Often, it matters little what version of Windows you’re running on your PC. But if you’re trying to troubleshoot a technical problem or upgrade your system, you need to know.
This tutorial will show you how to identify most Windows versions at a glance and even get specific details such as the build number using simple commands.
How to Identify the Windows Version Visually
The fastest way to identify the version of Windows you’re running is through a visual check. After all, the general appearance of each Windows version is the same as long as you’ve not installed a custom theme.
Windows XP marked Microsoft’s golden age. Launched on October 25, 2001, it’s the longest-running operating system from Microsoft, with twenty one years under its belt.
Some of XP’s standout features include:
- Start Button: Windows XP has a green start button with the Windows logo and the word “Start”.
- Taskbar: XP comes with a blue taskbar with shadow effects to create a 3D illusion.
Windows Vista, the Windows XP successor, was launched on January 30, 2007. Unfortunately, it was a dud and never took off as anticipated.
You’re running Windows Vista if you see the following:
- Start Button: Look out for a glassy Windows orb at the button left-hand side of your screen that extends above and below the taskbar.
- Glassy Windows: Vista features the Windows Aero theme characterized by transparent windows, sophisticated animations, and dynamic reflections.
Microsoft launched Windows 7 on October 22, 2009, and it became an instant hit with users. Support ended in 2020, but you can still use Windows 7 without updates.
Here’s how to tell if you’re using Windows 7:
- Start button: It has a glassy Windows orb similar to Windows Vista but fits completely within the taskbar.
- Start menu: The user profile picture extends upwards and out of the top of the start menu.
- Taskbar: The taskbar is transparent.
Launched on August 1, 2012, Windows 8 was primarily aimed at touch screen devices. Unfortunately, it became a huge disappointment for everyone.
Here are some of the standout features of Windows 8:
- Start Screen: In Windows 8.0, you don’t have columns of icons that pop up after clicking the Start button. Instead, you have apps showing up as tiles on the Start screen.
- Start Button: In Windows 8.1, you have a Start button without the waving flag logo used in previous Windows operating systems. Instead, you have a logo with four panes set at an angle. The same logo is also used in Windows 10.
With more than 1 billion active users at the time of writing this, Windows 10 is the most popular operating system Microsoft has released.
- Start Menu: You have a start menu similar to Windows 7’s. But instead of having icons, you have Live Tiles (like those in Windows 8) inside the start menu.
- Start Button: The start button lives at the bottom left-hand corner of your screen with the Windows logo on top. The logo has four panes set at an angle.
- Search Box on Taskbar: On the left-hand side of the taskbar, you’ll see a search box with the words “Ask me anything.” This is the Cortana search box.
Microsoft launched Windows 11 in October 2021. As expected, it looks a lot more modern than the predecessor – Windows 10. Some of the outstanding features include:
- Rounded Edges: Windows corners for all apps are rounded.
- Taskbar: The tray area is clean, with app icons appearing at the center of the taskbar.
- Start Menu: The Start menu appears at the center of your screen. It looks a lot like the Android app launcher. The apps appear as a grid of icons that you can pin and unpin.
- Start Button: The Start button is a small Windows icon on the left side of the taskbar.
- Widgets Button: Windows 11 comes with a widgets button on the left-hand corner of the taskbar.
Alternative Ways to Check Your Windows Version
Unfortunately, checking the Windows version with your eyes isn’t very reliable. You see, it’s possible to use themes to change the look and feel of Windows, so things can get deceptive in the visual department.
Below, we’ve covered two reliable ways to check the version of Windows you’re running. They’re easy to use regardless of the Windows version, and you’ll even get the build number.
Note: The process is the same for the above Windows versions. But for this tutorial, we’re using Windows 11.
1. Using the Winver Command
Winver is a Windows command used to display the version of Windows you’re running, the service packs you’ve installed, and the build number. Here’s how to execute the command.
- Press Win+R to open the “Run” application.
winverinto the textbox in the ‘Run” application window and press Enter.
- A new window will open showing the Windows version and the build number. Click “OK” to close the Window.
2. With CMD
While it might sound complicated, using CMD (Windows Command Prompt) to find out what version of Windows you’re running is a simple and straightforward process. Here’s how to go about it.
- Press Win+R. The “Run” application will open.
cmdinto the “Run” application textbox and click “OK”.
- Command Prompt will open. Type
systeminfoand press Enter to execute the command. You’ll get details of your system inside the terminal output. This includes the Windows version and the build number.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I check my Windows version without using command?
Yes, you can. The goal is to find “System Information” or “System Properties”. Press on the Win button and then search for “System”. If you’re in Windows 11 or 10, you’ll be able to select “System Information” from there. A new window will open up showing you all the details of your machine.
If pressing on the Win button takes you to a tiled interface, you’re probably running Windows 8.1, but just to do a double check, click on the Search bar in the upper right corner of the display and look for “PC Info” or “This PC”. Click on the app and you’ll get to see the exact version your computer is running.
As for Windows 7, pressing the Win button should bring up the Start menu. Right-click on “Computer” (if you can see it) on the right side and then select “Properties” to confirm it’s indeed Windows 7 you’re running.
How long are Windows versions supported?
Currently, Microsoft only actively supports Windows 11 and Windows 10. Support for Windows 10 ends on October 14, 2025. Microsoft offers at least ten years of support for each operating system. The support includes program and security updates.
How do I check if I'm running 64-bit or 32-bit Windows version?
Here’s how you can check to see which type of Windows version you’re running:
- Press Win+ I to launch “Settings”.
- On the left-hand pane, click on “System”.
- Select “About” to see whether your system is 32-bit or 64-bit.
Image credit: Pixabay
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