Microsoft Windows NT

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Microsoft Windows NT
developer Microsoft
License (s) Microsoft EULA ( Closed Source )
Current  version 10.0.19041.329 ( June 9th, 2020 )
Current  preliminary version 10.0.19645 (10.06.2020)
ancestry Windows NT
Architecture (s) IA-32 , x64 , ARM
historical: IA-64 , MIPS , Alpha , PowerPC , PC-98
compatibility MS-DOS (partially), Windows 9x - line and Windows 1.0 , 2.0 , 3.x (partially)
Languages) English German

Windows NT (originally from N-Ten , a simulator on which the system was initially operated and later for New Technology ) is a kernel that is used in operating systems from the Windows series from the US company Microsoft . Since its version 5.0, Windows NT is no longer used as part of the product name, but only as an internal version abbreviation.


Windows NT development began when the alliance between the US company IBM and Microsoft to develop the OS / 2 operating system broke up.

Responsible head

David N. Cutler became the head of the NT project . He was considered one of the most renowned developers of operating systems and was significantly involved in the development of the VMS operating system , which is why the Windows NT kernel has many similarities with VMS. Microsoft recruited him and members of his team from DEC and put them on the development of a new operating system. DEC responded to this poaching with a lawsuit, which Microsoft was able to settle by paying US $ 150 million and agreeing to support Alpha processors with Windows NT .


Cutler had two main goals for Windows NT. His goal was to achieve reliability - a crashing application should no longer be able to crash the entire system. This stability has long been common in operating systems such as VMS or Unixoid systems . Portability was also important - Windows NT should run on all modern computer architectures. In addition, Windows NT, like the Mach kernel , should serve as the basis for different operating systems at the same time. B. Windows , MS-DOS , OS / 2 and POSIX programs can run simultaneously. The working title during development was therefore also called Portasys.


According to former Microsoft employee Mark Lucovsky , NT originally stood for N-Ten. This was the code name for the Intel i860 processor under development . It was intended as a platform for NT, but was not available from Microsoft. Therefore it was developed on an emulator . For marketing purposes the abbreviation was later reinterpreted as New Technology .

The first version delivered had the version number 3.1. The aim was to establish a reference to Windows 3.1 , which had the same graphical user interface and, when Windows NT appeared, represented the DOS-based Windows version currently available on the market.

After Windows NT 4.0, the abbreviation NT and the version number in the product name were dropped. The successor versions will be Windows 2000 , Windows XP , Windows Server 2003 , Windows Vista , Windows Server 2008 (as well as R2), Windows 7 , Windows 8 , Windows Server 2012 (as well as R2), Windows 8.1 , Windows 10 , Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server Called 2019 . All specify in the environment variable OS as the operating system Windows_NT. Windows 2000 still indicates the relationship in the start screen with the text "Based on NT technology".

Architecture and subsystems

Cutler had achieved its two primary goals: The new operating system was stable, ran on several platforms ( MIPS and x86 , later also PowerPC and Alpha) due to its modular development , and offered support for various types of programs. Both 16-bit Windows 3.x programs and programs for the new 32-bit Windows NT API as well as text-based OS / 2 software and POSIX 1.0-compatible programs were running . Over the years, however, there has been a downward trend or further development. The OS / 2 and POSIX versions were initially no longer maintained and were later removed. The versions for PowerPC, MIPS and Alpha were discontinued, but later IA-64 and x64 versions and with Windows RT also an ARM version were added, the latter running Win32 applications that have not been signed by Microsoft no longer supported.

In the first NT versions, the GDI runs together with the other subsystems on ring 3 of the Intel privilege level outside the kernel area. This protects the kernel itself from crashes in the programs. As of NT 4.0, the graphics subsystem sometimes runs directly in the kernel for reasons of speed, which means that errors in graphics drivers can cause modern Windows NT versions to crash. However, with the new graphics driver model, Windows Vista uses userspace drivers again .

Windows NT has a modular structure. The lowest level is the hardware abstraction layer (Engl. Hardware Abstraction Layer, abbreviated HAL). The actual kernel (a hybrid kernel ) and the subsystems are based on this. The kernel takes care of the allocation of main memory and computing time. The subsystems are based on the kernel. The Win32 subsystem is of the greatest importance, since it also takes care of the structure of the graphical user interface and processes the signals from the input devices. The Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista contain Microsoft Windows Services for UNIX in the form of a POSIX-compatible subsystem for UNIX-based applications.

For reasons of compatibility and speed, especially for games, Microsoft initially continued to develop the DOS-based operating system line Windows 3.x / 9x alongside NT. The DOS-based line was only abandoned with the appearance of Windows XP, whereby Windows XP (like its predecessor Windows 2000) has a pure NT kernel.

Support of new techniques

The first Windows NT version was already completely detached from MS-DOS. For reasons of downward compatibility , however, older 16-bit DOS programs such as the MS-DOS command line interpreter COMMAND.COM could be executed in a virtual DOS machine . Programs that access the hardware directly (i.e. without the Windows subsystem) are no longer executed for security reasons. In addition, a further developed, completely 32-bit capable command line interpreter called cmd.exe was available to the user . In addition, Windows NT supported in version 3.1, the file system NTFS ( N ew T echnology F ile S ystem) and has a 32-bit has always been kernel .


version Marketing name Editions Release date RTM - Build
03.1 Windows NT 3.1 Workstation, Advanced Server July 1993 511
03.5 Windows NT 3.5 Workstation, server September 1994 807
03.51 Windows NT 3.51 Workstation, server May 1995 1057
04.0 Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Server, Server Enterprise Edition, Terminal Server, Embedded, Small Business July 1996 1381
05.0 Windows 2000 Professional, Server, Advanced Server, Datacenter Server February 2000 2195
05.1 Windows XP Home Edition, Professional, Media Center Edition, Tablet PC Edition, Starter Edition, Embedded,
N-Editions (Home Edition, Professional; Windows versions without Windows Media Player)
August 2001 2600
05.2 Windows Server 2003 Small Business, Small Business Premium, Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, Web March 2003 3790
05.2 Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Windows XP Professional x64 Edition April 2005 3790
06.0 Windows Vista Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, Ultimate,
N-Editions (Home Basic, Business)
November 2006 (Business)
January 2007 (Home)
06.0 Windows Server 2008 Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, Web Server, IA64 Edition February 4, 2008 6001
06.1 Windows Server 2008 R2 all editions July 22, 2009 7600.16385
06.1 Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, Enterprise October 22, 2009 7600.16385
06.2 Windows Server 2012 Standard, Datacenter, Essentials, Foundation 4th September 2012 9200 1
06.2 Windows 8 Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows RT, Windows 8 Enterprise October 26, 2012 9200 1
06.2 Windows Phone 8 Windows Phone 8 October 29, 2012 9900
06.3 Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1 Enterprise October 18, 2013
(Update 1: April 8, 2014)
9600 1
06.3 Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, Datacenter, Essentials, Foundation 18th October 2013 9600 1
10.0 2
Windows 10 1507 Windows 10 Home (N), Windows 10 Pro (N), Windows 10 Enterprise (N),
Windows 10 Education, Windows 10 Pro Education, Windows 10 IoT Core, Windows 10 Mobile,
Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise, Windows 10 S
July 29, 2015 10240
1511 November 12, 2015 10586
1607 2nd August 2016 14393
1703 April 6, 2017 15063
1709 17th October 2017 16299
1803 1st May 2018 17134
1809 October 2, 2018 17763
1903 May 21, 2019 18362
1909 November 12, 2019 18363
2004 May 27, 2020 19041
10.0 Windows Server 2016 1607 Essentials, Standard, Datacenter October 12, 2016 14393.0
1709 1st November 2017 16299.15
10.0 Windows Server 2019 Standard, Datacenter, Essentials October 2, 2018 17763

1 RTM Build Final

2 The operating system kernel of Windows 10 is still based on NT 6; early builds reported accordingly as NT 6.4, for example in the command line; the name of the NT version was later adapted to the marketing name.

See also


  • G. Pascal Zachary (1996): The War of Codes. Hoffmann and Campe Verlag (Original: Showstopper!, 1994) ISBN 3-455-11038-X

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Paul Thurrott: Windows Server 2003: The Road To Gold. Part One: The Early Years. January 24, 2003, archived from the original on June 5, 2011 ; Retrieved March 29, 2007 .
  2. ^ Mark Russinovich : Windows NT and VMS: The Rest of the Story. (No longer available online.) In: Windows & .Net Magazine. Penton Media, December 1, 1998, archived from the original on May 3, 2002 ; accessed on September 20, 2013 (English). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Ralph Hülsenbusch: Microsoft gives up PowerPC port from NT. In: heise online. February 10, 1997, accessed January 3, 2012 .
  4. Brandon LeBlanc: Announcing the Windows 8 Editions. In: The Windows Blog. Microsoft Corporation, April 16, 2012, accessed June 29, 2012 .
  5. Terrence O'Brien: Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 share lots of code, NT Kernel. Engadget, June 20, 2012, accessed on June 29, 2012 .
  6. a b Microsoft: Windows Server release information , February 6, 2018, accessed April 30, 2018
  7. Windows Server 2016 edition differences - Thomas-Krenn-Wiki. Retrieved May 18, 2017 .
  9. Andreas Sebayang: Windows 10 is a small, useful update for Windows 8 users., July 29, 2015, accessed on August 27, 2015 .