Microsoft Windows

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Microsoft Windows is a family of Operating Systems developed by Microsoft. It currently uses the Windows Explorer shell.

The first versions of Windows were an operating environment for DOS. Later versions (9x) used DOS as a bootstrapper. Any version of Windows that uses the NT Kernel does not rely on MS-DOS.

Windows for DOS

During this time, Windows was a desktop environment for DOS, an OS inspired by CP/M. There is a dispute whether it can be considered an operating system. One side points on the fact that it did include it's own graphics drivers and program API, which OS's do aswell, however on the other side the argument is that it extensively used the MS-DOS API. Last version of this series is Windows for Workgroups 3.11.

Windows 9x

In 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95, which utilised MS-DOS 7 at it's core. It was a hybrid 16/32bit operating system, which enabled compatibility with almost all existing Win32 applications. Windows 95 still used MS-DOS for certain low-level operations, particularly the boot process, however many DOS apps were either extended with Windows code or entirely replaced with a Windows version. MS-DOS was primarily used as a bootstrapper in Windows 9x-based OS's. Windows ME was the last release belonging to this family.

Windows NT

Windows NT (New Technology) is the current iteration of Windows. It is built on the NT hybrid kernel (hence the name), which was originally intended for use in OS/2 3.0 but was rewritten after the Microsoft - IBM split. The first release based on the new kernel was Windows NT 3.1, the version number of which was chosen to not be 1.0 to ensure eventual customers wouldn't consider it inferior to Windows 3.1, its DOS-based counterpart. All NT-based releases up until Windows 2000 were intended primarily for business use. With Windows XP, the NT series merged with Windows 9x, creating a single operating system for consumers and businesses. Windows Phone 8 is the first Windows Phone release to be based on the NT kernel. The most recent version of Windows based on the NT kernel is Windows 10. Following the release of Windows 10, Microsoft have switched to a system of more frequent smaller updates to Windows.


"Classic" Windows family

Name Version Codename Notes
Windows 1.0 1.0x Interface Manager Released in 1985
Windows 2.x 2.x None Released in 1987
Windows 3.0 3.0 None Introduced Program Manager; released in 1990
Windows 3.1x 3.1x Janus, Sparta, Snowball Released in 1991
Windows 95 4.0 Chicago Introduced Desktop, Start Menu and Taskbar; released in 1995
Windows Nashville 4.1 Nashville Never released
Windows 98 4.1 Memphis Released in 1998
Windows Me 4.9 Millennium Released in 2000

Windows NT family

Name Version Codename Notes
Windows NT 3.1 NT 3.1 NT OS/2 Released in 1993
Windows NT 3.5x NT 3.5x Daytona Released in 1994
Windows Cairo NT 4.0 Cairo Never released
Windows NT 4.0 Shell Release Update, Hydra Released in 1996
Windows 2000 NT 5.0 Memphis NT, NT 5 Released in 2000
Windows Neptune NT 5.5 Neptune Never released; merged to form Whistler
Windows XP NT 5.1 Whistler First NT for home users; released in 2001
Windows Embedded 2009 Quebec Released in 2008
Windows Server 2003 NT 5.2 Whistler Server, .NET Server Released in 2003
Windows Small Business Server 2003 Bobcat Released in 2003
Windows Home Server Quattro Released in 2007
Windows FLP NT 5.1 Eiger, Monch Released in 2006
Windows Longhorn NT 6.0 Longhorn Reset as Vista
Windows Vista Longhorn Omega-13 Released in 2006
Windows Server 2008 Longhorn Server Released in 2008
Windows 7 NT 6.1 Blackcomb, Vienna, '7' Released in 2009
Windows Server 2008 R2 Server '7' Released in 2009
Windows Home Server 2011 Vail Released in 2011
Windows Thin PC Thin PC Released in 2011
Windows Multipoint Server 2010 Solution Server Released in 2010
Windows 8 NT 6.2 '8' Released in 2012
Windows Server 2012 Server '8' Released in 2012
Windows 8.1 NT 6.3 Blue Released in 2013
Windows Server 2012 R2 Server Blue Released in 2013
Windows 10 NT 6.4
NT 10.0
Threshold Released in 2015
Windows 10 November Update (Version 1511) Threshold 2 Released in November 2015
Windows 10 Anniversary Update (Version 1607) Redstone 1 Released in July 2016
Windows Server 2016 Threshold Server Released in July 2016
Windows 10 Creators Update (Version 1703) Redstone 2 Released in April 2017
Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (Version 17XX) Redstone 3 To be released in late 2017
Windows 10 "Redstone 4" Redstone 4 In planning. To be released toward 2018

See also