Microsoft Windows refers to several families of operating system produced by Microsoft Corporation.
All recent versions of Windows derive from Windows NT, introduced in 1993, and share NT's numbering system (Vista is essentially NT 6.0, Windows 7 is 6.1, and Windows 8 is 6.2). The other families (Windows 1/2/3 and Windows 95/98/Millennium) are discontinued.
With Windows 95, Microsoft mandated that keyboards for Windows should have two additional keys to the computer keyboard:
- The Windows key, simultaneously a command key and a modifier key
- The menu key, technically the application key, although the legend is always that of a context menu
Changing keyboard layout
The main layout is selected in the Control Panel.
One of the most popular methods for modifying keyboard and mouse behaviour is the third-party, open source application AutoHotkey. Although it provides a huge range of functionality, its main purpose is in rebinding keys and providing key macros.
Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator (MSKLC)
This is the same tool that Microsoft uses to create your country-specific input language in Windows. Guaranteed to work hitch-free, except in a select few video games that read your keypress scancodes directly.
There is a guide to this on http://www.autohotkey.com/docs/misc/Remap.htm#registry
A registry edit works by convincing Windows that, for example, Scancode 038 is actually 072. It is a strategy free of flaws but not easy to undo should you want to switch seamlessly to another layout. Corporate and public machines generally do not let you edit their registry.