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Microsoft Windows
Windows logo
Windows 7 desktop
Windows 7 desktop
Company / developer Microsoft
OS family MS-DOS/Windows 9x-based, Windows CE, Windows NT
Working state Publicly released
Source model Closed source / Shared source
Latest stable release Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2
NT 6.1 Build 7600 (7600.16385.090713-1255)
 (22 October 2009; 4 month(s) ago (2009-10-22)) [+/−]
Latest unstable release [+/−]
License MS-EULA
Official Website Official website

Microsoft Windows is a series of software operating systems and graphical user interfaces produced by Microsoft. Microsoft first introduced an operating environment named Windows in November 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs).[1] Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal computer market, overtaking Mac OS, which had been introduced previously. As of October 2009, Windows had approximately 91% of the market share of the client operating systems for usage on the Internet.[2][3][4] The most recent client version of Windows is Windows 7; the most recent server version is Windows Server 2008 R2; the most recent mobile device version is Windows Mobile 6.5.



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

The history of Windows dates back to September 1981, when the project named "Interface Manager" was started. 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.[5] The shell of Windows 1.0 was a program known as the MS-DOS Executive. Other supplied programs were Calculator, Calendar, Cardfile, Clipboard viewer, Clock, Control Panel, Notepad, Paint, Reversi, Terminal, and Write. Windows 1.0 did not allow overlapping windows, due to Apple Computer owning this feature[citation needed]. Instead all windows were tiled. Only dialog boxes could appear over other windows.

Windows 2.0 was released in October 1987 and featured several improvements to the user interface and memory management.[5] Windows 2.0 allowed application windows to overlap each other and also introduced more sophisticated keyboard-shortcuts. It could also make use of expanded memory.

Windows 2.1 was released in two different flavors: Windows/386 employed the 386 virtual 8086 mode to multitask several DOS programs, and the paged memory model to emulate expanded memory using available extended memory. Windows/286 (which, despite its name, would run on the 8086) still ran in real mode, but could make use of the high memory area.

The early versions of Windows were often thought of as simply graphical user interfaces, mostly because they ran on top of MS-DOS and used it for file system services.[6] However, even the earliest 16-bit 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) for applications. Unlike MS-DOS, Windows allowed users to execute multiple graphical applications at the same time, through cooperative multitasking. Windows implemented an elaborate, segment-based, software virtual memory scheme, which allowed it to run applications larger than available memory: code segments and resources were swapped in and thrown away when memory became scarce, and data segments moved in memory when a given application had relinquished processor control, typically waiting for user input.[citation needed]

Windows OS market share
Source Net Applications[7] Awio[8] StatCounter[9]
Date February 2010 February 2010 February 2010
All versions 91.64% 85.77% 92.57%
Windows XP 65.49% 53.6% 61.17%
Windows Vista 16.51% 20.07% 21.14%
Windows 7 8.92% 10.66% 10.26%
Windows 2000 0.56% 0.43%
Windows 98 0.07%
Windows CE 0.05%
Windows Me 0.04%
Windows Server 2003 1.01%

Windows 3.0 and 3.1

Windows 3.0 (1990) and Windows 3.1 (1992) improved the design, mostly because of virtual memory and loadable virtual device drivers (VxDs) which allowed them to share arbitrary devices between multitasked DOS windows.[citation needed] Also, Windows applications could now run in protected mode (when Windows was running in Standard or 386 Enhanced Mode), which gave them access to several megabytes of memory and removed the obligation to participate in the software virtual memory scheme. They still ran inside the same address space, where the segmented memory provided a degree of protection, and multi-tasked cooperatively. For Windows 3.0, Microsoft also rewrote critical operations from C into assembly, making this release faster and less memory-hungry than its predecessors.[citation needed] With the introduction of the Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Windows was able to bypass DOS for file management operations using 32-bit file access.[citation needed]

Windows 95, 98, and Me

Windows 95 was released in 1995, featuring a new user interface, support for long file names of up to 255 characters, and the ability to automatically detect and configure installed hardware (plug and play). It could natively run 32-bit applications, and featured several technological improvements that increased its stability over Windows 3.1. There were several OEM Service Releases (OSR) of Windows 95, each of which was roughly equivalent to a service pack.

Microsoft's next release was Windows 98 in 1998. Microsoft released a second version of Windows 98 in 1999, named Windows 98 Second Edition (often shortened to Windows 98 SE).

In 2000, Microsoft released Windows Me (Me standing for Millennium Edition), which updated the core from Windows 98 but adopted some aspects of Windows 2000 and removed the "boot in DOS mode" option. It also added a new feature called System Restore, allowing the user to set the computer's settings back to an earlier date.

Windows NT family

The NT family of Windows systems was fashioned and marketed for higher reliability business use. The first release was MS Windows NT 3.1 (1993), numbered "3.1" to match the consumer Windows version, which was followed by NT 3.5 (1994), NT 3.51 (1995), NT 4.0 (1996), and Windows 2000 (2000). 2000 is the last NT-based Windows release which does not include Microsoft Product Activation. NT 4.0 was the first in this line to implement the "Windows 95" user interface (and the first to include Windows 95’s built-in 32-bit runtimes). Microsoft then moved to combine their consumer and business operating systems with Windows XP, coming in both home and professional versions (and later niche market versions for tablet PCs and media centers); they also diverged release schedules for server operating systems. Windows Server 2003, released a year and a half after Windows XP, brought Windows Server up to date with MS Windows XP. After a lengthy development process, Windows Vista was released toward the end of 2006, and its server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 was released in early 2008. On July 22, 2009, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 were released as RTM (release to manufacturing). Windows 7 was released on October 22, 2009.

64-bit operating systems

Windows NT included support for several different platforms before the x86-based personal computer became dominant in the professional world. Versions of NT from 3.1 to 4.0 variously supported PowerPC, DEC Alpha and MIPS R4000, some of which were 64-bit processors, although the operating system treated them as 32-bit processors.

With the introduction of the Intel Itanium architecture (also known as IA-64), Microsoft released new versions of Windows to support it. Itanium versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 were released at the same time as their mainstream x86 (32-bit) counterparts. On April 25, 2005, Microsoft released Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions to support the x86-64 (or x64 in Microsoft terminology) architecture. Microsoft dropped support for the Itanium version of Windows XP in 2005. Windows Vista is the first end-user version of Windows that Microsoft has released simultaneously in x86 and x64 editions. Windows Vista does not support the Itanium architecture. The modern 64-bit Windows family comprises AMD64/Intel64 versions of Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008, in both Itanium and x64 editions. Windows Server 2008 R2 drops the 32-bit version, although Windows 7 does not.

Windows CE

Windows CE (officially known as Windows Embedded), is an edition of Windows that runs on minimalistic computers, like satellite navigation systems and, uncommonly, mobile phones. Windows Embedded runs as CE, rather than NT, which is why it should not be mistaken for Windows XP Embedded, which is NT. Windows CE was used in the Dreamcast along with Sega's own proprietary OS for the console. Windows CE is the core from which Windows Mobile is derived.


The Windows family tree.

Microsoft has taken two parallel routes in its operating systems. One route has been for the home user and the other has been for the professional IT user. The dual routes have generally led to home versions having greater multimedia support and less functionality in networking and security, and professional versions having inferior multimedia support and better networking and security.[citation needed]

The first version of Microsoft Windows, version 1.0, released in November 1985, lacked a degree of functionality and achieved little popularity, and was to compete with Apple’s own operating system.[citation needed] Windows 1.0 is not a complete operating system; rather, it extends MS-DOS. Microsoft Windows version 2.0 was released in November, 1987 and was slightly more popular than its predecessor. Windows 2.03 (release date January 1988) had changed the OS from tiled windows to overlapping windows. The result of this change led to Apple Computer filing a suit against Microsoft alleging infringement on Apple's copyrights.[10][11]

Microsoft Windows version 3.0, released in 1990, was the first Microsoft Windows version to achieve broad commercial success, selling 2 million copies in the first six months.[12][13] It featured improvements to the user interface and to multitasking capabilities. It received a facelift in Windows 3.1, made generally available on March 1, 1992. Windows 3.1 support ended on December 31, 2001.[14]

In July 1993, Microsoft released Windows NT based on a new kernel. NT was considered to be the professional OS and was the first Windows version to utilize preemptive multitasking.[citation needed]. Windows NT would later be retooled to also function as a home operating system, with Windows XP.

On August 24, 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95, a new, and major, consumer version that made further changes to the user interface, and also used preemptive multitasking. Windows 95 was designed to replace not only Windows 3.1, but also Windows for Workgroups, and MS-DOS. It was also the first Windows operating system to use Plug and Play capabilities. The changes Windows 95 brought to the desktop were revolutionary, as opposed to evolutionary, such as those in Windows 98 and Windows Me. Mainstream support for Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2000 and extended support for Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2001.[15]

The next in the consumer line was Microsoft Windows 98 released on June 25, 1998. It was substantially criticized for its slowness and for its unreliability compared with Windows 95, but many of its basic problems were later rectified with the release of Windows 98 Second Edition in 1999.[citation needed] Mainstream support for Windows 98 ended on June 30, 2002 and extended support for Windows 98 ended on July 11, 2006.[16]

As part of its "professional" line, Microsoft released Windows 2000 in February 2000. The consumer version following Windows 98 was Windows Me (Windows Millennium Edition). Released in September 2000, Windows Me implemented a number of new technologies for Microsoft: most notably publicized was "Universal Plug and Play". During 2004 part of the Source Code for Windows 2000 was leaked onto the internet. This was bad for Microsoft as the same kernel used in Windows 2000 was used in Windows XP.

In October 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP, a version built on the Windows NT kernel that also retained the consumer-oriented usability of Windows 95 and its successors. This new version was widely praised in computer magazines.[17] It shipped in two distinct editions, "Home" and "Professional", the former lacking many of the superior security and networking features of the Professional edition. Additionally, the first "Media Center" edition was released in 2002,[18] with an emphasis on support for DVD and TV functionality including program recording and a remote control. Mainstream support for Windows XP ended on April 14, 2009. Extended support will continue until April 8, 2014.[19]

In April 2003, Windows Server 2003 was introduced, replacing the Windows 2000 line of server products with a number of new features and a strong focus on security; this was followed in December 2005 by Windows Server 2003 R2.

On January 30, 2007 Microsoft released Windows Vista. It contains a number of new features, from a redesigned shell and user interface to significant technical changes, with a particular focus on security features. It is available in a number of different editions, and has been subject to some criticism.

Timeline of releases

Release date Product name Current Version / Build Notes Last IE
November 1985 Windows 1.01 1.01 Unsupported -
November 1987 Windows 2.03 2.03 Unsupported -
May 1988 Windows 2.10 2.10 Unsupported -
March 1989 Windows 2.11 2.11 Unsupported -
May 1990 Windows 3.0 3.0 Unsupported -
March 1992 Windows 3.1x 3.1 Unsupported 5
October 1992 Windows For Workgroups 3.1 3.1 Unsupported 5
July 1993 Windows NT 3.1 NT 3.1 Unsupported 5
December 1993 Windows For Workgroups 3.11 3.11 Unsupported 5
January 1994 Windows 3.2 (released in Simplified Chinese only) 3.2 Unsupported 5
September 1994 Windows NT 3.5 NT 3.5 Unsupported 5
May 1995 Windows NT 3.51 NT 3.51 Unsupported 5
August 1995 Windows 95 4.0.950 Unsupported 5.5
July 1996 Windows NT 4.0 NT 4.0.1381 Unsupported 6
June 1998 Windows 98 4.10.1998 Unsupported 6
May 1999 Windows 98 SE 4.10.2222 Unsupported 6
February 2000 Windows 2000 NT 5.0.2195 Extended Support until July 13, 2010[20] 6
September 2000 Windows Me 4.90.3000 Unsupported 6
October 2001 Windows XP NT 5.1.2600 Extended Support until July 13, 2010 for SP2 and April 8, 2014 for SP3. (RTM and SP1 unsupported). 8
March 2003 Windows XP 64-bit Edition (IA-64) NT 5.2.3790 Unsupported 6
April 2003 Windows Server 2003 NT 5.2.3790 Extended Support until July 13, 2010 for SP1, R2, SP2 (RTM unsupported). 8
April 2005 Windows XP Professional x64 Edition NT 5.2.3790 Current 8
July 2006 Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs NT 5.1.2600 Current 8
November 2006 (volume licensing)
January 2007 (retail)
Windows Vista NT 6.0.6002 Extended Support until April 10, 2012
Version changed to NT 6.0.6001 with SP1 (February 4, 2008) and to NT 6.0.6002 with SP2 (April 28, 2009).
July 2007 Windows Home Server NT 5.2.4500 Extended Support until August 01, 2013 8
February 2008 Windows Server 2008 NT 6.0.6002 Extended Support until July 9, 2013
Version changed to NT 6.0.6002 with SP2 (April 28, 2009).
October 2009 [21] Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 NT 6.1.7600 Current 8
2012 Windows 8 Unknown Upcoming Unknown


Consumer versions of Windows were originally designed for ease-of-use on a single-user PC without a network connection, and did not have security features built in from the outset.[22] However, Windows NT and its successors are designed for security (including on a network) and multi-user PCs, but were not initially designed with Internet security in mind as much, since, when it was first developed in the early 1990s, Internet use was less prevalent.[23]

These design issues combined 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 new viruses and worms in the previous six months.[24]

Microsoft releases security patches through its Windows Update service approximately once a month (usually the second Tuesday of the month), although critical updates are made available at shorter intervals when necessary.[25] In versions of Windows after and including Windows 2000 SP3 and Windows XP, updates can be automatically downloaded and installed if the user selects to do so. As a result, Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, as well as Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003, were installed by users more quickly than it otherwise might have been.[26]

While the Windows 9x series offered the option of having profiles for multiple users, they had no concept of access privileges, and did not allow concurrent access; and so were not true multi-user 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-user, and implement absolute memory protection. However, a lot of the advantages of being a true multi-user operating system were nullified by the fact that, prior to Windows Vista, the first user account created during the setup process was an administrator account, which was also the default for new accounts. Though Windows XP did have limited accounts, the majority of home users did not change to an account type with fewer rights – partially due to the number of programs which unnecessarily required administrator rights – and so most home users ran as administrator all the time.

Windows Vista changes this[27] by introducing a privilege elevation system called User Account Control. When logging in as a standard user, a logon session is created and a token containing only the most basic privileges is assigned. In this way, the new logon session is incapable of making changes that would affect the entire system. When logging in as a user in the Administrators group, two separate tokens are assigned. The first token contains all privileges typically awarded to an administrator, and the second is a restricted token similar to what a standard user would receive. User applications, including the Windows Shell, are then started with the restricted token, resulting in a reduced privilege environment even under an Administrator account. When an application requests higher privileges or "Run as administrator" is clicked, UAC will prompt for confirmation and, if consent is given (including administrator credentials if the account requesting the elevation is not a member of the administrators group), start the process using the unrestricted token.[28]

File permissions

All Windows versions from Windows NT 3 have been based on a file system permission system referred to as AGLP (Accounts, Global, Local, Permissions) AGDLP which in essence where 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 hold other groups or users depending on different Windows versions used. This system varies from other vendor products such as Linux and NetWare due to the 'static' allocation of permission being applied directory to the file or folder. However using this process of AGLP/AGDLP/AGUDLP allows a small number of static permissions to be applied and allows for easy changes to the account groups without reapplying the file permissions on the files and folders.

Windows Defender

On January 6, 2005, Microsoft released a Beta version of Microsoft AntiSpyware, based upon the previously released Giant AntiSpyware. On February 14, 2006, Microsoft AntiSpyware became Windows Defender with the release of Beta 2. Windows Defender is a freeware program designed to protect against spyware and other unwanted software. Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 users who have genuine copies of Microsoft Windows can freely download the program from Microsoft's web site, and Windows Defender ships as part of Windows Vista and 7.[29]

Third-party analysis

In an article based on a report by Symantec,[30] has described Microsoft Windows as having the "fewest number of patches and the shortest average patch development time of the five operating systems it monitored in the last six months of 2006."[31]

A study conducted by Kevin Mitnick and marketing communications firm Avantgarde in 2004 found that an unprotected and unpatched Windows XP system with Service Pack 1 lasted only 4 minutes on the Internet before it was compromised, and an unprotected and also unpatched Windows Server 2003 system was compromised after being connected to the internet for 8 hours.[32] However, it is important to note that this study does not apply to Windows XP systems running the Service Pack 2 update (released in late 2004), which vastly improved the security of Windows XP.[citation needed] The computer that was running Windows XP Service Pack 2 was not compromised. The AOL National Cyber Security Alliance Online Safety Study of October 2004 determined that 80% of Windows users were infected by at least one spyware/adware product.[33] Much documentation is available describing how to increase the security of Microsoft Windows products. Typical suggestions include deploying Microsoft Windows behind a hardware or software firewall, running anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and installing patches as they become available through Windows Update.[34]

Emulation software

Emulation allows the use of some Windows applications without using Microsoft Windows. These include:

  • Wine — a free and open source software implementation of the Windows API, allowing one to run many Windows applications on x86-based platforms, including Linux and Mac OS X. Wine developers refer to it as a "compatibility layer";[35] and make use of Windows-style APIs to emulate the Windows environment.
    • CrossOver — A Wine package with licensed fonts. Its developers are regular contributors to Wine, and focus on Wine running officially supported applications.
    • CedegaTransGaming Technologies' proprietary fork of Wine, designed specifically for running games written for Microsoft Windows under Linux. A version of Cedega known as Cider is used by some video game publishers to allow Windows games to run on Mac OS X. Since wine was licensed under the LGPL Cedega has been unable to port the improvements made to wine to their proprietary codebase.
    • Darwine — A bundling of Wine to the PowerPC Macs running OS X by running wine on top of QEMU. Intel Macs use the same Wine as other *NIX x86 systems.
  • ReactOS — An open-source OS that is intended to run the same software as Windows, originally designed to simulate Windows NT 4.0, now aiming at Windows XP compatibility. It has been in the development stage since 1996.
  • Virtual PC - A Windows emulator for Mac OS X computers using the Intel processors.

See also


Further reading:


  1. ^ "The Unusual History of Microsoft Windows". Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  2. ^ "Global Web Stats". W3Counter, Awio Web Services. September 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  3. ^ "Operating System Market Share". Net Applications. October 2009. Retrieved November 5, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Top 5 Operating Systems on Oct 09". StatCounter. October 2009. Retrieved November 5, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Petzold
  6. ^ "Windows Evolution". News. 
  7. ^ "Net Applications Operating System Market Share". Net Applications. February 2010. 
  8. ^ "Global Web Stats". W3Counter. February 2010. 
  9. ^ "StatCounter Global Stats". StatCounter. February 2010. 
  10. ^ The Apple vs. Microsoft GUI Lawsuit, 2006,, retrieved 2008-03-12 
  11. ^ Apple Computer, Inc. v. MicroSoft Corp., 35 F.3d 1435 (9th Cir. 1994),, retrieved 2008-03-12 
  12. ^ "Chronology of Personal Computer Software". 
  13. ^ "Microsoft Company". 
  14. ^ Windows 3.1 Standard Edition Support Lifecycle
  15. ^ Windows 95 Support Lifecycle
  16. ^ Windows 98 Standard Edition Support Lifecycle
  17. ^ Your top Windows XP questions answered! (Part One)
  18. ^ Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: A Look at Freestyle and Mira
  19. ^ Windows XP Professional Lifecycle Support
  20. ^ "Windows 2000 Professional Edition Support Lifecycle". Microsoft. May 4, 2005. Retrieved 2007-03-25. 
  21. ^ "Microsoft Delivers New Wave of Technologies to Help Businesses Thrive in Today’s Economy". Microsoft. 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  22. ^ Multi-user memory protection was not introduced until Windows NT and XP, and a computer's default user was an administrator until Windows Vista. Source: UAC msdn
  23. ^ "Telephones and Internet Users by Country, 1990 and 2005". Information Please Database. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  24. ^ Schneier, Bruce (2005-06-15). "Crypto-Gram Newsletter". Counterpane Internet Security, Inc.. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  25. ^ Naraine, Ryan (2005-06-08). "Microsoft's Security Response Center: How Little Patches Are Made". eWeek. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  26. ^ Foley, John (2004-10-20). "Windows XP SP2 Distribution Surpasses 100 Million". InformationWeek. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  27. ^ Microsoft describes in detail the steps taken to combat this in a TechNet bulletin. [1]
  28. ^ Kenny Kerr (2006-09-29). "Windows Vista for Developers – Part 4 – User Account Control". Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  29. ^ "Windows Vista: Features". MicroSoft. Retrieved 2006-07-20. 
  30. ^ "Symantec 11th Internet Security Threat Report, Trends for July–December 6". 
  31. ^ "Report Says Windows Gets The Fastest Repairs". 
  32. ^ "Automated "Bots" Overtake PCs Without Firewalls Within 4 Minutes". Avant Garde. 
  33. ^ "Safety Study" (PDF). Stay Safe Online. Archived from the original on 2005-11-02. 
  34. ^ 5 Steps to Securing Your Windows XP Home Computer
  35. ^ "Wine". 

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.

Windows may refer to:


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also windows




From the window concept developed at Xerox PARC.

Proper noun




  1. (operating systems, trademark) Microsoft Windows, an operating system with a graphical user interface that dominates the personal computer market.
    • 2001 March, Matt Groening, “Where the Buggalo Roam”, Futurama, season 4, episode 6
      Bender: And even though the computer was off and unplugged, an image stayed on the screen. It was: the Windows logo!



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

At the time of this edit, the Microsoft Windows family of operating systems runs the vast majority of the world's home computers. How did Windows rapidly become the dominant operating system for home use on the planet?



Microsoft Windows began as a GUI add-on to DOS. The early versions of Windows required DOS to be installed first. The first version that did not require DOS to be pre-installed was Windows 95. Early on, Windows split into two branches - the DOS-based branch and the NT based branch. Today, The DOS-based branch has been discontinued due to bugs (errors in software), Lack of hardware support, and instability. All versions of Windows since Windows NT 3.1 (these are Windows NT 3.1, NT 4.0, Windows 2000, XP and Vista) are NT based.



The CP/M Operating System, first written by Gary Kildall in PL/M, a language of his own invention, in 1975. It was written for the Intel 8080 CPU, which was the power behind such legendary machines as the Altair 8800 and the IMSAI 8080, one of which was used in the movie 'War Games'. The system was very popular among those early computer users, and saw the introduction of many new devices, such as the 5 1/4" floppy disk drive and the hard disk drive. In 1980, when IBM was building its first PC, they went to Gary Kindall, who didn't think the system would take off. It might interest you to know that one or two years later, the CP/M-86 OS was released independently of IBM, and cost about ten times what the then-new MS-DOS system did. Initially CP/M had many advanced features that MS-DOS did not have. However, because Gary did not want break off from his licensed based distribution of CP/M rather than accepting the OEM based distribution IBM wanted, Microsoft's MS-DOS was chosen to be the choice on the IBM PC. In addition to this, many of CP/M's features, such as multi-level directories and hard drive support, were not really thought of as needed.


DOS stands for Disk Operating System. A product called MSDOS was released by Microsoft in 1981 for the IBM Personal Computer. It offered file system access to FAT partitions and had tools for editing, programing, and management. Later versions would support a semi-graphical navigator, and the ability to mount remote shares. MSDOS had an long-lasting effect on the computer world, a very scaled down version of MSDOS was present in every Windows OS including the recent Windows vista (and the Windows NT Operating Systems, Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003,and Windows XP).


(include OS/2 for Windows and explain source code overlap with Windows)


Microsoft was not the first company to investigate the use of a Graphical User Interface, or GUI, to control a personal computer. That distinction belongs to the Xerox Corporation's Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC). Xerox demonstrated seven key ideas whose strategic importance were immediately apparrent to both Microsoft and Apple, and critical to the success of both the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows:

1. The use of a windowing system to give a user common presentation and operation of differrent applications,
2. The concept and use of a mouse to navigate that system,
3. A clear demonstration that multitasking (running several applications at the same time) could actually be useful to home and business users,
4. The demonstration of a laser printer, which significantly increased the potential for desktop publishing,
5. That a computer could potentially be used by an operator with little or no training,
6. That such an operator, once familiarized with the system, would be strongly opposed to moving back to a more complicated environment,
7. That such a computer could be networked.

The impact of that final idea took a long time to be fully realized- Windows certainly did not embrace it, or even support it, initially- but the whole package really was demonstrated that long ago.

Why Xerox wasn't able to capitalize on its own strokes of genius would be (and, indeed, is) another book, in and of itself.

16-Bit Versions

(286/386/486; explain)

Windows 3.0 - 3.1

(stub) (explain use of 386 protected mode and why this was important; note that apps, and significantly, device drivers, are still 16-bit)

Windows for Workgroups

(stress importance of being first version to really support networking; possibly compare Banyan Vines, Novell Netware, etc.; also eval those for Predecessors section above)

32-Bit Versions

Windows NT

(stress independence from DOS and differrences from consumer Windows version: kernel, multitasking model (preemptive instead of cooperative), driver model

Windows 95

The first 32-bit Operating System in the Windows Family outside of Windows NT. But still, it is easier to crash than Windows NT (but harder to crash than Windows 3.1), and relative to Windows NT, not very stable. This project has been abandoned years ago.

Windows 98

(stress changes in driver model; USB support; GUI changes)

Windows 98 SE

Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) included DVD support)

Windows 2000

This version of Microsoft Windows preceded Windows XP. Its core functionality is very similar, but it lacks some of the features later added to XP. Many continue to use 2000 instead of XP, because they believe the extra XP features are unnecessary and cause the computer to run slower. Windows 2000 is the final NT-based system without activation.

Windows Me

DOS 8.00

Windows Millennium Edition was meant to bring an end to the 95/DOS line of OS's, although it still contains DOS 8.00. It sported new features in the multimedia area, such as Windows Movie Maker 1.0 and Windows Media Player 7. It also had other important new features such as System Restore. Most of the new features were continued into Windows XP making XP what it is. Windows Me is the final DOS-based system without activation.

Windows XP

Windows XP was originally released in year 2001. It included improved graphics, and a more user-friendly environment. Windows XP was built on the core of Windows 2000 but adds greater stability for most desktop users plus a fancier grapical user interface. Although the goal of perfect security continues to elude the OS, Service Pack 2 (SP2) improves matters over the original release and rolls up enhancements added between release and mid-2004.

Windows 2003 Server/Advanced Server

64-Bit Versions

There is currently support for the 64-bit Intel Itanium processor in Windows Server 2003 Enterprise and Datacenter editions, supporting up to 64 Itanium CPUs in the later. Windows Server 2003 SP1 adds x64 support. Note: Source update under this version will be suffixed by "IA64", there is the difference from the usual Intel/AMD architecture of "x64" bit sources.

Note also that there are computers based on the 64-bit IBM Power chips that are used in the G5 Macintosh computers that are running the Windows NT kernel. These "Macs running Windows" are used for game development on the future generation Xbox that will use IBM Power CPUs.

(explain existing 64-bit CPUs- AMD, Intel, etc.)

Windows Vista

This version of Microsoft Windows, released on January 2007, is the latest major upgrade for the Windows operating system.

Until the product name was revealed in July 2005, Windows Vista was known as 'Codename Longhorn'.

It includes major changes graphically. Translucency and other visual effects are highly used. Also, applications are now switching over to the .NET framework. (Add something more about core like avalon, and GUI)

Windows Server 2008 Systems

With this introduction of Microsoft Windows Servers, released on October 2008, it contains the same code base as Vista (Windows6.0). Its significant change and added feature set is enabling the virtualization of Microsoft Windows Server Systems. The support from 32-bit Windows 2000, Windows 2003, 2003 R2 and Windows 2008 itself, plus the associated existing 64-bit version will expect to become the enabler of any enterprise system, large, medium or small to harness the use and simplicity of virtuialized Windows systems (including some flavors of Linuxes) to meet everyday needs of computing.

Design Goals

(UI similarity; consistent experience; ease of use; hardware abstraction; compatibility; etc. should this be above the versions list? is it more useful for strategy context for the version descriptions that follow, so that the evolution becomes apparrent, or down here as a summary of modern goals?)


This chapter will explain how to install Windows. Since installation is fairly similar between versions- with important, and sometimes subtle, differences- we will example how to install Windows XP, Home Edition, and then review the differences for other versions. This chapter explains only the basics; once you're up and running, check out the Configuration chapter to personalize your system.

Make sure that whatever you are installing, that you have a copy of the files you need stored in a safe place, even if it's on a separate partition. You're generally better off wiping the partition with your old operating system so as to remove all the incompatible files, viruses, spyware and general clutter/temp files that all computers accrue over their lives.

Installing Windows XP, Home Edition

Depends if you install from booting a CD or from running the setup program from another version of Windows. It's better to boot from the disk, this way you can alter your partitions before you install whereas otherwise you may find yourself being forced to install it over an old copy.

Differences for Windows XP Professional

Adds greater networking and enterprise features. If you have a network, this is the version you need..

Differences for Windows MCE base-2004-2005

(stub) (not that many people will actually ever see these screens but that only makes it more important that this information be listed somewhere)


(place chapter intro here)

Basic Configuration

(how to set the machine name, time, etc.; NOT networking)

Appearance and Environment

(display settings and properties; wallpaper; themes; etc.)


The workgroup is usually set up when the operating system is first installed. This choice can be edited from the network wizard later on. Once a computer has a network (basically before it's first boot) it can trade files with other computers on that network.

(basic Workgroup and Domain configuration; NOT connection sharing, firewall stuff, etc.; that goes into Advanced Stuff)


(needs to be below networking because this should explain network printers; explain how to add a printer; how to change the default printer; how to change the printing defaults; when to choose PCL vs. PS when printer offers both; parallel vs. USB vs serial vs. network; explain FAX send can be a printing device, etc.)


Both Windows XP and Windows Vista include options for those with difficulty reading or using a computer(Color-blind etc). They are found under: Start->All Programs->Accessories->Accessibility.

(handicapped access; explain Magnifier, text-to-speech, voice recognition, etc., including a -brief- discussion of third-party options)

Electronic Mail

Outlook Express

By default, Microsoft Windows includes Outlook Express to allow access to electronic mail.

For further details, please see the Outlook Express User's Manual. For details about the full version of Outlook, available with Microsoft Office, please see the Outlook User's Manual.

Note: for Windows Vista, there's Windows mail instead of Outlook Express

Mozilla Thunderbird

A rather more secure e-mail program than Outlook Express and works almost exactly the same.
Further details:

Using Windows

Windows comes with a variety of software including Paint(A basic image editing program), Notepad(A simple text editor) and in later versions: Word, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express or Windows Mail and so on. A great variety of freeware, shareware and commercial packages are available.

Basic Operation


A screenshot of the entire monitor, complete with taskbar, can be copied to the system clipboard by pressing the Print screen key. Alternatively, pressing Alt + Print screen will copy just the active window to the clipboard. One can then paste the clipboard into a program such as MS Paint or Paint.NET to save it as an image file (for posting online, for instance), or paste it directly into a document. If saving as an image file, it is best to use a format which uses lossless compression (e.g. PNG) or no compression (e.g. BMP). Use a format which supports 24-bit color if the screenshot contains many colors.

Optimizing Performance

Some people say that the various "tweaks" one can apply to the system never improve the performance significantly, certainly not enough to justify the hours and hours that some people spend experimentally tweaking.

The problem is that the effects of many tweaks are a bit iffy. There are some programs that work and some tweaks that, while they have an effect, are not something that you are likely to notice. Generally the Internet Speed tweaks and XPLite programs are worth using. Beyond that though, don't bother. If things like the appearance settings and NTFS Last Access Stamp tweaks noticeably improve your speed then you would be better off running either Win98SE or Linux, conversely they all have some effect and removing unneeded features does help.

Some people say that many "tweaks" are well worth doing.

There are lots of things you can do to improve performance. Defragment the disk, turn off services you don't need - Google for a list - restart Firefox regularly (if you use it) since it's a memory hog...

Ways to increase performance include: defragmenting the hard disk, disabling unneeded visual effects, upgrading the amount of RAM in the computer, and using various utilities and programs available for download or purchase.

If the intent is simply to improve the speed at which the system runs, regardless of all other considerations, then the ultimate speed improvement is achieved by uninstalling Windows XP, and installing Windows 98SE or Windows ME instead, since those versions of Windows are only half the size of Windows XP, so they subjectively run twice as fast as XP on any given CPU.

General Tips

Several programs work for almost all Windows versions.

X-setup Excellent commercial tweaking program for Win9x/ME and WinXP/Vista/7, comes well recommended.
DH TuneXP Free WinXP tweaker program, has useful tweaks.
SG TCP/IP Optimizer Use this for fast internet tweaking. cFos Homepage (English) Get the packet shaping software from here.
XpLite Very useful in removing parts of Windows 2000 and XP systems.
Nlite Fulfills the same function as XpLite but instead works on a Windows XP CD image, which is then transformed into a bootable CD. This program is freeware and more versatile than XpLite.

Processor Scheduling

When using Windows 2000 and XP there is an option to retry your operating system allocates processing power to programs. this is governed by registry entry called Win32PrioritySeparation and the values for this are allocated as follows...

Start with zero and add numbers as follows

The ratio of foreground to background priority

3:1, add 2.
2:1, add 1.
1:1, add 0.

Length of the quanta

Variable lengths: add 4.
Fixed lengths: add 8.

Te intervals between switching quanta.

Shorter: add 32.
Longer: add 16.

By default it is set to "2" which is equal to "38", setting it to backround processeses sets it to "24". Note that this value is in decimal. Personally I use a value of "36" for the best all-around benefit. This value allows all programs to work seamlessly even at 100% processor usage; mind you this is on a P4 so your mileage may vary.

Internet Speed

Generally optimizing an Internet connection involves tweaking the MTU (maximum transmission unit)and the receive window. The MTU controls how much data is in every download packet, larger settings improve efficiency by reducing overhead and require fewer acknowledgment packets. The receive window sets how much data is to be received before needing to send an acknowledgment packet, this setting does not need to be a multiple of the MTU and should be as large as reasonably possible.

It would also be worth the time to set up a packet scheduler. Generally doing heavy uploading and downloading at the same time would slow down your connection, with a a packet scheduler this is less of an issue. Additionally, some packet schedulers like cFosSpeed allow for prioritizing specific programs like games over more bandwidth intensive but less interactive applications like FTP clients.

Trimming the OS

Litepc creates software to trim operating systems. Removing unused parts of the OS is beneficial in several ways. It reduces the amount of disk space that the OS takes up, removes possible security issues and results in less of a RAM hit. XPLite allows for currently installed operating system to be altered while NLite (as previously mentioned) does the same to a CD image. XPLite leaves corrupted registry entries and is less versatile than Nlite.

Side Note

On a final note it is important to know what any changes actually do, besides "provides speed boost" and how they affect your computer. I have had many incidents where the accruation of "tweaks" served to slow the computer down. Don't rely on being able to undo them with the program.

Windows CE

Consumer edition of windows. Used with consumer electronics. Most notably used with the revolutionary Sega Dreamcast video game console. Windows CE is also used on many Pocket PCs and Smart Phones. The newest ist Windows CE 6.0, released in 2007.

Windows 9x

Windows XP / 2000 / Server 2003

Beforehand it should be noted that 2000 is often acknowledged to provide better performance with real world use (Several programs running at the same time). It lacks some of the features of XP including the themes but is essentially the same and uses the same drivers.

There are some tweaks that do not require specialized software.

Control Panel>System Advanced>Performance Settings>
Disabling features will reduce the overhead on any action and some users can notice significant performance benefits from deselecting everything. Font smoothing, especially if using ClearType, will depend heavily on the graphics card, disabling it may have a significant effect.

Paging File

There are plenty of recommendations on this, the one that makes the most sense is to set the minimum to cover normal system use like 256 or 512 MB which will not require it to change in size while in general use but to set the maximum much higher to cover contingencies. The default will work fine in most cases, note that setting the minimum higher will result in paging file fragmentation, which is very hard to fix and if succeeded, will give a speed hit. An avarage user might be able to download and use PageDefrag (from Microsoft TechNet website under Sysinternals) to defragment paging file on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Server 2003.

Cluster Size

This represents the cluster size on a partition, generally bigger means less fragmentation as files expand and slighly higher disk speed as less data is spent on overhead, conversely it wastes space as each file takes up a minimum of one cluster. The default seems to do fine. Altering the cluster size on the partition with the Master Boot Record may cause problems. Also, the default cluster size (4KB on NTFS / Windows XP) allows the computer to transfer data without using extra buffering.

Services.msc / Msconfig


Really there is no reason why anyone should bother with this section. Unless disabling security flaws removing services causes no end of interesting errors and will free up around 7-12MB.

One benefit to using services.msc to msconfig is that services can be set to manual. However most services will not properly start up, I recommend to use Run>msconfig after identifying what services are necessary to disable them, they can also be restored to Windows default by clicking select all.

Services that are critical or that are needed and may not start otherwise should be set to Automatic while the oher Automatic services should be set to Manual. This will theoretically cause them to only start when needed (again, it should be noted that this is almost never true). Note that some services are set to disabled by default on Windows Server 2003, these are Windows Xp features that are generally not needed by a server, if they are required they must first be enabled at services.msc.



Hardware>Hard Disk This must be enabled on Windows 2000 as it is disabled by default. If your system is capable of UDMA/66, enable it, if the system is not capable then rebooting will untick the box.


System>File system>Windows Prefetching
Windows prefetcher will monitor an application's startup sequence and Windows boot. After three application startups or three Windows boot ups, it creates a .PF file in the Windows Prefetch folder for the application or the associated boot item. This file is referenced anytime the application is launched but only when it is launched and NOT before. Windows uses the information in the applications's .PF file to optimally load the necessary files associated with the application loading into memory. Such as DLL A before B etc... Windows also uses this file when the defragmenter is run to layout all necessary files that the application uses to startup in sequence on the harddrive to further improve application load time. The same things happen during boot up but only in relation to files used for the boot process. Applications that are not loaded on startup are NOT precached or preloaded into Memory during boot. They are not precached at any time. This is NOT a cache and the .PF files should NOT be deleted or "cleaned". Manually deleting .PF Files does nothing but force Windows to recreate the .PF file if it is missing the next time the associated application is launched. This is a waste of time. Simply leave the .PF files and the Prefetch folder alone. Windows will automatically clean it as necessary in relation to uninstalled applications. Prefetching is NOT Caching, it is a new feature of Windows that improves application load and boot time performance automatically.

File System

System>File system>Windows NT/2K/XP Options>Windows File System Options
These are generally useless features, note that disabling the last access time stamp can cause windows cleanup to have interesting ideas on what is useless data. Disabling the creation of short file names may cause issues in some programs as well as pretty much all programs written for dos. Conversely you are unlikely to use those programs and it will help when dealing with folders that have many files that start the same.


Unloading dll files instantly can cause system instability, conversely extra ram is always a good thing. Instability will only occur in very rare circumstances however if you start the same programs over and over this could be beneficial. This depends on how much ram you have though leaving it as it is may be the best choice.

Disabling paging will force the computer to keep more of the system in RAM. This will also prevent the computer from entering sleep mode. Windows will NEVER page the core kernel & drivers (that would cause a crash) , however it is willing to page a part of it's systems. This setting causes more of the system to not be paged, probably won't help your game speed but if you run RAM heavy programs it will prove beneficial. Theory being that the programs will page but not the Windows core which should do less of a performance hit.


Just one setting, may improve performance, may do nothing.

Set the bottom box to "Balance"

It would be a good idea to stop Cacheman starting with Windows which you can do from the Options bar; it's worth noting here that "RAM Recovery" is generally agreed to be completely worthless, don't use it.

Other Links

Optimize Xp Wonderful site, also includes links to tweaking myths.

Other Platforms

Windows CE

Ancient times

Microsoft was trying to enter the PDA market years before the release of the first Windows-powered hadhelds. First development initiatives happened as early as 1990. When Apple's Newton MessagePad emerged, Microsoft decided to begin development of the new OS.

The WinPad project would be a revolution in the user inteface design. With the touchscreen and handwriting recognition support, the project promised brand-new user experience. However, the mobile devices' hardware was not ready for such an operating system at that moment. The main fault of the developers was possibly the attempt to use portions of the existing kernel modules' code. The project was closed in 1994.

At the same time, Microsoft worked on the Pulsar project. The concept of a multipurpose wire- and keyboardless device featuring unique architecture was too pathbreaking, and Microsoft discarded this idea as well.

(to be continued...)

(...and PocketPC... and Handheld PC... and so on... make some sense of this mess for the reader! this of all things is clear as MUD even to developers!)

And on 9th march 2006, MS has unveiled their UMPC..

Windows XP Embedded






Microsoft's Development Cycle

(explain how a new version of Windows is conceptualized, designed, timelined, developed, put in beta, and released)

The Windows Version Lifecycle

When a version is released, it is soon discovered that there are thousands of bugs (errors) and miscellaneous problems, especially security issues. This leads to a large stream of patches being released which sometimes get condensed into a service pack. As the program ages and newer systems are released the support will be discontinued so as to force users to upgrade.

More info here:

(explain how a Windows version is serviced- Service Packs, Windows Update, etc- and finally obsoleted; explain how support options change and eventually evaporate)

The Future

Windows Vienna

See Wikipedia article Windows 7.

Appendix: Key combinations

IBM compatible


Ctrl+Alt+Delete - performs a soft reset

Left arrow, right arrow - Move cursor backward or forward one character

Ctrl + left arrow, right arrow - Move cursor backward or forward one word

Home, End - Move cursor to start or end of line

Up, down arrow - Scroll up and down stored (command) buffer

Page up, down - Places oldest or most recent (command) in command line

Insert - Toggle between insert and over-type modes. (square cursor denotes over-type mode)

Esc - Delete current line

F1 - Repeat text typed in preceding line character by character

F3 - Repeat text typed in preceding line (complete)

F5 - Cycle through entire current (command) buffer

F7 - Display all entries in current (command) buffer with line numbers

Alt+F7 - Delete all entries in current (command) buffer

F8 - As F5, If preceded by entry of character string, will load latest buffer line with corresponding characters (from start of buffer entry line)

F9+Buffer line number - Displays relevant buffer line; normally F7 first to show lines with numbers

Ctrl+C - Close down most applications and return to prompt


All versions

  • ALT+F4 closes most programs
  • Win+M Minimize most programs

Versions Before Windows 95

  • CTRL+ALT+DELETE brought up a blue screen
  • CTRL+C - Copies the selected text or images
  • CTRL+X - Cuts the selected text or images
  • CTRL+V - Pastes the previously copied or cut material

Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Category:Windows article)

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

The console image for Windows.
Manufacturer Microsoft
Active 1995—present
Total Games unknown (790 present)
← MS-DOS (none) →
Popular guides
  1. MapleStory
  2. Mount&Blade
  3. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  4. Ragnarok Online
  5. Dominions 3: The Awakening
  6. Lineage II
  7. Final Fantasy VII
  8. Drift City
  9. GunZ The Duel
  10. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
For digital distribution, see Category:Steam and Category:Direct2Drive.

Windows is the collective name for Microsoft's immensely popular line of operating systems. As well as being widely used by businesses, Windows is the primary operating system PC games are developed for. It is the successor to MS-DOS, which previously held a similar market share in both the home and business markets.

New versions of Windows generally maintain a high degree of compatibility with software developed for past versions of Windows (and limited compatibility with MS-DOS), and new software releases will often work on older versions of Windows. This changed with Windows Vista; some releases (such as Halo 2) are specifically designed to only work with Windows Vista, and so cannot be used on previous versions of Windows.

(previous 200) (next 200)

Pages in category "Windows"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 790 total.



  • 101 Dalmatians: Escape from DeVil Manor
  • 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue


  • 3D Pinball for Windows: Space Cadet




B cont.


C cont.



(previous 200) (next 200)


Up to date as of January 31, 2010
(Redirected to Microsoft Windows article)

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

windows logo

An operating system created by Microsoft. One of its major strengths is the massive library of games created for it, and ease of use; its major downside is the rampant security issues it suffers.

In the most basic terms possible, Windows is a file manager oriented operating system which has been designed to run virtually any program or file within reason. More recent editions, such as Windows XP have been targetted at the growing popularity of networking, home multimedia, and wireless capability. The majority of all A-list computer games are coded for Windows.

External links


This article is a stub. You can help by adding to it.

Stubs are articles that writers have begun work on, but are not yet complete enough to be considered finished articles.

This article uses material from the "Microsoft Windows" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

Windows can be two things:


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