A+ Certification / Beginners

Checking the OS version

No matter which OS you use, at some point, you will need to know its exact version number. This is often the case when you are considering installing new software, which requires a specific version of the OS. There are many methods for retrieving this information in Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

The System Control Panel or System Properties lets you know which version of the OS you are actually running. You can get to the System Properties dialog in the following ways:

  • Choose My Computer → Control Panel → System.
  • Choose Start → Control Panel → System.
  • Right-click My Computer and select Properties.

You see the version number of the OS listed in this System Properties dialog box, but Windows XP does not show the version information in the System Properties dialog box. For Windows XP and newer Windows OSes, you can use the System Information tool.

To launch the System Information tool:

  • In Windows XP, choose Start → All Programs → Accessories → System Tools → System Information.
  • In Windows 2000, choose Start → Programs → Accessories → System Tools → System Information.

The System Information tool includes the version number in the main window. The System Information tool can either be launched through the Start menu, or you can use the Run command and type winmsd. winmsd (Windows NT Microsoft Diagnostics) is the name of the Windows NT 4.0 tool that would have provided the same information, but running it launches the System Information tool.

Some of the version numbers you might see are listed in Table below. Notice that these version numbers are continuations of Windows NT version 4.0 in version and build numbers.

OS Version Numbers for Modern Versions of Windows
Operating System 		Version Number
Windows NT 4.0 Workstation 	4.00.1381 Build 1381
Windows 2000 Professional 	5.00.2195 Build 2195
Windows XP Professional 	5.10.2600 Build 2600
Windows Server 2003 Enterprise 	5.2.3790 Build 3790

Windows version numbers have three parts: the version number, the build number, and the Service Pack level, although not all tools will show you the Service Pack level. The version number (5.1 for Windows XP), and the build number (2600 for Windows XP) will not change for the lifetime of the product. As patches and upgrades become available for Windows XP, Microsoft releases hot fixes. Hot fixes are listed in the Add or Remove Programs Control Panel. When a sufficient number of fixes have been released, Microsoft releases a Service Pack, which incorporates most hot fixes as well as other unreleased fixes or features. The installation of a Service Pack adds a Service Pack identifier to the end of a build number. The new version number looks like this:

Microsoft Windows XP Professional [5.10.2600 Service Pack 2 Build 2600]

After you know which version of the software you are running, you can take a look at what makes up your OS.

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