Windows Operating System


Operating Systems; Information Technology; Computer Science


Windows is an operating system (OS) developed by Microsoft. It has been one of the dominant OSs for personal computing since the 1990s. Windows is designed to operate across a variety of platforms, including personal computers, smartphones, and the Xbox One video-gaming console.



Windows is an operating system (OS) developed by Microsoft Corporation for personal computers (PCs). Windows features a graphical user interface (GUI). A GUI allows users to interact with the OS using a pointer, dropdown menus, graphic icons, and movable windows representing folders and drives. Microsoft debuted Windows in the early 1980s. Since then, Windows has dominated the PC market. By some estimates, 90 percent of computers worldwide run some version of Windows.

Architecture of Windows 95 as depicted by Ruud Koot. The development of Windows 95 improved upon MS-DOS by incorporating a 32-bit multitasking architecture. By Ruud Koot, CC BY-SA 3.0

Architecture of Windows 95 as depicted by Ruud Koot. The development of Windows 95 improved upon MS-DOS by incorporating a 32-bit multitasking architecture.
By Ruud Koot, CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

A new version, Windows 95, introduced the company's Internet Explorer browser. Windows 95 also introduced the Start button and taskbar. The Windows 95 kernel (basic underlying programming) remained the standard for additional versions of Windows until 2001, with the release of Windows XP. Windows 7, released in 2009, was one of the company's most popular versions of the interface. Windows 7 featured a new, more intuitive layout. Windows 8 introduced a completely redesigned interface with tiles that are easier for users with touch-screen tablets. In 2015, Microsoft debuted Windows 10, the first version of their OS to be offered as a free upgrade. Windows 10 also introduced a new service model in which the OS would continually receive updates to various features and functions. This model is similar to that employed by Microsoft's competitor Apple. Windows 10 was also the first version of Windows that had a universal application architecture. This means apps on Windows 10 can be used on smartphones, tablets, and the Xbox One gaming system as well.


In computing, a platform can be defined as the computer system that a program uses. A platform can be the hardware architecture or an OS. The earliest versions of the Windows OS were cross-platform and could be used with different types of architecture. In 2016, the Windows OS is one of the primary platforms for software. The Windows OS is designed to be compatible with the X86-64 computer architecture, a 64-bit processor system created by AMD in 2000. Windows 10 can also be implemented on older x86 (32-bit) computers.

Windows OS is designed to be a multiuser environment in which more than one users can use the same OS. The Remote Desktop Connection system allows multiple users to use Windows at once. The Windows

OS also enables users to adjust OS settings for multiple accounts, essentially creating multiple versions of the OS on the same computer. It is also a multitasking system in which more than one processing job can run at a time. The Windows 10 system introduced a new automated assistant called Cortana in an effort to compete with the popularity of Apple's Siri.


More than 90 percent of PCs worldwide ran some version of Windows in 2015. The majority (52 percent) run Windows 7, which, as of 2016, was the company's most popular product. The release of Windows 10 in 2015 had little impact, accounting for 12 percent of the market in February 2016. Windows is sold around the world and comes formatted for a variety of languages. In addition, language interface packs are available for free download and offer support for languages not found in full versions. Each pack requires a base language that can be activated within the OS after installation.

Given the rising popularity of handheld computing devices, such as tablets and smartphones, the global computer market is no longer based solely on the PC market. While Microsoft continues to dominate the PC market, the company controls only 14 percent of the global market across all computing devices. Looking at smartphone OSs specifically, Windows controls less than 3 percent of that market, falling far behind Android and Apple iOS. As a result, with the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has made changes to its basic strategy. The company has reduced its focus on proprietary software. Instead it is increasingly embracing the potential of open-source software. Future versions of Windows will likely show an increased focus on cloud-based computing, intuitive touch-screen technology, and alternative interface controls such as voice activation and multitouch gestures.

—Micah L. Issitt

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