Windows Vista

vistaVista was the first desktop operating system by Microsoft since Windows XP in 2001. It was a radically different architecture from XP and introduced major new features and changes. Released worldwide Jan. 30th, 2007, it was panned by business and consumer users for a number of reasons including poor performance and hardware incompatibility. Many continued to use XP, especially in the enterprise arena because of these issues.

To further add to the mess, it was released in eight different versions. It is widely regarded as one  of Microsoft’s worst OSes and biggest marketing flops, and was eventually  followed up with Windows 7, which was considered much improved over Vista.

Windows 2000

win2000Windows 2000 was released by Microsoft February 17th, 2000 as the successor to Windows NT. It was used for desktop, notebooks and servers. It was initially released in four versions: Professional, Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server. It is the final release to display the Windows NT designation.

Originally called NT 5.0, it was changed to Windows 2000 on Oct. 27th, 1998, and was the first version without a code name. The beta was released in Sept., 1997, ending with Beta 3 on April 29th, 1999. It also introduced Active Directory, Microsoft’s proprietary directory service architecture, which replaced NT’s earlier model. It was summarily dissed by Novell, which was the leader in network directory services at the time. It was also originally intended to replace both NT and Windows 98, but that changed later. New features included NTFS 3.0, the Microsoft Management Console, Automated System Recovery, UDF support, and the Encrypting File System. Windows File Protection and the System File Checker utility were also introduced. Still used in production today, Microsoft has scheduled support to terminate on July 13th, 2010.

Windows 7

win7Windows 7 is the latest version of the computer desktop operating system from Microsoft. Based on the previous release, Vista, it is intended to be an improved version after the disastrous results of the release of Vista which garnered many negative reviews.  Although Vista introduced many new features, Windows 7 was meant to be more focused on being more compatible with apps and hardware. It is also a much less resource intensive OS compared to it’s predecessor.

Released to manufacturing on July 22nd, 2009 and reaching retail on October 22, 2009, it has been widely viewed as a much better version than Vista and has garnered favorable reviews. It was released less than three years after Vista. In only eight hours, pre-orders of Windows 7 at Amazon surpassed the demand Windows Vista had in its first 17 weeks.

Windows 7 originally began as the project codenamed Blackcomb, which was renamed Vienna in 2006, and finally Windows 7 in 2007.  The Beta version was leaked via BitTorrent in December 2008. Upon it’s initial release, it became the highest grossing pre-order on Amazon and the 64 bit versions sold out in Japan. It also beat out Apple’s OSX Snow Leopard in market share two months later. It’s successor, Windows 8, is scheduled for release sometime in 2012.

Windows XP

winxplogo3An operating system introduced in 2001 from Microsoft’s Windows family of operating systems. Microsoft called the release its most important product since Windows 95. Along with a redesigned look and feel to the user interface, the new operating system is built on the Windows 2000 kernel, giving the user a more stable and reliable environment than previous versions. Windows XP comes in two versions, Home and Professional. The company has focused on mobility for both editions, including plug and play features for connecting to wireless networks. The operating system also utilizes the 802.11x wireless security standard. The “XP” in Windows XP stands for “eXPerience.”

Windows 98

win98logoReleased in June, 1998 by Microsoft Corp., Windows 98 arrived after Windows 95. Code named Memphis, it was a hybrid 16 bit/32 bit operating system like it’s predecessor. It included support for emerging DVD and USB technology, AGP, and offered easier search capabilities. It also included Internet Explorer 4.0. (which continued to be deeply integrated into the OS itself) and improved Plug N Play support. In the beginning it sold well but suffered from incompatibility issues that weren’t addressed until Windows 98 SE was released the following year.

Windows 95

win95-2A major release of the Microsoft Windows operating system released in 1995. Windows 95 represents a significant advance over its precursor, Windows 3.1. In addition to sporting a new user interface, Windows 95 also includes a number of important internal improvements. Perhaps most important, it supports 32-bit applications, which means that applications written specifically for this operating system should run much faster. And although Windows 95 can run older Windows and DOS applications, it has essentially removed DOS as the underlying platform. This has meant removal of many of the old DOS limitations, such as 640K of main memory and 8-character file names.

Windows NT

logo_windowsA version of the Windows operating system. Windows NT (New Technology) is a 32-bit operating system that supports preemptive multitasking. There are actually two versions of Windows NT: Windows NT Server, designed to act as a server in networks, and Windows NT Workstation for stand-alone or client workstations.


linux-logoIn 1991 Linus Torvalds creates Linux, an offshoot of Unix. An outgrowth of the open source software movement, he developed the operating system specifically for use on personal computers. Based on the GNU kernel developed by programmer Richard Stallman, who advocated making source code freely available, it slowly caught on with Internet Service Providers and other small businesses who were attracted by the low cost and ability to tailor the open code to their needs. Legions of others wrote improvements, fixed bugs and shared information about it over the net. Today Linux is still going strong, especially in high end computing.

Windows 1.0

Windows1.0-2Released in 1985 by Microsoft, this was their first attempt at implementing a graphical user interface that could multitask on a personal computer. Microsoft sent kits to industry executives and press containing a cryptic squeegee and washcloth along with an invitation to the unveiling of their new software.

Regarded mostly as a front end interface to MS-DOS, it included it’s own memory management system and device drivers for common hardware. Originally little interest was shown in the software, as the market was currently happy with other offerings. This version of the operating system ran a shell known as the MS-DOS Executive. Modern Windows users would be surprised to find that it didn’t allow overlapping windows, instead it tiled them! The only thing allowed to be over one was a dialog box. It was later replaced by Windows 2.0 in Nov., 1987.

X Windows

X_logoX Windows is the standard on Unix and Unix based systems for GUI interfaces. It is often referred to as X or X11, and was developed in 1984 at MIT where Bob Scheifler and Jim Gettys set out the early principles of the system. Providing the basic framework for graphical user interfaces on operating systems such as FreeBSD and Linux, version X11 was released in 1987. The X.Org Foundation leads today’s implementation of the project, and other early bitmap display systems included the Xerox AltoApple Lisa, and the Mac along with Unix flavors as well.

X gets it’s name from a pre-1983 window system called W, which X follows in the Latin alphabet.