In the beginning (at least for many currently in the IT field) there was MS-DOS for operating your PC. A text/command-line driven software to manage the data and resources for the Personal Computer (PC). Typed commands and macros to quickly post them and simplify operation for the end-user were the primary means of navigation, but it was only a matter of time before Windows would hit the scene.
Due to the rising demand for Personal Computers, and their affordability joining in on that same ascent, it wasn't long before a graphic driven interface would emerge. Macintosh had long had success with their GUI (Graphical User Interface) but PC's were much more commonplace in businesses throughout. The first GUI's offered were called 'shells' and would provide a graphical representation for working with data on the PC, but used the command lines in code to perform tasks given by the end-user. The first version of Windows was nothing more than the same, a shell to overlay 'DOS' and provide a more graphical means of operation. This 'shell' however was not anywhere yet near the Operating System, it would become; however it possibly lasted on the market nearly as long as some of its successors to come.
Windows '95 was the first iteration of a truly graphic-based operating system from Microsoft and would end up inevitably shelling DOS, rather than acting as a shell itself. The reality however was shell or not; MS-DOS could still perform various functions within the PC that could bypass and even enforce specific actions from the OS in which it had been contained. The reality was that for as much of an actual operating system, Windows had become, it still fell short of the authority MS-DOS had provisioned it. DOS could in-turn load drivers, run commands, and even potentially harm Windows operations if used improperly or maliciously.
Slowly but surely as the PC-mania began flooding the globe, Windows took it's next steps towards minimizing the risks DOS had presented with their release of Windows '97 and even moreso with their business model, Windows NT. From these operating systems DOS could still perform a number of functions, but (especially in the NT environment) it's authority as an actual operating system was quickly beginning to deminish. While many functions that could be utilized within the Windows '95 from DOS were still present for Windows 97; Windows NT was quickly bringing closure to that chapter.
Before long Windows ME hit the scene, but for as popular as PC's had become, this operating system was destined to a short life when compared with other releases. ME certainly began maximizing the limitations of DOS as a core piece of the OS operations; but it wasn't until the upgrade to Windows NT came along merging elements from ME and NT to forge Windows 2000 which would ultimately forever-shell DOS and eternally limit the control the shell had once still held mastery over. While Windows 2000 had been intended to be an evolution for the business model for Microsoft OS's, its stability, security, and reliability had it soon making way into households and not simply businesses.
Recognizing this trend it wasn't long until Windows' next evolution would find its niche waiting; Windows XP and its variant models/versions thereof took center stage in nearly nothing flat. While prior iterations were taken with some measure of agitation at the steady need to purchase and upgrade, it was the stability and popularity of Windows XP in all its forms that would dominate the PC OS scene for some time. Whether Home, Professional, or Media Center, Windows XP had something to offer for each use of the OS they saw coming into play for that time. With XP, DOS truly became nothing more than a shell of the software that had once been shelled within it. As of this month; April 2014, Microsoft brought closure to 'support' for that release, which certainly caused a greater stir than prior end-of-support on other versions had. Understandably so, without continued support any new backdoors or holes that could be found by hackers, spyware, or viruses would no longer see patches released to address them. With many countless businesses and even homes finding a greater need for such updates, patches, and bug-fixes of this nature, coupled with the cost involved to upgrade; it may come as no surprise so many remained hesitant to upgrade.
With each new release of Windows; not only were countless new 'glitters' and imagery utilized, but with beefier software comes too the need for heftier hardware. While some computers might have been adequate to make the jump from XP to Windows 7, the majority would need some hardware, or even in some cases software, purchased for their continued prior operations. While the leap to upgrade from anything prior to Windows XP had been an easy sale for many computer shops; the same conviction did not seem as prevalent when Windows 7 first stepped onto the scene. Still before too much time passed, like versions prior, it was not long before familiarization and ease of use (not to mention the end of support for XP) would begin winning many over that had abstained from that upgrade.
Which brings us finally to the current and modern Windows forging its place in this evolution; Windows 8. While Windows '95 and those following had created a shell of MS-DOS, some might argue that Windows 8 has done the same of the classic 'Windows' environment. With the advent of touch screens, countless mobile devices, and the operating those would bring, it may not be too surprising for some to have seen the classic Windows environment most have come to know and love becoming a shell not too unlike DOS before it. While the terminology for this 'shell' may not be the same; its presence and operation cannot help but remind this Examiner of the same evolution commit to DOS as Windows hit the scene.
Rumor has it that already the next big OS release is in its early phases within Microsoft; one can't help but wonder what future it will hold for the classic Windows environment and exactly how many new limitations will be applied that only depth knowledge of the new OS will provision control over. While many may see Windows 8 and never realize how much it has begun minimizing the functionality of the 'windows' they've come to know and love, the shelling that Microsoft had already applied to MS-DOS cannot help but be recalled.