Windows NT

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What Does Windows NT Mean?

Windows NT is a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft that featured multi-processing capabilities, processor independence and multi-user support. The first version was released in 1993 as Windows NT 3.1, which was produced for servers and workstations. It was intended for complementing the consumer versions of the MS-DOS-based Windows operating system that Microsoft released (from Windows 1.0 to 3.1x).


Techopedia Explains Windows NT

Windows NT was the predecessor to Windows 2000. There were actually two versions of Windows NT: the first one was Windows NT Server, which was the first purely 32-bit OS developed by Microsoft, and the second one was the consumer-oriented Windows NT Workstation, which was available in both 16- and 32-bit versions.

The main design feature of Windows NT was software and hardware portability, with various versions being released for specific processor architectures. The main goal was to have a common code base that sported a hardware abstraction layer (HAL) made for each platform. Windows NT promised to run on everything, so broad software compatibility was done through the support of several API “personalities,” namely, Windows API, POSIX API and OS/2 API; MS-DOS compatibility was added through a DOS virtual machine.

Windows NT supported the following processor architectures:

  • MIPS
  • IA-32
  • DEC Alpha
  • Itanium
  • ARM
  • PowerPC
  • X86-64

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.