A Long History with a Slow Start:
Windows was originally called Interface Manager and subsequently renamed in 1981,
although the official release didn't come until 1985 when Microsoft Windows v1.0
hit the shelves. This first attempt at GUI stardom was nothing revolutionary, and
in many minds, it was perceived as little more than a glorified version of MS-DOS.
It enjoyed only mild success, but was an important precursor to a true multi-tasking
environment that would follow in the years to come.
While there were a few very simplistic icons used in versions 1 and 2, it wasn't
until version 3 that the "Windows Icon" really started to take shape. Windows Icons
now came in color, which was an exciting leap in an era previously dominated by
black and white images. At this stage, computer resources were still limited and
the images contained only 16 colors. The icons could now assume a more "layered"
look, with the mix of colors providing the necessary contrast between objects.
It wasn't until the birth of
that the Windows' guidelines called for full-fledged 3D perspectives. The number
of colors supported in each image had increased from 256 to over 16 million. Alpha
transparency, an exciting concept allowing for partially transparent pixels was
now supported as part of the new XP ICO standard.
introduced primarily stylistic changes as OS color support had already surpassed
our human capacity for eyesight with the release of Windows XP. With over 16 million
colors supported and our eyes only perceiving roughly one million of them, further
advances in this arena would prove unfruitful. Instead, it was innovation and creativity
that made Windows Vista Icons successful and a favorite among developers worldwide.