Microsoft Windows

Microsoft WindowsMicrosoft Windows started out life back in 1981, with its first version, Windows 1.0. Initially it received mixed reviews, with quite a lot of criticism, saying that it had potential, but didn’t meet expectations. Over the years it has grown in popularity, currently with around 90% of the worlds desktop and laptop computers using one of the versions mentioned below.

Windows 10 is the most recent version of Windows, released on 29 July 2015. For users of Windows 7 and 8.1, there was a free upgrade in the first year to an equivalent version, so, for example, if you were on Windows 7 Home Edition, the free upgrade was for Windows 10 Home Edition. Pricing options are now available for the different versions.

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Windows 8 arrived on the scene in October 2012, with significant changes to the interface to allow for its use on tablets, as well as desktops and laptops. This new interface came under criticism for its potential for being confusing and difficult to learn. A major update came along in October 2013, Windows 8.1, to address some of these criticisms and also included some additional improvements.

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Windows 7 was released in October 2009, to address some of the issues of Windows Vista, its predecessor, rather than to introduce something radically different. In doing this it maintained compatibility with both hardware and software available for Vista.

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Windows Vista was released in January 2007, more than five years after the previous release, Windows XP. Although Windows Vista offered security improvements over XP, which gained it some positive reviews, it was heavily criticised for its high system requirements and more restrictive licensing terms. This lead to many people not migrating away from Windows XP.

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Windows XP was released in October 2001, with sales of its licenses stopping in June 2008, except for netbooks, which went on until October 2010. The end of life for Windows XP came on 8 April 2014, when extended support for the operating system came to an end. This also marked the end of security updates and the availability of free support information.

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As well as these desktop and laptop versions of Windows, there are also separate versions that run on servers, which come under the Windows Server brand. Below are the versions that are still being supported by Microsoft. When Microsoft releases a new version of Windows Server, there are two phases of support, mainstream support and extended support. Mainstream support is the first phase, where Microsoft provide new features or enhancements to existing features, along with bug fixes and security updates. This usually lasts for about five years, after which the product enters the extended support phase. This again lasts for about five years, during which time Microsoft provides bug fixes and security updates only. These phases may be longer and are subject to being changed by Microsoft.

Windows Server 2019 is the most recent version, which was originally released on 2 October 2018, however, due to an issue found with in-place upgrades, its distribution was paused four days later. After the issue was resolved, it was re-released on 13 November 2018.

Windows Server 2019 will receive mainstream support until 9 January 2024 and extended support thereafter until 9 January 2029.

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Windows Server 2016 was released on 12 October 2016 and is currently in the mainstream support phase until 11 January 2022, after which extended support will run until 12 January 2027.

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Windows Server 2012 was originally released on 4 September 2012, with Windows Server 2012 R2 being released the following year on 18 October 2013. Both releases reached the end of mainstream support on 9 October 2018, but will receive extended support until 10 October 2023.

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Windows Server 2008 was originally released on 27 February 2008, followed by Windows Server 2008 R2 on 22 October 2009. Both reached the end of mainstream support on 13 January 2015, with extended support ending on 14 January 2020.

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