Currently supported versions of Microsoft Windows operating systems (OS) for home users are Windows 8.1 (released in 2013) and Windows 10 (2015).
All Windows OS-s have different editions with support for 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) hardware, listed in the table below (enterprise/education editions excluded):
|Windows 8.1||Windows 10|
|Windows 8.1 RT||Windows 10 S|
|Windows 8.1||Windows 10 Home|
|Windows 8.1 Pro||Windows 10 Pro|
|Windows 8.1 Pro||Windows 10 Pro|
Windows 8.1 RT runs only apps from Windows Store and requires devices with ARM architecture.
Windows 10 S runs only the online version of Office 365 and apps from Windows Store; the only available web browser is Microsoft Edge and the only option for a search engine is Bing. Windows 10 S can be upgraded to Pro edition for 49 USD.
- Windows 10's latest feature update is October 2020 Update (version 2009, aka 20H2), available through Windows Update.
However, systems with Intel "Clover Trail" Atom processors (Atom Z2760, Atom Z2520, Atom Z2560, and Atom Z2580) are not supported past the Anniversary Update (August 2016).
Windows 10 will reach EOL on October 14, 2025. Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 10 receive an additional 6 months of updates after the EOL of other editions.
- Windows 10 version 2009/20H2 (October 2020 Update) will reach EOL on the 10th of May, 2022.
- Windows 10 version 2004 (May 2020 Update) will reach EOL on the 14th of December, 2021.
- Windows 10 version 1909 (November 2019 Update) will reach EOL on the 11th of May, 2021.
- Windows 10 version 1903 (May 2019 Update) reached EOL on the 8th of December, 2020.
- Windows 10 version 1809 (October 2018 Update) reached EOL on the 20th of April, 2020.
- Windows 10 version 1803 (April 2018 Update) reached EOL on the 12th of November, 2019.
- Windows 10 version 1709 (Fall Creators Update) reached EOL on the 9th of April, 2019.
- Windows 10 version 1703 (Creators Update) reached EOL on the 9th of October 2018.
- Windows 10 version 1607 (Anniversary Update) reached EOL on the 10th of April, 2018.
- Windows 10 version 1511 (November Update) reached EOL on the 10th of October, 2017.
- Windows 10 version 1507 (the original release / RTM) reached EOL on the 9th of May, 2017.
- Windows 8.1 and RT 8.1 require Update 1 (KB 2919355) to receive further security updates after the 10th of June, 2014. The update can be installed via Windows Update.
Windows 8.1 and RT 8.1 will stop receiving updates on the 10th of January, 2023.
End Of Life (EOL) versions of Microsoft Windows, ending with Windows XP:
- Windows 8 and 8 RT users must perform the free upgrade to Windows 8.1 and 8.1 RT to continue receiving security updates until the 10th of January, 2023
- Windows 7 Service Pack 1 reached EOL on the 14th of January, 2020.
- Windows Vista Service Pack 2 stopped receiving updates (reached EOL) on the 11th of April, 2017.
- Windows XP Service Pack 3 reached the end of life (EOL) on the 08th of April, 2014.
But ZDNet lists a simple hack to continue receiving security updates until the 9th of April, 2019. NB! Messing with Registry incorrectly can lead to unbootable Windows!
The quickest way to find out details about Windows is to use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Pause. The latter key might be named Pause/Break on some keyboards.
Another method is to right-click (My) Computer or This PC in the Start menu/screen or Desktop and select Properties from the menu.
Most versions of Windows 10 launch the traditional Control Panel's System page, but since Windows 10 October 2020 Update (version 2009, aka 20H2), this has been moved to the Settings app, System, About.
Here, the System type line in the Device specifications section reveals whether Windows (operating system) and CPU (processor) are 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64).
In Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and older versions of 10, 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 10 versions 2004 and older there's a different way to find out the exact version and build information.
Open Start, type winver, and press Enter. The required data is on the second line.
In Windows XP, see what's written in the System section. If there's no mention of "x64" in this section, then the OS is a 32-bit edition.
Common Windows keyboard shortcuts since XP 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+Left Arrow - go to the previous folder in Windows Explorer.
- Alt+Right Arrow - go to the next folder in Windows Explorer.
- 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.
- F3 - Search for a file or a folder in Windows/File Explorer.
- 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.
- PrtSc or Print Screen - copy a screenshot onto Clipboard. Use Ctrl+V to paste it into a program.
- 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 checkbox if the active option is a checkbox.
- 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.
New and changed 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.
New and changed 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 the 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+UP ARROW - Maximize the current window.
- WINDOWS KEY+DOWN ARROW - If the current window is maximized, restore its size. Else minimize the window.
- WINDOWS KEY+LEFT ARROW - Dock the current window to the left side of the screen. If the window is already docked to the left, dock it to the right side of the screen. If the window is already docked to the right, restore its position and original size.
- WINDOWS KEY+RIGHT ARROW - Dock the current window to the right side of the screen. If the window is already docked to the right, dock it to the left side of the screen. If the window is already docked to the left, restore its position and original size.
- WINDOWS KEY+SHIFT+LEFT ARROW - Move the current window to the left monitor (only with dual monitors).
- WINDOWS KEY+SHIFT+RIGHT ARROW - Move the current window to the right monitor (only with dual monitors).
- WINDOWS KEY+HOME - Minimize all but the current window.
- WINDOWS KEY+Minus - Opens Magnifier and zooms out
- 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 to switch between displays (works only when a secondary display is connected).
- 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.
New and changed 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+PrtSc / Print Screen - Save a screenshot to your Pictures folder.
- Windows Key+, - Temporarily peek at the desktop.
- Windows Key+V - Cycle through toasts. Toasts are notifications that appear on the 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 - only in Windows 8.1, closes the active Metro/Modern UI app.
New and changed keyboard shortcuts in Windows 10 are:
- Windows Key+Tab - Launch Task View.
- Windows Key+G - Open Game DVR recorder (requires a compatible display adapter).
- Windows Key+Alt+G - Start recording the current window/app.
- Windows Key+Alt+R - Stop recording.
- Windows Key+Q - Search with Cortana (speech).
- Windows Key+S - Search with Cortana (keyboard input).
- Windows Key+I - Open Settings app.
- Windows Key+A - Open Action Center.
- Windows Key+V - Since Windows 10 October 2018 Update, displays Clipboard history and allows selecting which item to paste. Clipboard history can be turned on or off in the Settings app, System, Clipboard tab.
- Windows Key+Ctrl+D - Open new Virtual Desktop.
- Windows Key+Ctrl+F4 - Close current Virtual Desktop.
- Windows Key+Ctrl+Left/Right - Switch between Virtual Desktops.
- Windows Key+Arrows keys - Maximize, minimize, or position open windows on the screen. It can be combined: Windows Key+Left+Up puts the active window into the top left corner.
Microsoft has the full list of available keyboard shortcuts in supported versions of Windows.
Newer touchpads support multi-finger gestures to simplify common tasks. These gestures can be turned on or off in Control Panel, Mouse properties.
- To select an item, tap on the touchpad.
- To right-click, tap the touchpad with two fingers, or press on the bottom right corner.
- To scroll, place two fingers on the touchpad and slide horizontally or vertically.
- To zoom in or out, place two fingers on the touchpad and pinch in or stretch out.
- To open Task View (keyboard equivalent is Windows Key+Tab), place three fingers on the touchpad and swipe up (away from you).
- To show Desktop, place three fingers on the touchpad and swipe down (towards you). Reverse movement restores all previously visible windows.
- To switch between open windows, place three fingers on the touchpad and swipe right or left (keyboard equivalents are Alt+Tab and Alt+Shift+Tab).
- To open Cortana, tap the touchpad with three fingers.
- To open the Action Center, tap the touchpad with four fingers.
Windows 8/8.1 and 10 can be fully controlled with touch screens. If you do not have a 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 the 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 the Start screen), flick them - touch an item and drag down a little.
- To reveal the Charms bar, swipe in from the right edge of the screen.
- To cycle between open Modern UI/Metro apps and the Desktop, swipe in from the left edge of the screen and lift your finger.
- To reveal a list of open Modern UI apps, swipe in from the left edge of the 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 the App bar, swipe in from the top or the bottom edge of the screen. To hide the bar, touch anywhere outside the 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 the 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 the screen.