Difference Between Windows kernel and Linux kernel with Proper Definition and Brief Explanation

The main difference between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel is that Windows kernel, which is in Windows operating system, is commercial software, while Linux kernel, which is in Linux operating system, is commercial software. Open Source.

The kernel is the kernel of the operating system. It performs functionalities such as communication with hardware devices, process management, file management, and many other tasks. Various operating systems have different cores depending on the type of operating system. Also, devices on Windows and Linux have different kernels.

Key areas covered

1. What is the Windows kernel?
     – Definition, Functionality
2. What is the Linux kernel?
     – Definition, Functionality
3. What is the difference between Windows kernel and Linux kernel?
     – Comparison of key differences

What is the Windows kernel?

Devices with the Microsoft Windows operating system consist of the Windows kernel. This kernel is called the Windows NT kernel. It is capable of working with both uniprocessor and symmetric multiprocessor-based computers and is therefore called a hybrid kernel as well . The Windows architecture consists of the Windows kernel, Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL), drivers, and other support services. These services operate in kernel mode.

Also, the Windows system can operate in two modes: user mode and kernel mode. Programs that run in user mode have limited access to system resources. However, programs that run on the kernel model are not restricted in accessing system memory, hardware, and resources. User mode is capable of sending IO requests to the relevant kernel-mode device drivers through the IO manager.

The Windows kernel performs various functionalities, including multi-processor synchronization, thread support, interrupt scheduling, and dispatch. It also handles traps and exceptions. Also, the kernel initializes the device drives at system startup.

What is the Linux kernel?

The kernel in Linux-based systems is called a Linux kernel. One of the main reasons for the popularity of the Linux kernel is that it is open source and free. It has collaborators all over the world.

On Linux systems, user programs can interact with the kernel through the Application Programming Interface (API). Device drivers control hardware as part of the kernel’s functionality. There is an interface between the kernel and loadable kernel modules (LKMs).

Moreover, the Linux kernel exists in personal computers and servers. It is available in embedded devices like routers, wireless access points, PBXs, smart TVs, etc. The popular Android mobile operating system also uses the Linux kernel to implement its functionalities.

Difference between Windows kernel and Linux kernel


The Windows kernel is a commercial kernel of the Windows operating system developed by Microsoft. In contrast, the Linux kernel is an open source, Unix-like operating system kernel. Therefore, this is the main difference between the Windows kernel and the Linux kernel.


Microsoft developed the Windows kernel while Linux Torvalds developed the Linux kernel.

Access to source code

Access to source code is another difference between them. There is no access to the Windows kernel source code. However, there is full access to the Linux kernel source code.


Also, another difference between them is that the Windows kernel has a hybrid architecture, but the Linux kernel has a monolithic architecture.

File access control

Additionally, Windows uses the Access Control List (ACL) for file access control. In contrast, Linux uses traditional Unix and POSIX ACL permissions for file access control.

GUI stack

The GUI stack is another difference between them. Windows includes a GUI stack in the kernel. However, on Linux, the GUI stack is in user space.

Multi-user support

Also, Windows supports multiple users and sessions, but it depends on versions and editions. Meanwhile, Linux supports 100% multi-user environment.


The settings are also a difference between them. Windows keeps a registry to store settings while Linux keeps settings in files.


While the Windows kernel has different mechanisms for different devices, each device is a file for the Linux kernel. So this is a major difference between them.


The difference between them is that the Windows kernel, which is in the Windows operating system, is commercial software, while the Linux kernel, which is in the Linux operating system, is open source software.


1. “Windows NT Architecture”. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, October 15, 2018, Available here.
2. “Linux kernel”. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, November 18, 2018,
Available here.
3. “Comparison of operating system cores”. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, October 23, 2018, Available here.

Courtesy Image:

1. “2360920” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “How the Linux operating system was announced to the world in 1991” By methodshop .com (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

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