Microsoft Operating Systems Timeline    by Sam C. Chan, Bravo Technology Center

This is a color-coded, concise historical chart of all mainstream Microsoft Operating Systems, showing their lineage, codenames  and release dates. It provides at-a-glance reference and helps you understand the confusing relationships among different versions and editions. First Published: Feb.1, 2004 
Last Updated:
 Oct 19, 2013

Workstation vs. Server edition + Version No. vs. Marketing Name

Version Workstation Edition Server Edition "SBS" Edition (bundle) Windows Home Server
3.1~3.51 NT Workstation 3.x NT Server 3.x Backoffice Suites only  
4.0 NT Workstation 4.0 NT Server 4.0 SBS 4.0 (25), 4.5 (50)  
5.0 Windows 2000 Professional SP4 Windows Server 2000 SBS 2000 (50)  
5.1 Windows XP Professional/Home SP3 Windows Server 2003 sp2 SBS 2003 (75)  
5.2 Windows XP Professional x64 SP2 Windows Server 2003 R2 SBS 2003 R2 (75)  
6.0 Windows Vista Business/Home/Ultimate SP2 Windows Server 2008 SP2 SBS 2008 SP2 (75)
Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (300) discontinued March 2010
 
6.1 Windows 7 Pro/Home/Ultimate SP1 Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 SBS 2011 Standard* (75)
SBS 2011 Essentials* (25)
Windows Home Server
WHS Premium 2011 (Vail)
6.2 Windows 8 Windows Server 2012 SBS 2012 Essentials (25) Discontinued
6.3 Windows 8.1 (Blue)      

* Essentials includes Server 2008 R2 SP1, as it was released several months after SBS 2011 Standard (2008 r2 rtm)

Microsoft Operating System Families

O.S. Lineage DOS OS/2 16-bit Windows
(DOS-based x86)
32-bit Windows
(NT-based x86)
64-bit Windows
(NT-based IA-64 and x64)
ARM

 

Date DOS Family NT Family 64-bit NT Family
Aug. 11, 1981 PC-DOS 1.0    
Mar. 1983 MS-DOS 2.0    
Sep. 1984 MS-DOS 3.0    
Nov. 1984 MS-DOS 3.1 (Network)    
Nov. 1985 Windows 1.0    
Apr. 1986 MS-DOS 3.2    
Apr. 1987 MS-DOS 3.3
OS/2 released w/ IBM PS/2. Text-based. LAN Manager, predecessor to SMB/CIFS   LM Hash
1987 Windows 2.0    
July 1988 MS-DOS 4.0    
May 1990 Windows 3.0    
Apr. 1991 MS-DOS 5.0    
Apr. 1992  
NOT RELATED TO NT.

OS/2 2.0 16-bit/32-bit mix. Runs Windows 3.0

Oct. 1992 Windows for Workgroups 3.1    
Mar. 1993 MS-DOS 6.0    
Oct. 24, 1993   Windows NT 3.1 Workstation & Server NTLM  
Dec. 1993 Windows for Workgroups 3.11    
June 1994 MS-DOS 6.22
NOT RELATED TO NT. SUPERIMPOSED HERE TO SAVE SPACE.

OS/2 3.0 (Warp)

Sep. 1994   Windows NT 3.5 Workstation & Server  
May 30, 1995   Windows NT 3.51 Workstation & Server  
Aug. 24, 1995 Windows 95    
July 29, 1996   Windows NT 4.0 Workstation & Server  
Oct. 22, 1997   SBS 4.0  
June 30, 1998 Windows 98    
May 24, 1999   SBS 4.5  
June 30, 1999 Windows 98 Second Edition    
Mar. 31, 2000   Windows 2000 Server (NT5) NTLMv2 AD Kerberos  
Mar. 31, 2000   Windows 2000 Professional (NT5)  
Dec. 31, 2000 Windows Millennium Edition    
Feb.21, 2001   SBS 2000  
Dec. 31, 2001   Windows XP Home & Professional (NT5.1)  
Sep. 8, 2002   Windows XP SP1  
Oct. 27, 2002   Windows XP Media Center Edition 2002  
Feb.11, 2003   Windows XP Tablet PC Edition  
May 28, 2003   Windows Server 2003 (NT5.1 Server) Windows Server 2003 x64
June 23, 2003   Windows 2000 SP4  
Oct. 27, 2003   Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004  
Dec. 16, 2003   SBS 2003 Standard  
Dec. 28, 2003   SBS 2003 Premium (w/ SQL, ISA)  
Aug. 6, 2004   Windows XP SP2  
Dec. 30, 2004   Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005  
Apr. 25, 2005     Windows XP Professional x64
July 25, 2005   Windows Vista Beta 1  
Mar. 2006   Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs  
Mar. 5, 2006   Windows Server 2003 R2 Windows Server 2003 R2 x64
July 29, 2006   SBS 2003 R2 SBS 2003 R2 x64
Sep. 26, 2006 PowerShell 1.0
Mar. 13, 2007   Server 2003 SP2 Server 2003 x64 SP2
Nov. 4, 2007   Windows Home Server (NT6 Server) Windows Home Server x64
Nov. 29, 2007 (Retail: Jan. 30, 2008) Windows Vista (NT6) Windows Vista x64
Feb.4, 2008   Windows Vista SP1 Windows Vista SP1 x64
Feb.27, 2008   Server 2008 (NT6 Server) Server 2008 x64
May 6, 2008   Windows XP SP3  
Nov. 12, 2008     SBS 2008 ("Cougar")
Oct. 22, 2008   Server 2008 R2 (NT6.1) Server 2008 R2 x64
Nov. 12, 2008     Windows Essential Business Server 2008 ("Centro")
May 26, 2009   Vista SP2 Vista x64 SP2
July 22, 2009     Server 2008 SP2
Server 2008 R2
July 26, 2009     Hyper-V (Viridian)
Aug. 2009 PowerShell 2.0
Sep., 2009     SBS 2008 SP2
Oct. 22, 2009   Windows "7" (NT 6.1, formerly "Vienna, Blackcomb") Windows "7"  x64
Dec. 13, 2010     SBS 2011 Standard
SBS 2011 Essentials
(Aurora)
Feb.9, 2011   Windows 7 SP1 Windows 7 x64 SP1
Server 2008 R2 SP1
Apr. 6, 2011     Windows Homer Server 2011
May 12, 2011 Windows 7 SP1-U (Media refresh, incl. KB2534111)
Sep. 13, 2011 "Windows 8" Developer Preview 6.2.8102.0
"Windows Server 8" Developer Preview  ReFS
Feb.29, 2012 "Windows 8" Consumer Preview
Sep. 4, 2012 PowerShell 3.0   Windows Server 2012
Oct. 2012     Windows Server 2012 Essentials
Oct. 26, 2012 Windows RT Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro
Oct. 18, 2013 Windows RT 8.1 Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1
Oct. 18, 2013 PowerShell 4.0    



Microsoft Operating System Codenames

Official Product Name Codename Meaning/Origin
Windows for Workgroup 3.11 Snowball  
Windows NT 3.5 Daytona U.S. City
Windows NT 4.0 Cairo A City in Egypt
Terminal Server Hydra A mythological monster with multiple heads
Windows 95 Chicago U.S. City
Windows 95 OSR 2 Detroit U.S. City
Windows 98 Memphis U.S. City
Windows 2000 *NONE* Listed to indicate it's not an omission
Windows XP Whistler A mountain in British Columbia
SBS 2003 Bobcat A ski-run on Whistler Mountain
Windows Vista Longhorn A bar in the Whistler-Blackcomb resort
SBS 2008 Cougar A ski-run on Whistler Mountain
(codename changed to Vienna in 2006) Blackcomb A mountain in British Columbia
Windows "7" Vienna A city in Austria
Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs Eiger A mountain in Switzerland
To be announced Mönch A mountain in Switzerland
Windows Essential Business Server Centro  
Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials Aurora  
Windows Home Server Premium 2011 Vail  
Windows Server 2012 Windows Server 8  
Windows 8.1 Blue  

NOTES:

The following non-mainstream O.S. editions were excluded from our roster for brevity reasons:

Specialized Server Editions
(and their 64-bit counterparts)
  • Advanced Server Edition
  • Enterprise Edition
  • Datacenter Edition
  • Storage Server Edition
  • Web Edition
  • Terminal Server Edition
  • Windows Mobile 2003
  • Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition
  • Windows Mobile 5
  • Windows CE 1 to 5 (handheld mobile devices)
  • Windows XP Embedded (industrial and appliance market)
  • Windows XP Starter Edition (Asian Pacific market)
  • Windows XP N Edition (European market)
  • Xenix

When a specific date is given, it's based on the Official General Availability Date. That is, when it was actually available for sale to general public, not the announcement date, release-to-manufacturing date, or advanced access pilot sites roll-out date.

Microsoft ceased further development of the original consumer (so-called 9x) line of O.S. after the Millennium Edition, and merged it into the business (NT) line starting with XP. They created a reduced and simplified version called the Home Edition.

The NT5, NT5.1 and NT6 nomenclature is NOT official. These "aliases" are commonly known and used to signify the equivalent numeric version numbers, had Microsoft not gone to the "model year" naming convention starting at 2000. These are considered the "real version numbers" as they're used internally at Microsoft, and actually listed in the Help | About screens.  There was never NT1, NT2 or NT3.0. Microsoft started that line with matching version number with consumer Windows 3.1.

Product names listed in quotes are Microsoft internal codenames used during planning and development. Actual product names will be different and have yet to be determined or announced. Blackcomb recent went through a codename change. Longhorn server will be named differently from Vista, just as Windows 2003 Server was named differently from XP.

See also:

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