As it has just turned 16 years since the release of the first “NT” version of Windows, I thought it would be interesting to have a quick overview of the major releases and service packs to show the evolution of Windows up to today.
I have deliberately omitted some variants to avoid it being too cluttered (e.g. IA64, Home Server, Embedded, Windows for Legacy PC versions), and my exposure to NT started with 4.0 so I don’t know the dates for the service packs in 3.5 and 3.51.
The entries have been roughly grouped by common kernel, and the “Kernel” column is the version at release (build numbers omitted for brevity).
The format for the version of a binary in Windows is: major . minor . build . revision
The major & minor versions are always constant within a branch, but the build number depends on the service pack level. e.g. Windows Vista RTM is 6.0.6000, but Windows Vista SP1 (and Server 2008 RTM) is 6.0.6001
The revision number changes as hotfixes are installed, and from Vista onwards are an indication as to whether the binary is on the GDR or LDR branch, based on the first digit being 1 or 2 respectively.
Wikipedia has a summary of NT versions here, which is kept up to date more than this blog, but as a quick summary for supported Windows versions: Windows XP x86 SP3 : 5.1.2600 Windows Server 2003 (and XP x64) SP2 : 5.2.3790 Windows Vista & Server 2008 SP1 : 6.0.6001 Windows 7 & Server 2008 R2 SP1 : 6.1.7601 Windows 8 & Server 2012 RTM : 6.2.9200