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Windows 8 Version Types Trimmed

Recently we went through a short list of all the names Windows has gone through. It's a lot. I came up with nine separate names for Windows, but clever readers quickly corrected me, like this list from Marc:

Runs under PC/MS-DOS:

  • Windows 1.0
  • Windows 2.0, 2.10, 2.11
  • Windows 3.0, 3.1

Then it splits to:

  • MS-DOS kernel (Win32s, co-operative multitasking):
    • Windows 95, 98, 98se, Me
      • Versions 4.x (?)
  • NT kernel (Win32, pre-emptive multitasking):
    • Windows NT 3.1, 3.5, 3.51
    • Windows NT 4.0
    • Windows 2000, Windows XP (Versions NT 5.0, NT 5.1)
    • Windows Vista, 7 (Versions NT 6.0, 6.1)
    • Windows 8 (to be Version NT 6.2)

That's what, about 22 names in a bit over 25 years? Now that we are on the verge of Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to at least make things simpler by having fewer current versions. Right now there are six versions of Windows 7 -- from Starter to Ultimate. Win 8 will have only three for Intel and just one for ARM.

The good news is Microsoft won't change the basic name mid-stream, at least for Intel. It will still be Windows 8. However, when it runs on ARM it will be Windows RT (for Runtime).

On the Intel side, Win 8 will come as just Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8 Enterprise. Go Pro and you get Hyper-V, Group Policy and BitLocker. Enterprise, which requires Software Assurance, comes with extra software for mobility, security and virtualization.

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/23/2012 at 1:19 PM

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 Phoenix

You left out the server versions, Windows 2003 Server, Windows 2003 Small Business Server and Windows 2008 Server, and you also left out Windows CE. Mind you, CE was garbage (maybe that's why you left it out!), but so was ME. In fact, I think CE was the lesser of the two evils.

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 Jenita

Why is it so?

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 Bob

You forgot Windows Server 2003 and XP 64-Bit edition (AKA NT5.2) Also, I don't think that there ever was a DOS-based V4. With '98, the separate DOS base went away and with ME, the 16-bit code in the OS went away.

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 mkmf Newport, MN

I believe Win9x touted pre-emptive multitasking for its Win32 applications. Win9x however provided backward compatibility to allow Win16 applications in co-operative multitasking mode. My point being the list from Marc in your article is rather confusing to me if not misleading.

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 GerryO Plymouth, MA

I loved DOS and produced many aerospace applications with it. 3.1 was OK, 95 better, 98 and ME still OK, XP great, Vista a dog so I reformatted drives and reinstalled XP. No experience with 7, but since all my work and application development is with desktops (3 plus one laptop all using XP), Win 8 doesn't look promising, since all I do is with computers, not tablets, phones, etc. I may have to avoid 8 or use it on new machines if they have a version without all the bloat for tablets, etc. Many of my applications made under DOS are still used by clients, since they produce results without bloat.

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 John Canberra Australia

What I don't understand is how an organisation - any organisation - can acquire any sort of copyright over a word that has been in the English language for centuries (i.e. "Windows"). Copyright should never be allowed to take over anything that is in the public domain, and that is what has happened here.

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 Karl Compton Houston, TX

I'd include Win95 OSR2 in the list, and frankly, Win for Workgroups (3.11).

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 ibsteve2u Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

"..enterprise, which requires software assurance..."??? That is pretty funny...either you absorb the cost of what is essentially a long-term maintenance contract, or you can go without. Is Microsoft going to send break/fix teams out to its enterprise customers for the times when Sally in Marketing forgets what the Windows key does (again)? So that the enterprise can ditch their local IT staff and/or their existing third-party consultants (emphasis on the con) and spare themselves the cost of the duplication of efforts?

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