The Different Versions of Windows

Windows is one of the most widely used operating systems in the world. It has a number of features that make it easy to use for both home and business users, including a file explorer, Microsoft Paint, web browser and an AI-powered virtual assistant called Cortana.

System files are critical to the operation of your Windows computer. These files are hidden by default and have permissions to protect them from tampering.

Windows 1.0

The first version of Windows, a graphical multitasking environment for MS-DOS computers. It was announced in November 1983 and demonstrated at COMDEX ’83.

It runs as a shell program called the MS-DOS Executive and provides an environment that can run graphical programs designed for it and existing MS-DOS software. It supports the use of a mouse and allows its windows to be tiled but not overlapped.

It requires a CGA or higher resolution monitor, MS-DOS 2.0, and 640 KB of memory. Four 360Kb distribution diskettes are supplied.

Windows 1.1

Microsoft has released the source code to MS-DOS 1.1, Windows 1.1 and Word for Windows 1.1a. The release is a gift to programmers who wish to dig into the code that helped make Microsoft a billion-dollar company.

The release is only available for non-commercial use. The version of Windows included with this package is a multitasking GUI that ran on top of MS-DOS, supporting IBM CGA and Hercules Monochrome video. It was bundled with Word and Paint.

Windows 1.2

Microsoft Windows 1.2 introduced some visual changes and was the first version to use real mode rather than 286 protected mode. It also had improved disk performance on 386 enhanced mode machines. It was popularized by the inclusion of graphical applications like Excel and Word, and Aldus PageMaker.

Its limited DOS compatibility and spartan device support, though, made it less attractive than OS/2. Microsoft began work on a new consumer-oriented operating system codenamed Chicago, which would run on 32-bit preemptive multitasking while retaining 16-bit support for backward compatibility.

Windows 3.1

Released on April 6, 1992, Windows 3.1 became the keystone of Microsoft’s meteoric rise in the PC market. It significantly improved user interface functionality and system stability, laying the groundwork for later Windows releases to come.

It introduced True Type font support and included multimedia components installed by default. Windows 3.1 was the last version that supported 16-bit processors, being succeeded by Windows 95 in 1995.

Windows XP

Built on the improved stability of the NT kernel, XP offers several user interface improvements and features for streamlining multimedia, connectivity, and device management. XP also introduced an error reporting system and automated wireless network configuration, making it easier to connect to a home or office wireless network.

To run XP, a computer must have a 233-megahertz (MHz) processor, 64 megabytes (MB) of random-access memory, and 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of hard disk space. It also must support a color display and resolution.

Windows Vista

Microsoft’s “Longhorn” project, renamed Windows Vista, aims to eliminate many of the issues that plagued earlier versions of the operating system. A new graphical user interface and visual style, dubbed Aero, a redesigned search function, and Windows DVD Maker are among the new features.

Other improvements include a more-in-depth search feature, Instant Search, that operates without a browser window. Security enhancements, including User Account Control and PatchGuard, work in the background.

Windows 7

Windows 7 is the successor to Vista and predecessor to Windows 8.

Users can buy new computers with Windows 7, upgrade from XP or Vista, or perform a clean install.

Microsoft added features that made it more accessible to people with disabilities, and improved the performance of applications and systems by using tracing tools to identify inefficient code paths. It also added Windows XP Mode, which allows older applications to run in a virtual machine.

Windows 8

Windows 8 introduces a new user interface that is optimized for touch screen devices. The new system features a Start screen with tiles that can show updated information like unread email messages or the current weather forecast.

It also includes a Store where users can install Windows apps and offers more login options including using a Microsoft account. The Pro edition of the operating system supports BitLocker and EFS for enterprise-grade security.

Windows 10

Microsoft’s Windows 10 is its current flagship operating system. It’s available for desktop computers, laptops and 2-in-1 (tablet and laptop) devices and includes Cortana, a personal digital assistant.

The OS uses Microsoft’s Fluent design language and incorporates mobile and touch-friendly interface elements. It also includes virtualization-based security tools to isolate data, processes and user credentials on a device or network. It’s the first major release to include a rolling update model, known as Windows-as-a-Service.