will run and to look at the applications provided.
Of course you can run Windows online here: http://www.deanliou.com/WinRG/WinRG2.htm [http://deanliou.com], but that is just for fun. It is just as stable as Windows `98 always was and is always good for a laugh when you need one. Try typing a document in Word and see how far you get. This screenshot shows Windows 1.01 running in QEMU in Ubuntu 11.04. This shows how ugly Windows was back in the day, thank god for modern interface design for saving us from such ugly and garish windows and simplistic icons. But then to give Microsoft some credit, it was 1985 and they did not have modern interface designers that create far more attractive desktops such as the Gnome 2 interface and the KDE 4.6 Plasma Workspace. If you can run Windows 1.01 in QEMU on a modern operating system then that gives you a very good way to test out very old operating systems. I tried to install Redhat Linux 6.2 in Virtualbox once, but that would not work, maybe I should try QEMU instead and see how I go. From reading the comments on Slashdot about this topic, I have discovered that there was a 80186 processor, an Intel x86 offering that was released in the Tandy Model 2000 home computer. This machine apparently was not fully IBM-compatible but it could run Windows and had a high-res 640×480 VGA graphics card as standard. I remember using a graphics card like that, a Trident 512K card that could run Windows at 640×480 resolution in 256 colors. That was a luxury in the old days.