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What is Microsoft Project? A Quick History.

What is Microsoft Project? A Quick History.

By Kirstin Miller

A History Of Microsoft Project

Today, anyone searching for project management software can choose from dozens of options and alternatives.
Those include older, local-based programs or shiny new cloud-service solutions. You can get lost in the many options available.
However, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, you would have been hard pressed to find one or two products on the market just thirty years ago.
All that changed with Microsoft Project for project management.
Microsoft Project was one of the first project management software solutions that changed the game.
This is a quick history of one of the most influential applications of the computer age.

The Origin of Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project was first made publicly available in 1984. It was initially used as an internal tool within Microsoft to streamline and track ongoing tasks.
Quick revisions came out for the MS-DOS operating environment in the years to come. Microsoft Project was unique in that it provided specific tools for project managers. Workers would use pencil and paper or other programs to track and manage resources, budgets, timing, and other tasks.
Project’s success motivated a new generation of project management solutions. However, Project had a huge boost from Microsoft’s branding, especially with the explosive success of Windows 3.0 and Windows 95 and beyond.

Microsoft Project Expansion & Later Releases

a history of microsoft project

Microsoft Project 95 finally streamlined the interface to look and feel more consistent with other Office products. Future versions continued to integrate other Office advancements and suite-wide tools.
Microsoft Project 2010 smoothed over the end user experience for a more approachable program.
This release emphasized homogeneity across similar products such as Excel so the experience transcended one product.
Additionally, the program integrated Microsoft SharePoint, accomplishing what some alternatives had begun doing. Foundation 2010 synchronization and other features common in collaboration software.

Microsoft Project 2016 Update

microsoft project and the cloud

In the fall of 2015, Microsoft released a new version of Microsoft Project that enhanced their resource management and capacity planning. They also integrated features from Office 365 and increased their cloud-based capabilities.
With those additions, project managers can communicate more effectively with their vendors and resource allocation manager.
They enhanced the views and access for resource managers, giving project managers the ability to limit who has access to make it simpler for resource managers. They also provided new heat maps and visualization options for resource managers to quickly view their supply and timelines.


Microsoft Project inspired many competing products, though the latest and greatest of these take an entirely different approach to assisting project managers with their everyday tasks.
Many new project management solutions simplified the process, allowing even non-technical teams to access the benefits of more complicated programs like Microsoft Project.
While Microsoft Project retained the basic focus and functionality of the landmark, the entire project management solutions paradigm has shifted to allow for greater mobility, security, and stability.
Teams that are looking for the benefits of Microsoft Project without the cost or complexity have more options today than when Project was first released.