A Guide to the Windows Operating System

Windows is the graphical operating system developed by Microsoft. It is used on many computer devices, including personal computers and tablets. Its competitors include Apple’s macOS and the open source Linux operating system.

The first version of windows was released in 1985. It was named after the graphical window element, which allows applications to be displayed and moved around the screen.

Windows 1.0

Microsoft Windows 1.0 was the first release of a graphical operating system. It runs as a 16-bit shell program called MS-DOS Executive and provides an environment which can run graphical programs designed for Windows or existing MS-DOS software. It also supports multitasking and mouse input.

Its interface was based on the desktop metaphor pioneered by Apple and influenced by the Lisa PC. It came with a number of built-in programs, including the calculator, Paint (then known as Paintbrush), Notepad, Terminal and Write. It also included a commercially published video game called Reversi, which relies on mouse control for navigation.

Unlike later releases, the 1.0 Premiere Edition did not allow its windows to overlap. Windows 1.0 used an operating system kernel with three dynamic-link libraries to share code and data between programs, instead of using a single shared executable file.

Windows 2000

The follow-up to Windows NT 4.0, the Microsoft operating system Windows 2000 uses the NT kernel and a file system that’s based on NTFS. Like NT, it provides advanced security features and supports dynamic disk storage.

It also allows users to access network files and Web sites even if they are offline, and it lets businesses increase productivity by linking handheld devices to their PC systems via the Internet or corporate intranets. It includes a built-in client-side DNS caching service that reduces DNS query traffic.

It supports digital subscriber line (DSL), cable modem, and wireless technologies. And it offers added printer and peripheral support through a variety of Plug and Play technology. It also adds improved troubleshooters in online Help that use a question-and-answer approach to assist with solving problems when tech support is unavailable.

Windows XP

Microsoft’s XP operating system rolled out in 2001 and became the dominant operating system for nearly a decade. It was based on the NT kernel and designed for consumers or business use. Originally codenamed “Neptune” and later “Whistler,” XP supports Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology, allowing for multitasking on multiple CPU cores.

Among other things, XP supports GPT-partitioned disks, allowing for storage of data on drives of up to 2TB or more. It also supports 64-bit processors, enabling faster encoding of audio or video and higher performance in 3D gaming. XP also introduces Windows Product Activation, a form of digital rights management that prevents copyright violations.

People who share a computer can use a single XP installation by creating separate computer accounts, which track each user’s unique settings and files. XP also supports wireless networking configuration without the need for software provided by hardware manufacturers.

Windows Vista

The Windows Vista operating system, which was released in late 2006 for business and early 2007 for consumers, introduced a 3-D visual style dubbed Aero; a new desktop search platform called Windows Search; a content indexing software package known as Windows Media Center; and new multimedia tools. Other major upgrades were made to the audio, display, network and print sub-systems; security architecture; and deployment, installation, servicing and startup procedures.

Microsoft focused heavily on improved security in the development of Windows Vista. It uses a variety of privilege-restriction techniques to make malware more difficult to successfully infiltrate the operating system.

The most visible new security measure is a feature called User Account Control (UAC), which prompts users to confirm any activity that takes place on the desktop.

Windows 7

Despite some early snafus, Microsoft’s Windows 7 became one of the most popular versions of the operating system ever. The company released it to manufacturing in July 2009 and made it available to the public on October 22, 2009. It is the successor to Windows Vista and the predecessor to Windows 8.

Some notable features of the OS include multitouch support, a redesigned taskbar, known as the Superbar, which allows users to pin applications to it; and HomeGroup, an improved system for sharing files on a network. Additionally, the OS is designed to sleep and restart more quickly than previous versions and recognize USB devices faster.

Microsoft offers several editions of Windows 7, including Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. These are sold at retailers. A volume licensing program enables business customers to upgrade to other editions, such as Enterprise and Professional for Embedded Systems.