What Programming Language is Windows Written In?

Windows is not written exclusively in one language, though it is fair to say that it relies most heavily on C. Other languages used for its development include C++, C#, and assembly.

Hello! My name is Jamie Lewis, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both tinkering with and learning about computers for the past twenty years. One of the things I really love about being an IT writer is that I get to share my passion with the rest of the world!

Today, we will look at the programming languages different versions of Windows use. I’ll also explain why the entire operating system doesn’t just use one language.

So, if you’re ready to learn a little about the gears and cogs that make your computer work, let’s get to it!

What Language is Windows Written in?

Windows is written using a combination of C, C++, C#, and assembly language. The kernel of Windows is, for the most part, written in C and assembly. 

For those who don’t know, the kernel is the most essential part of any operating system. As an OS powers on, the kernel loads into memory immediately after you turn your PC on and it performs preliminary hardware checks. The kernel will remain there (in RAM) until the machine powers off. 

The kernel handles all communication between different pieces of hardware (via drivers), allows for communication between hardware and software, allocates resources to processes running on a system, and much more. 

While C is a notoriously-efficient language, there are times when Windows kernel uses assembly to facilitate significantly-reduced operations. 

If you’re unsure what “assembly language” is, think of it like this: most contemporary programming languages take relatively readable instructions and convert them to instructions a processor can understand. On the other hand, Assembly language involves writing explicit processor operations and requires the person writing the code to understand exactly how their computer chips work.

To learn more about assembly language, Wikipedia is an excellent place to start as they have a fairly comprehensive article on the subject!

What Programming Language is Windows 10 Written In?

Every successive release of Windows since Windows 2000 has been built on top of the Windows NT kernel, which was released in 1993 as the first exclusively 32-bit Windows version. 

Windows NT was written in C (for kernel code) and C++ (for user-mode code, much of which has itself survived until Windows 10 and beyond), and a very small amount was written in assembly. 

Because porting assembly to different CPU architectures is typically a very difficult process, the developers try to write as much as possible in portable, higher-level languages; they only resort to assembly when maximum efficiency is critical.  

Even now, this same set of languages is still used for developing Windows releases. However, C# has also become increasingly more commonplace in the code base since its initial release in 2000.

Windows 11 is written in which language?

Windows 11 is also written in C, C++, C#, and assembly.

Closing Thoughts

Although Windows makes it relatively easy to develop using almost any language or development environment you can imagine, the OS itself is written in C and assembly (with some C++ and C# thrown in as time passes).

We hope you enjoyed this article! We’re always looking to share valuable knowledge to help inform our readers, so don’t forget to keep checking back.

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