- "We're a thousand miles from nowhere, man, and it's gonna get worse before it gets any better."
- ― Windows reports to Garry
During the winter of 1982, Windows and the rest of the crew witnessed two Norwegians chasing an Alaskan Malamute towards the outpost in a helicopter. The pilot was killed when he accidentally dropped a grenade and the passenger was shot dead by station commander Garry, who thought that he was hostile. The crew adopted the dog afterwards.
Later, Windows tried to contact the outside world, but no luck doing so due to the blizzard. During the night, he was woken up by the fire alarm that was turned on by MacReady, he saw an unknown creature assimilating the dogs, MacReady ordered Childs to bring the flamethrower and ordered him to incinerate it.
Windows, along with Bennings, quarantine the remains of the dog-creature and the Norwegian cadaver in the storage room, but moments after leaving, strands of tentacle-like sinew emerged from the remains of the dog-creature and the Norwegian and proceeded to assimilate Bennings. Windows discovered the Bennings replica during assimilation, and rushed off to get MacReady, but when they returned, the creature had gone. However, it was found trying to escape and was then burned by MacReady as Windows and the others watched.
While trying to still contact anyone from the outside, Windows was beaten by Blair who is suffering a mental breakdown, he destroyed the helicopters, tractor and radio with an axe, and killed the remaining sled dogs, containing further contamination. Paranoia quickly sets in as the first attempt to develop a test using uncontaminated blood samples is sabotaged by an unknown party, Windows attempts to break in the weapons deposit to arm himself, but was threatened by Garry, eventually Windows cooperated and let go of the gun.
He and the others begin to suspect MacReady is infected when a scrap of torn shirt containing his name tag is found at the camp, and locked him outside in a severe blizzard. Contrary to the others Windows is seen hesitant to leave MacReady outside in the blizzard as they are not completely sure of his infection. Somehow finding his way back to camp without a guide line, MacReady breaks into a storage room and threatens the rest of the crew with dynamite. In the course of the standoff, Norris suffers a heart attack.
When Copper attempts to revive him by defibrillation, Norris' body transforms and bites off Copper's arms and he bleeds to death. Windows and the others take cover before MacReady burns the creature, during which Norris' head detaches from his body and grows six spider like legs in an attempt to escape as the others put out the fire, but the head is spotted by Windows and Palmer and is incinerated. MacReady proposed a test on everyone to tell who is human and who is a replica. Clark in an act of mutiny tries to stab MacReady with a scalpel, but is quickly shot in the head and killed by MacReady in self-defense. The rest of the crew complies with the test; blood samples are drawn from each member of the team including Copper and Clark and jabbed with a hot wire to see whose blood will react defensively.
Windows is the first to be tested, and upon confirmation that he is indeed human, MacReady arms Windows with a flamethrower to torch anyone who does turn out to be a Thing. Upon realizing that Clark was not infected, Childs denounces MacReady as a murderer, but MacReady ignores him. When Palmer is tested, he unmasked as an imitation, and breaks free of its binds. Unable to get his flamethrower working, MacReady then orders Windows to torch the creature, but Windows freezes in fear before he can, allowing the Palmer-Thing to split its head open and use a tentacle appendage to pull Windows into its jaws head first, and proceeds to violently maul him. After it finishes, MacReady finally gets the flamethrower working and manages to destroy the Palmer-Thing using a stick of dynamite.
Unfortunately, the creature had infected Windows, forcing MacReady to incinerate the now partially assimilated radio operator, putting him out of his misery.
Windows was shown to be a rather cowardly individual, with his fear and hesitation eventually being what resulted in his death. He was also very easily agitated, snapping after Blair told him to reach someone on the radio and raising his voice unnecessarily high on several occasions. He had an especially heated relationship with Palmer, and the two frequently bickered and screamed at one another due to them not trusting each other, with Windows attempting to attack Palmer twice. His impulsive and brash behaviour, however, did not result in him being outed as a suspect, and he was actually surprisingly well trusted by most of Outpost 31, especially by MacReady. Windows was actually one of the only people who genuinely believed MacReady was human and could very well lead them to safety.
- In the film's original script, Windows was instead named Sanchez, and in the novelization, his name is Sanders.
- There was an alternate storyboarded scene that was planned for Windows' demise. It is similar to his death in the novel. Windows survived the Palmer encounter and tried to escape from the Blair-Thing and is attacked and dragged away to his death. Interestingly enough, the script has Windows biting down on a cyanide capsule just before he is engulfed by the Thing, eliminating any chances of there being a Windows-Thing, assuming the Thing can't infect non-living tissue.
- Windows had been accused (esp. after going for the shotgun rack out of panic) of going into the blood bank and sabotaging it for the serum test. Assuming Garry was honest in not having used the station keys he wears on his ring for that, no human had done it, but it was most likely Palmer, since at the time when Blair is destroying the radio, if you look over the characters that are present, Palmer is nowhere to be seen. The blood supply would have had to be destroyed shortly before Blair was taken to the tool shed so it had to be when Blair was destroying the radio. Therefore Palmer was most likely The Thing that sabotaged the blood supply. Windows gets the keys from Garry and when he returns, he drops them after seeing Bennings getting assimilated. Bennings must have hid the keys for another member to take and use at will.
- According to producer Stuart Cohen, fans who picked up on Windows dropping the keys are correct. The production team even lifted the sound of the keys hitting the floor in post-production for emphasis. This is how Garry's keys were lost, then either Bennings hid them quickly, or one of the other Things (Norris or Palmer) found the keys when they went back to search the room, then pocketed them before anyone could notice. Note that Windows looks visibly upset when Garry explains that he only gives the keys to Copper when he needs them, but suggests someone might have stolen them: Windows knows its actually his fault that the Thing got the keys, but he doesn't want to openly admit that he was the last known person with the keys, as this would make everyone else start to suspect him (as we find out in the later blood-test that Windows was always human).
- Windows has a S.O.S that does actually reach other human ears, but it is later received by a science crew aboard the Donachek, which later sends a bombing crew on top of taking all Thing related biomass and Blair’s recordings.
- Windows and Palmer appeared to dislike each other, with Palmer's imitation rather ironically being responsible for Windows' death.