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Xanda - /dev/project - HOWTO Page on Windows

Microsoft Windows is the name of several families of software operating systems by Microsoft. Microsoft first introduced an operating environment named Windows in November 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces (GUI). Microsoft Windows eventually came to dominate the world's personal computer market, overtaking OS/2 and Mac OS which had been introduced previously. At the 2004 IDC Directions conference, IDC Vice President Avneesh Saxena stated that Windows had approximately 90% of the client operating system market. The current client version of Windows is the editions of Windows Vista. The current server version of Windows is the editions of Windows Server 2003.

History

Microsoft has taken two parallel routes in operating systems. One route has been the home user and the other has been the professional IT user. The dual route has generally led to the home versions with greater multimedia support and less functionality in networking and security, and professional versions with inferior multimedia support and better networking and security.

The first independent version of Microsoft Windows, version 1.0, released in November 1985, lacked a degree of functionality and achieved little popularity, and was to compete with Apple's own operating system. Windows 1.0 did not provide a complete operating system; rather, it extended MS-DOS. Microsoft Windows version 2.0 was released in November, 1987 and was slightly more popular than its predecessor. Windows 2.03 (release date January 1988) had 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.

Microsoft Windows version 3.0, released in 1990, was the first Microsoft Windows version to achieve broad commercial success, selling 2 million copies in the first six months. It featured improvements to the user interface and to multitasking capabilities. It received a facelift in Windows 3.1, made generally available on March 1, 1992. Windows 3.1 support ended on December 31, 2001.

In July 1993, Microsoft released Windows NT based on a new kernel. NT was considered to be the professional OS and was the first Windows version to utilize preemptive multitasking. NT and the Windows non-professional line would later be fused together to create Windows XP.

In August 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95, which made further changes to the user interface, and also used preemptive multitasking. Mainstream support for Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2000 and extended support for Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2001.

The next in line was Microsoft Windows 98 released in June 1998. It was substantially criticized for its slowness and for its unreliability compared with Windows 95, but many of its basic problems were later rectified with the release of Windows 98 Second Edition in 1999. Mainstream support for Windows 98 ended on June 30, 2002 and extended support for Windows 98 ended on July 11, 2006.

As part of its "professional" line, Microsoft released Windows 2000 in February 2000. The consumer version following Windows 98 was Windows Me (Windows Millennium Edition). Released in September 2000, Windows Me attempted to implement a number of new technologies for Microsoft: most notably publicized was "Universal Plug and Play." However, the OS was heavily criticized for its lack of compatibility and stability and it was even rated by PC World as the fourth worst product of all time.

In October 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP, a version built on the Windows NT kernel that also retained the consumer-oriented usability of Windows 95 and its successors. This new version was widely praised in computer magazines. It shipped in two distinct editions, "Home" and "Professional", the former lacking many of the superior security and networking features of the Professional edition. Additionally, the first "Media Center" edition was released in 2002, with an emphasis on support for DVD and TV functionality including program recording and a remote control. Mainstream support for Windows XP will continue until April 14, 2009 and extended support will continue until April 8, 2014.

In April 2003, Windows Server 2003 was introduced, replacing the Windows 2000 line of server products with a number of new features and a strong focus on security; this was followed in December 2005 by Windows Server 2003 R2.

On January 30, 2007 Microsoft released Windows Vista. It contains a number of new features, from a redesigned shell and user interface to significant technical changes, with a particular focus on security features. It is available in a number of different editions, more than any previous version of Windows. It has been subject to several criticisms.