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Windows NT
Windows NT
is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, the first version of which was released in July 1993. It is a processor-independent, multiprocessing, multi-user operating system. The first version of Windows NT
Windows NT
was Windows NT 3.1
Windows NT 3.1
and was produced for workstations and server computers. It was intended to complement consumer versions of Windows that were based on MS-DOS
MS-DOS
(including Windows 1.0
Windows 1.0
through Windows 3.1x). Gradually, the Windows NT
Windows NT
family was expanded into Microsoft's general-purpose operating system product line for all personal computers, deprecating the Windows 9x
Windows 9x
family. "NT" formerly expanded to "New Technology" but no longer carries any specific meaning. Starting with Windows 2000,[2] "NT" was removed from the product name and is only included in the product version string.[3] NT was the first purely 32-bit
32-bit
version of Windows, whereas its consumer-oriented counterparts, Windows 3.1x
Windows 3.1x
and Windows 9x, were 16-bit/ 32-bit
32-bit
hybrids. It is a multi-architecture operating system. Initially, it supported several instruction set architectures, including IA-32, MIPS, DEC Alpha, PowerPC
PowerPC
and later Itanium. The latest versions support x86 (more specifically IA-32 and x64) and ARM. Major features of the Windows NT
Windows NT
family include Windows Shell, Windows API, Native API, Active Directory, Group Policy, Hardware Abstraction Layer, NTFS, BitLocker, Windows Store, Windows Update, and Hyper-V.

Contents

1 Naming 2 Major features 3 Development 4 Releases 5 Programming language 6 Supported platforms

6.1 32-bit
32-bit
platforms 6.2 64-bit platforms

7 Hardware requirements 8 See also 9 Notes 10 References 11 External links

Naming[edit] It has been suggested that Dave Cutler
Dave Cutler
intended the initialism "WNT" as a play on VMS, incrementing each letter by one.[4] However, the project was originally intended as a follow-on to OS/2
OS/2
and was referred to as "NT OS/2" before receiving the Windows brand.[5] One of the original NT developers, Mark Lucovsky, states that the name was taken from the original target processor—the Intel i860, code-named N10 ("N-Ten").[6] A 1998 question-and-answer session with Bill Gates, reveal that the letters were previously expanded to "New Technology" but no longer carry any specific meaning.[7] The letters were dropped from the names of releases from Windows 2000
Windows 2000
and later, though Microsoft
Microsoft
described that product as being "Built on NT Technology".[2][8] Major features[edit] A main design goal of NT was hardware and software portability. Various versions of NT family operating systems have been released for a variety of processor architectures, initially IA-32, MIPS, and DEC Alpha, with PowerPC, Itanium, x86-64 and ARM supported in later releases. The idea was to have a common code base with a custom Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) for each platform. However, support for MIPS, Alpha, and PowerPC
PowerPC
was later dropped in Windows 2000. Broad software compatibility was achieved with support for several API "personalities", including Windows API, POSIX,[9] and OS/2
OS/2
APIs[10] – the latter two were phased out starting with Windows XP.[11] Partial MS-DOS
MS-DOS
compatibility was achieved via an integrated DOS Virtual Machine – although this feature is being phased out in the x86-64 architecture.[12] NT supported per-object (file, function, and role) access control lists allowing a rich set of security permissions to be applied to systems and services. NT supported Windows network protocols, inheriting the previous OS/2
OS/2
LAN Manager networking, as well as TCP/IP
TCP/IP
networking (for which Microsoft
Microsoft
would implement a TCP/IP
TCP/IP
stack derived at first from a STREAMS-based stack from Spider Systems, then later rewritten in-house).[13] Windows NT 3.1
Windows NT 3.1
was the first version of Windows to use 32-bit
32-bit
flat virtual memory addressing on 32-bit
32-bit
processors. Its companion product, Windows 3.1, used segmented addressing and switches from 16-bit to 32-bit
32-bit
addressing in pages. Windows NT 3.1
Windows NT 3.1
featured a core kernel providing a system API, running in supervisor mode (ring 0 in x86; referred to in Windows NT
Windows NT
as "kernel mode" on all platforms), and a set of user-space environments with their own APIs which included the new Win32 environment, an OS/2 1.3 text-mode environment and a POSIX environment. The full preemptive multitasking kernel could interrupt running tasks to schedule other tasks, without relying on user programs to voluntarily give up control of the CPU, as in Windows 3.1 Windows applications (although MS-DOS applications were preemptively multitasked in Windows starting with Windows 1.0). Notably, in Windows NT
Windows NT
3.x, several I/O driver subsystems, such as video and printing, were user-mode subsystems. In Windows NT
Windows NT
4, the video, server, and printer spooler subsystems were moved into kernel mode. Windows NT's first GUI was strongly influenced by (and programmatically compatible with) that from Windows 3.1; Windows NT 4's interface was redesigned to match that of the brand new Windows 95, moving from the Program Manager
Program Manager
to the Windows shell
Windows shell
design. NTFS, a journaled, secure file system, was created for NT. Windows NT also allows for other installable file systems; starting with versions 3.1, NT could be installed on FAT or HPFS file systems.[14] Windows NT
Windows NT
introduced its own driver model, the Windows NT
Windows NT
driver model, and is incompatible with older driver frameworks. With Windows 2000, the Windows NT
Windows NT
driver model was enhanced to become the Windows Driver Model, which was first introduced with Windows 98, but was based on the NT driver model.[15] Windows Vista
Windows Vista
added native support for the Windows Driver Foundation, which is also available for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2003
and to an extent, Windows 2000. Development[edit]

Original Windows NT
Windows NT
wordmark

Microsoft
Microsoft
decided to create a portable operating system, compatible with OS/2
OS/2
and POSIX and supporting multiprocessing, in October 1988.[16] When development started in November 1989, Windows NT
Windows NT
was to be known as OS/2
OS/2
3.0,[17] the third version of the operating system developed jointly by Microsoft
Microsoft
and IBM. To ensure portability, initial development was targeted at the Intel i860XR RISC processor, switching to the MIPS R3000
R3000
in late 1989, and then the Intel i386
Intel i386
in 1990.[18] Microsoft
Microsoft
also continued parallel development of the DOS-based and less resource-demanding Windows environment, resulting in the release of Windows 3.0
Windows 3.0
in May 1990. Windows 3 was eventually so successful that Microsoft
Microsoft
decided to change the primary application programming interface for the still unreleased NT OS/2
OS/2
(as it was then known) from an extended OS/2
OS/2
API to an extended Windows API. This decision caused tension between Microsoft
Microsoft
and IBM
IBM
and the collaboration ultimately fell apart. IBM
IBM
continued OS/2
OS/2
development alone while Microsoft
Microsoft
continued work on the newly renamed Windows NT. Though neither operating system would immediately be as popular as Microsoft's MS-DOS
MS-DOS
or Windows products, Windows NT
Windows NT
would eventually be far more successful than OS/2. Microsoft
Microsoft
hired a group of developers from Digital Equipment Corporation led by Dave Cutler
Dave Cutler
to build Windows NT, and many elements of the design reflect earlier DEC experience with Cutler's VMS[19] and RSX-11, but also an unreleased object-based operating system developed by Dave Cutler
Dave Cutler
for DEC Prism.[20] The operating system was designed to run on multiple instruction set architectures and multiple hardware platforms within each architecture. The platform dependencies are largely hidden from the rest of the system by a kernel mode module called the HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer). Windows NT's kernel mode code further distinguishes between the "kernel", whose primary purpose is to implement processor- and architecture-dependent functions, and the "executive". This was designed as a modified microkernel, as the Windows NT
Windows NT
kernel was influenced by the Mach microkernel developed at Carnegie Mellon University,[21] but does not meet all of the criteria of a pure microkernel. Both the kernel and the executive are linked together into the single loaded module ntoskrnl.exe; from outside this module there is little distinction between the kernel and the executive. Routines from each are directly accessible, as for example from kernel-mode device drivers. API sets in the Windows NT
Windows NT
family are implemented as subsystems atop the publicly undocumented "native" API; this allowed the late adoption of the Windows API (into the Win32 subsystem). Windows NT
Windows NT
was one of the earliest operating systems to use Unicode
Unicode
internally. Releases[edit] See also: List of Microsoft
Microsoft
Windows versions

Windows NT
Windows NT
releases

Version Marketing name Editions Release date Build number

3.1 Windows NT
Windows NT
3.1 Workstation
Workstation
(named just Windows NT), Advanced Server July 27, 1993 528

3.5 Windows NT
Windows NT
3.5 Workstation, Server September 21, 1994 807

3.51 Windows NT
Windows NT
3.51 Workstation, Server May 30, 1995 1057

4.0 Windows NT
Windows NT
4.0 Workstation, Server, Server Enterprise Edition, Terminal Server, Embedded August 24, 1996 1381

5.0 Windows 2000 Professional, Server, Advanced Server February 17, 2000 2195

Datacenter Server September 26, 2000

5.1 Windows XP Home, Professional, Media Center (original, 2004 & 2005), Tablet PC (original and 2005), Starter, Embedded, Home N, Professional N October 25, 2001 2600

Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs N/A July 8, 2006

5.2 Windows XP 64-bit Edition Version 2003[22] March 28, 2003 3790

Windows Server
Windows Server
2003 Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, Web, Storage, Small Business Server, Compute Cluster April 24, 2003

Windows XP Professional x64 Edition April 25, 2005

Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2003
R2 Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, Web, Storage, Small Business Server, Compute Cluster December 6, 2005

Windows Home Server N/A July 16, 2007

6.0 Windows Vista Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, Ultimate, Home Basic N, Business N

Business: November 30, 2006 Consumer: January 30, 2007

6000 (RTM) 6001 (SP1) 6002 (SP2)

Windows Server
Windows Server
2008 Foundation, Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, Web Server, HPC Server, Itanium-Based Systems[23] February 27, 2008

6001 (RTM) 6002 (SP2)

6.1[24] Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate[25] October 22, 2009[26]

7600 (RTM) 7601 (SP1)

Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008
R2 Foundation, Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, Web Server, HPC Server, Itanium-Based Systems October 22, 2009[27]

7600 (RTM) 7601 (SP1)

Windows Home Server
Windows Home Server
2011 N/A April 6, 2011

7600 (RTM)

6.2 Windows 8[28] Windows 8, Windows 8
Windows 8
Pro, Windows 8
Windows 8
Enterprise, Windows RT[29] October 26, 2012[30] 9200

Windows Server
Windows Server
2012[31] Foundation, Essentials, Standard, Datacenter[32] September 4, 2012 9200

6.3[33] Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1
Pro, Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1
Enterprise, Windows RT
Windows RT
8.1 October 18, 2013 9600[34]

Windows Server 2012
Windows Server 2012
R2 Foundation, Essentials, Standard, Datacenter October 18, 2013 9600

10.0[35] Windows 10 Home, Pro, Pro Education, Enterprise, Education, Windows 10
Windows 10
S, IoT Core, Mobile, Mobile Enterprise[36][37] July 29, 2015

10240 (TH1) 10586 (TH2) 14393 (RS1) 15063 (RS2) 16299 (RS3)

Windows Server
Windows Server
2016 Essentials, Standard, Datacenter, Multipoint Premium Server, Storage Server, Hyper-V
Hyper-V
Server September 26, 2016

14393 (RS1) 16299 (RS3)[38]

Windows NT 3.1
Windows NT 3.1
to 3.51 incorporated the Program Manager
Program Manager
and File Manager from the Windows 3.1x
Windows 3.1x
series. Windows NT 4.0
Windows NT 4.0
onwards replaced those programs with Windows Explorer
Windows Explorer
(including a taskbar and Start menu), which originally appeared in Windows 95. The first release was given version number 3.1 to match the contemporary 16-bit Windows; magazines of that era claimed the number was also used to make that version seem more reliable than a ".0" release. Also the Novell IPX protocol was apparently licensed only to 3.1 versions of Windows software.[citation needed] The NT version number is not now generally used for marketing purposes, but is still used internally, and said to reflect the degree of changes to the core of the operating system.[39] However, for application compatibility reasons, Microsoft
Microsoft
kept the major version number as 6 in releases following Vista,[40] but changed it later to 10 in Windows 10.[35] The build number is an internal identifier used by Microsoft's developers and beta testers. Programming language[edit] Windows NT
Windows NT
is written in C and C++, with a very small amount written in assembly language.[41] C is mostly used for the kernel code while C++
C++
is mostly used for user-mode code. Assembly language
Assembly language
is avoided where possible because it would impede portability.[42] Supported platforms[edit] 32-bit
32-bit
platforms[edit] In order to prevent Intel x86-specific code from slipping into the operating system by developers used to developing on x86 chips, Windows NT 3.1
Windows NT 3.1
was initially developed using non-x86 development systems and then ported to the x86 architecture. This work was initially based on the Intel i860-based Dazzle system and, later, the MIPS R4000-based Jazz platform. Both systems were designed internally at Microsoft.[43] Windows NT 3.1
Windows NT 3.1
was released for Intel x86
Intel x86
PC compatible, PC-98, DEC Alpha, and ARC-compliant MIPS platforms. Windows NT 3.51
Windows NT 3.51
added support for the PowerPC
PowerPC
processor in 1995, specifically PReP-compliant systems such as the IBM
IBM
Power Series desktops/laptops and Motorola
Motorola
PowerStack series; but despite meetings between Michael Spindler and Bill Gates, not on the Power Macintosh
Power Macintosh
as the PReP
PReP
compliant Power Macintosh project failed to ship. Intergraph Corporation
Intergraph Corporation
ported Windows NT
Windows NT
to its Clipper architecture and later announced intention to port Windows NT 3.51
Windows NT 3.51
to Sun Microsystems' SPARC
SPARC
architecture,[44] but neither version was sold to the public as a retail product. Only two of the Windows NT 4.0
Windows NT 4.0
variants ( IA-32 and Alpha) have a full set of service packs available. All of the other ports done by third parties (Motorola, Intergraph, etc.) have few, if any, publicly available updates. Windows NT 4.0
Windows NT 4.0
was the last major release to support Alpha, MIPS, or PowerPC, though development of Windows 2000
Windows 2000
for Alpha continued until August 1999, when Compaq
Compaq
stopped support for Windows NT
Windows NT
on that architecture; and then three days later Microsoft
Microsoft
also canceled their AlphaNT program,[45] even though the Alpha NT 5 (Windows 2000) release had reached RC1 status.[46] Microsoft
Microsoft
announced on January 5, 2011 that the next major version of the Windows NT
Windows NT
family will include support for the ARM architecture. Microsoft
Microsoft
demonstrated a preliminary version of Windows (version 6.2.7867) running on an ARM-based computer at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.[47] This eventually led to the commercial release of the Windows 8-derived Windows RT
Windows RT
on October 26, 2012, and the implementation of NT over CE on Windows Phone
Windows Phone
8. According to Microsoft, it is a common misconception that the Xbox and Xbox 360
Xbox 360
use a modified Windows 2000
Windows 2000
kernel, for the Xbox operating system was built from scratch but implements a subset of Windows APIs.[48] 64-bit platforms[edit] The 64-bit versions of Windows NT
Windows NT
were originally intended to run on Itanium
Itanium
and DEC Alpha; the latter was used internally at Microsoft during early development of 64-bit Windows.[49][50] This continued for some time after Microsoft
Microsoft
publicly announced that it was cancelling plans to ship 64-bit Windows for Alpha.[51] Because of this, Alpha versions of Windows NT
Windows NT
are 32-bit
32-bit
only. While Windows 2000
Windows 2000
only supports Intel IA-32 (32-bit), Windows XP, Server 2003, Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 each have one edition dedicated to Itanium-based systems.[52][53][54] In comparison with Itanium, Microsoft
Microsoft
adopted x64 on a greater scale: every version of Windows since Windows XP
Windows XP
(which has a dedicated x64 edition),[55] has x64 editions.[52][56] Hardware requirements[edit] The minimum hardware specification required to run each release of the professional workstation version of Windows NT
Windows NT
has been fairly slow-moving until the 6.0 Vista release, which requires a minimum of 15 GB of free disk space, a 10-fold increase in free disk space alone over the previous version.

Windows NT
Windows NT
minimum hardware requirements

Windows version CPU RAM Free disk space

NT 3.1 i386, 25 MHz 12 MB 90 MB

NT 3.1 Advanced Server i386, 25 MHz 16 MB 90 MB

NT 3.5 Workstation[57] i386, 25 MHz 12 MB 90 MB

NT 3.5 Server[57] i386, 25 MHz 16 MB 90 MB

NT 3.51 Workstation[57] i386, 25 MHz 12 MB 90 MB

NT 3.51 Server[57] i386, 25 MHz 16 MB 90 MB

NT 4.0 Workstation[58] i486, 25 MHz 12 MB 124 MB

NT 4.0 Server[58] i486, 25 MHz 16 MB 124 MB

2000 Professional[59] Pentium, 133 MHz 32 MB 650 MB

2000 Server[59] Pentium, 133 MHz 128 MB 650 MB

XP[60] Pentium, 233 MHz 64 MB 1.5 GB

Server 2003[61] 133 MHz 128 MB 1.5 GB

Vista Home Basic[62] 800 MHz 512 MB 20 GB

Vista (other editions)[62] 1 GHz 1 GB 40 GB

7 for IA-32[63] 1 GHz 1 GB 16 GB

7 for x64[63] 1 GHz 2 GB 20 GB

8 for IA-32[64] 1 GHz with NX bit, SSE2, PAE 1 GB 16 GB

8 for x64[64] 1 GHz with NX bit, SSE2, PAE 2 GB 20 GB

8.1 for IA-32[64] 1 GHz with NX bit, SSE2, PAE 1 GB 16 GB

8.1 for x64[64] 1 GHz with NX bit, SSE2, PAE, CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW and LAHF/SAHF 2 GB 20 GB

10 for IA-32[65] 1 GHz with NX bit, SSE2, PAE 1 GB 16 GB

10 for x64[65] 1 GHz with NX bit, SSE2, PAE, CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW and LAHF/SAHF 2 GB 20 GB

See also[edit]

Architecture of Windows NT F6 disk Windows Server
Windows Server
domain ReactOS
ReactOS
(an open source project with the goal of providing binary- and device driver-level compatibility with Windows NT) Windows NT
Windows NT
startup process Windows Preinstallation Environment Microsoft
Microsoft
Servers

Notes[edit]

^ For more information on how Microsoft
Microsoft
licenses its products, see Microsoft
Microsoft
Software Assurance, DreamSpark, DreamSpark Premium, BizSpark, MSDN § Software subscriptions, Microsoft
Microsoft
TechNet § Subscriptions and downloads and client access license.

References[edit]

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Microsoft
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Windows NT
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Windows NT
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Windows NT
OS/2
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External links[edit]

Windows (official page), Microsoft . Russinovich, Mark, " Windows NT
Windows NT
and VMS: The Rest of the Story", Win 2000 (discussion of ancestry of NT), archived from the original on May 3, 2002 . A Brief History of the Windows NT
Windows NT
Operating System (fact sheet), Microsoft
Microsoft
PressPass, 1998, archived from the original on June 10, 2004 .

v t e

Microsoft
Microsoft
Windows family

Components History Timeline Criticism

DOS-based

Windows 1.0 Windows 2.0 Windows 2.1x Windows 3.0 Windows 3.1x

Windows 9x

Windows 95
Windows 95
(Development) Windows 98 Windows ME

Windows NT

Windows NT
Windows NT
3.1 Windows NT
Windows NT
3.5 Windows NT
Windows NT
3.51 Windows NT
Windows NT
4.0 Windows 2000

Client versions

Windows XP

editions x64 Media Center Fundamentals

Windows Vista

editions

Windows 7

editions

Windows 8

editions RT

8.1 Windows 10

editions version history

Windows Server

Server 2003

Home Server

Server 2008

EBS 2008 HPC Server 2008

Server 2008 R2

Home Server 2011

Server 2012 Server 2012 R2 Server 2016 Server 2019 MultiPoint Server Server Essentials

Specialized

Windows Preinstallation Environment

Windows Embedded

Embedded Compact

CE 5.0 Embedded CE 6.0 Embedded Compact 7

Embedded Automotive Embedded Industry

Windows Mobile

Pocket PC 2000 Pocket PC 2002 Mobile 2003 Mobile 5.0 Mobile 6.0 Mobile 6.1 Mobile 6.5

Windows Phone

Phone 7 Phone 8 Phone 8.1 Windows 10
Windows 10
Mobile

Cancelled

Cairo Nashville Neptune Odyssey

List of versions Comparison Book Category

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 182742783 LCCN: n92070862 GND: 4297586-4 BNF: cb1234

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