Microsoft Windows

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Microsoft Windows

(operating system)
Microsoft's proprietary window system and user interface software released in 1985 to run on top of MS-DOS. Widely criticised for being too slow (hence "Windoze", "Microsloth Windows") on the machines available then.

The 1996 market share of operating systems was:

DOS/Windows 70% Windows 95 15% Windows NT 2% Other 13%

The version history goes something like: 1985 Windows 1, 1987 Windows 2, 1987 Windows/386, 1990 Windows 3.0, 1992 Windows 3.1, 1992 Windows for Workgroups 3.1, 1993 Windows 3.11, 1993 Windows for Workgroups 3.11, 1993 Windows NT 3.1, 1994 Windows NT 3.5, 1995 Windows 95, 199? Windows NT 4, 1998 Windows 98, ? Windows NT 5.

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This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


The most widely used operating system for desktop and laptop computers. Developed by Microsoft, Windows primarily runs on x86-based computers (the ubiquitous PC), although previous versions ran on Intel Itanium CPUs. Windows also used to run on ARM CPUs (see Windows RT), and Windows on ARM is making a comeback (see Windows 10 on ARM). According to Microsoft, as of 2020, there are 1.5 billion Windows 10, Windows 7 and Windows Server machines in use worldwide. While Windows is the dominant desktop operating system, Linux is widely used on servers (see Linux).

Although the Mac popularized the graphical user interface (GUI) and desktop environment, Windows followed suit while making dramatic changes over the years (see GUI). Windows comes in both client and server versions, all of which support networking, the difference being that the server architecture is designed for dedicated servers and not desktop use. See Linux, operating system, smartphone operating system and embedded OS.

Thin Windows Clients
In many organizations, Windows runs in a thin client environment, whereby the user's PC functions like a terminal to a central server. For more details, see Remote Desktop Services.

Windows Versions
Starting with Windows 1.0 in 1985, the OS evolved into numerous incarnations. It originally was a graphical extension to the DOS operating system but was integrated with DOS as of Windows 95. For version history, see Windows versions. See Microsoft Bob.

Windows How to's
All the Windows "how to's" in this encyclopedia have a "Win" prefix in front of their name in order to group them together; for example, Win Change Windows appearance and Win Desktop search. For fundamentals on how to work with Windows, see Win abc's and Win10 abc's.
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