A Guide to the Windows Operating System

windows system

Windows is a graphical operating system that has become the most popular choice for personal computer users. It offers a wide range of features and functionality to meet the needs of both home and business users.

It also includes the Windows Paint program, a simple application to create and edit images. In addition, the operating system has a centralized Control Panel feature that provides a variety of tools to manage Windows settings and resources.

Windows 1.0

The first graphical OS to hit the mainstream market, Microsoft Windows 1.0 was released in November 1985. It imposes a graphical shell on top of existing MS-DOS applications, and supports multitasking. It manages windows by tiling rather than stacking.

It was heavily criticized for over-emphasizing the mouse at a time when it wasn’t common, and for being unreliable on lower computer hardware specifications. Version 2.0 and later would improve on its initial design.

Windows 2.0

This incarnation of Windows was designed to address some of the complaints that users had with tiled window management and support for overlapping windows was introduced. It also included a proportional system font and keyboard shortcuts.

It shipped a version for the 386 processor that took advantage of protected mode and expanded memory.

Apple sued Microsoft over overlapping windows and other features that were similar to the Macintosh operating system, but lost the case.

Windows 3.0

After Windows 1.0 and 2.0 Microsoft needed to take the next step to get it’s GUI into the mainstream. Windows 3.0 was the result.

It ran on any IBM compatible with an Intel 286, 386 or 486 central processor unit and a graphical display. It required at least 1 MB of memory.

It enabled graphical MS-DOS programs and Windows applications to run in a protected mode environment. It also supported a number of graphic display modes.

Windows 95

The successor to Microsoft’s formerly separate MS-DOS and Windows products, Windows 95 introduced a graphical user interface and preemptive multitasking. It also supported a range of new hardware through its Plug and Play technology.

Users could give files and folders 255-character names and enjoy features like a desktop that resembled MacOS and the ability to browse the first WWW homepages via their dial-up Internet service, MSN (which came bundled with Windows 95). The system was highly integrated and robust.

Windows 98

Billed as the ultimate upgrade to Windows 95, Microsoft’s latest version boasts greater Web integration and advanced power management features for laptops and desktop computers. It requires at least a Pentium 100 processor and 16 MB of RAM.

A new file system lets you use hard drives up to 2 TB. Windows 98 also supports multiple monitors and introduces Internet Connection Sharing.

Windows 2000

Windows 2000 combines the user friendliness of 98 and NTs reliability. It comes in four flavors: Professional, Server, Advanced Server and Datacenter Server.

It provides centralized, policy-based management with IntelliMirror TM technologies; and greater interoperability to lower total cost of ownership for businesses of all sizes. It also has improved troubleshooters that help you diagnose and fix hardware problems. Its security features include NTFS 3.0 file system, an encrypted file system and dynamic disk storage.

Windows XP

During installation setup will ask if you want to register with Microsoft. Choose yes if you wish to receive Windows updates.

XP continues the 32-bit programming model begun with 95/98/Me, and fully implemented in NT and 2000; a part of its protected memory scheme depends on programs being 32-bit.

The GDI library is simplified, providing easier integration with C++ programmes. It also supports a new set of powertoys.

Windows Vista

Windows Vista is Microsoft’s latest major operating system. Its updated interface is designed to feel cleaner, more modern and more streamlined than previous versions of Windows.

Its Aero interface has a smoother 3D look and supports a new multimedia subsystem that supports HD DVD and Blu-ray. Other changes include indexed file searching, better security and more management settings via Group Policy.

Windows 7

After Windows Vista, Microsoft focused on retaining its previous users with the release of Windows 7. The system supports more types of hardware and software than Vista, and has improved touch-screen capabilities.

While the installation media for all consumer editions of Windows 7 are identical, a license determines the features activated; upgrades unlock additional functionality. Tests conducted by various reviewers have shown that the operating system performs better than XP on comparable hardware.

Windows 8

Microsoft tries to recapture its lost mojo with this version, offering a visually slick interface that caters to a world increasingly dominated by touch-screen devices. It also features advanced security tools for the business community.

Its performance is optimized for touch-screen devices and takes up less space on the hard drive than previous versions of Windows. The Professional edition adds BitLocker disk encryption and support for corporate network domain environments.