Sunday July 31 marks 20 years since Microsoft launched Windows NT 4.0.

On July 31, 1996, Microsoft released NT 4.0 to manufacturing. It was generally available as of August 24 that year.

NT 4.0 wasn't the first version of Microsoft's NT operating system; that honor went to NT 3.1, which Microsoft launched in July 1993. There are a few different stories as to why Microsoft named the operating system "NT," but over time, the most common story was that NT stood for "New Technology." Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Dave Cutler wrote the NT core.

But NT 4.0 was the last major release of Windows to support the Alpha, MIPS and PowerPC architectures. It also was the last release in the NT line to include the "NT" branding

There were a number of NT variants, including a Windows NT 4.0 Workstation client OS. (Interestingly, there are rumors circulating that Microsoft might possibly be introducing a Workstation version of Windows Server 2016, though I haven't been able to get any kind of believable confirmation of that -- so far.)

NT 4.0 also came in Server, Terminal Server and Embedded editions. In the time since its initial release, Windows NT morphed to become Windows Server.

As an anniversary page for the operating system that Microsoft made available today notes, the server team added Active Directory, Group Policy, .NET support and more to what debuted as the NT core. The 2003 R2 Server release, released in 2005, provided the foundation for Microsoft to build Azure, Microsoft's cloud operating system...

Read more: Microsoft's Windows NT 4.0 launched 20 years ago this week | ZDNet

See also: Windows Server: 20th Year Anniversary