02 September 2009

The History Of The Windows Registry

Suprisingly enough the Windows registry is a new addition to Microsoft’s operating systems. If you go back to the earliest Windows systems, such as Windows 3x, you will find that they did not have a registry. Windows 3x, and its predecessors, had .ini and .dat files located in each system folder and subfolder, rather than a registry. Within these two sets of files were included all the information required to make the computer operate.

The use of .ini and .dat files is a complex thing though and it was found that they were easy to delete by accident. Once deleted it would be impossible to get Windows working again as it should.

This issue though was resolved when Microsoft came up with the Windows NT operating system. Instead of .ini and .dat files located in each folder, the configuration data was centralized into what became known as the Windows registry. This registry could be viewed using regedit.exe, but could not be amended, and so was like a huge database of information.

As Microsoft continued to develop its operating system, with the inception of Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows 2000, so the company changed the registry as well. To view the registry now required the use of the regedt32.exe command. This new command saw a user able to make changes to the registry through the command functionality. This new function though did mean that less of the registry could be looked at when compared with the old regedit.exe command.

It wasn’t until Windows XP that the best features of the regedit.exe and regedt32.exe commands were brought together. The registry then became both easier to view and easier to make changes to if required. This functionality has also been included in subsequent operating system, Windows Server and Windows Vista.

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