The Features of a Microsoft Windows Operating System

By Andrew Tennyson

Microsoft's most recent version of Windows features touchscreen functionality.
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Microsoft's line of Windows operating systems is the most used in the world. The original Windows operating system dates back to 1981. Subsequent versions have included Windows 2.0, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista. The most recent, most advanced, and most feature-rich version of the operating system is Windows 7.

Historical Features

MS-DOS was the earliest consumer operating system that gained Microsoft worldwide attention. In the beginning, Windows was regarded primarily as a graphical user interface (GUI) that did little more than provide an easier and more visually pleasing way to use MS-DOS. What eventually made Windows a standout operating system was its ability to do what its name implies--allow a computer user to have more than one program or process operating simultaneously in various "windows" on the computer screen.


As Windows matured, Microsoft added advances to make the user experience more enjoyable and the development of software for the operating system easier. Windows 2.0 was the first to feature Control Panel, a tool that allowed the user to navigate a graphical interface to adjust settings on the computer. Subsequent advancements included peer-to-peer networking support, Internet support and dial-up networking capabilities. Software became "plug and play," which allowed users to insert diskettes (and eventually CD-ROM discs) into their computer and install software more easily, something that was still at the time difficult on other operating systems.

Surface Features

Windows 7, released in 2009, is Microsoft's most recent iteration of the Windows operating systems. On the surface, it features full 64-bit support, remote media streaming, and touchscreen functionality (when paired with a touchscreen monitor). It also features a new tool call Jump Lists, which makes accessing your most used media and programs easier. The desktop features Snap, a new way to organize, order and size the windows on your desktop so that they are easier to read and compare.

Advanced Features

Taking a cue from Apple's OS X operating system, Windows 7 features "Sleep" and "Resume" functionality. The search system has been made quicker and easier to navigate. Memory usage has also been optimized to ensure faster and more reliable performance. Windows 7 has also been redesigned for better power management through the reduction of background activities, less power-hungry media drives, automatic screen dimming and the intelligent and automated removal of power to unnecessary accessory ports.