Between 1995 and 2011, Microsoft has produced 8 versions of Windows, and they continue to produce new versions of Windows. What are the differences and advantages of upgrading?
These versions are all identical, with only minor cosmetic changes. They are based on DOS and do not effectively recognize more than 64mb RAM. They only support FAT32 file system and do not recognize or support disks with NTFS. They lack a repair feature, so it is almost impossible to change a motherboard without re-installing Windows. They lack memory protection support, so viruses and program errors will crash and lockup the computer. These versions are considered completely unusable and should always be upgraded or replaced with Windows 2000 or later.
This version of Windows introduced support for large hard disks using the NTFS file system, and included support for up to 4gb RAM. The recognition of protected mode memory features on Intel processors put an end to many types of software crashes and lockups. Windows NT lacked many features that were added to Windows 2000. Due to the lack of features in Windows NT, it should always be upgraded to Windows 2000 Professional.
Windows 2000 Professional:
Introduced a refined user interface and many useful features. This is the first version of Windows to include a repair feature, useful for recovering from virus damage, and also permits changing the motherboard without re-installing and erasing Windows. Windows 2000 included a 25-digit product key but it was not entered or activated in the software. Windows 2000 can recognize up to 4gb RAM but runs well with 256mb or more. Windows 2000 does not support Internet Explorer 7 or later versions. While it is limited to Internet Explorer 6, it will run the Mozilla FireFox browser.
Windows XP, Home and Professional:
Introduced two versions of Windows. XP Pro adds support for Windows server domain login accounts. XP Home includes folder sharing for up to 5-users, XP Pro provides support for up to 10 users sharing a folder or printer. There are no functional or operation differences between Home and Pro other than domain support in Pro.
Windows XP requires a 25-digit product license key and requires online or telephone activation to reduce software piracy. Windows XP originally ran OK with 256mb RAM, but with service pack 3 (SP3) and Internet Explorer 8, it requires 1gb or more for best performance. Windows XP does not support Internet Explorer 9.
Microsoft also introduced a rare 64-bit version of Windows Professional that provided support for more than 4gb RAM.
Microsoft made a gigantic marketing campaign to promote Vista, since it had been so long since a new version of Windows was released. However, Vista was widely criticized for two reasons. First, it required much more RAM than Windows XP to run properly, typically 2gb or more, so many computers with 1gb or less ran poorly. Second, it introduced a new software design for printers and other peripherals that limited the support for printers to fewer models than XP.
Vista has a different interface than Windows XP, with a softer look. Vista supports up to Internet Explorer version 9. The 64-bit version supports more than 4gb RAM and runs noticeably faster than the 32-bit version, but it has very limited support for peripherals, such as printers.
This version is practically identical to Windows Vista with very few changes. Like Windows Vista, it runs best with 2gb RAM or more. It is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions.