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Windows NT Turns 20

timothy posted 1 year,26 days | from the in-many-ways-it-never-really-went-away dept.

Windows 213

An anonymous reader writes with a link to the observation from ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley of Windows NT's 20th birthday (it came out on July 27th, 1993): ""In 1993, Microsoft launched Windows NT 3.1. It was followed up by NT 3.5, 3.51 and 4.0. Microsoft's Windows releases still rely on NT-inspired numbering conventions. Windows 7's build numbers commenced with 6.1; Windows 8's with 6.2; and Windows 8.1 with 6.3." The article also reminds us that "NT's not ancient history, in spite of its age. The NT 'core' is what's inside Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows Phone 8, Windows Azure and the Xbox One.""

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Lesson One (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44395813)

The article also reminds us that "NT's not ancient history, in spite of its age. The NT 'core' is what's inside Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows Phone 8, Windows Azure and the Xbox One.

Indeed. No matter how structurally sound your operating system may be, UI developers (receiving messages from on high) can still make it look like trash.

Re:Lesson One (-1, Flamebait)

RevSpaminator (1419557) | 1 year,26 days | (#44395911)

So what does that say about something as structurally flawed as the NT kernel?

Re:Lesson One (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44395923)

How's the kernel you wrote doing these days? Easy to criticise others i guess.

Re:Lesson One (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396011)

How's that post you wrote criticizing the post above you these days? I bet you don't think it's so easy to criticize oth-- oh, wait.

Re:Lesson One (5, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396099)

You don't need to have done something better to be able to determine whether something is good or bad.

Now that said, the NT kernel itself is pretty solid.

Re: Lesson One (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44397051)

no, you don't need to have done something better, though in your case it would have helped you recognize nt for the intentional brokedick structure it was designed to be.
OS/2 was and still is superior. but it was more expensive, and people love to buy stuff on sale even if it is garbage.

OS/2 is better, um... (1)

xdor (1218206) | 1 year,26 days | (#44397151)

Maybe for services, but it still baffles me how even with the latest OS/2 release the mouse still didn't track smoothly and the GUI was easily process locked. You couldn't work in that environment without pulling your hair out trying to get anything done.

Compared to NT, for user experience, OS/2 never had a chance.

Re:Lesson One (3, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396003)

The kernel is not structurally flawed.

It's just as sound as it was, the day Dave Cutler's team built an experimental port of VMS to CMU Mach. [] It's just as sound a kernel, as the day Microsoft ripped-off VMS from DEC.

It is the perversion of microkernel VMS by a flawed loadable driver model, and the .DLL nightmare that really sucks, and introduces "unpredictable" behaviors.

"Hey! PDP-11? Ask me how!"

DLL nightmare (1, Insightful)

ArchieBunker (132337) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396129)

I have yet to experience this DLL nightmare you speak of. I've had way more dependency hell on Linux than anything. Say you find a great program that does exactly what you need. Well the author based it off some obscure library that needs a dozen other dependencies. One of those said dozen fails to compile. I'm not a CS major so the story pretty much ends there.

The only DLL issue I've had was getting some of the cygwin tools. It needed some DLL and their site was useless for supplying it. I just need the one file, not their installer giving me the entire dev environment. In the end I searched for the filename and "index of" and found a copy that way.

I still don't understand how VMS can be compared to NT. They don't even seem remotely similar.

Re:DLL nightmare (1)

cartel1982 (2955737) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396171)

The parent post was talking about engineering issues, not end user issues. Computers look different if you're working on their insides.

Re: DLL nightmare (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44397075)

Just ask Tron.

Re:DLL nightmare (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396307)

Debug an NT device driver.

Hey! I recognize this!

Re:DLL nightmare (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396425)

I have yet to experience this DLL nightmare you speak of. I've had way more dependency hell on Linux than anything. Say you find a great program that does exactly what you need. Well the author based it off some obscure library that needs a dozen other dependencies

Fortunately, 'apt-get install great-program' always works for me.

I still don't understand how VMS can be compared to NT. They don't even seem remotely similar.


Just as HAL was one step ahead of IBM, Windows NT is one step behind VMS.

Re:DLL nightmare (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396861)

I think you need to brush up on your English. The letters HAL precede IBM, which means it's one step behind.

Re:DLL nightmare (1)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,26 days | (#44397181)

I think you need to brush up on your English. The letters HAL precede IBM, which means it's one step behind.

I think you need to read more Clarke.

Re:DLL nightmare (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44397407)

That might prove difficult if he uses the English alphabet from Z to A.

Re:DLL nightmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396969)

Heh thanks, I never noticed that, puts HAL's whole personality issues in perspective

Re:DLL nightmare (1, Informative)

ArchieBunker (132337) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396983)

Oh why didn't I think of that? Because a package was not available! Hence my need of compiling from source.

VMS=Virtual Memory System
WNT=Windows New Technology

Your point?

Re:DLL nightmare (2)

noh8rz9 (2716595) | 1 year,26 days | (#44397273)

VMS=Virtual Memory System WNT=Windows New Technology

Your point?

the GP is being obtuse, but he's making a snarky comment that the letters in the acronym WNT are offset by one from the letters in the acronym VMS (V->W, etc). this is similar in vaguely tenuously stretch of a way to the novel (and movie) 2001 featuring the computer HAL. Wags at the time noted that HAL was a similar letter shift from IBM. That's it, nothing to see here, move along.

Re:DLL nightmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396703)

Some of the people that make comments here have obviously not coded in the platform for at least 10 years.

Re:Lesson One (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396769)

i'm still running nt4 in an isolated vm for a specific application ... never had a problem after all these yrs .. solid.

Jeremiah Cornelius proves his incompetence again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396873)

THIS PROVES IT EVEN MORE: DLL nightmare, moron? Ok, time to dust your wannabe ass as usual:

(Since you don't understand all the protections built into the dll calling rules, in std./classic dlls or OLEServer dlls)

Yet you SAY you worked @ Microsoft and yet you don't KNOW this stuff? WTF were you there?? A janitor???

For seek on load & for DLL load security:

1st - The System &/or App uses the KnownDLL's registry data.HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\KnownDLLs.

2nd - IF you have to ship another model of a DLL, you place it into your application's folder with it - that's the 1st place an app looks for it and when it finds it there, that's the version used. I.E.-> The current directory.

3rd - The Windows system directory's model if one is NOT in the app's folder/directory

4th - The Windows directory is next.

5th - Current Directory.

6th - The directories listed in the PATH environment variable.

* OLE Server DLL have even more via their GUID loading so you marshall them by that, and can load more than 1 version, even with the SAME name, but it's that identifier that directs to the one you need & use for that app calling. This protects them from 'dllhell'.

Windows File Protection &/or System File Protection [] also supplement that too! Windows XP had SafeDLL search mode too, but it's deprecated in modern versions. There's also the System File Checker tool sfc.exe (named system resource checker in more modern versions).

QUESTION TO THIS IDIOT: What EXACTLY is "flawed" in the driver model? THIS I have to hear. These aren't NLM's from NetWare!


P.S.=> You really are incompetent technically. How the hell can you even claim you work @ VMWare or formerly @ Microsoft being as technically weak as you are, I will never know (or are you like a mason that gets 'free ticket placement' into jobs because of that, or are you related to the owners, or what)...

... apk

Minor correction... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44397153)

SafeDLLSearchMode = Win7 default - You just don't have to SET it in the registry manually here anymore (like you had to in older Windows NT-based OS models pre VISTA/7):

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager

SafeDllSearchMode = 1

* Another one I always felt was a "decent protection" (and saved a bit of memory too if you don't load that std-classic lib/dll ever again from other apps etc./et al)?

The "AlwaysUnloadDLL" registry option -> HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\AlwaysUnloadDll

Not SURE if it is still functional in Windows 7 though, as it was in older bulids of Windows (not by default either, it was another you had to set yourself, manually, iirc), but, that's another option to ASSURE that a required version of a DLL & its function/method required.

(As that's all that loads, not the entire thing "all or nothing" of the ENTIRE dll body for loads for usage into the calling app's memory space - this IS touchy though: IF other apps call that lib concurrently also, creating reference counts to its functions - then, yes the entire DLL is loaded but again, ONLY the parts the calling apps need are used by said apps (for DOS coders, this much like how overlays worked))

I don't KNOW if it will still work though on more modern Windows like VISTA/7 onwards. Probably does, but there's "downsides" too, noted below.

In fact - This I wager STRONGLY is NOT ON BY DEFAULT (like SafeDLLSearch is in Win7) in more modern versions of Windows - simply because of what it does and "downsides" of it in load/reload latency performance:

I.E.-> You have to flush reference counts to the model currently in RAM/calling app memory space functions/methods used by the calling app, then reload from disk again from it (or another model if necessary and has the same name, which used to cause "DLL HELL" with std./classic dlls (vs. OLEServer types) on Win9x & earlier builds of NT-based OS before the protections I noted in my last post).


P.S.=> So bad choice of words on my part - the REGISTRY ENTRY is 'deprecated', but its on by default (it's just not there in the registry BY DEFAULT, like for example, many TCP/IP parameters are for tuning entries on IP stack tweaking are for 'system tweaking types') However - Yes, you CAN enter them anyhow, but if they're active by default? You're really just "bloating" your registry (with no gains & because of said 'bloat', you slow up some (miniscule)) - so correcting that for posterities' sake (and IF they are deprecated? They're bloat AND useless)... apk

Did some checking, (Re)learned a "new thing" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44397369)

SafeDLLSearchMode was turned on by DEFAULT in Windows Server 2003 too (makes sense since it was the codebase used to build Windows 7 initially), so my statement of "Pre VISTA/7" in my last post? Not entirely 100% accurate (we strive for perfection, perfection being a road NOT a desitination, & technical accuracy).

* I don't KNOW if I just forgot that since it's been so many years since I last ran Server 2003 (here @ home in default workstation type install it does anyhow where you add server features after), or that I am just getting "old & senile" but there you are (again, for posterities' sake).

Another fellow cited "side-by-side assemblies" here too in this exchange - there's a point I missed... good catch by jeffasselin, here -> []


P.S.=> I haven't looked at this lunacy in awhile, good review (because of all the changes in this during the 1992-present day versions of Windows NT-based OS). Personally, IF I use DLL's (rare for me on smaller projects or ones I don't need to send out periodic updates to smaller parts of them or data? I go "single 'stand-alone' self-contained" exe design - less moving parts, & less hassles)? If I used another version build, that say, returned an integer 1/0 return vs. another build say, returning a boolean T/F return (common enough difference along with stub/deprecated API stuff)? I just stuff it into the appdir with my app - makes for tremendously LESS hassles vs. "DLL-HELL" potential issues that way & is simpler (simple, is good - this is one of the "nuttier" things to get down cold and RETAIN imo as far as possible caveats building with Windows & "oldschool" classic style DLLs, which OLE Server type DLL marshalling by GUID cures imo)...

... apk

Re: Lesson One (3, Insightful)

jeffasselin (566598) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396911)

DLL hell wasn't as bad in 2k and XP and is almost entirely gone now since Vista thanks to SxS. []

Re: Lesson One (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44397355)

No, it's been fucking entrenched.

Leaky CRTs, importing dependencies, manifests, ABI changes over compiler versions, no support for fat binaries.

Re:Lesson One (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396929)

The kernel is not bad, though really it isn't that much like VMS, it wasn't a copy but an OS from scratch. However where Windows got very weird was its wrapping the kernel with the win32 layer. Almost all OS services had to go through the DLLs. While there was a POSIX layer that also existed above the Kernel, you couldn't do very much useful with it because important stuff existed only under Win32 (ie, networking, display, full file support, etc). In essence, the DLLs were the OS.

Re:Lesson One (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | 1 year,26 days | (#44397291)

The kernel itself is relatively solid, but there are problems.

Interactive services can expose system-level access to users - a design flaw shich should not be allowed. I remember vaguely a hack from the logon of Windows NT which let you use the context menu, then somehow involving 'print' and/or 'help', you could get explorer.exe open without logging in. That was a flaw with the Win32 implementation, but it had to somehow allow user-level access to MSGINA and the kernel system for authentication and security - a good design would have allowed for this. This is Windows NT or 2000, ignoring XP and beyond.

I also remember when Vista moved graphics processing into user mode, so that the usual BSOD from graphics drivers famous in XP would simply be an abnormal termination. Reading suggests this was reversed in 7 because of the slowness this added. If graphics - fundamentally the way the OS communicates with the user, since the command-line is supposed to be a second resort - has to be so close to the metal it can't be in user space without slowing it down, this is not good.

At this point I should say that maybe a command-line interface, under the hood, may be secure. But if the intent is to provide a windowing environment, and the method of doing so is not secure, maybe the kernel has exceeded its usefulness. I should also say that a lot of uninformed people parrot the idea that the kernel is well designed, siply because it flies in the face of all the Microsoft hate. The original nerd hipster, who likes something - or believes that something can be good - even if the masses hate it. Or just because the masses hate it.

I have personally used a Shatter attack to expose passwords masked by asterisks. There is a single byte in the window definition that says "replace every character with this one because this is a password box". If it is not filled in, the text box is normal. If it is filled in, it's a password box. Most apps that display a password set the password style (by default filling that byte with an asterisk) and put the password up. Easy to recover.

If different processes, which should be kept separate from other processes, are vulnerable in this fashion, then either the kernel is wrong or the user layer on top of the kernel is not able to maintain the segragation - in effect the user layer is a vulnerability to the kernel.

Just looking at Vista, and its failure due to UAC and similar security fixes, the fundamental kernel was vulnerable to a number of serious issues - not necessarily with the kernel, but because of its implementation. Having to force an abomination like UAC on programmers so that they would respect security guidelines of least privilage, shows that they did not properly restrict its operation from the beginning - not a flaw in the kernel, but in the overall design. Configured properly, Windows would not run programs, in some cases at all. Configured improperly, it would.

The overhead of creating a fork() in Windows is ridiculous. As a Windows hacker, I found fork() abhorrent - until someone pointed out the difference in overhead.

There are many things wrong with Windows. It is fundamentally sound, but there are a good number of other flaws I won't bore you with, that would probably be more convincing but less headline-tastic. The original conception was a good idea, and it has just gotten worse from there. Perhaps it got worse as knowledgeable people left, and as of 2003 it has stopped getting worse.

Re:Lesson One (5, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396677)

Actually the NT kernel is probably the most well engineered component of modern windows. hell, it is what gave windows things like preemptive multithreading, proper memory protection, and hardware abstraction. The win32 base runtime sits on top of this, and pretty much everything else microsoft has released over the years acted as a wrapper for it. Windows 95 was the attempt to squeeze win32 into 4MB of ram for consumer machines while keeping hardware ports accessible by dos applications. These two goals were fundamentally in conflict with stable and reliable software. The reason we don't have to reboot windows every few hours anymore is due to the windows NT kernel.. As bad as you may think windows to be, it's A LOT better than the days of 3.x/9x.

Re:Lesson One (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396793)

The NT kernel only functions because it can make constant calls through the registry to custom kernel modules loaded on the fly to maintain compatibility with lots of otherwise dissimilar software. It takes 10000+ developers to maintain this code (which is nothing to brag about) and keep it working. Photoshop would not run at all unless MS used kernel modules specificially designed for it, nor Office, nor Outlook, not AutoCAD, etc. It's not one kernel, it's a whole bunch swarming around as needed.

Re:Lesson One (1)

epyT-R (613989) | 1 year,26 days | (#44397059)

um what? Sure, there are modules (in windows\drivers), most of which are hardware drivers, but the registry is a database, not an api for devices. I suppose the kernel does use it to track device configurations and such, but that's it. Typical applications do not have kernel modules. Many do have services, now, mainly for DRM, which sucks, but services run in userland, not kernel space.

Re:Lesson One (1, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396031)

BSD is the core of OSX and it's even older.

Re:Lesson One (2, Informative)

msobkow (48369) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396167)

VMS pre-dated BSD substantially, and NT is basically a rewrite of the VMS kernel.

Re:Lesson One (1, Troll)

stox (131684) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396217)

If you call 6 months substantially:

October 25, 1977 - V1.0 VAX-11/780, Initial commercial release
March 9, 1978 - 1BSD
May 1979 - 2BSD
December 1979 - 3BSD with VAX support. ie. Virtual memory, etc.
November 1980 - 4BSD

Re:Lesson One (1)

multi io (640409) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396879)

BSD is the core of OSX and it's even older.

VMS pre-dated BSD substantially, and NT is basically a rewrite of the VMS kernel. opposed to OSX, which actually shares and reuses code from the BSD kernel.

Re:Lesson One (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396643)

The core of OSX is a Mach microkernel, BSD sits on top of Mach.

OSX has an Unix personality but it isn't a proper one.

Proper one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396707)

NT 3.51 was the best kernel (4, Interesting)

JoeyRox (2711699) | 1 year,26 days | (#44395819)

I've seen the source and it's a work of art. Whoever they had working on NT 4 for the PnP and other additions really massacred the code.

Re:NT 3.51 was the best kernel (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44395861)

I'm thinking that Dave Cutler had something to do with the 3.5.1 kernel work

Re:NT 3.51 was the best kernel (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44395881)

I didn't see the source but could definitely tell. I remember NT 3.51 being very responsive even when a program was misbehaving. If I recall I had it run 16-bit programs in their own memory so they didn't affect each other. NT 4.0 did seem like PnP was just crammed in along with the Windows 95 interface. I feel old.

Re:NT 3.51 was the best kernel (1)

Hartree (191324) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396095)

That was my sense as well. Especially for the DEC Alpha version, NT 3.51 seemed quite stable.

Re:NT 3.51 was the best kernel (0)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396447)

That was my sense as well. Especially for the DEC Alpha version, NT 3.51 seemed quite stable.

Not for me. At the time, I was working for a mixed Linux/NT company and the NT machines would regularly blue-screen just reading email, whereas my Linux machine was only rebooted for hardware upgrades.

Re:NT 3.51 was the best kernel (2)

Hartree (191324) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396939)

We were using it for DEC Alpha servers doing credit card transactions rather than user machines. at least for that it did pretty well. We only took it down once in 3 years to upgrade the drives.

Some form of Unix could have done the same work with half the machine, but others wrote the system before I came on the scene.

I had Linux as one of the OS's on my workstation and liked it a lot. For the Unix servers processing check transactions and doing database work (Oracle) we used SCO instead as we were using X25 and multi-serial port cards for some of the communications and terminal serving. Linux just didn't have the drivers for them in those days.

The place was an absolute dog's breakfast of different OS's from SCO to OS2 to every version of windows and dos you can imagine.

It was one of those "character building experiences".

Re: NT 3.51 was the best kernel (2)

jeffasselin (566598) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396925)

Oneof the major issues wit 4.0 was how they switch the video drivers to ring 0 for better performance, but most video drivers in those days were total crap. Things have gotten better.

It's no OS/2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44395827)

Where's my HPFS?!

Re:It's no OS/2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396393)

I'd take HPFS/386. A filesystem that can be set so secure, one can deny all access to a file... and no user on the box could delete that file, ever. It even encrypted stuff, so a hex editor couldn't recover files that one didn't have permissions for.

Not the worst thing ever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44395843)

At least I could run an Oracle data base on it and it had NTFS... The Virtual Memory/Swap file behavior had me pulling my hair out for a while... sigh
Damn I hate it when I wax nostalgic

OS/2 was better (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | 1 year,26 days | (#44395853)

I used both NT 3.5 and OS/2, and OS/2 was much better. Microsoft put more effort into support for the long term.

Re:OS/2 was better (1)

symbolset (646467) | 1 year,26 days | (#44395925)

IBM contracted Microsoft to do the update to OS/2 and that was the end of that.

Re:OS/2 was better (0)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396041)

Microsoft made OS/2 1.0-1.3. I am referring to 2 on. Those were the versions competing with Windows NT.

Re:OS/2 was better (1)

yuhong (1378501) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396165)

Ah the MS OS/2 2.0 fiasco. FYI, even MS never intended OS/2 NT to replace OS/2 2.x initially.

Re:OS/2 was better (1, Informative)

dfghjk (711126) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396179)

No they didn't. OS/2 1.x was primarily done by IBM using IBM's tools. Many portions were so poorly understood by MS that they wouldn't change any of it or release its source to OEMs.

OS/2, from the very beginning, was by IBM for IBM. It was an OS designed for the 286, a processor designed by IBM for IBM, and it was defeated by Intel who took ownership of the 32-bit follow-on processor and by MS, who took ownership of the 32-bit follow-on OS. IBM was solely responsible for the trash that was OS/2 and the 286. MS was on the good side of that fight and we are better off for it.

As an engineer that had to fly to Redmond to work on pre-1.0 OS/2 ports, I am quite familiar with who wrote it and what MS thought of it. It's quite clear that you are not.

Re:OS/2 was better (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396931)

OS/2 1.x was primarily done by IBM using IBM's tools

After v1.0. Microsoft was entirely responsible for the initial releases of OS/2.

the 286, a processor designed by IBM for IBM

Wrong. Intel designed the 80286. IBM (along with other chip makers) made their own version later on.

It was originally a pretty good design (5, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | 1 year,26 days | (#44395863)

Originally it was a pretty good design, based on the concepts implemented by DEC's VMS system. It only got butchered later by people who didn't know their stuff as well as the original engineers.

Warts and all, Windows owes it's lineage to VMS and the once mighty DEC.

I've heard there are still places running VMS-based hardware.

Re:It was originally a pretty good design (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44395901)

I've heard there are still places running VMS-based hardware.

A certain national medical lab -still- uses VMS systems to issue lab reports to thousands of medical facilities. One reason is that they use Digital Standard MUMPS for scripting the collection and issuing of the data. It's worked well for a quarter century, why replace it with the unknown and potentially buggy?

Re:It was originally a pretty good design (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,26 days | (#44395927)

I've heard there are still places running VMS-based hardware.

Hell, VMS-on-VAX was Digital's replacement for the PDP line of minicomputers (phased in in 1977), and even their predecessors are still running [] in a few places.

Re:It was originally a pretty good design (1)

SlashDread (38969) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396021)

I'm sure OpenVMS is in use, running some COBOL for a bank orso. In 1995 VAX/VMS was HUGE in network cluster tech.

I was right in the middle of that, since we were pitching a VAXcluster box against Appleshare and WinNT for serving Computer Based Training for Fokker Aircraft (now sadly defunct).

Our requirement was to serve a classroom full of Apple Mac's (Apple OS 6.x, oh good times), Appleshare won.
VAX/VMS choked on 2Mb/s on a 10Mb ethernet. Still I loved the architecture, and it sparked by furure *nix interest.

The rumour in the day was that the WinNT team was basically the former VMS team, and that WNT was really VMS-rot-1 :)

Here's to Kernels (4, Funny)

lobiusmoop (305328) | 1 year,26 days | (#44395905)

The Linux kernel would have bought it a beer, but it hasn't turned 21 yet.

Windows NT's name (5, Interesting)

norite (552330) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396047)

In case anyone was wondering what NT stood for

V +1 = W
M + 1 = N
S + 1 = T

Re:Windows NT's name (1)

EvanED (569694) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396109)

Haha, that's pretty funny. I hadn't seen that before.

Doubt it was their motivation, but it's funny regardless.

Re:Windows NT's name (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396137)

That's like IBM:


Re:Windows NT's name (1)

Tynin (634655) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396845)

In case anyone was wondering what NT stood for

V +1 = W M + 1 = N S + 1 = T

I forget where I read it, but I recall NT standing for New Technology.

Re:Windows NT's name (1)

norite (552330) | 1 year,26 days | (#44397013)

That's what a lot thought....but when you boot up NT 4.0 you get the 'Based on NT Technology' splash screen.

Re:Windows NT's name (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44397233)

You're confusing NT 4.0 with NT 5.0 (Windows 2000). The NT 4.0 splash screen never had any such verbiage, as a quick google search will confirm.

Re:Windows NT's name (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | 1 year,26 days | (#44397263)

Well, you know, that New Technology Technology is what powers Automated Teller Machine Machines.

Re:Windows NT's name (1)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,26 days | (#44397209)

I forget where I read it, but I recall NT standing for New Technology.

My, possibly time-addled, memories from the OS/2 days were that the future of the PC was going to be OS/2 NT (OS/2 New Technology), but then Microsoft announced that they were releasing a new OS called Windows NT, which was nothing to do with OS/2 New Technology at all, no sir.

Seriously? (4, Informative)

BobNET (119675) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396119)

An article for WinNT turning 20, but nothing for Slackware when it did the same [] 10 days ago? What is wrong with you, Slashdot?

Wait, don't answer that...

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396303)

And which one has turned out to be more relevant to the industry? Yup, Windows. And on the Linux front (for all it's Unity based sins) Ubuntu.

And yes, I was using Slackware in 1994. Before I started using NT 4 in 1995/6.

Slackware, great at the time. Pretty much irrelevant now.

Re:Seriously? (0)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396463)

If you're going to say Ubuntu is more relevant, you'd have to include the qualifier of "currently". Given how distros rise and fall, for all we know, a Slackware distro could be what eventually brings the year of linux on the desktop. And I'd say Android has made a *much* bigger splash than Ubuntu.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396855)

Which one is more relevant to Slasdot's original purpose?

The drift towards Slashdot's endorsement of proprietary in general and Microsoft in particular is no coincidence.

Re:Seriously? (1, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396349)

It takes a lot of skill to keep windows running for 20 years.

a 24 year old could have run slackware for the last 20 years.

Re:Seriously? (2)

jones_supa (887896) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396891)

An article for WinNT turning 20, but nothing for Slackware when it did the same [] 10 days ago? What is wrong with you, Slashdot?

Wait, don't answer that...

You could have submitted it to Slashdot. That's how this place runs...

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44397303)

Slackware is alive?!

Missing releases (1) (583400) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396235)

A few releases are missing in the partial Windows NT history mentioned in the article:
- Windows 2000
- Windows XP
- Windows Server 2003
- Windows Server 2003 R2
- Windows Vista
- Windows Server 2008
And the Xbox.

Re:Missing releases (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396483)

You forgot 2008 R2. But I think their point was the Windows that are most current. Besides, MS has client and server go hand-in-hand so it's a little redundant to mention both.
- 2000/2000 (obviously)
- XP/2003/2003R2
- Vista/2008
- 7/2008 R2
- 8/2012

Re:Missing releases (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44397293)

You forgot XP x64 aka 2003 x64 Workstation.

Re:Missing releases (1)

jones_supa (887896) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396905)

The current NT 6 core of Windows is quite nice.

I remember the good old days (3, Insightful)

WaffleMonster (969671) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396245)

When every new release of NT brought with it new and useful features at least I was always excited to upgrade from 3.5 on till about 2K8.

Now nobody seems to care about technology anymore... It is all politics, marketeering and guarding the table to ensure no excess value is ever left upon it. Innovation is now measured by games with shells, errecting walled gardens and fresh paint of questionable quality. Sad to see so much potential go to waste.

Re:I remember the good old days (3, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396501)

2008 R2 has some nice improvements over 2008, and 2012 has a lot of nice new stuff, but I *hate* that they decided to use the Metro UI for Server 2012. I liked having the Windows Classic theme for 2003/2008. The Metro UI makes it more difficult to get to some basic settings. It's a server, make it simple and straightforward and aesthetics be damned.

Re:I remember the good old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396917)

Is the server really that different from the client? I always found previous versions of the server just as easy to get around as the client. I haven't used 2012 yet, but Windows 8 is the easiest Windows yet in terms of getting to basic settings and useful tools. Not everything has migrated to the new interface yet, but it is still easier that previous versions. Based on past experience, I would expect the server to be the same way.

Doesn't it go further back? (0)

Sir Holo (531007) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396297)

FTA: "NT's not ancient history, in spite of its age. The NT 'core' is what's inside Windows..."

And isn't DOS's 'core' what's inside NT?

and QDOS's 'core' what's inside DOS?

Re:Doesn't it go further back? (4, Informative)

devman (1163205) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396323)

DOS stopped being in the core with WinME. WinNT was based on VMS and never had DOS lineage.

Re:Doesn't it go further back? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396725)

WinNT was "based on" VMS in even less sense than Linux was "based on" Unix. The NT kernel shares some architectural features with VMS, but no source code or even APIs. Compare that with Linux, which may not share source code with Unix, but share so many architectural features and APIs that they're almost indistinguishable.


Re:Doesn't it go further back? (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396507)

The DOS line ended with Windows Me. For a while, MS had the home line based on DOS and the business line based on NT. At the turn of the century, they dropped the DOS lineage and just made different versions of the NT lineage (Home and Pro).

Re:Doesn't it go further back? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396581)

You need to check your history.

There were two different lines of Windows kernels until Windows 2000. It was with 2000 that the WinNT kernel finally had all the API wrappers needed to run all regular 32-bit windows programs.

The people on slashdot are also wrong about the origins of NT, which was in fact rooted in OS/2 NT aka OS/2 3.0 .. when IBM contracted Microsoft to develop OS/2 there was to be a consumer line (2.0) and a professional/server line (3.0) developed simultaneously. During the contract dispute negotiations, IBM walked away with the 2.0 code base while Microsoft walked away with the 3.0 code base.

Last revolutionary M$ product (3, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396337)

NT was the last revolutionary product put out by Microsoft. VB3 came out the same summer, and was also revolutionary. Excel 4.0 and Word 2.0 were the only other two revolutionary Microsoft products, and those came out the year previous.

All of these products are essentially unchanged over the past 20 years, with even the same codebase, with the exception of VB 3.0, concepts of which continue in the 2nd generation Visual Studio product (based on the late-90's Visual Interdev platform, chucking the highly responsive 1st generation that ended with Visual Studio 6.0).

Re:Last revolutionary M$ product (4, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396523)

Being my usual devil's advocate, there have been some innovations which have been useful that MS has made. They are not revolutionary as NT (which was nice at the time because it was completely pre-emptive, while Windows and System 7/8 were cooperative multi-tasking operating systems.)

One of the bigger ones was the jump from NT 4.0 with all its service packs to Windows 2000. The old domain structure got tossed for a new directory server model, which has proven to stand the test of time in companies. Nothing is perfect, but AD has been decently reliable and secure. I don't often hear about complete compromise of AD unless someone managed to get complete rights on an AD server.

GPOs are another item. This is something that has zero value to all but enterprises, but are extremely useful when they come to play. The enterprise-tier management tools in Windows are not perfect, but they are extremely useful. If I want to lock access to USB flash drives to certain users, I can easily do that with security groups and OUs. This isn't flashy, but it makes life easier to turn the legal department writings into stuff I can say I can implement.

Then, there are some cool features. Windows Server 2012 has disk deduplication. This will come in handy on VM servers. It isn't perfect deduplication, as it is a two stage thing (writes are done normally, and a background task removes the duplicated blocks with links), but it is something useful.

There are also things that get the "A for best effort" award. .NET comes to mind because it does help with some basic security issues, and allows one to use their language of choice (I even remember visual ADA.)

To me, MS is a mixed bag. They do some cool things in the enterprise. However, on the user front, they need some help/polish. They need to focus on developer morale so a new platform would get a critical mass of apps/games on it when it comes out.

Re:Last revolutionary M$ product (2)

mendax (114116) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396623)

I would opine that Windows 95 was actually the last innovative product that Microsoft brought out. Think about it: 16- and 32-bit program support, plug and play (or "plug and pray" as we called it early on), protected memory support, good virtual memory support, pre-emptive multitasking, networking support. Yes, as a multitasking operating system is was mediocre and its stability left little to be desired when compared to Windows NT, but compared to available alternatives (Windows 3.11 and MacOS) it was miraculous. AND it ran on just about every configuration of PC hardware imaginable.

Oops, forgot Visual C++ 4.0 (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396865)

I forgot to mention Visual C++ 4.0 from 1995, which introduced the modern IDE. I just now updated Wikipedia [] .

Re:Oops, forgot Visual C++ 4.0 (1)

Locutus (9039) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396955)

Because Borland C++ wasn't a modern GUI IDE and predate MS Visual C--( remember it was not C++ compliant for about 2 decades ).

I do remember when Microsoft got rid of the multi-window IDE and everyone else followed. Hated it and still do.


Not ancient history (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396569)

Compared to Unix and its decedents, NT is still a Johnny-Come-Lately OS. 20 years is or ought to be long enough to become a mature, stable, usable OS, which begs the question, when ever WILL it become one?

My guess is NEVER, since Microsoft's anti-piracy approach is to make OS's with in-built security flaws, which they then "patch" and simultaneously introduce new security flaws, so that you'd have to be out of your mind to run it unpatched. Of course, in order to get the patches, you have to "activate" Windows, and to do THAT you have to have a valid license. They pretend it's not that, but of course it is. They make it so you that when you install from disc, you never have, in your possession, indeed, there is never, anywhere on Earth, a complete, rock-solid, secure version of the OS. If they ever made one, you wouldn't need THEM anymore.

Check and mate. Or game, set, and match, or whatever.

Of course, you do have an alternative, which is not to let Microsoft blackmail you into giving them backdoor access to your computer or stealing from you by making you pay over and over again for something you've already paid for by using LINUX, which is superior in pretty much every respect now.

Actually, this isn't just evangelism. With that blood-soaked, unholy ABORTION that is Windows 8, Microsoft has done more over the last couple years to promote LINUX adoption than anyone, so perhaps I should express gratitude. But I won't, because they didn't mean to help advance Linux, they did it because they are a bastion of a failed, obsolete business model.

I, myself, have a couple pieces of software that REQUIRE MS Windows, which WON'T work on Wine no matter what I do, and for that I use VirtualBox. Keeping Windows sandboxed and denying it internet access, and not giving it access to any info that I care about. That way I don't need to worry about security holes or flaws, or Microsoft backdoors, because VirtualBox won't let it get on the internet. Also I don't need to worry about what Microsoft thinks about what I'm doing with their crappy software, and the software I need Windows for is happy. I really should 86 (or X86 that is! hahah) my proprietary software, but it's legacy so what can I do?

I guess the lesson is don't use any proprietary software in the first place. I wish when I was a kid I'd started with *NIX, instead of DOS, because though it's handy to know, if I'd learned *NIX as a kid, I'd know it better, I just don't have time to go back and relearn it from scratch.

Re:Not ancient history (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396825)

They've done everything they can to promote Android adoption, not Linux.

Re:Not ancient history (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396853)


Saddled with rubbish (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396719)

Its too bad NT 3.1 was saddled with trying to maintain a semblance of backward compatibility with the existing Window user mode API. WIN32 should have been a fresh start rather than being burdened with the legacy rubbish now known as WIN16.

NT was originally a 'stop-gap' OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44396841)

It is now long forgotten, but Microsoft had plans for a brand new OS based on the 'semantic' theories that were dominant in the 80s, and a new approach to the kernel/driver system. NT was to be the easily hacked together stop-gap product until the new OS was ready for the big-time.

The final part of this failed OS mega-project was the recently cancelled 'semantic' file system that Microsoft wasted billions on across the years, and promised to release with each new version of Windows.

It should be known that almost everything significant Microsoft has 'achieved' across the last 20 years was actually code Microsoft originally bought from other companies. Microsoft's billions have produced very little internally. When Microsoft has attempted to originate software concepts, the results have usually been disastrous. Metro/RT/New-UI is but the latest example.

Windows serves as a universal 'good enough' base platform OS, but it's long past the time when a free OS should be doing the job better. Part of the horrific collapse of the PC market is down to the Microsoft tax that bangs an extra 100-150 dollars onto the cost of every PC. The PC market is no longer strong enough to tolerate this unnecessary expense. It is downright frustrating that Google is holding back on 'Android for Desktops', partially to promote the lousy ChromeOS platform.

Re:NT was originally a 'stop-gap' OS (0)

Locutus (9039) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396933)

not too unlike how MS-DOS was a hack of the cheap and dirty DOS they purchased to sell IBM so they could get MS-BASIC on IBM computers. I heard lots of stories of how the delivered MS-DOS was crap and IBM had to rewrite lots of it to get a functional system and PC-DOS was born. Even DOS/Windows inside of OS/2 ran better than directly on the hardware.

Microsoft is well known for stop-gap software. IMO


really? NT still lives inside each new Windows? (0)

Locutus (9039) | 1 year,26 days | (#44396919)

And to think I believed their marketing rhetoric all the times they said Windows was a complete rewrite. Except all those times viruses were found to effect versions of Windows from the current all the way back to DOS/Windows versions.

NT should have never had a 5th birthday let alone a 20th but we all know how far a monopoly gets you when you use it with a club and hatchet.


proof... (1, Interesting)

pbjones (315127) | 1 year,26 days | (#44397065)

...that 640k was not enough!

Windows NT 3.51 (2)

ta0 (81152) | 1 year,26 days | (#44397265)

Windows NT 3.51 was the most stable operating system I have ever used.
I miss it sometimes.

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