Windows NT

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Windows NT

(operating system)
(Windows New Technology, NT) Microsoft's 32-bit operating system developed from what was originally intended to be OS/2 3.0 before Microsoft and IBM ceased joint development of OS/2. NT was designed for high end workstations (Windows NT 3.1), servers (Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server), and corporate networks (NT 4.0 Enterprise Server). The first release was Windows NT 3.1.

Unlike Windows 3.1, which was a graphical environment that ran on top of MS-DOS, Windows NT is a complete operating system. To the user it looks like Windows 3.1, but it has true multi-threading, built in networking, security, and memory protection.

It is based on a microkernel, with 32-bit addressing for up to 4Gb of RAM, virtualised hardware access to fully protect applications, installable file systems, such as FAT, HPFS and NTFS, built-in networking, multi-processor support, and C2 security.

NT is also designed to be hardware independent. Once the machine specific part - the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) - has been ported to a particular machine, the rest of the operating system should theorertically compile without alteration. A version of NT for DEC's Alpha machines was planned (September 1993).

NT needs a fast 386 or equivalent, at least 12MB of RAM (preferably 16MB) and at least 75MB of free disk space.

NT 4.0 was followed by Windows 2000.

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

Windows NT

(Windows New Technology) An earlier 32-bit operating system from Microsoft for Intel x86 CPUs. Available in client and server versions, Windows NT included built-in networking and preemptive multitasking. NT was introduced in 1993 as Version 3.1 with the same user interface as Windows 3.1. In 1996, Version 4.0 switched to the Windows 95 desktop (see below).

A New Lineage
Unlike the previous Windows 95/98, NT supported multiprocessing (see SMP), added security and administrative features and dual boot. Designed for enterprise use, each application could access 2GB of virtual memory. NT did not support Plug and Play, which was later added in Windows 2000 and XP (also based on the NT core technology). Clustering and failover was added to Windows NT 4 Server, Enterprise Edition.

For x86 Machines Only
NT ran 16-bit DOS and Windows applications in its own emulation mode (see NTVDM) and also provided a command processor that executed DOS commands. NT for PowerPC and MIPS were planned but dropped, while support for Alpha servers actually reached the beta stage. See Windows and Alpha.
Year   NT   (19xx)     Official Name of Version      GUI  Client/Server Version

 NT 4.0   96  95   NT Workstation/
                     NT Server
 NT 3.51  95  3.1  NT/NT Advanced Server
 NT 3.5   94  3.1  NT/NT Advanced Server
 NT 3.1   93  3.1  NT/NT Advanced Server

  3.1 = Windows 3.1 Program Manager
   95 = Windows 95 Start menu
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