Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows is a group of several graphical operating system families, all of which are developed, marketed, and sold by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry. Active Windows families include Windows NT and Windows Embedded; these may encompass subfamilies, e.g. Windows Embedded Compact (Windows CE) or Windows Server. Defunct Windows families include Windows 9x, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.

Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985, as a graphical operating system shell for MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs).[3] Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal computer (PC) market with over 90% market share, overtaking Mac OS, which had been introduced in 1984. Apple came to see Windows as an unfair encroachment on their innovation in GUI development as implemented on products such as the Lisa and Macintosh (eventually settled in court in Microsoft's favor in 1993). On PCs, Windows is still the most popular operating system. However, in 2014, Microsoft admitted losing the majority of the overall operating system market to Android,[4] because of the massive growth in sales of Android smartphones. In 2014, the number of Windows devices sold was less than 25% that of Android devices sold. This comparison however may not be fully relevant, as the two operating systems traditionally target different platforms. Still, numbers for server use of Windows (that are comparable to competitors) show one third market share, similar to that for end user use.

As of October 2018, the most recent version of Windows for PCs, tablets, smartphones and embedded devices is Windows 10. The most recent versions for server computers is Windows Server 2019. A specialized version of Windows runs on the Xbox One video game console.[5]

Microsoft Windows
Windows darkblue 2012 svg
DeveloperMicrosoft
Source model
Initial releaseNovember 20, 1985, as version 1.0 (Unsupported)
Latest release1809 (10.0.17763.134) November 13, 2018
Latest preview1903 (10.0.18282) November 14, 2018
Marketing targetPersonal computing
Available in138 languages[1]
Update method
Package managerWindows Installer (.msi), Windows Store (.appx)[2]
PlatformsARM, IA-32, Itanium, x86-64, DEC Alpha, MIPS, PowerPC
Kernel type
Default user interfaceWindows shell
LicenseProprietary commercial software
Official websitewindows.microsoft.com

Genealogy

By marketing role

Microsoft, the developer of Windows, has registered several trademarks, each of which denote a family of Windows operating systems that target a specific sector of the computing industry. As of 2014, the following Windows families are being actively developed:

The following Windows families are no longer being developed:

Version history

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

Windows1.0
Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985

The history of Windows dates back to 1981, when Microsoft started work on a program called "Interface Manager". 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.[8] Windows 1.0 was to compete with Apple's operating system, but achieved little popularity. Windows 1.0 is not a complete operating system; rather, it extends MS-DOS. The shell of Windows 1.0 is a program known as the MS-DOS Executive. Components included Calculator, Calendar, Cardfile, Clipboard viewer, Clock, Control Panel, Notepad, Paint, Reversi, Terminal and Write. Windows 1.0 does not allow overlapping windows. Instead all windows are tiled. Only modal dialog boxes may appear over other windows. Microsoft sold as included Windows Development libraries with the C development environment, which included numerous windows samples. [9]

Windows 2.0 was released in December 1987, and was more popular than its predecessor. It features several improvements to the user interface and memory management.[10] Windows 2.03 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.[11][12] Windows 2.0 also introduced more sophisticated keyboard shortcuts and could make use of expanded memory.

Windows 2.1 was released in two different versions: Windows/286 and Windows/386. Windows/386 uses the virtual 8086 mode of the Intel 80386 to multitask several DOS programs and the paged memory model to emulate expanded memory using available extended memory. Windows/286, in spite of its name, runs on both Intel 8086 and Intel 80286 processors. It runs in real mode but can make use of the high memory area.

In addition to full Windows-packages, there were runtime-only versions that shipped with early Windows software from third parties and made it possible to run their Windows software on MS-DOS and without the full Windows feature set.

The early versions of Windows are often thought of as graphical shells, mostly because they ran on top of MS-DOS and use it for file system services.[13] However, even the earliest 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). 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 allows it to run applications larger than available memory: code segments and resources are swapped in and thrown away when memory became scarce; data segments moved in memory when a given application had relinquished processor control.

Windows 3.x

Windows 3.0 workspace
Windows 3.0, released in 1990

Windows 3.0, released in 1990, improved the design, mostly because of virtual memory and loadable virtual device drivers (VxDs) that allow Windows to share arbitrary devices between multi-tasked DOS applications. Windows 3.0 applications can run in protected mode, which gives them access to several megabytes of memory without the obligation to participate in the software virtual memory scheme. They run inside the same address space, where the segmented memory provides a degree of protection. Windows 3.0 also featured improvements to the user interface. Microsoft rewrote critical operations from C into assembly. Windows 3.0 is the first Microsoft Windows version to achieve broad commercial success, selling 2 million copies in the first six months.[14][15]

Windows 3.1, made generally available on March 1, 1992, featured a facelift. In August 1993, Windows for Workgroups, a special version with integrated peer-to-peer networking features and a version number of 3.11, was released. It was sold along Windows 3.1. Support for Windows 3.1 ended on December 31, 2001.[16]

Windows 3.2, released 1994, is an updated version of the Chinese version of Windows 3.1.[17] The update was limited to this language version, as it fixed only issues related to the complex writing system of the Chinese language.[18] Windows 3.2 was generally sold by computer manufacturers with a ten-disk version of MS-DOS that also had Simplified Chinese characters in basic output and some translated utilities.

Windows 9x

The next major consumer-oriented release of Windows, Windows 95, was released on August 24, 1995. While still remaining MS-DOS-based, Windows 95 introduced support for native 32-bit applications, plug and play hardware, preemptive multitasking, long file names of up to 255 characters, and provided increased stability over its predecessors. Windows 95 also introduced a redesigned, object oriented user interface, replacing the previous Program Manager with the Start menu, taskbar, and Windows Explorer shell. Windows 95 was a major commercial success for Microsoft; Ina Fried of CNET remarked that "by the time Windows 95 was finally ushered off the market in 2001, it had become a fixture on computer desktops around the world."[19] Microsoft published four OEM Service Releases (OSR) of Windows 95, each of which was roughly equivalent to a service pack. The first OSR of Windows 95 was also the first version of Windows to be bundled with Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer.[20] Mainstream support for Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2000, and extended support for Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2001.[21]

Windows 95 was followed up with the release of Windows 98 on June 25, 1998, which introduced the Windows Driver Model, support for USB composite devices, support for ACPI, hibernation, and support for multi-monitor configurations. Windows 98 also included integration with Internet Explorer 4 through Active Desktop and other aspects of the Windows Desktop Update (a series of enhancements to the Explorer shell which were also made available for Windows 95). In May 1999, Microsoft released Windows 98 Second Edition, an updated version of Windows 98. Windows 98 SE added Internet Explorer 5.0 and Windows Media Player 6.2 amongst other upgrades. Mainstream support for Windows 98 ended on June 30, 2002, and extended support for Windows 98 ended on July 11, 2006.[22]

On September 14, 2000, Microsoft released Windows ME (Millennium Edition), the last DOS-based version of Windows. Windows ME incorporated visual interface enhancements from its Windows NT-based counterpart Windows 2000, had faster boot times than previous versions (which however, required the removal of the ability to access a real mode DOS environment, removing compatibility with some older programs),[23] expanded multimedia functionality (including Windows Media Player 7, Windows Movie Maker, and the Windows Image Acquisition framework for retrieving images from scanners and digital cameras), additional system utilities such as System File Protection and System Restore, and updated home networking tools.[24] However, Windows ME was faced with criticism for its speed and instability, along with hardware compatibility issues and its removal of real mode DOS support. PC World considered Windows ME to be one of the worst operating systems Microsoft had ever released, and the 4th worst tech product of all time.[7]

Windows NT

Early versions

In November 1988, a new development team within Microsoft (which included former Digital Equipment Corporation developers Dave Cutler and Mark Lucovsky) began work on a revamped version of IBM and Microsoft's OS/2 operating system known as "NT OS/2". NT OS/2 was intended to be a secure, multi-user operating system with POSIX compatibility and a modular, portable kernel with preemptive multitasking and support for multiple processor architectures. However, following the successful release of Windows 3.0, the NT development team decided to rework the project to use an extended 32-bit port of the Windows API known as Win32 instead of those of OS/2. Win32 maintained a similar structure to the Windows APIs (allowing existing Windows applications to easily be ported to the platform), but also supported the capabilities of the existing NT kernel. Following its approval by Microsoft's staff, development continued on what was now Windows NT, the first 32-bit version of Windows. However, IBM objected to the changes, and ultimately continued OS/2 development on its own.[25][26]

The first release of the resulting operating system, Windows NT 3.1 (named to associate it with Windows 3.1) was released in July 1993, with versions for desktop workstations and servers. Windows NT 3.5 was released in September 1994, focusing on performance improvements and support for Novell's NetWare, and was followed up by Windows NT 3.51 in May 1995, which included additional improvements and support for the PowerPC architecture. Windows NT 4.0 was released in June 1996, introducing the redesigned interface of Windows 95 to the NT series. On February 17, 2000, Microsoft released Windows 2000, a successor to NT 4.0. The Windows NT name was dropped at this point in order to put a greater focus on the Windows brand.[26]

Windows XP

The next major version of Windows NT, Windows XP, was released on October 25, 2001. The introduction of Windows XP aimed to unify the consumer-oriented Windows 9x series with the architecture introduced by Windows NT, a change which Microsoft promised would provide better performance over its DOS-based predecessors. Windows XP would also introduce a redesigned user interface (including an updated Start menu and a "task-oriented" Windows Explorer), streamlined multimedia and networking features, Internet Explorer 6, integration with Microsoft's .NET Passport services, modes to help provide compatibility with software designed for previous versions of Windows, and Remote Assistance functionality.[27]

At retail, Windows XP was now marketed in two main editions: the "Home" edition was targeted towards consumers, while the "Professional" edition was targeted towards business environments and power users, and included additional security and networking features. Home and Professional were later accompanied by the "Media Center" edition (designed for home theater PCs, with an emphasis on support for DVD playback, TV tuner cards, DVR functionality, and remote controls), and the "Tablet PC" edition (designed for mobile devices meeting its specifications for a tablet computer, with support for stylus pen input and additional pen-enabled applications).[28][29][30] Mainstream support for Windows XP ended on April 14, 2009. Extended support ended on April 8, 2014.[31]

After Windows 2000, Microsoft also changed its release schedules for server operating systems; the server counterpart of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, was released in April 2003.[26] It was followed in December 2005, by Windows Server 2003 R2.

Windows Vista

After a lengthy development process, Windows Vista was released on November 30, 2006, for volume licensing and January 30, 2007, for consumers. It contained a number of new features, from a redesigned shell and user interface to significant technical changes, with a particular focus on security features. It was available in a number of different editions, and has been subject to some criticism, such as drop of performance, longer boot time, criticism of new UAC, and stricter license agreement. Vista's server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 was released in early 2008.

Windows 7

On July 22, 2009, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 were released as RTM (release to manufacturing) while the former was released to the public 3 months later on October 22, 2009. Unlike its predecessor, Windows Vista, which introduced a large number of new features, Windows 7 was intended to be a more focused, incremental upgrade to the Windows line, with the goal of being compatible with applications and hardware with which Windows Vista was already compatible.[32] Windows 7 has multi-touch support, a redesigned Windows shell with an updated taskbar, a home networking system called HomeGroup,[33] and performance improvements.

Windows 8 and 8.1

Windows 8, the successor to Windows 7, was released generally on October 26, 2012. A number of significant changes were made on Windows 8, including the introduction of a user interface based around Microsoft's Metro design language with optimizations for touch-based devices such as tablets and all-in-one PCs. These changes include the Start screen, which uses large tiles that are more convenient for touch interactions and allow for the display of continually updated information, and a new class of apps which are designed primarily for use on touch-based devices. Other changes include increased integration with cloud services and other online platforms (such as social networks and Microsoft's own OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) and Xbox Live services), the Windows Store service for software distribution, and a new variant known as Windows RT for use on devices that utilize the ARM architecture.[34][35][36][37][38][39] An update to Windows 8, called Windows 8.1,[40] was released on October 17, 2013, and includes features such as new live tile sizes, deeper OneDrive integration, and many other revisions. Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have been subject to some criticism, such as removal of the Start menu.

Windows 10

On September 30, 2014, Microsoft announced Windows 10 as the successor to Windows 8.1. It was released on July 29, 2015, and addresses shortcomings in the user interface first introduced with Windows 8. Changes include the return of the Start Menu, a virtual desktop system, and the ability to run Windows Store apps within windows on the desktop rather than in full-screen mode. Windows 10 is said to be available to update from qualified Windows 7 with SP1 and Windows 8.1 computers from the Get Windows 10 Application (for Windows 7, Windows 8.1) or Windows Update (Windows 7).[41]

On November 12, 2015, an update to Windows 10, version 1511, was released.[42] This update can be activated with a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 product key as well as Windows 10 product keys.[43] Features include new icons and right-click context menus, default printer management, four times as many tiles allowed in the Start menu, Find My Device, and Edge updates.[43]

In February 2017, Microsoft announced the migration of its Windows source code repository from Perforce to Git. This migration involved 3.5 million separate files in a 300 gigabyte repository.[44] By May 2017, 90 percent of its engineering team now uses Git, in about 8500 commits and 1760 Windows builds per day.[44]

Multilingual support

Multilingual support is built into Windows since Windows 3. The language for both the keyboard and the interface can be changed through the Region and Language Control Panel. Components for all supported input languages, such as Input Method Editors, are automatically installed during Windows installation (in Windows XP and earlier, files for East Asian languages, such as Chinese, and right-to-left scripts, such as Arabic, may need to be installed separately, also from the said Control Panel). Third-party IMEs may also be installed if a user feels that the provided one is insufficient for their needs.

Interface languages for the operating system are free for download, but some languages are limited to certain editions of Windows. Language Interface Packs (LIPs) are redistributable and may be downloaded from Microsoft's Download Center and installed for any edition of Windows (XP or later) – they translate most, but not all, of the Windows interface, and require a certain base language (the language which Windows originally shipped with). This is used for most languages in emerging markets. Full Language Packs, which translates the complete operating system, are only available for specific editions of Windows (Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Windows Vista and 7, and all editions of Windows 8, 8.1 and RT except Single Language). They do not require a specific base language, and are commonly used for more popular languages such as French or Chinese. These languages cannot be downloaded through the Download Center, but available as optional updates through the Windows Update service (except Windows 8).

The interface language of installed applications are not affected by changes in the Windows interface language. Availability of languages depends on the application developers themselves.

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 introduces a new Language Control Panel where both the interface and input languages can be simultaneously changed, and language packs, regardless of type, can be downloaded from a central location. The PC Settings app in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 also includes a counterpart settings page for this. Changing the interface language also changes the language of preinstalled Windows Store apps (such as Mail, Maps and News) and certain other Microsoft-developed apps (such as Remote Desktop). The above limitations for language packs are however still in effect, except that full language packs can be installed for any edition except Single Language, which caters to emerging markets.

Platform support

Windows NT included support for several different platforms before the x86-based personal computer became dominant in the professional world. Windows NT 4.0 and its predecessors supported PowerPC, DEC Alpha and MIPS R4000. (Although some these platforms implement 64-bit computing, the operating system treated them as 32-bit.) However, Windows 2000, the successor of Windows NT 4.0, dropped support for all platforms except the third generation x86 (known as IA-32) or newer in 32-bit mode. The client line of Windows NT family still runs on IA-32, although the Windows Server line has ceased supporting this platform with the release of Windows Server 2008 R2.

With the introduction of the Intel Itanium architecture (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 counterparts. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition, released in 2005, is the last Windows client operating systems to support Itanium. Windows Server line continues to support this platform until Windows Server 2012; Windows Server 2008 R2 is the last Windows operating system to support Itanium architecture.

On April 25, 2005, Microsoft released Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions to support the x86-64 (or simply x64), the eighth generation of x86 architecture. Windows Vista was the first client version of Windows NT to be released simultaneously in IA-32 and x64 editions. x64 is still supported.

An edition of Windows 8 known as Windows RT was specifically created for computers with ARM architecture and while ARM is still used for Windows smartphones with Windows 10, tablets with Windows RT will not be updated.

Windows CE

WindowsCE7
The latest current version of Windows CE, Windows Embedded Compact 7, displaying a concept media player UI

Windows CE (officially known as Windows Embedded Compact), is an edition of Windows that runs on minimalistic computers, like satellite navigation systems and some mobile phones. Windows Embedded Compact is based on its own dedicated kernel, dubbed Windows CE kernel. Microsoft licenses Windows CE to OEMs and device makers. The OEMs and device makers can modify and create their own user interfaces and experiences, while Windows CE provides the technical foundation to do so.

Windows CE was used in the Dreamcast along with Sega's own proprietary OS for the console. Windows CE was the core from which Windows Mobile was derived. Its successor, Windows Phone 7, was based on components from both Windows CE 6.0 R3 and Windows CE 7.0. Windows Phone 8 however, is based on the same NT-kernel as Windows 8.

Windows Embedded Compact is not to be confused with Windows XP Embedded or Windows NT 4.0 Embedded, modular editions of Windows based on Windows NT kernel.

Xbox OS

Xbox OS is an unofficial name given to the version of Windows that runs on the Xbox One.[45] It is a more specific implementation with an emphasis on virtualization (using Hyper-V) as it is three operating systems running at once, consisting of the core operating system, a second implemented for games and a more Windows-like environment for applications.[46] Microsoft updates Xbox One's OS every month, and these updates can be downloaded from the Xbox Live service to the Xbox and subsequently installed, or by using offline recovery images downloaded via a PC.[47] The Windows 10-based Core had replaced the Windows 8-based one in this update, and the new system is sometimes referred to as "Windows 10 on Xbox One" or "OneCore".[48][49] Xbox One's system also allows backward compatibility with Xbox 360,[50] and the Xbox 360's system is backwards compatible with the original Xbox.[51]

Version control system

In 2017 Microsoft announced that it would start using Git, an open source version control system created by Linus Torvalds. Microsoft has previously used a proprietary version control system called "Source Depot". Microsoft began to integrate Git into Team Foundation Server in 2013, but Windows continued to rely to Source Depot. However, this decision came with some complexity. The Windows codebase is not especially well suited to the decentralized nature of Linux development that Git was originally created to manage. Each Git repository contains a complete history of all the files, which proved unworkable for Windows developers because cloning the repository takes several hours. Microsoft has been working on a new project called the Virtual File System for Git (VFSForGit) to address these challenges.[52]

Timeline of releases

The Windows family tree
The Windows family tree

Usage share and device sales


Windows logo and wordmark - 2012 (dark blue)

Market share overview
According to Net Applications[54][55] and StatCounter[56][57] data from December 2018

Desktop OS Net Applications StatCounter
Old version, no longer supported: Windows XP 4.54% 1.77%
Old version, no longer supported: Windows Vista 0.20% 0.50%
Older version, yet still supported: Windows 7 36.90% 27.14%
Old version, no longer supported: Windows 8 0.88% 1.55%
Older version, yet still supported: Windows 8.1 4.45% 5.29%
Current stable version: Windows 10 39.22% 39.88%
All listed versions 86.19% 76.12%
Mobile OS Net Applications StatCounter
Old version, no longer supported: Windows Phone 8 0.00% 0.33%
Old version, no longer supported: Windows Phone 8.1 0.01%
Current stable version: Windows 10 Mobile 0.04%
All listed versions 0.05% 0.33%

According to Net Applications, which tracks the use of operating systems in devices that are active on the Web, Windows was the most used operating-system family on personal computers in July 2017, with close to 90% usage share.[58] Including personal computers of all kinds (e.g., desktops, laptops, mobile devices), Windows OSes accounted for 35.24% of usage share in July 2017, compared to Android (highest, at 41.24%), iOS's 13.22%, and macOS's 4.64%, according to StatCounter, which tracks use of operating systems by their use in devices active on the Web.[59][60] Windows is used in less than half the market not only in developing countries, but also in developed ones—such as the United States, where use of Windows on desktops, on which it is the plurality operating system, has fallen to 46.18%[61], and the United Kingdom and Ireland. These numbers are easiest (monthly numbers) to find that track real use, but they may not mirror installed base or sales numbers (in recent years) of devices. They are consistent with server numbers in next section.

In terms of the number of devices shipped with the operating system installed, on smartphones, Windows Phone was the third-most-shipped OS (2.6%) after Android (82.8%) and iOS (13.9%) in the second quarter of 2015 according to IDC.[62] Across both PCs and mobile devices, in 2014, Windows OSes were the second-most-shipped (333 million devices, or 14%) after Android (1.2 billion, 49%) and ahead of iOS and macOS combined (263 million, 11%).[63]

Use of the latest version Windows 10 has exceeded Windows 7 globally since early 2018.[64] In most developed countries, such as Japan, Australia and the US, Windows 10 already was the most popular version since early 2017.[65]

Usage share on servers

Usage share of Windows on servers – those running a web servers that is (there are also other kinds of servers) – is at 33.6%.[66]

Security

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.[67] 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.[68]

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.[69] In 2005, Kaspersky Lab found around 11,000 malicious programs—viruses, Trojans, back-doors, and exploits written for Windows.[70]

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.[71] 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.[72]

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[73] 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.[74]

Leaked documents published by WikiLeaks, codenamed Vault 7 and dated from 2013–2016, detail the capabilities of the CIA to perform electronic surveillance and cyber warfare,[75] such as the ability to compromise operating systems such as Microsoft Windows.[76]

File permissions

All Windows versions from Windows NT 3 have been based on a file system permission system referred to as AGDLP (Accounts, Global, Local, Permissions) in which 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.[77] In Windows 8, Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials have been combined into a single program, named Windows Defender. It is based on Microsoft Security Essentials, borrowing its features and user interface. Although it is enabled by default, it can be turned off to use another anti-virus solution.[78] Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool and the optional Microsoft Safety Scanner are two other free security products offered by Microsoft. In the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft introduced the Limited Periodic Scanning feature, which allows Windows Defender to scan, detect, and remove any threats that third-party anti-virus software missed. The Advanced Threat Protection service is introduced for enterprise users. The new service uses cloud service to detect and take actions on advanced network attacks.

Third-party analysis

In an article based on a report by Symantec,[79] internetnews.com 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."[80]

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 four 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.[81] 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. 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.[82]

Alternative implementations

Owing to the operating system's popularity, a number of applications have been released that aim to provide compatibility with Windows applications, either as a compatibility layer for another operating system, or as a standalone system that can run software written for Windows out of the box. These include:

  • Wine – a free and open-source implementation of the Windows API, allowing one to run many Windows applications on x86-based platforms, including UNIX, Linux and macOS. Wine developers refer to it as a "compatibility layer"[83] and use Windows-style APIs to emulate Windows environment.
    • CrossOver – a Wine package with licensed fonts. Its developers are regular contributors to Wine, and focus on Wine running officially supported applications.
    • Cedega – a proprietary fork of Wine by TransGaming Technologies, designed specifically for running Microsoft Windows games on Linux. A version of Cedega known as Cider allows Windows games to run on macOS. Since Wine was licensed under the LGPL, Cedega has been unable to port the improvements made to Wine to their proprietary codebase. Cedega ceased its service in February 2011.
    • Darwine – a port of Wine for macOS and Darwin. Operates by running Wine on QEMU.
    • Linux Unified Kernel – a set of patches to the Linux kernel allowing many Windows executable files in Linux (using Wine DLLs); and some Windows drivers to be used.
  • ReactOS – an open-source OS intended to run the same software as Windows, originally designed to simulate Windows NT 4.0, now aiming at Windows 7 compatibility. It has been in the development stage since 1996.
  • Linspire – formerly LindowsOS, a commercial Linux distribution initially created with the goal of running major Windows software. Changed its name to Linspire after Microsoft v. Lindows. Discontinued in favor of Xandros Desktop, that was also later discontinued.
  • Freedows OS – an open-source attempt at creating a Windows clone for x86 platforms, intended to be released under the GNU General Public License. Started in 1996, by Reece K. Sellin, the project was never completed, getting only to the stage of design discussions which featured a number of novel concepts until it was suspended in 2002.[84][85][86]

See also

References

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External links

List of Game of the Year awards

Game of the Year (abbreviated GotY) is an award given by various gaming publications to a video game that they feel represents the pinnacle of video gaming that year.

List of Lego video games

Since 1995, 69 commercial video games based on Lego, the construction system produced by The Lego Group, have been released. Following the second game, Lego Island, developed and published by Mindscape, The Lego Group published games on its own with its Lego Media division, which was renamed Lego Software in 2001, and Lego Interactive in 2002. The division also co-published with Electronic Arts before closing. Former Lego Interactive staff founded company Giant Interactive Entertainment for future Lego game publishing. Following the release of Lego Star Wars: The Video Game, Giant merged with Traveller's Tales to form TT Games. TT Games was acquired by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) in November 2007, making WBIE the primary publisher for Lego games.

List of Microsoft Windows components

The following is a list of Microsoft Windows components.

List of Microsoft Windows versions

This page lists and links to information on the various versions of Microsoft Windows, a major computer operating system developed by Microsoft.

List of Unreal Engine games

This is a list of notable games using a version of the Unreal Engine. The main article on the Unreal Engine gives further details on the engine itself and its versions.

Microsoft Paint

Microsoft Paint (formerly Paintbrush) is a simple raster graphics editor that has been included with all versions of Microsoft Windows. The program opens and saves files in Windows bitmap (BMP), JPEG, GIF, PNG, and single-page TIFF formats. The program can be in color mode or two-color black-and-white, but there is no grayscale mode. For its simplicity and that it is included with Windows, it rapidly became one of the most used applications in the early versions of Windows, introducing many to painting on a computer for the first time. It is still widely used for simple image manipulation tasks.

In July 2017, Microsoft added Paint to the list of deprecated Windows features, meaning that it will not be developed further and might be removed in the future. It will, however, be made available in the Microsoft Store for free.

Microsoft Windows version history

Microsoft Windows was announced by Bill Gates on November 10, 1983. Microsoft introduced Windows as a graphical user interface for MS-DOS, which had been introduced a couple of years earlier. In the 1990s, the product line evolved from an operating environment into a fully complete, modern operating system over two lines of development, each with their own separate codebase.

The first versions of Windows (1.0 through to 3.11) were graphical shells that run from MS-DOS, later on, Windows 95, though still being based on MS-DOS, was its own operating system, using a 16-bit DOS-based kernel and a 32-bit user space. Windows 95 introduced many features that have been part of the product ever since, including the Start menu, the taskbar, and Windows Explorer (renamed File Explorer in Windows 8). In 1997, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 4 which included the (at the time) controversial Windows Desktop Update. It aimed to integrate Internet Explorer and the web into the user interface and also brought many new features into Windows, such as the ability to display JPEG images as the desktop wallpaper and single window navigation in Windows Explorer. In 1998, Microsoft released Windows 98, which also included the Windows Desktop Update and Internet Explorer 4 by default. The inclusion of Internet Explorer 4 and the Desktop Update led to an anti-trust case in the United States. Windows 98 also includes plug and play, which allows devices to work when plugged in without requiring a system reboot or manual configuration, and USB support out of the box. Windows ME, the last DOS-based version of Windows, was aimed at consumers and released in 2000. It introduced System Restore, Help and Support Center, updated versions of the Disk Defragmenter and other system tools.

In 1993, Microsoft released Windows NT 3.1, the first version of the newly-developed Windows NT operating system. Unlike the Windows 9x series of operating systems, it is a fully 32-bit operating system. NT 3.1 introduced NTFS, a file system designed to replace the older File Allocation Table (FAT) which was used by DOS and the DOS-based Windows operating systems. In 1996, Windows NT 4.0 was released, which includes a fully 32-bit version of Windows Explorer written specifically for it, making the operating system work just like Windows 95. Windows NT was originally designed to be used on high-end systems and servers, however with the release of Windows 2000, many consumer-oriented features from Windows 95 and Windows 98 were included, such as the Windows Desktop Update, Internet Explorer 5, USB support and Windows Media Player. These consumer-oriented features were continued and further extended in Windows XP, which introduced a new theme called Luna, a more user-friendly interface, updated versions of Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, and extended features from Windows Me, such as the Help and Support Center and System Restore. Windows Vista focused on securing the Windows operating system against computer viruses and other malicious software by introducing features such as User Account Control. New features include Windows Aero, updated versions of the standard games (e.g. Solitaire), Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Mail to replace Outlook Express. Despite this, Windows Vista was critically panned for its poor performance on older hardware and its at-the-time high system requirements. Windows 7 followed two and a half years later, and despite technically having higher system requirements, reviewers noted that it ran better than Windows Vista. Windows 7 also removed many extra features, such as Windows Movie Maker, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Mail, instead requiring users download a separate Windows Live Essentials to gain those features and other online services. Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, a free upgrade for Windows 8, introduced many controversial changes, such as the replacement of the Start menu with the Start Screen, the removal of the Aero glass interface in favor of a flat, colored interface as well as the introduction of "Metro" apps (later renamed to Universal Windows Platform apps) and the Charms Bar user interface element, all of which received considerable criticism from reviewers.The current version of Windows, Windows 10, reintroduced the Start menu and added the ability to run Universal Windows Platform apps in a window instead of always in full screen. Windows 10 was well-received, with many reviewers stating that Windows 10 is what Windows 8 should have been. Windows 10 also marks the last version of Windows to be traditionally released. Instead, "feature updates" are released twice a year with names such as "Creators Update" and "Fall Creators Update" that introduce new capabilities.

Windows 1.0

Windows 1.0 is a graphical personal computer operating environment developed by Microsoft. Microsoft had worked with Apple Computer to develop applications for Apple's January 1984 original Macintosh, the first mass-produced personal computer with a graphical user interface (GUI) that enabled users to see user friendly icons on screen. Windows 1.0 was released on November 20, 1985, as the first version of the Microsoft Windows line. It runs as a graphical, 16-bit multi-tasking shell on top of an existing MS-DOS installation. It provides an environment which can run graphical programs designed for Windows, as well as existing MS-DOS software. Its development was spearheaded by the company founder Bill Gates after he saw a demonstration of a similar software suite known as Visi On at COMDEX.

Despite positive responses to its early presentations and support from a number of hardware and software makers, Windows 1.0 was received poorly by critics. Critics felt Windows 1.0 did not meet their expectations. In particular, they felt that Windows 1.0 put too much emphasis on mouse input at a time when mouse use was not yet widespread; not providing enough resources for new users; and for performance issues, especially on systems with lower computer hardware specifications. Despite these criticisms, Windows 1.0 was an important milestone for Microsoft, as it introduced the Microsoft Windows line. Windows 1.0 was declared obsolete and Microsoft stopped providing support and updates for the system on December 31, 2001.

Windows 3.1x

Windows 3.1x is a series of 16-bit operating environments produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers. The series began with Windows 3.1, which was first sold during April 1992 as a successor to Windows 3.0. Subsequent versions were released between 1992 and 1994 until the series was superseded by Windows 95. During its lifespan, Windows 3.1 introduced several enhancements to the still MS-DOS-based platform, including improved system stability, expanded support for multimedia, TrueType fonts, and workgroup networking.

Windows 3.1 was originally released on April 6, 1992; official support for Windows 3.1 ended on December 31, 2001, and OEM licensing for Windows for Workgroups 3.11 on embedded systems continued to be available until November 1, 2008.

Windows 95

Windows 95 (codenamed Chicago) is a consumer-oriented operating system developed by Microsoft as part of its Windows 9x family of operating systems. The first operating system in the 9x family, it is the successor to Windows 3.1x, and was released to manufacturing on August 15, 1995, and generally to retail on August 24, 1995. Windows 95 merged Microsoft's formerly separate MS-DOS and Windows products, and featured significant improvements over its predecessor, most notably in the graphical user interface (GUI) and in its simplified "plug-and-play" features. There were also major changes made to the core components of the operating system, such as moving from a mainly co-operatively multitasked 16-bit architecture to a 32-bit preemptive multitasking architecture.

Accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign, Windows 95 introduced numerous functions and features that were featured in later Windows versions, such as the taskbar, the "Start" button and the ways the user could navigate.Three years after its introduction, Windows 95 was succeeded by Windows 98. Microsoft ended extended support for Windows 95 on December 31, 2001.

Windows 98

Windows 98 (codenamed Memphis) is a graphical operating system developed by Microsoft as part of its Windows 9x family of operating systems. It is the successor to Windows 95, and was released to manufacturing on May 15, 1998, and to retail on June 25, 1998. Like its predecessor, Windows 98 is a hybrid 16-bit and 32-bit monolithic product with the boot stage based on MS-DOS. The startup sound for Windows 98 was composed by Microsoft sound engineer Ken Kato, who considered it to be a "tough act to follow".Windows 98 was succeeded by Windows 98 Second Edition (SE) on May 5, 1999, which, in turn, was succeeded by Windows ME on September 14, 2000. Microsoft ended mainstream support for both Windows 98 and 98 SE on June 30, 2002, and extended support on July 11, 2006.

Windows Defender

Windows Defender (known as Windows Defender Antivirus in Windows 10 Creators Update and later) is an anti-malware component of Microsoft Windows. It was first released as a downloadable free antispyware program for Windows XP, and was later shipped with Windows Vista and Windows 7. It has evolved into a full antivirus program, replacing Microsoft Security Essentials as part of Windows 8 and later versions.

Windows ME

Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows ME (marketed with the pronunciation of the pronoun "me" and codenamed Millennium) is a graphical operating system developed by Microsoft as part of its Windows 9x family of operating systems. It is the successor to Windows 98, and was released to manufacturing on June 19, 2000, with general availability on September 14, 2000.

Windows ME was the last operating system released in the Windows 9x series which was targeted specifically at home PC users, and included Internet Explorer 5.5, Windows Media Player 7, and the new Windows Movie Maker software, which provided basic video editing and was designed to be easy to use for home users. Microsoft also updated the graphical user interface, shell features, and Windows Explorer, with some of those first introduced in Windows 2000, which had been released as a business-oriented operating system seven months earlier. Windows ME could be upgraded to Internet Explorer 6 SP1 (but not to SP2 (SV1) or Internet Explorer 7), Outlook Express 6 SP1 and Windows Media Player 9 Series. Microsoft .NET Framework up to and including version 2.0 is supported; however, versions 2.0 SP1, 3.x, and greater are not. Office XP was the last version of Microsoft Office to be compatible with Windows ME.

Windows ME was a continuation of the Windows 9x model and still DOS-based like its predecessors, but with restricted access to real mode MS-DOS in order to decrease system boot time. In 2001, Windows XP was released and became Windows ME's successor, popularizing most of its features and introducing more visual themes.

Windows NT

Windows NT is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, the first version of which was released on July 27, 1993. It is a processor-independent, multiprocessing and multi-user operating system.

The first version of Windows NT was 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 (including Windows 1.0 through Windows 3.1x). Gradually, the Windows NT family was expanded into Microsoft's general-purpose operating system product line for all personal computers, deprecating the Windows 9x family.

"NT" formerly expanded to "New Technology" but no longer carries any specific meaning. Starting with Windows 2000, "NT" was removed from the product name and is only included in the product version string.NT was the first purely 32-bit version of Windows, whereas its consumer-oriented counterparts, Windows 3.1x and Windows 9x, were 16-bit/32-bit hybrids. It is a multi-architecture operating system. Initially, it supported several instruction set architectures, including IA-32, MIPS, and DEC Alpha; support for PowerPC, Itanium, x64, and ARM were added later. The latest versions support x86 (more specifically IA-32 and x64) and ARM. Major features of the 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.

Windows Photo Gallery

Windows Photo Gallery (formerly known as Windows Live Photo Gallery) is an image organizer, photo editor and photo sharing app. It is a part of Microsoft's Windows Essentials software suite. Microsoft announced that the product will no longer be supported or be available for download after January 10, 2017.

Windows Server

Windows Server is a brand name for a group of server operating systems released by Microsoft. It includes all Windows operating systems that are branded "Windows Server", but not any other Microsoft product. The first Windows server edition to be released under that brand was Windows Server 2003. However, the first server edition of Windows was Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server, followed by Windows NT 3.5 Server, Windows NT 4.0 Server, and Windows 2000 Server; the latter was the first server edition to include Active Directory, DNS Server, DHCP Server, Group Policy, SQL Server, as well as many other popular features used today.

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 is a server operating system produced by Microsoft and released on April 24, 2003. It is the successor to Windows 2000 Server and the predecessor to Windows Server 2008. An updated version, Windows Server 2003 R2, was released to manufacturing on December 6, 2005. Windows Server 2003's kernel was later adopted in the development of Windows Vista.

Windows Vista

Windows Vista is an operating system that was produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, tablet PCs and media center PCs. Development was completed on November 8, 2006, and over the following three months, it was released in stages to computer hardware and software manufacturers, business customers and retail channels. On January 30, 2007, it was released worldwide and was made available for purchase and download from the Windows Marketplace; it is the first release of Windows to be made available through a digital distribution platform. The release of Windows Vista came more than five years after the introduction of its predecessor, Windows XP, the longest time span between successive releases of Microsoft Windows desktop operating systems.

New features of Windows Vista include an updated graphical user interface and visual style dubbed Aero, a new search component called Windows Search, redesigned networking, audio, print and display sub-systems, and new multimedia tools such as Windows DVD Maker. Vista aimed to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network, using peer-to-peer technology to simplify sharing files and media between computers and devices. Windows Vista included version 3.0 of the .NET Framework, allowing software developers to write applications without traditional Windows APIs.

Microsoft's primary stated objective with Windows Vista was to improve the state of security in the Windows operating system. One common criticism of Windows XP and its predecessors was their commonly exploited security vulnerabilities and overall susceptibility to malware, viruses and buffer overflows. In light of this, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced in early 2002 a company-wide "Trustworthy Computing initiative", which aimed to incorporate security into every aspect of software development at the company. Microsoft stated that it prioritized improving the security of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 above finishing Windows Vista, thus delaying its completion.While these new features and security improvements have garnered positive reviews, Vista has also been the target of much criticism and negative press. Criticism of Windows Vista has targeted its high system requirements, its more restrictive licensing terms, the inclusion of a number of then-new DRM technologies aimed at restricting the copying of protected digital media, lack of compatibility with some pre-Vista hardware and software, longer boot time, and the number of authorization prompts for User Account Control. As a result of these and other issues, Windows Vista had seen initial adoption and satisfaction rates lower than Windows XP. However, with an estimated 330 million Internet users as of January 2009, it had been announced that Vista usage had surpassed Microsoft's pre-launch two-year-out expectations of achieving 200 million users.

At the release of Windows 7 (October 2009), Windows Vista (with approximately 400 million Internet users) was the second most widely used operating system on the Internet with an approximately 19% market share, the most widely used being Windows XP with an approximately 63% market share. In May 2010, Windows Vista's market share had an estimated range from 15% to 26%. On October 22, 2010, Microsoft ceased sales of retail copies of Windows Vista, and the OEM sales for Vista ceased a year later. In August 2018, Vista's market share was 0.6% of Windows' total market share, and thus 0.2% overall.

Windows XP

Windows XP is a personal computer operating system produced by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems. It was released to manufacturing on August 24, 2001, and broadly released for retail sale on October 25, 2001.

Development of Windows XP began in the late 1990s as "Neptune", an operating system (OS) built on the Windows NT kernel which was intended specifically for mainstream consumer use. An updated version of Windows 2000 was also originally planned for the business market; however, in January 2000, both projects were scrapped in favor of a single OS codenamed "Whistler", which would serve as a single OS platform for both consumer and business markets. As such, Windows XP was the first consumer edition of Windows not to be based on MS-DOS.Upon its release, Windows XP received generally positive reviews, with critics noting increased performance and stability (especially in comparison to Windows ME, the previous Windows operating system), a more intuitive user interface, improved hardware support, and expanded multimedia capabilities. However, some industry reviewers were concerned by the new licensing model and product activation system.Extended support for Windows XP ended on April 8, 2014, after which the operating system ceased receiving further support or security updates to most users. As of January 2019, 2.18% of Windows PCs run Windows XP, and the OS is still popular in some countries with up to 28% of the Windows share.

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