Microsoft Windows Server OS (operating system)
Windows Server is a brand name for a group of server operating systems released by Microsoft. It includes all Windows operating systems that are branded “Windows Server”, but not any other Microsoft product. The first Windows server edition to be released under that brand was Windows Server 2003. However, the first server edition of Windows was Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server, followed by Windows NT 3.5 Server, Windows NT 4.0 Server, and Windows 2000 Server; the latter was the first server edition to include Active Directory, DNS Server, DHCP Server, Group Policy, as well as many other popular features used today.
Development for Windows Server started in the early 1980s when Microsoft produced two operating system lines: MS-DOS and Windows NT. Microsoft engineer David Cutler developed the kernel of Windows NT with the intent to provide speed, security and reliability that large organizations require in a server operating system.
Prior to the release of Windows NT, many companies relied on the Unix operating system that required expensive RISC-based hardware to run file and printing services. Windows NT had the ability to run on less costly x86 machines.
A key feature in the NT architecture is symmetric multiprocessing, which makes applications run faster on machines with several processors.
Later iterations of Windows Server can be deployed either on hardware in an organization’s data center or on a cloud platform, such as Microsoft Azure.
Key features in later versions of Windows Server include Active Directory, which automates the management of user data, security and distributed resources, and enables interoperation with other directories; and Server Manager, which is a utility to administer server roles and make configuration changes to local or remote machines.
Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server
Windows NT 3.5 Server
Windows NT Server 3.51
Windows NT Server 4.0
Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2003 R2
Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2012
Windows Server 2012 R2
Windows Server 2016
Semi-Annual Channel and Long-Term Servicing Channel releases
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