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Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several proprietary graphical operating system families, all of which are developed and marketed by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry. Active Microsoft Windows families include Windows NT and Windows IoT; these may encompass subfamilies, (e.g. Windows Server or Windows Embedded Compact) (Windows CE). Defunct Microsoft Windows families include Windows 9x, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.

Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985, as a graphical operating system shell for MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical utilize interfaces (GUIs). Microsoft Windows came to dominate the globes privatecomputer (PC) market with over 90% market share, overtaking Mac OS, which had been introduced in 1984.

Apple came to see Windows as an unfair encroachment on their innovation in GUI development as implemented on products such as the Lisa and Macintosh (eventually settled in court in Microsoft's favor in 1993). On PCs, Windows is still the most famousoperating system in all countries. However, in 2014, Microsoft admitted losing the majority of the overall operating system market to Android, because of the heavygrowth in sales of Android smartphones. In 2014, the number of Windows devices sold was less than 25% that of Android devices sold. This comparison, however, may not be fully relevant, as the two operating systems traditionally target different platforms. Still, numbers for server utilizeof Windows (that are comparable to competitors) presentone third market share, similar to that for end utilize use.

As of October 2021, the most lastestversion of Windows for PCs and tablets is Windows 11, version 21H2. The most lastestversion for embedded devices is Windows 10, version 21H1. The most lastestversion for server computers is Windows Server 2022, version 21H2. A specialized version of Windows also runs on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S video game consoles.


By marketing role

Microsoft, the developer of Windows, has registered several trademarks, each of which denotes a family of Windows operating systems that target a specific sector of the computing industry. As of 2014, the following Windows families were being actively developed:

The following Windows families are no longer being developed:

Version history

The term Windows collectively describes any or all of several generations of Microsoft operating system products. These products are generally categorized as follows:

Early versions

Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985

The history of Windows dates back to 1981 when Microsoft started work on a softwarecalled "Interface Manager". It was announced in November 1983 (after the Apple Lisa, but before the Macintosh) under the name "Windows", but Windows 1.0 was not released until November 1985. Windows 1.0 was to compete with Apple's operating system, but achieved little popularity. Windows 1.0 is not a complete operating system; rather, it extends MS-DOS. The shell of Windows 1.0 is a softwareknown as the MS-DOS Executive. Components contain Calculator, Calendar, Cardfile, Clipboard Viewer, Clock, Control Panel, Notepad, Paint, Reversi, Terminal and Write. Windows 1.0 does not letoverlapping windows. Instead all windows are tiled. Only modal dialog boxes may appear over other windows. Microsoft sold as contain Windows Development libraries with the C development environment, which contain numerous windows samples.

Windows 2.0 was released in December 1987, and was more famousthan its predecessor. It features several improvements to the utilize interface and memory management. Windows 2.03 modify the OS from tiled windows to overlapping windows. The effectof this modifyled to Apple Computer filing a suit versusMicrosoft alleging infringement on Apple's copyrights. Windows 2.0 also introduced more sophisticated keyboard shortcuts and could make utilizeof expanded memory.

Windows 2.1 was released in two different versions: Windows/286 and Windows/386. Windows/386 utilize the virtual 8086 mode of the Intel 80386 to multitask several DOS software and the site memory model to emulate expanded memory using available extended memory. Windows/286, in spite of its name, runs on both Intel 8086 and Intel 80286 processors. It runs in real mode but shouldmake utilizeof the high memory area.[citation needed]

In addition to full Windows-pack, there were runtime-only versions that shipped with early Windows programfrom third parties and angry it possible to run their Windows programon MS-DOS and without the full Windows feature set.

The early versions of Windows are often thought of as graphical shells, mostly because they ran on top of MS-DOS and utilizeit for file system services. However, even the earliest Windows versions already assumed many typical operating system functions; notably, having their own executable file format and providing their own device drivers (timer, graphics, printer, mouse, keyboard and sound). Unlike MS-DOS, Windows permittedusers to execute multiple graphical app at the same time, through cooperative multitasking. Windows implemented an elaborate, segment-based, programvirtual memory scheme, which let it to run app huge than accessiblememory: code segments and resources are swapped in and thrown away when memory became scarce; data segments moved in memory when a given apphad relinquished processor control.

Windows 3.x

Windows 3.0, released in 1990

Windows 3.0, released in 1990, improved the design, mostly because of virtual memory and loadable virtual device drivers (VxDs) that letWindows to share arbitrary devices between multi-tasked DOS app.[citation needed] Windows 3.0 app shouldrun in protected mode, which gives them admissionto several megabytes of memory without the obligation to participate in the programvirtual memory scheme. They run inside the same address space, where the segmented memory provides a degree of protection. Windows 3.0 also featured improvements to the utilize interface. Microsoft rewrote critical operations from C into assembly. Windows 3.0 is the first Microsoft Windows version to achieve broad commercial success, selling 2 million copies in the first six months.

Windows 3.1, angry generally available on March 1, 1992, featured a facelift. In August 1993, Windows for Workgroups, a special version with integrated peer-to-peer networking features and a version number of 3.11, was released. It was sold along with Windows 3.1. Assistancefor Windows 3.1 ended on December 31, 2001.

Windows 3.2, released 1994, is an updated version of the Chinese version of Windows 3.1. The update was limited to this language version, as it fixed only problemsassociatedto the complex writing system of the Chinese language. Windows 3.2 was generally sold by computer manufacturers with a ten-disk version of MS-DOS that also had Simplified Chinese hero in primaryoutput and some translated utilities.

Windows 9x

The next major consumer-oriented release of Windows, Windows 95, was released on August 24, 1995. While still remaining MS-DOS-based, Windows 95 introduced assistancefor native 32-bit app, plug and play hardware, preemptive multitasking, long file names of up to 255 hero, and deliveredincreased stability over its predecessors. Windows 95 also introduced a redesigned, object oriented utilize interface, replacing the previous SoftwareManager with the Start menu, taskbar, and Windows Explorer shell. Windows 95 was a major commercial 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." Microsoft published four OEM Service Releases (OSR) of Windows 95, each of which was roughly equivalent to a service pack. The first OSR of Windows 95 was also the first version of Windows to be bundled with Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer. Mainstream assistancefor Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2000, and extended assistancefor Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2001.

Windows 95 was followed up with the release of Windows 98 on June 25, 1998, which introduced the Windows Driver Model, assistancefor USB composite devices, assistancefor ACPI, hibernation, and assistancefor multi-monitor configurations. Windows 98 also contain integration with Internet Explorer 4 through Active Desktop and other aspects of the Windows Desktop Update (a series of enhancements to the Explorer shell which were also angry accessiblefor Windows 95). In May 1999, Microsoft released Windows 98 Second Edition, an updated version of Windows 98. Windows 98 SE added Internet Explorer 5.0 and Windows Media Player 6.2 amongst other modernize. Mainstream assistancefor Windows 98 ended on June 30, 2002, and extended assistancefor Windows 98 ended on July 11, 2006.

On September 14, 2000, Microsoft released Windows Me (Millennium Edition), the last DOS-based version of Windows. Windows Me incorporated visual interface enhancements from its Windows NT-based counterpart Windows 2000, had faster boot times than previous versions (which however, neededthe removal of the ability to admissiona real mode DOS environment, removing compatibility with some older software), expanded multimedia functionality (including Windows Media Player 7, Windows FilmMaker, and the Windows PhotoAcquisition framework for retrieving photo from scanners and digital cameras), additional system utilities such as System File Protection and System Restore, and updated home networking tools. However, Windows Me was faced with criticism for its speed and instability, along with hardware compatibility problemsand its removal of real mode DOS support. PC World considered Windows Me to be one of the worst operating systems Microsoft had ever released, and the 4th worst technicalproduct of all time.

Windows NT

Version history

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

In November 1988, a freshdevelopment squadwithin Microsoft (which contain former Digital Equipment Corporation developers Dave Cutler and Mark Lucovsky) began work on a revamped version of IBM and Microsoft's OS/2 operating system known as "NT OS/2". NT OS/2 was intended to be a secure, multi-utilize operating system with POSIX compatibility and a modular, portable kernel with preemptive multitasking and assistancefor multiple processor architectures. However, following the successful release of Windows 3.0, the NT development squaddecided to rework the project to utilizean extended 32-bit port of the Windows API known as Win32 instead of those of OS/2. Win32 maintained a similar structure to the Windows APIs (allowing existing Windows app to easily be ported to the platform), but also supported the capabilities of the existing NT kernel. Following its approval by Microsoft's staff, development continued on what was now Windows NT, the first 32-bit version of Windows. However, IBM objected to the modify, and ultimately continued OS/2 development on its own.

Windows NT was the first Windows operating system based on a hybrid kernel. The hybrid kernel was plannedas a modified microkernel, influenced by the Mach microkernel developed by Richard Rashid at Carnegie Mellon University, but without meeting all of the criteria of a pure microkernel.

The first release of the resulting operating system, Windows NT 3.1 (named to associate it with Windows 3.1) was released in July 1993, with versions for desktop workstations and servers. Windows NT 3.5 was released in September 1994, focusing on performance improvements and assistancefor Novell's NetWare, and was followed up by Windows NT 3.51 in May 1995, which contain additional improvements and assistancefor the PowerPC architecture. Windows NT 4.0 was released in June 1996, introducing the redesigned interface of Windows 95 to the NT series. On February 17, 2000, Microsoft released Windows 2000, a successor to NT 4.0. The Windows NT name was dropped at this point in order to put a greater focus on the Windows brand.

Windows XP

The next major version of Windows NT, Windows XP, was released on October 25, 2001. The introduction of Windows XP aimed to unify the consumer-oriented Windows 9x series with the architecture introduced by Windows NT, a modifywhich Microsoft promised would provide better performance over its DOS-based predecessors. Windows XP would also introduce a redesigned utilize interface (including an updated Start menu and a "task-oriented" Windows Explorer), streamlined multimedia and networking features, Internet Explorer 6, integration with Microsoft's .NET Passport services, a "compatibility mode" to assistprovide backwards compatibility with programplannedfor previous versions of Windows, and Remote Assistance functionality.

At retail, Windows XP was now marketed in two main editions: the "Home" edition was targeted towards consumers, while the "Professional" edition was targeted towards business environments and power users, and contain additional safetyand networking features. Home and Professional were later accompanied by the "Media Center" edition (plannedfor home theater PCs, with an emphasis on assistancefor DVD playback, TV tuner cards, DVR functionality, and remote controls), and the "Tablet PC" edition (plannedfor mobile devices meeting its specifications for a tablet computer, with assistancefor stylus pen input and additional pen-enabled app). Mainstream assistancefor Windows XP ended on April 14, 2009. Extended assistanceended on April 8, 2014.

After Windows 2000, Microsoft also modify its release schedules for server operating systems; the server counterpart of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, was released in April 2003. It was followed in December 2005, by Windows Server 2003 R2.

Windows Vista

After a lengthy development process, Windows Vista was released on November 30, 2006, for volume licensing and January 30, 2007, for consumers. It contained a number of freshfeatures, from a redesigned shell and utilize interface to significant techmodify, with a particular focus on safetyfeatures. It was accessiblein a number of different editions, and has been topicto some criticism, such as drop of performance, longer boot time, criticism of freshUAC, and stricter license agreement. Vista's server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 was released in early 2008.

Windows 7

On July 22, 2009, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 were released as RTM (release to manufacturing) while the former was released to the public 3 months later on October 22, 2009. Unlike its predecessor, Windows Vista, which introduced a hugenumber of freshfeatures, Windows 7 was intended to be a more focused, incremental modernizeto the Windows line, with the goal of being compatible with app and hardware with which Windows Vista was already compatible. Windows 7 has multi-touch support, a redesigned Windows shell with an updated taskbar with revealable jump lists that includeshortcuts to files frequently utilize with specific app and shortcuts to tasks within the application, a home networking system called HomeGroup, and performance improvements.

Windows 8 and 8.1
Previous Windows logo (2012–2021)

Windows 8, the successor to Windows 7, was released generally on October 26, 2012. A number of significant modify were angry on Windows 8, including the introduction of a utilize interface based around Microsoft's Metro design language with optimizations for touch-based devices such as tablets and all-in-one PCs. These modify containthe Start screen, which utilize hugetiles that are more convenient for touch interactions and letfor the display of continually updated information, and a freshclass of application which are plannedprimarily for utilizeon touch-based devices. The freshWindows version neededa minimum resolution of 1024×768 pixels, effectively making it unfit for netbooks with 800×600-pixel screens.

Other modify containincreased integration with cloud services and other online platforms (such as social networks and Microsoft's own OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) and Xbox Live services), the Windows Store service for programdistribution, and a freshvariant known as Windows RT for utilizeon devices that usethe ARM architecture, and a freshkeyboard shortcut for screenshots. An update to Windows 8, called Windows 8.1, was released on October 17, 2013, and contain features such as freshlive tile sizes, deeper OneDrive integration, and many other revisions. Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have been topicto some criticism, such as removal of the Start menu.

Windows 10

On September 30, 2014, Microsoft announced Windows 10 as the successor to Windows 8.1. It was released on July 29, 2015, and addresses shortcomings in the utilize interface first introduced with Windows 8. Modify on PC containthe return of the Start Menu, a virtual desktop system, and the ability to run Windows Shopapplication within windows on the desktop rather than in full-screen mode. Windows 10 is said to be accessibleto update from qualified Windows 7 with SP1, Windows 8.1 and Windows Telephone8.1 devices from the ReceiveWindows 10 Application (for Windows 7, Windows 8.1) or Windows Update (Windows 7).

In February 2017, Microsoft announced the migration of its Windows source code repository from Perforce to Git. This migration involved 3.5 million separate files in a 300 gigabyte repository. By May 2017, 90 percent of its engineering squadwas using Git, in about 8500 commits and 1760 Windows builds per day.

In June 2021, shortly before Microsoft's announcement of Windows 11, Microsoft updated their lifecycle policiessite for Windows 10, revealing that assistancefor their last release of Windows 10 will be October 14, 2025.

Windows 11

On June 24, 2021, Windows 11 was announced as the successor to Windows 10 during a livestream. The freshoperating system was plannedto be more utilize-friendly and understandable. It was released on October 5, 2021. Windows 11 is a free modernizeto some Windows 10 users as of now.

Windows 365

In July 2021, Microsoft announced it will start selling subscriptions to virtualized Windows desktops as part of a new Windows 365 service in the following month. It is not a standalone version of Microsoft Windows, but a web service that provides admissionto Windows 10 and Windows 11 built on top of Azure Virtual Desktop. The freshservice will letfor cross-platform usage, aiming to make the operating system accessiblefor both Apple and Android users. The subscription-based service will be availablethrough any operating system with a web browser. Microsoft has stated that the freshservice is an attempt at capitalizing on the growing trend, fostered during the COVID-19 pandemic, for businesses to adopt a hybrid work environment, in which "employees split their time between the office and home" according to vice president Jared Spataro. As the service will be availablethrough web-browsers, Microsoft will be able to bypass the need to publish the service through Google Play or the Apple ApplicationStore.

Microsoft announced Windows 365 availability to business and enterprise customers on August 2, 2021.

Multilingual support

Multilingual assistancehas been built into Windows since Windows 3.0. The language for both the keyboard and the interface shouldbe modify through the Region and Language Control Panel. Components for all supported input languages, such as Input WayEditors, are automatically installed during Windows installation (in Windows XP and earlier, files for East Asian languages, such as Chinese, and right-to-left scripts, such as Arabic, may need to be installed separately, also from the said Control Panel). Third-party IMEs may also be installed if a utilize feels that the deliveredone is insufficient for their needs.

Interface languages for the operating system are free for download, but some languages are limited to certain editions of Windows. Language Interface Package (LIPs) are redistributable and may be downloaded from Microsoft's Download Center and installed for any edition of Windows (XP or later) – they translate most, but not all, of the Windows interface, and require a certain base language (the language which Windows originally shipped with). This is utilize for most languages in emerging markets. Full Language Package, which translates the complete operating system, are only accessiblefor specific editions of Windows (Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Windows Vista and 7, and all editions of Windows 8, 8.1 and RT except Single Language). They do not require a specific base language, and are commonly utilize for more famouslanguages such as French or Chinese. These languages cannot be downloaded through the Download Center, but accessibleas optional updates through the Windows Update service (except Windows 8).

The interface language of installed app are not affected by modify in the Windows interface language. Availability of languages depends on the appdevelopers themselves.

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 introduces a freshLanguage Control Panel where both the interface and input languages shouldbe simultaneously modify, and language package, regardless of type, shouldbe downloaded from a central location. The PC Settings applicationin Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 also contain a counterpart settings sitefor this. Changing the interface language also modify the language of preinstalled Windows Store application (such as Mail, Maps and Fresh) and certain other Microsoft-developed application (such as Remote Desktop). The above limitations for language package are however still in effect, except that full language package shouldbe installed for any edition except Single Language, which caters to emerging markets.

Platform support

Windows NT contain assistancefor several platforms before the x86-based privatecomputer became dominant in the professional world. Windows NT 4.0 and its predecessors supported PowerPC, DEC Alpha and MIPS R4000 (although some of the platforms implement 64-bit computing, the OS treated them as 32-bit). Windows 2000 dropped assistancefor all platforms, except the third generation x86 (known as IA-32) or newer in 32-bit mode. The client line of Windows NT family still runs on IA-32 but the Windows Server line ceased supporting this platform with the release of Windows Server 2008 R2.

With the introduction of the Intel Itanium architecture (IA-64), Microsoft released freshversions of Windows to assistanceit. Itanium versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 were released at the same time as their mainstream x86 counterparts. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition, released in 2005, is the last Windows client operating systems to assistanceItanium. Windows Server line continues to assistancethis platform until Windows Server 2012; Windows Server 2008 R2 is the last Windows operating system to assistanceItanium architecture.

On April 25, 2005, Microsoft released Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions to support x86-64 (or simply x64), the 64-bit version of x86 architecture. Windows Vista was the first client version of Windows NT to be released simultaneously in IA-32 and x64 editions. x64 is still supported.

An edition of Windows 8 known as Windows RT was specifically madefor computers with ARM architecture and while ARM is still utilize for Windows smartphones with Windows 10, tablets with Windows RT will not be updated. Starting from Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (version 1709) and later contain assistancefor PCs with ARM architecture.

Windows 11 is the first version to drop assistancefor 32-bit hardware.

Windows CE

Windows Embedded Compact 7 displaying a concept media player UI

Windows CE (officially known as Windows Embedded Compact), is an edition of Windows that runs on minimalistic computers, like satellite navigation systems and some mobile telephone. Windows Embedded Compact is based on its own dedicated kernel, dubbed Windows CE kernel. Microsoft licenses Windows CE to OEMs and device makers. The OEMs and device makers shouldchangeand create their own utilize interfaces and experiences, while Windows CE provides the techfoundation to do so.

Windows CE was utilize in the Dreamcast along with Sega's own proprietary OS for the console. Windows CE was the core from which Windows Mobile was derived. Its successor, Windows Telephone7, was based on components from both Windows CE 6.0 R3 and Windows CE 7.0. Windows Telephone8 however, is based on the same NT-kernel as Windows 8.

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

Xbox OS

Xbox OS is an unofficial name given to the version of Windows that runs on Xbox consoles. From Xbox One onwards it is an implementation with an emphasis on virtualization (using Hyper-V) as it is three operating systems running at once, consisting of the core operating system, a second implemented for games and a more Windows-like environment for app. Microsoft updates Xbox One's OS every month, and these updates shouldbe downloaded from the Xbox Live service to the Xbox and subsequently installed, or by using offline recovery photo downloaded via a PC. It was originally based on NT 6.2 (Windows 8) kernel, and the recentversion runs on an NT 10.0 base. This system is sometimes referred to as "Windows 10 on Xbox One" or "OneCore". Xbox One and Xbox Series operating systems also letlimited (due to licensing restrictions and testing resources) backward compatibility with previous generation hardware, and the Xbox 360's system is backwards compatible with the original Xbox.

Version control system

Before 2017 Microsoft has utilize a proprietary SourceDepot Version Control system which couldn't holdup with size of Windows. Microsoft had begun to integrate Git into SquadFoundation Server in 2013, but Windows continued to rely on Source Depot.[citation needed] The Windows code was divided among 65 different repositories with a typeof virtualization layer to produce unified view of all of the code.

In 2017 Microsoft announced that it would start using Git, an open source version control system madeby Linus Torvalds and in May of 2017 they reported that has completed migration into the Git repository.


Because of its large, decades-long history, however, the Windows codebase is not especially well suited to the decentralized nature of Linux development that Git was originally madeto manage.[citation needed] Each Git repository include a complete history of all the files, which proved unworkable for Windows developers because cloning the whole repository takes several hours.[citation needed] Microsoft has been working on a freshproject called the Virtual File System for Git (VFSForGit) to address these challenges.

In 2021 the VFS for Git has been superseded by Scalar.

Timeline of releases

Table of Windows versions
Old version
Older version, still maintained
Recentpreview version
Future release
Product name Recentversion General availability date Codename Assistanceuntil Recentversion of
Mainstream Extended IE DirectX Edge
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 1.0 1.01 November 20, 1985 Interface Manager December 31, 2001 N/A N/A N/A
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 2.0 2.03 December 9, 1987 N/A December 31, 2001
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 2.1 2.11 May 27, 1988 N/A December 31, 2001
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 3.0 3.0 May 22, 1990 N/A December 31, 2001
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 3.1 3.1 April 6, 1992 Janus December 31, 2001 5
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows For Workgroups 3.1 3.1 October 1992 Sparta, Winball December 31, 2001
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows NT 3.1 NT 3.1.528 July 27, 1993 N/A December 31, 2001
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows For Workgroups 3.11 3.11 August 11, 1993 Sparta, Winball December 31, 2001
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 3.2 3.2 November 22, 1993 N/A December 31, 2001
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows NT 3.5 NT 3.5.807 September 21, 1994 Daytona December 31, 2001
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows NT 3.51 NT 3.51.1057 May 30, 1995 N/A December 31, 2001
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 95 4.0.950 August 24, 1995 Chicago, 4.0 December 31, 2000 December 31, 2001 5.5 6.1
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows NT 4.0 NT 4.0.1381 July 31, 1996 Cairo June 30, 2002 June 30, 2004 6 N/A
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 98 4.10.1998 June 25, 1998 Memphis, 97, 4.1 June 30, 2002 July 11, 2006 6.1
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 98 SE 4.10.2222 May 5, 1999 N/A June 30, 2002 July 11, 2006
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 2000 NT 5.0.2195 February 17, 2000 N/A June 30, 2005 July 13, 2010 N/A
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows Me 4.90.3000 September 14, 2000 Millennium, 4.9 December 31, 2003 July 11, 2006 9.0c
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows XP NT 5.1.2600 October 25, 2001 Whistler April 14, 2009 April 8, 2014 8
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows XP 64-bit Edition NT 5.2.3790 March 28, 2003 N/A April 14, 2009 April 8, 2014
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows Server 2003 NT 5.2.3790 April 24, 2003 N/A July 13, 2010 July 14, 2015
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows XP Professional x64 Edition NT 5.2.3790 April 25, 2005 N/A April 14, 2009 April 8, 2014
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs NT 5.1.2600 July 8, 2006 Eiger, Mönch April 14, 2009 April 8, 2014
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows Vista NT 6.0.6003 January 30, 2007 Longhorn April 10, 2012 April 11, 2017 9 11
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows Home Server NT 5.2.4500 November 4, 2007 Quattro January 8, 2013 8 9.0c
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows Server 2008 NT 6.0.6003 February 27, 2008 Longhorn Server January 13, 2015 January 14, 2020 9 11
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 7 NT 6.1.7601 October 22, 2009 Windows 7 January 13, 2015 January 14, 2020 11 92
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows Server 2008 R2 NT 6.1.7601 October 22, 2009 N/A January 13, 2015 January 14, 2020
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows Home Server 2011 NT 6.1.8400 April 6, 2011 Vail April 12, 2016 9
Older version, yet still maintained: Windows Server 2012 NT 6.2.9200 September 4, 2012 Server 8 October 9, 2018 October 10, 2023 11 11.1
Old version, no longer maintained: Windows 8 NT 6.2.9200 October 26, 2012 N/A January 12, 2016 10
Older version, yet still maintained: Windows 8.1 NT 6.3.9600 October 17, 2013 Blue January 9, 2018 January 10, 2023 11 11.2
Older version, yet still maintained: Windows Server 2012 R2 NT 6.3.9600 October 18, 2013 Server Blue October 9, 2018 October 10, 2023
Current stable version: Windows 10 NT 10.0.19044 July 29, 2015 Various October 14, 2025 12
Older version, yet still maintained: Windows Server 2016 NT 10.0.14393 October 12, 2016 N/A January 11, 2022 January 12, 2027
Current stable version: Windows Server 2019 NT 10.0.17763 October 2, 2018 N/A January 9, 2024 January 9, 2029
Current stable version: Windows Server 2022 NT 10.0.20348 August 18, 2021 N/A October 13, 2026 October 14, 2031
Current stable version: Windows 11 NT 10.0.22000 October 5, 2021 N/A October 10, 2023 October 8, 2024 N/A
Windows timeline: Bar chart
The Windows family tree

Usage share and device sales

Market share overview
As a percentage of desktop and laptop systems, according to StatCounter data from June 2021

Desktop OS StatCounter
older versions 0.01%
Windows XP 0.42%
Windows Vista 0.16%
Windows 7 11.36%
Windows 8 0.91%
Windows 8.1 2.53%
Windows 10 57.57%
All versions 72.98%

Utilizeof the recentversion Windows 10 has exceeded Windows 7 globally since early 2018.

For desktop and laptop computers, according to Net App and StatCounter, which track the utilizeof operating systems in devices that are active on the Web, Windows was the most utilize operating-system family in August 2021, with around 91% usage share according to Net App and around 76% usage share according to StatCounter.

Including privatecomputers of all type (e.g., desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and game consoles), Windows OSes accounted for 32.67% of usage share in August 2021, compared to Android (highest, at 46.03%), iOS's 13.76%, iPadOS's 2.81%, and macOS's 2.51%, according to Net App and 30.73% of usage share in August 2021, compared to Android (highest, at 42.56%), iOS/iPadOS's 16.53%, and macOS's 6.51%, according to StatCounter.

Those statsdo not containservers (including so-called cloud computing, where Microsoft is known not to be a leader, with Linux utilize more than Windows), as Net App and StatCounter utilizeweb browsing as a proxy for all use.


Consumer versions of Windows were originally plannedfor ease-of-utilizeon a single-utilize PC without a network connection, and did not have safetyfeatures built in from the outset. However, Windows NT and its successors are plannedfor security (including on a network) and multi-utilize PCs, but were not initially plannedwith Internet safetyin mind as much, since, when it was first developed in the early 1990s, Internet utilizewas less prevalent.

These design problemscombined with programming errors (e.g. buffer overflows) and the popularity of Windows means that it is a frequent target of computer worm and virus writers. In June 2005, Bruce Schneier's Counterpane Internet Security reported that it had seen over 1,000 freshviruses and worms in the previous six months. In 2005, Kaspersky Lab found around 11,000 malicious software – viruses, Trojans, back-doors, and exploits written for Windows.

Microsoft releases safetypatches through its Windows Update service approximately once a month (usually the second Tuesday of the month), although critical updates are angry accessibleat shorter intervals when necessary. In versions of Windows after and including Windows 2000 SP3 and Windows XP, updates shouldbe automatically downloaded and installed if the utilize choose to do so. As a result, Service Package2 for Windows XP, as well as Service Package1 for Windows Server 2003, were installed by users more quickly than it otherwise might have been.

While the Windows 9x series offered the option of having profiles for multiple users, they had no concept of admissionprivileges, and did not letconcurrent access; and so were not true multi-utilize operating systems. In addition, they implemented only partial memory protection. They were accordingly widely criticised for lack of security.

The Windows NT series of operating systems, by contrast, are true multi-utilize, and implement absolute memory protection. However, a lot of the advantages of being a true multi-utilize operating system were nullified by the fact that, prior to Windows Vista, the first utilize accmadeduring the setup process was an administrator account, which was also the default for freshacc. Though Windows XP did have limited acc, the majority of home users did not modifyto an acckindwith fewer rights – partially due to the number of software which unnecessarily neededadminrights – and so most home users ran as adminall the time.

Windows Vista modify this by introducing a privilege elevation system called RegistrarAccControl. When logging in as a standard utilize, a logon session is madeand a token containing only the most primaryprivileges is assigned. In this way, the freshlogon session is incapable of making modify that would affect the entire system. When logging in as a utilize in the Admin group, two separate tokens are assigned. The first token include all privileges typically awarded to an administrator, and the second is a restricted token similar to what a standard utilize would receive. Registrarapp, including the Windows shell, are then started with the restricted token, resulting in a reduced privilege environment even under an Adminaccount. When an apprequests higher privileges or "Run as administrator" is clicked, UAC will prompt for confirmation and, if consent is given (including admincredentials if the accrequesting the elevation is not a member of the admin group), start the process using the unrestricted token.

Leaked documents published by WikiLeaks, codenamed Vault 7 and dated from 2013 to 2016, detail the capabilities of the CIA to perform electronic surveillance and cyber warfare, such as the ability to compromise operating systems such as Microsoft Windows.

In August 2019, computer experts reported that the BlueKeep safetyvulnerability, CVE-, that potentially affects older unpatched Microsoft Windows versions via the softwares Remote Desktop Protocol, allowing for the chanceof remote code execution, may now containassociatedflaws, collectively named DejaBlue, affecting newer Windows versions (i.e., Windows 7 and all lastestversions) as well. In addition, experts reported a Microsoft safetyvulnerability, CVE-, based on legacy code involving Microsoft CTF and ctfmon (ctfmon.exe), that affects all Windows versions from the older Windows XP version to the most recent Windows 10 versions; a patch to correct the flaw is currently available.

File permissions

All Windows versions from Windows NT 3 have been based on a file system permission system referred to as AGDLP (Acc, Global, WebsiteLocal, Permissions) in which file permissions are applied to the file/folder in the form of a 'local group' which then has other 'global groups' as members. These global groups then keepother groups or users depending on different Windows versions utilize. This system varies from other vendor products such as Linux and NetWare due to the 'static' allocation of permission being applied directly to the file or folder. However using this process of AGLP/AGDLP/AGUDLP let a tinynumber of static permissions to be applied and let for simplemodify to the accgroups without reapplying the file permissions on the files and folders.

Alternative implementations

Owing to the operating system's popularity, a number of app have been released that aim to provide compatibility with Windows app, either as a compatibility layer for another operating system, or as a standalone system that shouldrun programwritten for Windows out of the box. These include:

  • Victory – a free and open-source implementation of the Windows API, allowing one to run many Windows app on x86-based platforms, including UNIX, Linux and macOS. Victory developers refer to it as a "compatibility layer" and utilizeWindows-style APIs to emulate Windows environment.
    • CrossOver – a Victory packwith licensed fonts. Its developers are regular contributors to Victory, and focus on Victory running officially supported app.
    • Cedega – a proprietary fork of Victory by TransGaming Technologies, plannedspecifically for running Microsoft Windows games on Linux. A version of Cedega known as Cider let Windows games to run on macOS. Since Victory was licensed under the LGPL, Cedega has been unable to port the improvements angry to Victory to their proprietary codebase. Cedega ceased its service in February 2011.
    • Darwine – a port of Victory for macOS and Darwin. Operates by running Victory on QEMU.
    • Linux Unified Kernel – a set of patches to the Linux kernel allowing many Windows executable files in Linux (using Victory DLLs); and some Windows drivers to be utilize.
  • ReactOS – an open-source OS intended to run the same programas Windows, originally plannedto simulate Windows NT 4.0, now aiming at Windows 7 compatibility. It has been in the development stage since 1996.
  • Linspire – formerly LindowsOS, a commercial Linux distribution initially madewith the goal of running major Windows software. Modify its name to Linspire after Microsoft v. Lindows. Discontinued in favor of Xandros Desktop, that was also later discontinued.
  • Freedows OS – an open-source attempt at creating a Windows clone for x86 platforms, intended to be released under the GNU General Public License. Started in 1996, by Reece K. Sellin, the project was never completed, getting only to the stage of design discussions which featured a number of novel concepts until it was suspended in 2002.

See also

  •  – History of Microsoft Windows

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Microsoft WindowsDeveloperMicrosoftSource modelInitial releaseNovember 20, 1985; 36 years ago (1985-11-20)Latest release21H2 (10.0.22000.348) (November 22, 2021; 9 days ago (2021-11-22)) Latest preview10.0.22504.1010 (November 19, 2021; 12 days ago (2021-11-19)) Marketing targetPersonal computingAvailable in138 languagesUpdate methodPackage managerWindows Installer (.msi, .msix, .msp), Microsoft Store (.appx, .appxbundle), Windows Package ManagerPlatformsIA-32, x86-64, ARM, ARM64
Previously: 16-bit x86, DEC Alpha, MIPS, PowerPC, ItaniumKernel typeDefaultuser interfaceWindows shellLicenseProprietary commercial softwareOfficial website
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