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Windows NT: History
After OS/2, MS decide they need “New Technology”:
• 1988: Dave Cutler recruited from DEC.
• 1989: team (∼ 10 people) starts work on a new OS (micro-kernel architecture)
• July 1993: first version (3.1) introduced
• (name compatible with windows 3.1)
Bloated and suckful ⇒
• NT 3.5 released in September 1994: mainly size and performance optimisations.
• Followed in May 1995 by NT 3.51 (support for the Power PC, and more
performance tweaks)
• July 1996: NT 4.0 – new (windows 95) look ’n feel – some desktop users but mostly limited to servers – for performance reasons, various functions pushed back into kernel (most
notably graphics rendering functions) – ongoing upgrades via service packs.


Windows NT: Evolution
• Feb 2000: NT 5.0 aka Windows 2000
– borrows from windows 98 look ’n feel
– both server and workstation versions, latter of which starts to get wider use
– big push to finally kill DOS/Win 9x family (but fails due to internal politicking).
• Windows XP
(NT 5.1) launched October 2001
– home and professional
⇒ finally kills win 9x.
– various “editions” (media center, 64-bit) & service packs (SP1, SP2, SP3)
• Server product Windows Server 2003
(NT 5.2) released 2003
– basically the same modulo registry tweaks, support contract and of course cost
– a plethora of editions. . .
• Windows Vista
(NT 6.0) limped onto the scene Q4 2006
– new Aero UI, new WinFX API
– missing Longhorn bits like WinFS, Msh
• Windows Server 2008 (also based on NT 6.0, but good) landed Feb 2008
• Windows 7
(NT 6.1 for now) released October 2009. . .

NT Design Principles
Key goals for the system were:
• portability
• security
• POSIX compliance
• multiprocessor support
• extensibility
• international support
• compatibility with MS-DOS/Windows applications


This led to the development of a system which was:


• written in high-level languages (C and C++)
• based around a micro-kernel, and
• constructed in a layered/modular fashion.

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