Microsoft

Get it right: Windows 7 does not have roots in Windows 3.1

In an effort to get it right, Scott Lowe corrects an obvious error in history and judgment and offers the actual facts regarding the origins of Windows 7.

Welcome to a new kind of blog posting here at TechRepublic. In this post, I'll point out and correct some obvious technical errors in articles and comments to articles from around the Web. Sure, it's easy to Monday morning quarterback, but the goal here is to have fun and learn something. Chime in and have a good time!

Windows 7

On August 1, 2008, "e7blog" wrote a blog posting about how Microsoft intended to communicate with people interested in Windows 7. That same day, a reader left the following comment regarding Windows 7:

"I have heard from some very inside sources that Windows 7 is more of the same. How about starting with updating core components like making the system what it was supposed to be in Vista. WinFS, WCF, WPF all at the core.

We're stuck with windows 3.1 under the covers still. Would love to see it trimmed down and revamped. Apple reinvented itself with OS X and Microsoft better do the same here soon."

Before I get started, I want to mention that I see this kind of comment relatively frequently. I'm picking on this guy because I was able to locate and reference the quote. ;-)

Ignoring this person's obvious displeasure that features promised in Vista won't be making their way into Windows 7; there is one line in his argument that needs to be corrected. He indicates that "we're stuck with Windows 3.1 under the covers," implying that Windows 7 continues to carry baggage from Microsoft's original Windows-based operating systems. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In reality, Windows ME was the last version of Windows to be burdened with major baggage from Windows 3.1 and represented the end of the legacy Windows line. Although some features from the legacy Windows line ultimately made their way into Windows XP, current and future Windows products are Windows NT descendents first and foremost.

The Windows NT line represents a completely separate development effort. Windows NT 3.1, the original version of Windows NT, was released in July 1993 and truly came into its own once Windows NT 4.0 came on the scene in July 1996. Since the NT 4.0 days, Microsoft has released Windows 2000, XP, Windows Server 2003, Server 2003 R2, Vista, and Server 2008, all children of this original effort. Continuing the sequence in this line are Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7.

People sometimes confuse the fact that Windows 3.1 and Windows NT 3.1 represented completely separate products. Although the user interfaces between the NT line and the legacy Windows line were often confusingly similar, the operating system kernels themselves didn't resemble one another at all. In the old days before Windows XP, Microsoft maintained a consumer OS line based on legacy Windows while Windows NT served more robust needs in the data center. Windows XP represented the first time that Microsoft shipped a single OS aimed at both the consumer and the enterprise.

I won't argue the fact that developers can get frustrated by some of Windows' underpinnings that have been around seemingly forever, but saying that Windows 7 has major roots in Windows 3.1 would be akin to saying that a Cadillac has its roots in the horse and buggy. Yes, there are similarities, but the guts are totally different!

Get it right

Do you dispute the facts as I have laid them out? Jump in the TechRepublic Community Forum for this blog post and tell me about it.

About Scott Lowe

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

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