Windows NT 4.0

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Windows NT 4.0
Windows NT Logo.png
Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
Preliminary name
Shell Update Release
Kernel version 4.0
CPU architecture x86, MIPS R4000, DEC Alpha, PowerPC
Release date 24/08/1996
Support end Expired:
30/06/2004 (Workstation)
31/12/2004 (Server)
Preceded by Windows NT 3.5x
Succeeded by Windows 2000

Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 (codenamed Shell Update Release) is the successor to Windows NT 3.51 and the first version of Windows NT to feature the Windows Explorer interface introduced in Windows 95. It is the last version of Windows NT to include NT in its product name.

The Windows Desktop Update further enhances the shell by incorporating features from Windows 98.


There are two editions of Windows NT 4.0. It has been found out that the only difference between the two editions (Server and Workstation) lied only in the Registry and the missing Server files.


Windows NT 4.0 Workstation was designed for general desktop use.


Windows NT 4.0 Server (Server, Server Enterprise Edition, Terminal Server) were designed to serve web pages to multiple clients using IIS.

Terminal Server

The Terminal Server edition (codenamed Hydra) was released roughly a year after Windows NT 4's RTM. Its technology later merged into the Remote Desktop Protocol by Microsoft.

Service Packs

There were 6 service packs released for Windows NT 4.

Service Pack 7

There was a 7th Service Pack planned, but it was canceled and Security Update Rollup 6a was released instead. [1]

In a support document titled "Update on Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 7", Microsoft stated that:

Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 6a, the most recent service pack for Windows NT, was released in November of 1999. Since then, Microsoft has been supporting our customers with a series of hotfixes in response to specific concerns, including security vulnerabilities. Microsoft intends to continue supporting customers by making hotfixes available as they are needed. However, since the release of Service Pack 6a, the frequency of critical problems reported to Microsoft has declined significantly. Microsoft originally planned on releasing Service Pack 7 late last year, approximately 1 year after the release of SP6a. At the time, Microsoft had produced relatively few post-SP6a hotfixes, and decided to delay SP7 until Q3 of 2001. The frequency of hotfixes has continued to decline, and now, well over 1 year beyond the last SP, we still have made fewer fixes than were included with either SP5 or SP6.

We discussed with a number of our customers their use of recent service packs, and their requirements for an additional service pack. From these discussions we learned that most customers are running a combination of Service Pack 5 and Service Pack 6; in some cases with 3-5 additional hotfixes. These customers told us that these service packs, particularly Service Pack 6a, have been very stable. There were three reasons we heard that customers were anticipating Service Pack 7:

Based on discussions with our customers, we have come to the conclusion that Service Pack 7 is not needed, but that an easy way to deploy our publicly released security fixes would be appreciated by many of our customers. It is clear to us that our customers would rather have a smaller, lightweight, easily deployable way to secure their systems, rather than potentially disrupt their stable environments with another large service pack. Microsoft is therefore planning to release a comprehensive rollup of all Windows NT 4.0 security vulnerabilities as a single package in Q3 2001.
Microsoft recognizes that some companies have been planning on a new service pack, especially since Microsoft had previously given indications that Service Pack 7 would be released. For customers who were planning on deploying Service Pack 7, we now encourage them to focus on completing rollouts of Service Pack 6a, in combination with the planned security pack. Microsoft will provide detailed instructions for deploying Service Pack 6a with the security pack.
While Microsoft will not offer any further service packs for NT 4.0, we are committed to providing regular service packs for the currently released operating system, Windows 2000. Service Pack 2 for Windows 2000 will be released in the near future. As new versions of Microsoft operating systems are released, Microsoft will continue to evaluate the need for service packs based on our customer's requirements and feedback, and the stability of the operating system.

— Microsoft, [2]


  • No information available
  • Existence doubtful
  • Information or pictures available
  • Leaked or released

Pre-Beta 1

Beta 1

Beta 2

Release Candidate 1

Release Candidate 2

There was also an unidentified Workstation RC2 build, mentioned in Fate 103 warez CD.



Service Pack 1

Service Pack 2

Service Pack 3

Service Pack 4

Service Pack 5

Service Pack 6

Service Pack 6a

Post-Service Pack 6a Security Rollup

Source code leak

For detailed information, see the main article: Windows source code

In 2004, a large portion (approximately 80-95%) of the Windows NT 4.0 (with Service Pack 3) source code was leaked. Further investigations by Microsoft found that the source was leaked from Mainsoft, a software porting company (which ported Internet Explorer to Unix before such edition was dropped).

In 2010, the source was successfully compiled producing about 318MB of binaries.