What is Windows?

Windows is an operating system produced by Microsoft Corporation, initially released in the year 1985 and also known as Microsoft Windows. It has been written in JavaScript with visual basics, and C. Windows is the most popular operating system (OS) for personal computers across the globe. Since its inception, there has been a tough competition between Apple and Microsoft, yet one-third of the OS market share has been occupied by Windows. Although in recent years, Android has come up as another considerable competitor for these two organizations, which is leading the smartphone market, yet in desktops and laptops, Windows has the most number of customers.

What are the various versions of Windows?

Microsoft Windows has a long chain of operating systems produced in the market since the inception of the company in the market. The current active version is Windows 10. The company released the first version of Windows, Windows 1.0, in the year 1985 when there was already an operating system available in the market by Apple that is Apple Lisa. Windows 1.0 was an extension of MS-DOS, possessing features like Clipboard Viewer, Clock, Calendar, Control Panel, Paint, Calculator, Notepad, etc.

After Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0, Windows 2.1, Windows 3.0, and Windows 3.1 were launched, followed by Windows 9 family (Windows 95, Windows 98), Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows 11 to be released in late 2021. The contemporary versions are discussed below.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen, two American business magnets and computer programmers, founded Microsoft Corporation and launched the first-ever version of Windows in the year 1985. The branding and logo have always been an identity of the company. The logo of Microsoft Corporation has evolved through various phases, and the current one, which is the most popular, was adapted in 2012. The logo resembles the name Microsoft in the font style Sans Serif and four squares in bright color.

The logo of Microsoft has been shown. This logo replicates the Windows diagram with four squares. All of these squares have different colors.
CC BY-SA | Image Credits: https://www.theverge.com

The Windows logo for different contemporary versions has the same four squares in one or different colors. The latest version is Windows 11, which is going to succeed Windows 10. Although the announcement for Windows 11 had been done in June 2021, yet until the official release, Windows 10 is the latest version running successfully in the market. The logo of Windows 11 is as follows:

The Windows 11 logo is shown. It has the traditional Windows sign with four squares. All squares have the same color.
CC BY-SA | Image Credits: https://news.microsoft.com

Contemporary versions

Since 1985, Microsoft Corporation has launched various versions in the form of successive updates. Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and Windows 11, respectively, are the launched versions in recent years.

Windows NT

Windows NT is a processor-independent, multi-tasking, and multi-user proprietary graphical operating system. It was produced by Microsoft in the year 1993.

NT was abbreviated for “New Technology,” but with the release of Windows-2000 in the millennium year 2000, “NT” was removed from the product name. It was the first 32-bit version operating system; earlier, this operating system used to be a 16-bit version. An MS-DOS-based system, Windows NT 3.1 was created for server computers and work stations. It was a multi-architecture operating system that initially supported several architectures, including IA-32, DEC Alpha, and MIPS. PowerPC, x64, ARM, and Itanium support was added in subsequent updates. Windows Shell, Windows API, Group Policy, Native API, Windows Update, Hardware Abstraction Layer, Windows Store, and Active Directory were some of the major features of Windows NT family.

The series of Windows NT 3.0, Windows NT 3.1, Windows NT 3.5, and Windows NT 4.0 was followed by Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows 2000 till the launch of Windows XP. The association with IBM made Windows 98 a successful personal computer, and the presence of Microsoft had spread across the globe.

Windows XP

Windows-XP was launched in October 2001. It was an update over the previous version, Windows 2000. Windows XP was launched in two editions, which are Home and Professional. Windows XP (Home) was meant for general consumers, whereas Windows XP (Professional) was targeted at the business environment. Home and Professional were accompanied by the Media Center edition, which was designed for Home Theater PCs. Various multimedia features like DVD playback, Digital Video Recorder (DVR) functionality, TV tuner cards, and remote controls were introduced in this version.

The Windows X P logo is shown. It has the traditional Windows sign with four floating squares. All squares have different colors.
CC BY-SA | Image Credits: https://www.google.com

Tablet PCs were also launched in this version. Stylus pen-enabled applications were incorporated in those tablet PCs. Windows XP was a successful version as it fulfilled the promise made by Microsoft to provide better performance over its DOS-based predecessors. A user-friendly atmosphere was another advantage that added to its success. After a successful tenure of almost a decade and various successful updates, Microsoft put an end to its mainstream support for Windows XP on April 14, 2009, and the extended support ended on April 8, 2014. Windows Server 2003 was released in April 2003, which was the server counterpart of Windows XP.

Windows Vista

Windows Vista was released in 2006-2007. The security features were enhanced in this version along with new features and technical changes, but compatibility issues with Vista made IT companies refuse any update. Hence, the customers had to wait with XP until the next release. Microsoft corrected the mistakes in the next launch, i.e., Windows 2007.

The Windows Vista logo is shown. It has the traditional Windows sign with four floating squares. All squares have different colors and are present within a circle.
CC By-SA | Image Credits: https://www.google.com

Windows 7

After the failure of Windows Vista, the customers had to wait for two more years to get an update. In the year 2009, Windows 7 was released. It was a major release of the Windows NT operating system by Microsoft. It was the most successful version and was an excellent comeback after the failure of Windows Vista. It became successful for both personal computers and businesses. It was compatible with all types of hardware, such as desktops, laptops, tablet PCs, and media center PCs.

The Windows 7 logo is shown. It has the traditional Windows sign with four floating squares. All squares have different colors.
CC BY-SA | Image Credits: https://www.google.com

Various new features were introduced in this update. The task bar was redesigned, and the pin feature was introduced, which allowed applications to be “pinned” to it. New window management features, support for multi-touch input, an enhanced file sharing system, and a new home group were some of the features that were added to Windows 7. An updated Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and Windows Media Center were some of the new multimedia tools wadded into this version. A new “Action Center” interface was also added to provide an overview of system security and maintenance information.

Windows 8

Windows 8 was launched in 2012 and was made available for download via the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet (Microsoft web portal for IT professionals) to the existing customers of Windows 7 as a Windows update. With Windows 8, Microsoft improved its user experience since, by then, Windows was competing with mobile operating systems, including Android and iOS. Windows 8 introduced a thematic screen. The start screen had default live icons/tiles. It was a tablet-oriented approach.

The Windows 8 home screen is shown. It is a template view, which contains most of the required utility icons.
CC BY-SA | Image Credits: https://www.google.com

The Microsoft Store was added to this version. It was in competition with the App Store and Play Store. New applications and software could be downloaded from the Microsoft Store. Smart screen, built-in antivirus software, UEFI Secure boot, USB 3.0, and Advance Format were some of the prime features of this version that were intended to prevent malware infection and smooth touch screen user experience. Windows 8.1 was released in 2013 with some updates that were addressed by reviewers and early adopters.

Windows 10

Windows 10 is the successor of Windows 8.1, which was made available to the existing customers using Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 for update via MSDN and TechNet. It was released in July 2015. Here, Microsoft switched back to the desktop-oriented approach from the tablet-oriented approach adopted in Windows 8. The start screen was set to an upgrade on Windows 7 jump screen.

The Windows 10 desktop screen is shown. Cortana is available at the taskbar in the bottom left corner. It is a voice-controlled virtual assistant.
CC BY-SA | Image Credits: https://www.google.com

Cortana, the personal assistant, was made available on the task bar. Its functionality and capabilities with voice command were praised by the reviewers. Relevant content search and access to a file or its location tracking became convenient with Cortona. The traditional browser, Internet Explorer, was replaced by a new browser called Microsoft Edge. X-box live integration was done in this version, which made Windows 10 more convenient for gaming. Moreover, graphics features were updated accordingly.

Hardware compatibility for Windows 10 can be checked with the following table:

Processor1 gigahertz (GHz) or System on a chip (SoC)
RAM1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
Hard Drive16 GB for 32-bit OS 32 GB for 64-bit system
Graphics cardDirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
Hardware compatibility for Windows 10

The other features that were upgraded in Windows 10 are multiple desktops and task view, action center, tablet mode, and Microsoft Edge.

Windows 11

Windows 11 is the successor of Windows 10, which is another major and latest version of the Windows NT operating system by Microsoft. The version is available from June 24, 2021, on MSDN and TechNet and is expected to release in late 2021. The start menu and icon view on the task bar are center-aligned this time.

The Windows 11 desktop screen is shown with an open start menu. The taskbar is center aligned, and the wallpaper has a floating ribbon on it.
CC BY-SA | Image Credits: microsoft.com

The background icon is also changed.

The Windows 11 logo is shown. It has the traditional Windows sign with four squares. The background has a floating ribbon.
CC BY-SA | Image Credits: https://www.google.com

Microsoft has promised to provide a calm and creative space with a fresh experience with the introduction of this version in the market. As per the introduction provided, Windows 11 is going to be a gaming-dedicated version as the market is booming for the same. Connecting through Microsoft Team will be encouraged, Microsoft Edge, and other widgets will also get updated in terms of news and activities. Access to X-Box with hundred high-quality games will be compatible with Windows 11. However, the membership for X-Box will have to be purchased separately.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365, also known as Office 365 and Windows 365, was released in 2017 at Microsoft Inspire. Office 365 is compatible with Windows 10, and it is a professional suite of the product lines of Microsoft office. It is a cloud-based office dedicated to businesses offering Security suite, Advanced threat analytics, Azure active directory, Azure information protection, Cloud App Security, and Windows Intune. Content safety and data security have been enhanced with this technology.

Common Mistakes

Be specific about your requirements while opting for an operating system. The features that you are going to get with the operating system you are buying matter a lot. In the case of Windows 10, there are two versions available, Home and Professional. If you are more concerned about the security of your data, then you should choose Windows 10 Pro (Professional). Windows provides different versions and features for personal computers and businesses. Also, for gaming purposes, you should choose wisely what to opt for. Device compatibility with OS is of utmost importance. The requirements for device compatibility are provided by the company on its website. You can go through those requirements and choose the correct one.

Context and Applications

This topic is significant in the professional exams for both undergraduate and graduate courses, especially for

Bachelor in Computer Science

Bachelor in Information Technology

Bachelor of technology in Computer Science

Bachelor of technology in Information Technology

Bachelor in Computer Application (BCA)

Master in Computer Application (MCA)

Operating System

System Security

Computer Application

X Box

Microsoft 365

Practice Problems

Q. 1 Which Windows is the best for gaming?

(A) Windows XP

(B) Windows 10

(C) Windows Vista

(D) Windows 7

Correct Option: (B)

Q. 2 Windows is an/a:

(A) Programming language

(B) Software development approach

(C) Operating System

(D) None of the above

Correct Option: (C)

Q. 3 What does NT in ‘Windows NT’ stand for?

(A) New Term

(B) Navigation Technology

(C) New Technology

(D) None of the above

Correct Option: (C)

Q. 4 Office 365 is compatible with which of the following?

(A) Windows 10

(B) Windows 7

(C) Windows XP

(D) None of the above

Correct Option: (A)

Q. 5 To install Windows 10 in your system, what is the minimum RAM capacity required?

(A) 1 GB

(B) 2 GB

(C) 4 GB

(D) 8 GB

Correct Option: (B)

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