Windows 1.x was a very primitive attempt at a GUI by Microsoft, however, many programmers liked the idea of a shell that would still allow DOS programs to run without trouble When Windows 1.x launches, it brings up the MS-DOS executive, a program comparable to today's Windows Explorer, or the dosshell of DOS 5.x--with one exception--no icons or drag and drop.
Each window also contained a control in the upper left of the window. Clicking it once brought up a menu of available window options, in addition to the About... information for the current application. Its function is similar to today's Control Menu; the menu you access with the ALT-SPACEBAR combination in modern windows.
Windows 1.x also included a version of notepad, one program which still remains in Windows. It has a very small text buffer, only loading text files of approximately 16k or lower. In addition, it had a small word processor called Write. Windows 1.x also included a small version of Paint, which was only capable of monochrome graphics and saved files in a proprietary .MSP format, as well as it's only game, reversi.
There was a small program icon area reserved for minimized programs in Windows 1.x. Double clicking the icon would display the program's window. The application area worked like the task bar of Windows 95 and over; with the exception of allowing zoomed, windows to cover it.
The clipboard also existed in this early version of windows, allowing the copy and paste functions that all computer users are dependent on now.
There was also a control panel, containing options for changing colors and other various controls.
So, in Windows 95 wasn't much of an UI innovation as much as it was a reincarnation of all the things Microsoft did right in Windows 1.x.
Screenshots: (courtesy of toastytech.com)