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Definition: Windows versions


Following is a brief summary of the client versions of Windows (a user's PC running Windows). For more on the server versions, see Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012.

Windows NT Lineage (32 & 64 bit)

Windows 10 S (2017)
Streamlined version that obtains content via the Internet. See Windows 10 S.

Windows 10 (2015) - MS Version 6.4
The next client version of Windows. See Windows 10.

Windows 8/8.1 (2012-2013) - MS Version 6.2/6.3
The current client version of Windows. See Windows 8.

Windows 7 (2009) - MS Version 6.1
The previous client version of Windows. Windows 7 greatly improved stability over Vista. See Windows 7.

Windows Vista (2006) - MS Version 6.0
A client version of Windows that was widely criticized for its bugs and behavior (see Windows Vista). Windows Server 2008 was the server counterpart. See Windows Server 2008.

Windows XP (2001) - MS Version 5.1
A client version of Windows that has been widely used. Adding more security and administrative capabilities, XP became available in 64-bit versions for AMD x86 and Intel Itanium CPUs. See Windows XP.

Windows 2000 (2000) - MS Version 5.0
Windows 2000 was an updated version of Windows NT 4 for client and server. It added numerous enhancements including Plug and Play and Active Directory. Windows 2000 came in one workstation and three server versions. Server versions supported 64-bit AMD x86 and Intel Itanium CPUs. See Windows 2000.

Windows NT (1993) - MS Versions 3.1, 3.5, 4.0
Windows NT 3.1 was a completely new 32-bit OS with separate client and server versions. Introduced during the reign of Windows 3.1 and two years before Windows 95, it used the same Program Manager user interface as Windows 3.1, but provided greater stability. In 1996, Windows NT 4.0 switched to the Windows 95 Start menu interface, but did not include Plug and Play. NT Server gained significant market share, while NT Workstation client version was aimed at the professional user and not the Windows 95/98 market. See Windows NT.

Windows 95 Lineage (32 bit)

Windows ME (2000) - MS Version 4.9
An upgrade to Windows 98. ME had a shorter boot time, but no longer could be booted into DOS only (DOS sessions could still be run in a Windows window). See Windows ME.

Windows 98 (1998) - MS Version 4.1
Windows 98 was an upgrade to Windows 95 that tightly integrated the Internet Explorer Web browser with the OS. In 1999, Windows 98 Second Edition fixed numerous bugs and upgraded its applications. See Windows 98 and Windows Second Edition.

Windows 95 (1995) - MS Version 4.0
Windows 95 was the first 32-bit Windows operating system and a major upgrade from Windows 3.1. It used an entirely different user interface that incorporated the now-common Start menu and Taskbar. It was also the first time the computer booted directly into Windows, rather than being loaded after booting up in DOS. See Windows 95.

Windows DOS Lineage (16 bit)

Windows 3.x (1990-1992) - MS Version 3.x
Windows 3.0 was the first popular version of Windows with a new, colorful user interface that was far superior to Windows 2.0. Although the PC still booted into DOS, Windows 3.0 included a DOS extender that broke the 1MB memory limit (a major breakthrough). Windows 3.0 was widely used to multitask DOS applications.

Windows 3.1 (1992) was more stable and faster. It evolved into Windows for Workgroups (Version 3.11), which added peer-to-peer networking and was the last 16-bit Windows version. See Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1.

Windows 2.0/286/386 (1987) - MS Version 2.0
Windows 2.0 introduced overlapping, resizable windows with more flexibility. Soon after, Windows/386 was released for Intel's 386 CPU, which could run multiple DOS applications simultaneously (Windows 2.0 was renamed Windows/286). Windows was becoming more useful, and a handful of companies adopted it as an operating environment. See Windows 2.0.

Windows 1.0 (1985) - MS Version 1.0
The first Windows version introduced the "MS-DOS Executive," which was a DOS application that ran applications in side-by-side windows. It was rarely used. See Windows 1.0.

 Windows      Word
 Client       Size   Year
 Versions    (bits)  Intro

 NT Lineage
   10 S       32/64  2017
   10         32/64  2015
   8.1        32/64  2013
   8          32/64  2012
   7          32/64  2009
   Vista      32/64  2006
   XP         32/64  2001
   2000       32     2000
   NT         32     1993

 95 Lineage
   ME         32     2000
   98         32     1998
   95         32     1995

 DOS Lineage
  3.11**      16     1992
  3.1         16     1992
  3.0         16     1990
  386         16     1987
  2.0         16     1987
  1.0         16     1985
 ** 1st version to have
    built-in networking

 Windows      Word
 Server       Size   Year
 Versions    (bits)  Intro

 NT Lineage
 Server 2016  64     2016
 Server 2012  64     2012
 Server 2008  32/64  2008
 Server 2003  32/64  2003
 Server       32/64  2000