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Windows NT 4.0 was the last "NT"-labeled operating system, but the NT naming convention is still used - 5.0, 6.0, 10.0, etc.

Mike Meyers says

Windows 2000 was the first step toward changing this mess. It was based on Windows NT...

and TechTarget

... NT's technology is the base for the Microsoft successor operating system, Windows 2000...

but Wikipedia shows for the current state of the NT line as current and the latest preview as May 29, 2015.

Are Windows 2000 and onward considered a part of the NT lineup or is the naming convention just used to refer to the operating systems internally?

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Although the official names are Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8/8.1, the Windows NT "version" of these releases are 5.0 (Windows 2000), 5.1 (Windows XP), 6.0 (Windows Vista), 6.1 (Windows 7), and 6.2/6.3 (Windows 8/8.1). Windows NT is no longer a part of the actual product names, and is indeed only used to refer/identify operating systems internally.

This table on Wikipedia helps to summarize the Windows NT version of various Windows releases. Each OS is based off of Windows NT, where Windows 2000 is the first release to drop NT from the product name. Note that the Windows (kernel) version convention, is changing with the release of Windows 10, where the version number will jump from 6.3 (Windows 8.1) to 10.0 (Windows 10), breaking the conventional versioning/numbering scheme for the Windows NT-family.


Internally, as there were two "branches" of Windows development - one following the Win9x/DOS system (16 and 32-bit), and one following the WinNT system (true 32-bit, and later, 64-bit), the eventual goal was to merge both into a unified codebase. The architecture of Win9x made it a difficult task; although both implemented the Win32 API, the actual merger of the NT (commercial) and 9x (consumer) product lines was delayed until the release of Windows XP.

  • So they continued the NT naming convention because the following operating systems were based off of NT? – QMord Jun 22 '15 at 18:05
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    @QMord In a sense, yes. The NT convention stuck because that's what the operating system's code was based off of; while the actual product name itself was Windows 2000/XP, internally, they were versions 5.0/5.1 of the Windows NT codebase (after the remainder of the Win9x systems were merged into the NT codebase). I've updated the answer to better reflect this, and provided some links to additional material on the subject. – Breakthrough Jun 23 '15 at 15:04
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Yes, all newer Windows version (XP, Vista, 7, 8.x and now Windows 10) are based on the NT line. Servers were always NT line.

The older 9x line was ended with Windows ME.

  • The split happened all the way back with Windows 3.1. – Louis Jun 22 '15 at 4:26
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    @Louis not exactly. Window 3.11, 95, 98 and ME have 32bit technology backported from NT but are but are well distinct from NT lineage – edc65 Jun 22 '15 at 12:33
  • @edc There was a separate NT version of 3.1: "The architecture of Windows NT 3.1 was designed from scratch, and was originally intended to be a rewrite of the OS/2 operating system that Microsoft had co-developed with IBM" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_NT_3.1 – Louis Jun 23 '15 at 6:28
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    Windows NT 3.1 and Windows 3,1 are totally distinct products, just similar in UI but deeply different in the core – edc65 Jun 23 '15 at 6:34
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    @edc65 I was saying that NT began during the era of Windows 3.1 under the name NT 3.1, nothing more than that. NT 3.1 is part of the NT lineage. – Louis Jun 24 '15 at 2:43

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