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Windows NT Operating System

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Windows NT is a unique and powerful operating system. It has been an entirely different operating system than Microsoft’s initial Windows desktops operating systems. It was simply better and more secure (“Survey of operating Systems” pg125.) Windows NT offers you a high degree of performance and a wealth of capabilities and features. (“Windows NT 101″, 1998.) NT supports two file systems: NtFS4 and FAT16. It can use up to 4 Gigabytes of RAM and also uses virtual memory. Windows NT doesn’t work well with legacy applications it can work with some applications, they need to be tested to see if it will run (Survey of Operating Systems” pg130.) This operating system was designed to run on multiple instruction set architectures and multiple hardware platforms within each architecture. The platform dependencies are largely hidden from the rest of the system by a kernel mode module called the HAL. Windows NT’s kernel mode code further distinguishes between the “kernel,” whose prime purpose is to implement processor-architecture-dependent functions, and the “executive.”

Both the kernel and the executive are linked together into a single loaded module, ntoskrnl.exe; from outside this module there is little distinction between the kernel and the executive. ( “Windows Library” 2006 )There are advantages and disadvantages of Windows NT. Some advantages are: Windows NT is developed and sold by Microsoft. The company continually provides supports and updates. Users who are familiar with Windows will find themselves comfortably using Windows NT. Most people using Windows NT hosting utilize Active Server Pages (ASP) technology. This is the main reason why people are turning to Windows NT hosting. Users can develop web sites using the familiar interface of Microsoft tools such as Microsoft FrontPage, Visual Interdev, and Microsoft Access. The disadvantages of NT are: It requires more system resources. You need a powerful machine to run Windows NT.

The Windows NT does not have a good reputation in term of server stability. The NT server needs reboot more frequently. If you are using Windows NT (2000) hosting services, you may find yourself investing a lot of money in the development tools. Most of them are Microsoft products. The costs of applications that can run on your web site are usually higher than that of Unix. For example, you can find a lot of free scripts to run web board, chat room, web stats, email (and more) for your Unix-based web site, but you won’t find many free applications in NT world (Microsoft.com.(n. .).) The boot process for Windows NT starts when the computer is turned on.

On Intel-based computers, the system BIOS controls the initial operating system boot process. After the initial Power on Self Test when hardware components are initialized, the system BIOS identifies the boot device. Typically, this is a floppy disk or a hard disk. In the case of the hard disk, the BIOS reads the first physical sector on the disk, called the Master Boot Sector, and loads an image of it into memory. The BIOS then transfers control to Master Boot Sector. The Master Boot Record contains the partition table and a small amount of executable code. The executable code examines the partition table and identifies the active (or bootable) partition.

The Master Boot Record then finds the active partition’s starting location on the disk and loads an image of its first sector, called the Boot Sector, into memory. The Master Boot Record then transfers execution to that Boot Sector image. Whereas the Master Boot Record is generally operating system independent, the Boot Sector of the active partition is dependent on both the operating system and the file system. In the case of Windows NT the Boot Sector is responsible for locating the NTLDR file, which continues the boot process.

The microprocessor is changed to flat memory mode, and then the boot sequence is started and runs the minifile systems drivers. The boot .ini file is read and the current operating system the bootsect.dos is loaded. Then the NTDetect.com runs, loads, and initializes Windows NT (“Windows NT Boot Process” 2000-2006 fegall.) A networked operating system like Windows NT imposes security by granting specific services and fulfilling specific requests to some people and not others. Vital to this choice is “who is the person.” Like most operating systems, Windows NT casts the user identity in a user account, a group of information about what the user or users of that account can and cannot do on the system. Also like most operating systems, users can only increase services under an account if they can exhibit they know its password.

The most basic rule of Windows NT security is that it provides no significant services and fulfills no specific request until it associates a properly authenticated account with the password. When you physically log on, you specify an account and its password. This represents your identity on behalf of all the programs you run during your logon session. In Windows NT, there is no way to request local actions under another account. Windows NT compared to other operating systems is now a legacy operating system. Both Windows and Linux come in many varieties. All the varieties of Windows come from Microsoft; the various distributions of Linux come from different companies. Windows has two main lines: “Win9x”, which consists of Windows 95, 98, 98SE and Me, and the “NT class” which consists of Windows NT, 2000 and XP. Windows actually started, in the old days, with version 3.x which pre-dated Windows 95 by a few years. ) Both Windows and Linux provide a command line interface and a graphical user interface(GUI).

The Windows GUI has changed from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 (considerably) to Windows 2000 to Windows XP and is slated to change again with the next version of Windows which is Vista. Linux usually provides two GUIs, KDE and Gnome. Of the main Linux distributions, Lindows has made their user interface look more like Windows than the others. Also there is a Linux XPde for Linux which really makes Linux look like Windows. For desktop or home use, Linux is very inexpensive or free, Windows is expensive. For server use, Linux is very cheap compared to Windows. Microsoft allows a single copy of Windows to be used on only one computer. Starting with Windows XP, they use software to enforce this rule. In contrast, once you have purchased Linux, you can run it on any number of computers for no additional charge(“Linux versus Windows”(n.d.).) Both of these operating systems make excellent platforms for mission-critical Web hosting, and they function well. There are some differences of the two systems:

* Windows NT supports most Microsoft products including Microsoft FrontPage – a popular Web authoring tool.

* Windows NT supports Active Server Pages (ASP) – a popular programming that allows you to build dynamically database-driven web pages (connecting to Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL server).

* Remote interactive access, via telnet or SSH is only supported under UNIX. Generally one is able to do more configuration/setup tasks themselves rather than having to request services from web hosts.

* The majority of existing CGI programs (generally Perl scripts) that are available on the Internet have been developed on Unix platforms and hence tend to install and operate much more smoothly under Unix. Many Perl Scripts are FREE! (“NT Server”)

The bottom line is that for many web sites the operating system on which the Web server is housed is largely insignificant. All in all, Windows was more stable than Win 3.x and 9x. It also provided local security and could run applications written for MS-DOS, Windows3.x and 9x. We now have operating systems that are much more secure and stable than Windows NT.


Fegall, (2000-2006) Windows NT Boot Process Feb19, 2006 http://www.felgall.com/ntsrv5.htm

Holcombe, Charles and Jane (2003)”Survey of Operating Systems” Chapter 4

Horowitz, Michael (2002)”Linux Versus Windows” Feb 20,

2006 http://www.michaelhorowitz.com/Linux.vs.Windows.html

Sean Daily, (1998) Win NT 101 Feb 18, 2006


Systron Micronix Corporation (2001)”Windows NT Server” Feb 18,2006 http://www.systron.net/services/dedi_server/windows_nt_server.htm##2

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