: A Brief History of the Windows NT Operating System

With the fifth major version of the Microsoft Windows NT operating system, to be called Windows 2000, Windows NT technology from Microsoft Corp. will go mainstream to millions of users, and Microsoft will cease distributing the technology under the separate Windows NT product name. Here's a brief look back at the history of this phenomenally successful product:
  • 1988: Microsoft formed what would become the development team for Windows NT, with the goal of developing a thoroughly modern, fully 32-bit, robust, multipurpose operating system.


  • August 1991: At the Microsoft Windows Developers Conference, Microsoft demonstrated its high-end, scaled implementation of Windows, with the same user interface and programming model, and with the ability to run all applications that had been generated for the mainstream versions. This version, Windows NT, offered the advanced operating system features needed for mission-critical applications, high-performance servers, advanced workstations and client/server computing.


  • July 1993: Microsoft released Windows NT 3.1 and Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1. They broke new ground in operating system power, performance and reliability with a range of features: micro-kernel architecture, pre-emptive multitasking scheduler, x86/MIPS support (and, shortly after introduction, Alpha processor support), support for the Win32 API, support for DOS, 16-bit versions of Windows, OS2 and POSIX applications, domain server security, file and print services, and Windows NT File System (NTFS).


  • September 1994: Windows NT Workstation 3.5 and Windows NT Server 3.5, code-named "Daytona," were introduced. These versions built on the ruggedness and stability of version 3.1 to greatly enhance speed, reduce size and provide greater connectivity to other systems, particularly Novell NetWare and UNIX environments. Both versions included accessibility features for users with limited dexterity or hearing impairments.


  • June 1995: Less than a year later, Microsoft announced Windows NT 3.51. Windows NT Server now included a tool to help customers manage Client Access Licenses for Microsoft BackOffice family products and a utility that enabled over-the-network installation of Windows 95. Windows NT Workstation provided support for Windows 95-compatible applications, popular fax software, a replaceable WinLogon screen, and additional devices including PCMCIA.


  • July 1996: Microsoft released Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Windows NT Server 4.0. Windows NT Server 4.0 brought ease of use and management, higher network throughput, and a complete set of tools for developing and managing intranets. Windows NT Server 4.0 included Microsoft Internet Information Server version 2.0 and the Microsoft FrontPage Web site creation and management tool version 1.1. The Windows NT Workstation release included the popular Windows 95 user interface and built-in networking support, providing secure, easy access to the Internet and corporate intranets.


  • Oct. 21, 1998: Microsoft releases Service Pack 4.0 for Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Windows NT Server 4.0. Since the original introduction of Windows NT 4.0, the product has evolved through four service packs and one option pack, adding and integrating public-key and certificate authority functionality, smart card support, improved SMP scalability, clustering, COM, reliable synchronous and queued transaction support, streaming media features, and many Web-relevant browser and server technologies.


  • Oct. 27, 1998: Microsoft announces that Windows NT will be known as "Windows" with the next major version being called "Windows 2000." The move reflects the marketplace momentum driving Windows NT-based technology to become the mainstream Windows-based technology for millions of customers worldwide. The new naming system is also designed to make it easier for consumers and businesses to choose the right Windows operating system products for their needs.