Microsoft Windows

Definition of Microsoft Windows in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is Microsoft Windows?

A family of operating systems with a common graphical user interface (GUI) that lies at the core of Microsoft’s strategy to make PCs easier to use, reduce the cost of PC ownership, advance the PC platform, and integrate PCs with the Internet.

Microsoft Windows operating systems originally derived from MS-DOS, Microsoft’s watershed disk operating system for personal computers. The early 16-bit versions of Windows, Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups, evolved into the 32-bit desktop operating system Windows 95, which was later upgraded to Windows 98. Meanwhile, a separate, fully 32-bit line-of-business operating system called Windows NT Advanced Server evolved into Windows NT version 3.51, which was further enhanced with additional services and a shell upgrade in Windows NT 4. These separate Windows NT and Windows 98 platforms will eventually be merged into the Windows 2000 family, which includes versions for all levels of users, from enterprise-level mission-critical servers to personal desktop computers.

Another evolutionary path has recently brought forth Windows CE, a low-footprint operating system for palm-sized PCs and embedded systems.

All versions of Windows are now fully integrated with the Internet through the Microsoft Internet Explorer suite of Internet tools and utilities. The following table lists these versions. For more information about each version of Windows, see its entry in the W letter.

Microsoft Windows Operating Systems

Operating System Description
Windows 98
The easiest desktop operating system
Windows NT Workstation 4
Powerful desktop operating system for business computing
Windows NT Server 4 with Windows NT Option Pack
Enterprise-level operating system for network communications, data, applications, and management
Windows NT Server 4, Enterprise Edition
Extends the scalability, availability, and manageability of Windows NT Server 4 with clustering and other enhancements
Windows NT Server 4, Terminal Server Edition
Delivers the Windows NT desktop to diverse platforms using terminal emulation for centralized management and lower cost
Windows 2000 Professional
The next generation of the Windows NT Workstation operating system
Windows 2000 Server, Standard Edition
The next generation of Windows NT Server, including Active Directory for enterprise-level networking
Windows 2000 Advanced Server
The next generation of Windows NT Server 4, Enterprise Edition
Windows 2000 Datacenter Server
For the highest level of enterprise server operations, with up to 32-way symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) and 64 GB of physical memory
Windows CE
A portable operating system for small mobile computing devices such as handheld PCs, “wallet” PCs, wireless communication devices, and Web TVs

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