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Windows logo and wordmark 2015

The current Windows logo as of Windows 10's release.

Microsoft Windows (known simply as Windows) is a family of graphical operating systems developed, marketed, and sold by Microsoft. First released on November 20, 1985 as Windows 1.0, the current version for PCs, tablets, phones, and embedded devices is Windows 10. The most recent version for server computers is Windows Server 2019, and there is a specialized version of Windows that runs on the Xbox One. Notable defunct Windows families include Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, and Windows 9x.


Main article: History of Microsoft Windows

The first versions of Windows, specifically 1.0 through 3.11 were graphical shells that ran on MS-DOS; the release of Windows 95, though still being based on MS-DOS, was its own operating system using a 16-bit DOS-based kernel and a 32-bit environment.

Windows 1.0, 2.0, and 3.x

The first independent version of Microsoft Windows, version 1.0 was released on November 20, 1985 and achieved little popularity. It was an "operating environment" that extended MS-DOS instead of being a complete operating system; it ran on a shell program known as the MS-DOS Executive. Programs supplied with Windows 1.0 include Calculator, Calendar, Clipboard Viewer, Clock, Notepad, Paint, Reversi, Terminal, Cardfile, and Microsoft Write. Windows 1.0 does not allow overlapping windows; rather, all windows are tiled with the exception of dialog boxes that cannot be minimized.

Windows 2.0 came out of December 9, 1987 and proved slightly more popular than its predecessor due to the ability for windows to overlap each other, more sophisticated keyboard shortcuts. New features for Windows 2.0 included VGA graphics (in 16 colors only), and it was the last version of Windows that did not require a hard disk. The addition of a printer spooler program and an integrated control panel was also new to Windows 2.0.

Windows 9x

Windows NT

Early versions

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Windows 7

Windows 8 and 8.1

Windows 10


Client versions

Server versions

Device versions


Mobile devices

See also

  • macOS – a series of operating systems made by Apple Inc., a competitor of Microsoft.
  • Linux – a free and open-source operating system that uses the Linux kernel, typically packaged in a distribution like Ubuntu.