Trivia Tuesday: A Microsoft Family Tree

We've decided to do something a bit different with this week's Trivia Tuesday. With the launch of Windows 8 just around the corner, it seems like a great time to take a look back and see just how Microsoft's operating systems have evolved over the years, from the earliest versions of DOS all the way up to today's triumvirate of Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8.

With that in mind, we've prepared the following chart (don't worry, you'll get a chance to look at a bigger version later on):


This chart doesn't show everything - Xenix, a version of Unix produced by Microsoft from  1980 - 1989, is nowhere to be found, since it's a dead end OS, as far as Microsoft is concerned

Now, there's a couple of things you need to keep in mind: firstly, we haven't included every single OS release or every single flavor, only milestones. Secondly, the straight lines indicate 'direct descent,' while the dotted lines indicate something less direct - usually this means that the OSes share some similar codebase, but in the case of OS/2 and Windows NT, there's more of a 'spiritual' line of succession. Lastly, striped text boxes indicate non-Microsoft OSes that are derived from Microsoft OSes. We think you'll be able to figure out the rest.

So without further ado, we'll leave you with our beautiful chart. We really hope you enjoy it, and if you feel like sharing it, go ahead - just give us credit!

The Evolution of Microsoft Operating Systems - Full Size (1.18 MB)

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Hello,

It might be interesting to mention the Microsoft SoftCard here, in it's own evolutionary branch. While not an operating system, per se, it did allow Apple IIs to run CP/M.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

For all you folks complaining about Xenix and Midori or whatever not being on here, sheesh, those things don't really matter when you look at what they were trying to convey. Sure, Xenix could've been shoehorned in there, but as it is someone worked their butt off making this thing, and I still think it was pretty darned good. They actually took the time to make it attractive, too. Keep up the good work, Trivia Tuesday is awesome!

Enron said,
Where's Microsoft Bob?

Bob was not an OS. Still gave me a chuckle and lets give Bob credit for its greatest contribution : Comic Sans!

THolman said,

Bob was not an OS. Still gave me a chuckle and lets give Bob credit for its greatest contribution : Comic Sans!

It was more than an OS. It was an experience!

"This chart doesn't show everything - Xenix, a version of Unix produced by Microsoft from 1980 - 1989, is nowhere to be found, since its a dead end OS."

Regardless, it should still be on the chart!

As far as I'm aware, the Xbox wasn't really based on Windows 2000, that was just unsubstantiated rumours - it was by itself a new OS designed to be extremely light but powerful.

Edited by ~Johnny, Oct 16 2012, 12:55pm :

~Johnny said,
As far as I'm aware, the Xbox wasn't really based on Windows 2000, that was just unsubstantiated rumours - it was by itself a new OS designed to be extremely light but powerful.

You are coorrect!

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/xboxte...hive/2006/02/17/534421.aspx

One of the first questions I get when someone hears I work on Xbox is "So, what operating system do you guys use? Windows 2000, right?" I am honestly not sure where the Win2K misperception comes from, but Xbox runs a custom operating system built from the ground up. While our operating system exports many of the same APIs found in Win32 (e.g. CreateThread or WaitForSingleObject), not everything is there. For instance, there is no use for CreateWindow on Xbox - all graphics are done through (our own flavor of) Direct3D.

If you read the full context, you can sort of understand a spiritual link as they've based the custom OS on an existing design, but cherry-picked what they needed. Given that, I'd say Neowin gets a pass on this one.

I don't think WP8 should be connected to Windows 7, It's based on Windows 8...
Also, WP7X has nothing to do with WP8, so they shouldn't be connected. Same for Windows RT.

I would connect Win 7 to Win 8, and connect Win 8 to WP8 and Windows RT

elangab said,
I don't think WP8 should be connected to Windows 7, It's based on Windows 8...
Also, WP7X has nothing to do with WP8, so they shouldn't be connected. Same for Windows RT.

I would connect Win 7 to Win 8, and connect Win 8 to WP8 and Windows RT


Exactly. My first thought was how can Wp7 and Wp8 have a solid line connecting the two?

Xenix is NOT a dead OS. I'm pretty certain there are still parts of it lingering in Apple's OS X. Its family history can be traced from Microsoft -> SCO -> Next -> Apple.

There was a time when Radio Shack sold a Xenix PC which made them the world's largest distributor of Unix at the time. Amazing.

Major Plonquer said,
There was a time when Radio Shack sold a Xenix PC which made them the world's largest distributor of Unix at the time. Amazing.

Yup, the Model 16, grew up with one of those, think they later sold the 80186 based 2000 with it as an option if I remember right.

Shame that Xenix is omitted (as you state in the image caption) as this is a very interesting product - probably warrants an article on its own.

I remember trying to resolve a problem on a Xenix back office system that simply "wasn't working" - the "computer expert" was complaining that the vendor had put their own rubbish software on it instead of Microsoft DOS.
This was in the mid 90s (post '95 launch) so the system was already ancient by then but we needed it to run the whole business.
From memory, I just had to mount the file system - a strange concept for Win '95 & DOS users to understand.

Xenix was available for the Apple Lisa 2 among other systems, maybe worth exploring the relationships between all of the different UNIX versions at some point?

S_Herbie said,
...

Believe me, we'll get around to it It's just that Xenix would've been kind of out of place here - we're sort of focused on Windows here, and you couldn't really show Xenix's heritage without going way off topic. I still hope it was kind of enjoyable!

CatweazƖe said,
I agree, XP is built directly upon 2000 and should have a solid line. It was really a rather minor revision.

Agreed, even today Windows reports itself as NT, i,e. XP was NT 5.1, Vista was NT6, etc.

CatweazƖe said,
I agree, XP is built directly upon 2000 and should have a solid line. It was really a rather minor revision.

I was trying to convey that they both came together in XP