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Microsoft Windows – Wikipedia

Family of laptop working techniques developed by Microsoft

Microsoft Windows
Windows logo and wordmark - 2021.svg
Developer Microsoft
Source mannequin
Initial launch November 20, 1985; 35 years in the past (1985-11-20), as model 1.0 (unsupported)
Latest launch 10.0.19043.1110 (July 13, 2021; 3 days in the past (2021-07-13)[1]) [±]
Latest preview 10.0.22000.71 (July 15, 2021; 1 day in the past (2021-07-15)[2]) [±]
Marketing goal Personal computing
Available in 138 languages[3]
Update methodology
Package supervisor Windows Installer (.msi, .msix, .msp), Microsoft Store (.appx, .appxbundle),[4]Windows Package Manager
Platforms IA-32, x86-64, ARM, ARM64
Previously: 16-bit x86, DEC Alpha, MIPS, PowerPC, Itanium
Kernel kind
Default person interface Windows shell
License Proprietary industrial software program
Official web site windows

Microsoft Windows, generally known as Windows, is a gaggle of a number of proprietary graphical working system households, all of that are developed and marketed by Microsoft. Each household caters to a sure sector of the computing business. Active Microsoft Windows households embody Windows NT and Windows IoT; these could embody subfamilies, (e.g. Windows Server or Windows Embedded Compact) (Windows CE). Defunct Microsoft Windows households embody Windows 9x, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.

Microsoft launched an working setting named Windows on November 20, 1985, as a graphical working system shell for MS-DOS in response to the rising curiosity in graphical person interfaces (GUIs).[5] Microsoft Windows got here to dominate the world’s private laptop (PC) market with over 90% market share, overtaking Mac OS, which had been launched in 1984.

Apple got here to see Windows as an unfair encroachment on their innovation in GUI growth as carried out on merchandise such because the Lisa and Macintosh (ultimately settled in courtroom in Microsoft’s favor in 1993). On PCs, Windows remains to be the most well-liked working system in all international locations.[6][7] However, in 2014, Microsoft admitted dropping the vast majority of the general working system market to Android,[8] due to the huge progress in gross sales of Android smartphones. In 2014, the variety of Windows units offered was lower than 25% that of Android units offered. This comparability, nevertheless, will not be totally related, as the 2 working techniques historically goal completely different platforms. Still, numbers for server use of Windows (which might be akin to opponents) present one third market share, much like that for finish person use.

As of May 2021, the newest model of Windows for PCs, tablets and embedded units is Windows 10, model 21H1. The most up-to-date model for server computer systems is Windows Server, model 20H2.[9]A specialised model of Windows additionally runs on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S online game consoles.[10]


By advertising position

Microsoft, the developer of Windows, has registered a number of emblems, every of which denotes a household of Windows working techniques that concentrate on a particular sector of the computing business. As of 2014, the next Windows households had been being actively developed:

The following Windows households are now not being developed:

Version historical past

The time period Windows collectively describes all or any of a number of generations of Microsoft working system merchandise. These merchandise are typically categorized as follows:

Early variations

The historical past of Windows dates again to 1981 when Microsoft began work on a program known as “Interface Manager”. It was introduced in November 1983 (after the Apple Lisa, however earlier than the Macintosh) underneath the identify “Windows”, however Windows 1.0 was not launched till November 1985.[13] Windows 1.0 was to compete with Apple’s working system, however achieved little recognition. Windows 1.0 isn’t an entire working system; somewhat, it extends MS-DOS. The shell of Windows 1.0 is a program often called the MS-DOS Executive. Components included Calculator, Calendar, Cardfile, Clipboard Viewer, Clock, Control Panel, Notepad, Paint, Reversi, Terminal and Write. Windows 1.0 doesn’t permit overlapping home windows. Instead all home windows are tiled. Only modal dialog bins could seem over different home windows. Microsoft offered as included Windows Development libraries with the C growth setting, which included quite a few home windows samples.[14]

Windows 2.0 was launched in December 1987, and was extra in style than its predecessor. It options a number of enhancements to the person interface and reminiscence administration.[15] Windows 2.03 modified the OS from tiled home windows to overlapping home windows. The results of this variation led to Apple Computer submitting a go well with in opposition to Microsoft alleging infringement on Apple’s copyrights.[16][17] Windows 2.0 additionally launched extra refined keyboard shortcuts and will make use of expanded reminiscence.

Windows 2.1 was launched in two completely different variations: Windows/286 and Windows/386. Windows/386 makes use of the digital 8086 mode of the Intel 80386 to multitask a number of DOS packages and the paged reminiscence mannequin to emulate expanded reminiscence utilizing accessible prolonged reminiscence. Windows/286, despite its identify, runs on each Intel 8086 and Intel 80286 processors. It runs in actual mode however could make use of the excessive reminiscence space.[citation needed]

In addition to full Windows-packages, there have been runtime-only variations that shipped with early Windows software program from third events and made it potential to run their Windows software program on MS-DOS and with out the complete Windows characteristic set.

The early variations of Windows are sometimes considered graphical shells, principally as a result of they ran on high of MS-DOS and use it for file system companies.[18] However, even the earliest Windows variations already assumed many typical working system features; notably, having their very own executable file format and offering their very own machine drivers (timer, graphics, printer, mouse, keyboard and sound). Unlike MS-DOS, Windows allowed customers to execute a number of graphical functions on the identical time, by cooperative multitasking. Windows carried out an elaborate, segment-based, software program digital reminiscence scheme, which permits it to run functions bigger than accessible reminiscence: code segments and assets are swapped in and thrown away when reminiscence turned scarce; knowledge segments moved in reminiscence when a given utility had relinquished processor management.

Windows 3.x

Windows 3.0, launched in 1990, improved the design, principally due to digital reminiscence and loadable digital machine drivers (VxDs) that permit Windows to share arbitrary units between multi-tasked DOS functions.[citation needed] Windows 3.0 functions can run in protected mode, which supplies them entry to a number of megabytes of reminiscence with out the duty to take part within the software program digital reminiscence scheme. They run inside the identical tackle area, the place the segmented reminiscence gives a level of safety. Windows 3.0 additionally featured enhancements to the person interface. Microsoft rewrote essential operations from C into meeting. Windows 3.0 is the primary Microsoft Windows model to attain broad industrial success, promoting 2 million copies within the first six months.[19][20]

Windows 3.1, made typically accessible on March 1, 1992, featured a facelift. In August 1993, Windows for Workgroups, a particular model with built-in peer-to-peer networking options and a model variety of 3.11, was launched. It was offered together with Windows 3.1. Support for Windows 3.1 ended on December 31, 2001.[21]

Windows 3.2, launched 1994, is an up to date model of the Chinese model of Windows 3.1.[22] The replace was restricted to this language model, because it fastened solely points associated to the complicated writing system of the Chinese language.[23] Windows 3.2 was typically offered by laptop producers with a ten-disk model of MS-DOS that additionally had Simplified Chinese characters in fundamental output and a few translated utilities.

Windows 9x

The subsequent main consumer-oriented launch of Windows, Windows 95, was launched on August 24, 1995. While nonetheless remaining MS-DOS-based, Windows 95 launched assist for native 32-bit functions, plug and play {hardware}, preemptive multitasking, lengthy file names of as much as 255 characters, and supplied elevated stability over its predecessors. Windows 95 additionally launched a redesigned, object oriented person interface, changing the earlier Program Manager with the Start menu, taskbar, and Windows Explorer shell. Windows 95 was a serious industrial success for Microsoft; Ina Fried of CNET remarked that “by the time Windows 95 was finally ushered off the market in 2001, it had become a fixture on computer desktops around the world.”[24] Microsoft printed 4 OEM Service Releases (OSR) of Windows 95, every of which was roughly equal to a service pack. The first OSR of Windows 95 was additionally the primary model of Windows to be bundled with Microsoft’s net browser, Internet Explorer.[25] Mainstream assist for Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2000, and prolonged assist for Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2001.[26]

Windows 95 was adopted up with the discharge of Windows 98 on June 25, 1998, which launched the Windows Driver Model, assist for USB composite units, assist for ACPI, hibernation, and assist for multi-monitor configurations. Windows 98 additionally included integration with Internet Explorer 4 by Active Desktop and different facets of the Windows Desktop Update (a collection of enhancements to the Explorer shell which had been additionally made accessible for Windows 95). In May 1999, Microsoft launched Windows 98 Second Edition, an up to date model of Windows 98. Windows 98 SE added Internet Explorer 5.0 and Windows Media Player 6.2 amongst different upgrades. Mainstream assist for Windows 98 ended on June 30, 2002, and prolonged assist for Windows 98 ended on July 11, 2006.[27]

On September 14, 2000, Microsoft launched Windows Me (Millennium Edition), the final DOS-based model of Windows. Windows Me included visible interface enhancements from its Windows NT-based counterpart Windows 2000, had quicker boot occasions than earlier variations (which nevertheless, required the removing of the flexibility to entry an actual mode DOS setting, eradicating compatibility with some older packages),[28] expanded multimedia performance (together with Windows Media Player 7, Windows Movie Maker, and the Windows Image Acquisition framework for retrieving photographs from scanners and digital cameras), extra system utilities equivalent to System File Protection and System Restore, and up to date residence networking instruments.[29] However, Windows Me was confronted with criticism for its velocity and instability, together with {hardware} compatibility points and its removing of actual mode DOS assist. PC World thought-about Windows Me to be one of many worst working techniques Microsoft had ever launched, and the 4th worst tech product of all time.[12]

Windows NT

Version historical past

Early variations (Windows NT 3.1/3.5/3.51/4.0/2000)

In November 1988, a brand new growth crew inside Microsoft (which included former Digital Equipment Corporation builders Dave Cutler and Mark Lucovsky) started work on a revamped model of IBM and Microsoft’s OS/2 working system often called “NT OS/2”. NT OS/2 was supposed to be a safe, multi-user working system with POSIX compatibility and a modular, transportable kernel with preemptive multitasking and assist for a number of processor architectures. However, following the profitable launch of Windows 3.0, the NT growth crew determined to remodel the challenge to make use of an prolonged 32-bit port of the Windows API often called Win32 as an alternative of these of OS/2. Win32 maintained the same construction to the Windows APIs (permitting present Windows functions to simply be ported to the platform), but additionally supported the capabilities of the prevailing NT kernel. Following its approval by Microsoft’s workers, growth continued on what was now Windows NT, the primary 32-bit model of Windows. However, IBM objected to the modifications, and finally continued OS/2 growth by itself.[30][31]

Windows NT was the primary Windows working system based mostly on a hybrid kernel. The hybrid kernel was designed as a modified microkernel, influenced by the Mach microkernel developed by Richard Rashid at Carnegie Mellon University, however with out assembly the entire standards of a pure microkernel.

The first launch of the ensuing working system, Windows NT 3.1 (named to affiliate it with Windows 3.1) was launched in July 1993, with variations for desktop workstations and servers. Windows NT 3.5 was launched in September 1994, specializing in efficiency enhancements and assist for Novell’s NetWare, and was adopted up by Windows NT 3.51 in May 1995, which included extra enhancements and assist for the PowerPC structure. Windows NT 4.0 was launched in June 1996, introducing the redesigned interface of Windows 95 to the NT collection. On February 17, 2000, Microsoft launched Windows 2000, a successor to NT 4.0. The Windows NT identify was dropped at this level with the intention to put a better give attention to the Windows model.[31]

Windows XP

The subsequent main model of Windows NT, Windows XP, was launched on October 25, 2001. The introduction of Windows XP aimed to unify the consumer-oriented Windows 9x collection with the structure launched by Windows NT, a change which Microsoft promised would supply higher efficiency over its DOS-based predecessors. Windows XP would additionally introduce a redesigned person interface (together with an up to date Start menu and a “task-oriented” Windows Explorer), streamlined multimedia and networking options, Internet Explorer 6, integration with Microsoft’s .NET Passport companies, modes to assist present compatibility with software program designed for earlier variations of Windows, and Remote Assistance performance.[32]

At retail, Windows XP was now marketed in two important editions: the “Home” version was focused in the direction of shoppers, whereas the “Professional” version was focused in the direction of enterprise environments and energy customers, and included extra safety and networking options. Home and Professional had been later accompanied by the “Media Center” version (designed for residence theater PCs, with an emphasis on assist for DVD playback, TV tuner playing cards, DVR performance, and distant controls), and the “Tablet PC” version (designed for cellular units assembly its specs for a pill laptop, with assist for stylus pen enter and extra pen-enabled functions).[33][34][35] Mainstream assist for Windows XP ended on April 14, 2009. Extended assist ended on April 8, 2014.[36]

After Windows 2000, Microsoft additionally modified its launch schedules for server working techniques; the server counterpart of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, was launched in April 2003.[31] It was adopted in December 2005, by Windows Server 2003 R2.

Windows Vista

After a prolonged growth course of, Windows Vista was launched on November 30, 2006, for quantity licensing and January 30, 2007, for shoppers. It contained plenty of new options, from a redesigned shell and person interface to important technical modifications, with a specific give attention to safety features. It was accessible in plenty of completely different editions, and has been topic to some criticism, equivalent to drop of efficiency, longer boot time, criticism of recent UAC, and stricter license settlement. Vista’s server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 was launched in early 2008.

Windows 7

On July 22, 2009, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 had been launched as RTM (launch to manufacturing) whereas the previous was launched to the general public 3 months afterward October 22, 2009. Unlike its predecessor, Windows Vista, which launched numerous new options, Windows 7 was supposed to be a extra centered, incremental improve to the Windows line, with the purpose of being appropriate with functions and {hardware} with which Windows Vista was already appropriate.[37] Windows 7 has multi-touch assist, a redesigned Windows shell with an up to date taskbar, a house networking system known as HomeGroup,[38] and efficiency enhancements.

Windows 8 and eight.1

Windows 8, the successor to Windows 7, was launched typically on October 26, 2012. Quite a few important modifications had been made on Windows 8, together with the introduction of a person interface based mostly round Microsoft’s Metro design language with optimizations for touch-based units equivalent to tablets and all-in-one PCs. These modifications embody the Start display, which makes use of massive tiles which might be extra handy for contact interactions and permit for the show of frequently up to date data, and a brand new class of apps that are designed primarily to be used on touch-based units. The new Windows model required a minimal decision of 1024×768 pixels,[39] successfully making it unfit for netbooks with 800×600-pixel screens.

Other modifications embody elevated integration with cloud companies and different on-line platforms (equivalent to social networks and Microsoft’s personal OneDrive (previously SkyDrive) and Xbox Live companies), the Windows Store service for software program distribution, and a brand new variant often called Windows RT to be used on units that make the most of the ARM structure.[40][41][42][43][44][45] An replace to Windows 8, known as Windows 8.1,[46] was launched on October 17, 2013, and contains options equivalent to new stay tile sizes, deeper OneDrive integration, and lots of different revisions. Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have been topic to some criticism, equivalent to removing of the Start menu.

Windows 10

On September 30, 2014, Microsoft introduced Windows 10 because the successor to Windows 8.1. It was launched on July 29, 2015, and addresses shortcomings within the person interface first launched with Windows 8. Changes on PC embody the return of the Start Menu, a digital desktop system, and the flexibility to run Windows Store apps inside home windows on the desktop somewhat than in full-screen mode. Windows 10 is claimed to be accessible to replace from certified Windows 7 with SP1, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 units from the Get Windows 10 Application (for Windows 7, Windows 8.1) or Windows Update (Windows 7).[47]

In February 2017, Microsoft introduced the migration of its Windows supply code repository from Perforce to Git. This migration concerned 3.5 million separate information in a 300 gigabyte repository.[48] By May 2017, 90 % of its engineering crew was utilizing Git, in about 8500 commits and 1760 Windows builds per day.[48]

In June 2021, shortly earlier than Microsoft’s announcement of Windows 11, Microsoft up to date their lifecycle coverage pages for Windows 10, revealing that assist for his or her final launch of Windows 10 will probably be October 14, 2025.[49][50]

Windows 11

On June 24, 2021, Windows 11 was introduced because the successor to Windows 10 throughout a livestream. The new working system was designed to be extra user-friendly and comprehensible. It is about to launch in Fall 2021.[51] Windows 11 will probably be a free improve to all Windows 10 customers.

Windows 365

In July 2021, Microsoft introduced it’ll begin promoting subscriptions to virtualized Windows desktops as a part of a brand new Windows 365 service within the following month. It isn’t a standalone model of Microsoft Windows, however an online service that gives entry to Windows 10 and Windows 11 constructed on high of Azure Virtual Desktop. The new service will permit for cross-platform utilization, aiming to make the working system accessible for each Apple and Android customers. The subscription-based service will probably be accessible by any working system with an online browser. Microsoft has acknowledged that the brand new service is an try at capitalizing on the rising development, fostered through the COVID-19 pandemic, for companies to undertake a hybrid work setting, wherein “employees split their time between the office and home” in accordance with vice chairman Jared Spataro. As the service will probably be accessible by web-browsers, Microsoft will be capable to bypass the necessity to publish the service by Google Play or the Apple App Store.[52][53][54][55][56]

Multilingual assist

Multilingual assist has been constructed into Windows since Windows 3.0. The language for each the keyboard and the interface may be modified by the Region and Language Control Panel. Components for all supported enter languages, equivalent to Input Method Editors, are mechanically put in throughout Windows set up (in Windows XP and earlier, information for East Asian languages, equivalent to Chinese, and right-to-left scripts, equivalent to Arabic, could must be put in individually, additionally from the stated Control Panel). Third-party IMEs can also be put in if a person feels that the supplied one is inadequate for his or her wants.

Interface languages for the working system are free for obtain, however some languages are restricted to sure editions of Windows. Language Interface Packs (LIPs) are redistributable and could also be downloaded from Microsoft’s Download Center and put in for any version of Windows (XP or later) – they translate most, however not all, of the Windows interface, and require a sure base language (the language which Windows initially shipped with). This is used for many languages in rising markets. Full Language Packs, which interprets the whole working system, are solely accessible for particular editions of Windows (Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Windows Vista and seven, and all editions of Windows 8, 8.1 and RT besides Single Language). They don’t require a particular base language, and are generally used for extra in style languages equivalent to French or Chinese. These languages can’t be downloaded by the Download Center, however accessible as non-obligatory updates by the Windows Update service (besides Windows 8).

The interface language of put in functions should not affected by modifications within the Windows interface language. Availability of languages is dependent upon the appliance builders themselves.

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 introduces a brand new Language Control Panel the place each the interface and enter languages may be concurrently modified, and language packs, no matter kind, may be downloaded from a central location. The PC Settings app in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 additionally features a counterpart settings web page for this. Changing the interface language additionally modifications the language of preinstalled Windows Store apps (equivalent to Mail, Maps and News) and sure different Microsoft-developed apps (equivalent to Remote Desktop). The above limitations for language packs are nevertheless nonetheless in impact, besides that full language packs may be put in for any version besides Single Language, which caters to rising markets.

Platform assist

Windows NT included assist for a number of completely different platforms earlier than the x86-based private laptop turned dominant within the skilled world. Windows NT 4.0 and its predecessors supported PowerPC, DEC Alpha and MIPS R4000. (Although some these platforms implement 64-bit computing, the working system handled them as 32-bit.) However, Windows 2000, the successor of Windows NT 4.0, dropped assist for all platforms besides the third technology x86 (often called IA-32) or newer in 32-bit mode. The consumer line of Windows NT household nonetheless runs on IA-32, though the Windows Server line has ceased supporting this platform with the discharge of Windows Server 2008 R2.

With the introduction of the Intel Itanium structure (IA-64), Microsoft launched new variations of Windows to assist it. Itanium variations of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 had been launched concurrently their mainstream x86 counterparts. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition, launched in 2005, is the final Windows consumer working techniques to assist Itanium. Windows Server line continues to assist this platform till Windows Server 2012; Windows Server 2008 R2 is the final Windows working system to assist Itanium structure.

On April 25, 2005, Microsoft launched Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions to assist the x86-64 (or just x64), the eighth technology of x86 structure. Windows Vista was the primary consumer model of Windows NT to be launched concurrently in IA-32 and x64 editions. x64 remains to be supported.

An version of Windows 8 often called Windows RT was particularly created for computer systems with ARM structure and whereas ARM remains to be used for Windows smartphones with Windows 10, tablets with Windows RT won’t be up to date. Starting from Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (model 1709) and later contains assist for PCs with ARM structure.[57]

Windows CE

Windows CE (formally often called Windows Embedded Compact), is an version of Windows that runs on minimalistic computer systems, like satellite tv for pc navigation techniques and a few cell phones. Windows Embedded Compact relies by itself devoted kernel, dubbed Windows CE kernel. Microsoft licenses Windows CE to OEMs and machine makers. The OEMs and machine makers can modify and create their very own person interfaces and experiences, whereas Windows CE gives the technical basis to take action.

Windows CE was used within the Dreamcast together with Sega’s personal proprietary OS for the console. Windows CE was the core from which Windows Mobile was derived. Its successor, Windows Phone 7, was based mostly on parts from each Windows CE 6.0 R3 and Windows CE 7.0. Windows Phone 8 nevertheless, relies on the identical NT-kernel as Windows 8.

Windows Embedded Compact is to not be confused with Windows XP Embedded or Windows NT 4.0 Embedded, modular editions of Windows based mostly on Windows NT kernel.

Xbox OS

Xbox OS is an unofficial identify given to the model of Windows that runs on the Xbox One.[58] It is a extra particular implementation with an emphasis on virtualization (utilizing Hyper-V) as it’s three working techniques operating without delay, consisting of the core working system, a second carried out for video games and a extra Windows-like setting for functions.[59]
Microsoft updates Xbox One’s OS each month, and these updates may be downloaded from the Xbox Live service to the Xbox and subsequently put in, or through the use of offline restoration photographs downloaded through a PC.[60] The Windows 10-based Core had changed the Windows 8-based one on this replace, and the brand new system is usually known as “Windows 10 on Xbox One” or “OneCore”.[61][62]
Xbox One’s system additionally permits backward compatibility with Xbox 360,[63] and the Xbox 360’s system is backwards appropriate with the unique Xbox.[64]

Version management system

In 2017 Microsoft introduced that it will begin utilizing Git, an open supply model management system created by Linus Torvalds. Microsoft has beforehand used a proprietary model management system known as “Source Depot”. Microsoft had begun to combine Git into Team Foundation Server in 2013, however Windows continued to depend on Source Depot. Because of its massive, decades-long historical past, the Windows codebase isn’t particularly effectively suited to the decentralized nature of Linux growth that Git was initially created to handle. Each Git repository incorporates an entire historical past of all of the information, which proved unworkable for Windows builders as a result of cloning the repository takes a number of hours. Microsoft has been engaged on a brand new challenge known as the Virtual File System for Git (VFSForGit) to handle these challenges.[65]

Timeline of releases

Table of Windows variations


Old model

Older model, nonetheless maintained

Latest model

Latest preview model

Future launch

Product identify Latest model General availability date Codename Support till[66] Latest model of
Mainstream Extended IE DirectX Edge
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 1.0 1.01 November 20, 1985 Interface Manager December 31, 2001 N/A N/A N/A
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 2.0 2.03 December 9, 1987 N/A December 31, 2001
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 2.1 2.11 May 27, 1988 N/A December 31, 2001
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 3.0 3.0 May 22, 1990 N/A December 31, 2001
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 3.1 3.1 April 6, 1992 Janus December 31, 2001 5
Old model, now not maintained: Windows For Workgroups 3.1 3.1 October 1992 Sparta, Winball December 31, 2001
Old model, now not maintained: Windows NT 3.1 NT 3.1.528 July 27, 1993 N/A December 31, 2001
Old model, now not maintained: Windows For Workgroups 3.11 3.11 August 11, 1993 Sparta, Winball December 31, 2001
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 3.2 3.2 November 22, 1993 N/A December 31, 2001
Old model, now not maintained: Windows NT 3.5 NT 3.5.807 September 21, 1994 Daytona December 31, 2001
Old model, now not maintained: Windows NT 3.51 NT 3.51.1057 May 30, 1995 N/A December 31, 2001
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 95 4.0.950 August 24, 1995 Chicago, 4.0 December 31, 2000 December 31, 2001 5.5 6.1
Old model, now not maintained: Windows NT 4.0 NT 4.0.1381 July 31, 1996 Cairo June 30, 2002 June 30, 2004 6 N/A
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 98 4.10.1998 June 25, 1998 Memphis, 97, 4.1 June 30, 2002 July 11, 2006 6.1
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 98 SE 4.10.2222 May 5, 1999 N/A June 30, 2002 July 11, 2006
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 2000 NT 5.0.2195 February 17, 2000 N/A June 30, 2005 July 13, 2010 N/A
Old model, now not maintained: Windows Me 4.90.3000 September 14, 2000 Millennium, 4.9 December 31, 2003 July 11, 2006 9.0c
Old model, now not maintained: Windows XP NT 5.1.2600 October 25, 2001 Whistler April 14, 2009 April 8, 2014 8
Old model, now not maintained: Windows XP 64-bit Edition NT 5.2.3790 March 28, 2003 N/A April 14, 2009 April 8, 2014 6
Old model, now not maintained: Windows Server 2003 NT 5.2.3790 April 24, 2003 N/A July 13, 2010 July 14, 2015 8
Old model, now not maintained: Windows XP Professional x64 Edition NT 5.2.3790 April 25, 2005 N/A April 14, 2009 April 8, 2014
Old model, now not maintained: Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs NT 5.1.2600 July 8, 2006 Eiger, Mönch April 14, 2009 April 8, 2014
Old model, now not maintained: Windows Vista NT 6.0.6003 January 30, 2007 Longhorn April 10, 2012 April 11, 2017 9 11
Old model, now not maintained: Windows Home Server NT 5.2.4500 November 4, 2007 Quattro January 8, 2013 8 9.0c
Old model, now not maintained: Windows Server 2008 NT 6.0.6003 February 27, 2008 Longhorn Server January 13, 2015 January 14, 2020 9 11
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 7 NT 6.1.7601 October 22, 2009 Blackcomb, Vienna January 13, 2015 January 14, 2020 11 83
Old model, now not maintained: Windows Server 2008 R2 NT 6.1.7601 October 22, 2009 N/A January 13, 2015 January 14, 2020
Old model, now not maintained: Windows Home Server 2011 NT 6.1.8400 April 6, 2011 Vail April 12, 2016 9
Older model, but nonetheless maintained: Windows Server 2012 NT 6.2.9200 September 4, 2012 N/A October 9, 2018 October 10, 2023 11 11.1
Old model, now not maintained: Windows 8 NT 6.2.9200 October 26, 2012 N/A January 12, 2016 10
Older model, but nonetheless maintained: Windows 8.1 NT 6.3.9600 October 17, 2013 Blue January 9, 2018 January 10, 2023 11 11.2
Older model, but nonetheless maintained: Windows Server 2012 R2 NT 6.3.9600 October 18, 2013 Server Blue October 9, 2018 October 10, 2023
Current secure model: Windows 10 NT 10.0.18363 July 29, 2015 Various October 14, 2025[49][50] 12
Older model, but nonetheless maintained: Windows Server 2016 NT 10.0.14393 October 12, 2016 N/A January 11, 2022 January 12, 2027
Current secure model: Windows Server 2019 NT 10.0.17763 October 2, 2018 N/A January 9, 2024 January 9, 2029

Windows timeline: Bar chart

Windows 1.0 Windows 2.0 Windows 2.1x Windows 3.0 Windows 3.1x Windows 3.1x Windows NT 3.1 Windows NT 3.5 Windows NT 3.51 Windows 95 Windows NT 4.0 Windows 98 Windows NT 4.0 Windows 2000 Pocket PC 2000 Windows Me Pocket PC 2002 Windows XP Windows XP Windows Server 2003 Windows Mobile 2003 Windows Mobile 5.0 Windows Embedded Industry Windows Server 2003 R2 Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs Windows Mobile 6.0 Windows Vista Windows Home Server Windows Mobile 6.1 Windows Server 2008 Windows Embedded Industry Windows Mobile 6.5 Windows 7 Windows Server 2008 R2 Windows MultiPoint Server Windows Phone 7 Windows Home Server 2011 Windows MultiPoint Server Windows Embedded Industry Windows Server 2012 Windows 8 Windows Phone 8 Windows MultiPoint Server Windows Embedded 8 Industry Windows 8.1 Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Windows Server 2012 R2 Windows Phone 8.1 Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10 Mobile Windows 10 Windows 10 Mobile Windows 10 Windows Server 2016 Windows 10 Windows 10 Mobile Windows 10 Windows 10 Mobile Windows 10 Windows Server 2019 Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10 Windows 10

Usage share and machine gross sales

Windows logo and wordmark - 2021.svg

Market share overview
As a proportion of desktop techniques, in accordance with Net Applications knowledge from October 2020[67]
and StatCounter knowledge from April 2021[68]

Mobile market share could be very low at underneath 0.1% for all variations mixed.[69][70]

According to Net Applications, which tracked the usage of working techniques in units which might be lively on the Web, Windows was probably the most used operating-system household on private computer systems in April 2020, with round 88% utilization share.[71] Including private computer systems of every kind (e.g., desktops, laptops, cellular units, and recreation consoles), Windows OSes accounted for 35.84% of utilization share in May 2020, in comparison with Android (highest, at 37.48%), iOS’s 15.52%, and macOS’s 8.61%, in accordance with StatCounter, which tracks use of working techniques by their use in units lively on the Web.[72] Windows is utilized in lower than half the market, not solely in creating international locations, but additionally in developed ones – such because the United States, the place use of Windows on desktops, on which it’s the plurality working system, has fallen to 61% in Dec. 2020, in comparison with 31% for macOS[73] whereas for private computer systems of every kind Windows’s share is right down to 29.66%, lower than iOS (that means iPhones and iPadOS for iPads]]s) at 31.43%.[74] It have to be famous, that servers (together with so-called cloud computing, whereas Microsoft is understood to not be a frontrunner; and likewise makes use of Linux greater than Windows) isn’t counted within the statistics (and iOS has no such use), as StatCounter makes use of net looking as a proxy for all use.

Use of the most recent model Windows 10 has exceeded Windows 7 globally since early 2018.[75]

Usage share on servers

Usage share of Windows on servers – these operating an online server that’s (there are additionally other forms of servers) – is at 28.3%.[76]


Consumer variations of Windows had been initially designed for ease-of-use on a single-user PC with out a community connection, and didn’t have safety features in-built from the outset.[77] However, Windows NT and its successors are designed for safety (together with on a community) and multi-user PCs, however weren’t initially designed with Internet safety in thoughts as a lot, since, when it was first developed within the early Nineties, Internet use was much less prevalent.[78]

These design points mixed with programming errors (e.g. buffer overflows) and the recognition of Windows signifies that it’s a frequent goal of laptop worm and virus writers. In June 2005, Bruce Schneier’s Counterpane Internet Security reported that it had seen over 1,000 new viruses and worms within the earlier six months.[79] In 2005, Kaspersky Lab discovered round 11,000 malicious packages – viruses, Trojans, back-doors, and exploits written for Windows.[80]

Microsoft releases safety patches by its Windows Update service roughly as soon as a month (often the second Tuesday of the month), though essential updates are made accessible at shorter intervals when essential.[81] In variations of Windows after and together with Windows 2000 SP3 and Windows XP, updates may be mechanically downloaded and put in if the person selects to take action. As a consequence, Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, in addition to Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003, had been put in by customers extra shortly than it in any other case might need been.[82]

While the Windows 9x collection supplied the choice of getting profiles for a number of customers, they’d no idea of entry privileges, and didn’t permit concurrent entry; and so weren’t true multi-user working techniques. In addition, they carried out solely partial reminiscence safety. They had been accordingly broadly criticised for lack of safety.

The Windows NT collection of working techniques, against this, are true multi-user, and implement absolute reminiscence safety. However, a number of the benefits of being a real multi-user working system had been nullified by the truth that, previous to Windows Vista, the primary person account created through the setup course of was an administrator account, which was additionally the default for brand new accounts. Though Windows XP did have restricted accounts, the vast majority of residence customers didn’t change to an account kind with fewer rights – partially because of the variety of packages which unnecessarily required administrator rights – and so most residence customers ran as administrator on a regular basis.

Windows Vista modifications this[83] by introducing a privilege elevation system known as User Account Control. When logging in as an ordinary person, a logon session is created and a token containing solely probably the most fundamental privileges is assigned. In this fashion, the brand new logon session is incapable of constructing modifications that may have an effect on your complete system. When logging in as a person within the Administrators group, two separate tokens are assigned. The first token incorporates all privileges sometimes awarded to an administrator, and the second is a restricted token much like what an ordinary person would obtain. User functions, together with the Windows shell, are then began with the restricted token, leading to a lowered privilege setting even underneath an Administrator account. When an utility requests greater privileges or “Run as administrator” is clicked, UAC will immediate for affirmation and, if consent is given (together with administrator credentials if the account requesting the elevation isn’t a member of the directors group), begin the method utilizing the unrestricted token.[84]

Leaked paperwork printed by WikiLeaks, codenamed Vault 7 and dated from 2013 to 2016, element the capabilities of the CIA to carry out digital surveillance and cyber warfare,[85] equivalent to the flexibility to compromise working techniques equivalent to Microsoft Windows.[86]

In August 2019, laptop specialists reported that the BlueMaintain safety vulnerability, CVE-2019-0708, that doubtlessly impacts older unpatched Microsoft Windows variations through this system’s Remote Desktop Protocol, permitting for the potential of distant code execution, could now embody associated flaws, collectively named DejaBlue, affecting newer Windows variations (i.e., Windows 7 and all latest variations) as effectively.[87] In addition, specialists reported a Microsoft safety vulnerability, CVE-2019-1162, based mostly on legacy code involving Microsoft CTF and ctfmon (ctfmon.exe), that impacts all Windows variations from the older Windows XP model to the newest Windows 10 variations; a patch to right the flaw is presently accessible.[88]

File permissions

All Windows variations from Windows NT 3 have been based mostly on a file system permission system known as AGDLP (Accounts, Global, Domain Local, Permissions) wherein file permissions are utilized to the file/folder within the type of a ‘native group’ which then has different ‘international teams’ as members. These international teams then maintain different teams or customers relying on completely different Windows variations used. This system varies from different vendor merchandise equivalent to Linux and NetWare because of the ‘static’ allocation of permission being utilized on to the file or folder. However utilizing this technique of AGLP/AGDLP/AGUDLP permits a small variety of static permissions to be utilized and permits for simple modifications to the account teams with out reapplying the file permissions on the information and folders.

Alternative implementations

Owing to the working system’s recognition, plenty of functions have been launched that intention to offer compatibility with Windows functions, both as a compatibility layer for one more working system, or as a standalone system that may run software program written for Windows out of the field. These embody:

  • Wine – a free and open-source implementation of the Windows API, permitting one to run many Windows functions on x86-based platforms, together with UNIX, Linux and macOS. Wine builders check with it as a “compatibility layer”[89] and use Windows-style APIs to emulate Windows setting.
    • CrossOver – a Wine bundle with licensed fonts. Its builders are common contributors to Wine, and give attention to Wine operating formally supported functions.
    • Cedega – a proprietary fork of Wine by TransGaming Technologies, designed particularly for operating Microsoft Windows video games on Linux. A model of Cedega often called Cider permits Windows video games to run on macOS. Since Wine was licensed underneath the LGPL, Cedega has been unable to port the enhancements made to Wine to their proprietary codebase. Cedega ceased its service in February 2011.
    • Darwine – a port of Wine for macOS and Darwin. Operates by operating Wine on QEMU.
    • Linux Unified Kernel – a set of patches to the Linux kernel permitting many Windows executable information in Linux (utilizing Wine DLLs); and a few Windows drivers for use.
  • ReactOS – an open-source OS supposed to run the identical software program as Windows, initially designed to simulate Windows NT 4.0, now aiming at Windows 7 compatibility. It has been within the growth stage since 1996.
  • Linspire – previously LindowsOS, a industrial Linux distribution initially created with the purpose of operating main Windows software program. Changed its identify to Linspire after Microsoft v. Lindows. Discontinued in favor of Xandros Desktop, that was additionally later discontinued.
  • Freedows OS – an open-source try at making a Windows clone for x86 platforms, supposed to be launched underneath the GNU General Public License. Started in 1996, by Reece Ok. Sellin, the challenge was by no means accomplished, getting solely to the stage of design discussions which featured plenty of novel ideas till it was suspended in 2002.[90][91][92]

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External hyperlinks

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