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By . Last modified: 2014-08-14.

Overview of Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1, latest service packs and keyboard shortcuts

Currently supported versions of Microsoft Windows operating systems (OS) for home users are Windows Vista (released in 2006), Windows 7 (2009), Windows 8 (2012) and Windows 8.1 (2013).

All Windows OS-s have different editions, listed in the table below:

Windows Vista Windows 7 Windows 8/8.1
Windows Vista Home Basic Windows 7 Starter Windows 8 RT/8.1 RT
Windows Vista Home Premium Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 8/8.1
Windows Vista Business Windows 7 Professional Windows 8/8.1 Pro
Windows Vista Ultimate Windows 7 Ultimate Windows 8/8.1 Pro

All Windows OS-s have 32-bit and 64-bit editions available; Windows 7 has also Home Basic edition for emerging markets, "E" editions for European Union countries (without Internet Explorer) and "N" editions that have no Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player.
Windows 8 RT and 8.1 RT run only on devices with ARM architecture.

Latest Service Packs and EOL for Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8/8.1

Microsoft officially supports Windows Vista PC-s with Service Pack 2 installed.
Windows 7 is supported with Service Pack 1.
Windows 8 and RT have no Service Packs, but free upgrade to Windows 8.1 can be interpreted as one.
Windows 8.1 and RT 8.1 require Update 1 (KB 2919355) to receive further security updates after 10th of June, 2014. The update can be installed via Windows Update.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 reached end of life (EOL, no more security updates) on 08th of April, 2014. But ZDNet lists a simple hack to continue receiving security updates until 9th of April, 2019. NB! Messing with Registry incorrectly can lead to unbootable Windows!
Windows Vista Service Pack 2 will stop receiving updates on 11th of April, 2017.
Windows 7 Service Pack 1 will reach EOL on 14th of January, 2020.
Windows 8 and RT users must perform the free upgrade to Windows 8.1 by 12th of January, 2016 to continue receiving security updates until 10th of January, 2023.
Windows 8.1 and RT 8.1 will stop receiving updates on 10th of January, 2023. 

How to check Windows version, edition and Service Pack information

The quickest way to find out details about installed Windows is to use keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Pause. The latter key might be named Pause/Break on some keyboards.

Other method is to right-click (My) Computer orThis PC in Start menu/screen or Desktop and select Properties from the menu.
Windows XP Start Menu, My Computer right-click menu. Click Properties to see general system information.

In Windows XP, see what's written in the System section.
In Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1, see what's written in the Windows edition section.
To check whether your OS is 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64), see the System type line in Windows Vista and later. In Windows XP, if there's no mention of "x64" in System section, then the OS is 32-bit edition.
Windows XP, System Properties. Information about Windows version and Service Pack are in the System section. Windows 8.1, View basic information about your computer. Information about Windows version and Service Pack are in the 'Windows edition' section. 'System type' reveals whether the OS is 32-bit or 64-bit.

Using Windows 8 and 8.1 with a touch screen

Windows 8 and 8.1 can be fully controlled with touch screens. If you do not have keyboard and mouse with your Windows 8/8.1 tablet, you can use the following gestures. "Touch" here means the same as "press" or "tap".

  • To scroll horizontally or vertically, touch an empty space with your finger (not on Tiles, icons, App bar, menus, etc) and drag to the left and right or up and down. The faster your dragging gesture is, the further scrolling goes.
  • To launch Modern UI/Metro apps and items on App bar and menus, touch the item once.
  • To reveal Back and Forward buttons in Modern UI apps, touch an empty space.
  • To select items (for example, Tiles on Start screen), flick them - touch an item and drag down a little.
  • To reveal Charms bar, swipe in from the right edge of screen.
  • To cycle between open Modern UI/Metro apps and the Desktop, swipe in from the left edge of screen and lift your finger.
  • To reveal a list of open Modern UI apps, swipe in from the left edge of screen and then, without lifting your finger, drag back to the left a little. You can then touch/tap an item to view it full screen, or drag an item to the right to view two apps side by side.
  • To reveal App bar, swipe in from the top or the bottom edge of screen. To hide the bar, touch anywhere outside App bar. The bar is available only in these Modern UI apps that support the feature.
  • To simulate mouse right-click in traditional Desktop programs, touch and hold for a second.
  • To reveal on-screen keyboard (aka soft keyboard), activate any item that requires text input.
  • To close any Windows Store (Modern UI/Metro) apps, drag all the way from top to bottom of screen.

Windows keyboard shortcuts

Common Windows keyboard shortcuts are:

  • ALT - Activate the menu bar in the active program
  • ALT+Underlined letter in a menu name - Display the corresponding menu / Perform the menu command (or other underlined command)
  • ALT+ENTER - Display the properties of the selected object
  • ALT+ESC - Cycle through items in the order that they had been opened
  • ALT+F4 - Close the active item, or quit the active program
  • ALT+SPACEBAR - Open the shortcut menu for the active window
  • ALT+TAB - Switch between the open items/programs
  • BACKSPACE - View the folder one level up in My Computer or Windows Explorer (Windows XP only); move one step back in browsing history of Computer/This PC or Windows/File Explorer (Windows Vista and newer)
  • CTRL while dragging an item - Copy the selected item
  • CTRL with any ARROW KEY+SPACEBAR - Select multiple individual items in a window or on the desktop
  • CTRL+SHIFT while dragging an item - Create a shortcut to the selected item
  • CTRL+ESC - Display the Start menu or Start screen
  • CTRL+F4 - Close the active document in programs that enable you to have multiple documents open simultaneously
  • CTRL+DOWN ARROW - Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next paragraph
  • CTRL+LEFT ARROW - Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous word
  • CTRL+RIGHT ARROW - Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next word
  • CTRL+UP ARROW - Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous paragraph
  • CTRL+SHIFT with any of the arrow keys - Highlight a block of text
  • CTRL+SHIFT+ESC - Open Task Manager
  • CTRL+TAB - Move forward through tabs
  • CTRL+SHIFT+TAB - Move back through tabs
  • CTRL+A - Select all
  • CTRL+C - Copy
  • CTRL+V - Paste
  • CTRL+X - Cut
  • CTRL+Z - Undo
  • DELETE - Delete
  • ENTER - Replaces clicking the mouse for many selected commands
  • ESC - Cancel the current task
  • F1 - Display help
  • F2 - Rename the selected item
  • F3Search for a file or a folder
  • F4 - Display the Address bar list in My Computer/This PC or Windows/File Explorer
  • F5 - Update the active window (aka Refresh)
  • F6 - Cycle through the screen elements in a window or on the desktop
  • F10 - Activate the menu bar in the active program
  • F11 - Activate Full Screen mode in Windows/File Explorer or Internet Explorer
  • LEFT ARROW - While a menu is open (Alt key), open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu
  • RIGHT ARROW - While a menu is open (ALT key), open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu
  • SHIFT when you insert a CD/DVD into the optical drive or connect a USB/FireWire disk - Prevent the CD/DVD/disk from automatically playing/executing or AutoPlay menu from appearing
  • SHIFT while Windows is booting - prevent an account from automatically logging in
  • SHIFT with any of the arrow keys - Select more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or select text in a document
  • SHIFT+DELETE - Delete the selected item permanently without placing the item in the Recycle Bin
  • SHIFT+F10 -Display the shortcut menu for the selected item
  • SPACEBAR - Select or clear the check box if the active option is a check box
  • TAB - Move forward through options
  • SHIFT+TAB - Move back through options
  • Underlined letter in a command name on an open menu - Perform the corresponding command
  • WINDOWS KEY - Display or hide the Start menu or Start screen
  • WINDOWS KEY+BREAK - Display the System Properties dialog box
  • WINDOWS KEY+D - Display the desktop
  • WINDOWS KEY+E - Open My Computer/This PC (aka Windows/File Explorer)
  • WINDOWS KEY+F - Search for a file or a folder
  • CTRL+WINDOWS KEY+F - Search for computers
  • WINDOWS KEY+F1 - Display Windows Help
  • WINDOWS KEY+L - Lock your computer or switch users
  • WINDOWS KEY+M - Minimize all of the windows
  • WINDOWS KEY+SHIFT+M - Restore the minimized windows
  • WINDOWS KEY+R - Open the Run dialog box
  • WINDOWS KEY+U - Open Utility Manager / Ease of Access Center

Additional shortcut keys in Windows Vista and 7 are:

  • ALT+UP ARROW - View the folder one level up in Windows Explorer
  • CTRL+ALT+TAB - Use the arrow keys to switch between open items
  • CTRL+Mouse scroll wheel - Change the size of icons on the desktop / Change view type (extra large, small, list view, detail, etc.) in Windows Explorer
  • WINDOWS KEY with any number key - Open the Quick Launch Bar shortcut that is in the position that corresponds to the number. For example, WINDOWS KEY +1 starts Internet Explorer if it is the leftmost icon.
  • WINDOWS KEY+G - Cycle through Sidebar/Desktop gadgets
  • WINDOWS KEY+SPACEBAR - Bring all gadgets to the front and select Windows Sidebar
  • WINDOWS KEY+TAB - Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D
  • CTRL+WINDOWS KEY+TAB - Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Windows Flip 3-D
  • WINDOWS KEY+T - Cycle through programs on the taskbar
  • WINDOWS KEY+X - Open Windows Mobility Center

Additional keyboard shortcuts in Windows 7 are:

  • ALT+ESC - Cycle through all open windows
  • ALT+P - In Windows Explorer, show/hide the Preview Pane
  • CTRL+Click - In Taskbar, cycles between programs in group
  • CTRL+SHIFT+Click - In Taskbar, opens a new instance of the program as Administrator
  • SHIFT+Click - In Taskbar, opens a new instance of the program
  • SHIFT+Right-click - In Taskbar, show window menu
  • WINDOWS KEY+ARROW UP - Maximize the current window
  • WINDOWS KEY+ARROW DOWN - If the current window is maximized, restore its size. Else minimize the window.
  • WINDOWS KEY+ARROW LEFT - Dock the current window to the left side of screen. If the window is already docked to the left, dock it to the right side of screen. If the window is already docked to the right, restore its position and original size.
  • WINDOWS KEY+ARROW RIGHT - Dock the current window to the right side of screen. If the window is already docked to the right, dock it to the left side of screen. If the window is already docked to the left, restore its position and original size.
  • WINDOWS KEY+SHIFT+ARROW LEFT - Move the current window to the left monitor (only with dual monitors).
  • WINDOWS KEY+SHIFT+ARROW RIGHT - Move the current window to the right monitor (only with dual monitors).
  • WINDOWS KEY+HOME - Minimize all but the current window
  • WINDOWS KEY+PLUS - Opens Magnifier and zooms in
  • WINDOWS KEY+B - Move focus to Notification Area (aka System Tray)
  • WINDOWS KEY+CTRL+B - Switch to the program that displayed a message in the Notification Area
  • WINDOWS KEY+P - Opens Projection menu, only on laptops connected to projectors
  • WINDOWS KEY+T - Cycle through applications on Taskbar
  • WINDOWS KEY+<number 1 to 5> - Open the nth program on Quick Launch Bar
  • WINDOWS KEY+SHIFT+<number 1 to 5> - Open a new instance of the nth program on Quick Launch Bar
  • WINDOWS KEY+CTRL+<number 1 to 5> - Switch to the last active window of the nth program on Quick Launch Bar
  • WINDOWS KEY+ALT+<number 1 to 5> - Open the Jump List of the nth program on Quick Launch Bar

Additional keyboard shortcuts in Windows 8 and 8.1 are:

  • Ctrl+Plus Sign or Ctrl+Minus Sign or Ctrl+mouse wheel - Zoom in or out of apps pinned to Start Screen
  • Ctrl+Tab on Start screen - switch between All apps view and Start screen
  • Windows Key+Space - Switch input language and keyboard layout
  • Windows Key+O - Lock device screen orientation
  • Windows Key+, - Temporarily peek at the desktop
  • Windows Key+V - Cycle through toasts. Toasts are notifications that appear on top right of the screen - for example, if you plug in a USB flash drive; a new program is available for opening the file type; or Windows Defender detects or removes malware.
  • Windows Key+Shift+V - Cycle through toasts in reverse order
  • Windows Key+Enter - Launch Narrator
  • Windows Key+Page Up - Move the Start Screen or a Modern UI/Metro-style application to the monitor on the left
  • Windows Key+Page Down - Move the Start Screen or a Modern UI/Windows Store application to the monitor on the right
  • Windows Key+Shift+. - Move the gutter to the left (snap an application)
  • Windows Key+. - Move the gutter to the right (snap an application)
  • Windows Key+C - Open the Charms bar
  • Windows Key+I - Open the Settings charm
  • Windows Key+K - Open the Connect charm
  • Windows Key+H - Open the Share charm
  • Windows Key+Q - Open the Search pane
  • Windows Key+W - Open the Settings Search app
  • Windows Key+F - Open the File Search app
  • Windows Key+Tab - Cycle through apps
  • Windows Key+Shift+Tab - Cycle through apps in reverse order
  • Windows Key+Ctrl+Tab - Cycle through apps and snap them as they cycle
  • Windows Key+Z - Open the App Bar
  • Windows Key+/ - Initiate input method editor (IME) reconversion
  • Windows Key+J - Swap foreground between the snapped and filled apps
  • Windows Key+X - Open Quick Links menu (a list of common management tools)
  • Windows Key+Down Arrow Key - only in Windows 8.1, closes the active Metro/Modern UI app.

 

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