Operating Systems: A Basic Introduction

by hmiller 14. January 2010 10:34

When you connect to the Internet or perform computer tasks, many elements of hardware and software are necessary to make all this possible. Each program you run on your computer to complete tasks is considered application software. Software is necessary for hardware to perform the tasks you ask it to do, like print a paper or connect to the Internet. Not only that, software is also responsible for maintenance and performance tasks that you are probably not even aware of. The most basic tasks and functional level software that enables the computer to function and run application software is called system software.

Your operating system is a core component of your computer’s system software. It is responsible for the look and feel of your computer, how it operates, and how it is compatible with hardware and application software. There are many operating systems created by many companies and function, just like there are hundreds of brands for clothing and food. Although they perform many similar functions, they layout and programming is different among these companies. Most people use Windows operating systems (like XP, Vista, and the newest one, Windows 7). Although most computers are sold with Windows operating systems, there are actually quite a few operating systems created by dozens of companies. The two most popular operating systems used today are Microsoft’s Windows, and Apple’s Macintosh.

Operating systems are responsible for getting the hardware to do what the user wants. It is also the mediator between the hardware and the system software that runs it, and the application software that needs to run on it. For example, the operating system allows you to open a word document (application software) to view on your monitor (hardware).

There are other background tasks your Operating system handles, like processing input and output, implementing security features, and managing memory. This is a primary reason that operating systems are constantly being upgraded. Every time new technology allows for better processing speed and storage space, etc, for hardware, the software has to be upgraded to keep up and take advantage of the new and improved capacity! Therefore, a new operating system is necessary.

Operating systems are also the interface the users see when they turn on their computer and operate their computer. The layout, options, features, and how the basic computer system is organized is a part of the operating system. For example, the way your desktop looks is one of the key elements of an operating system. On a Windows XP operating system, the start button is a rectangular green button and the taskbar is blue. On a Vista or Windows 7 operating system, the start button is a black or dark blue circular button with only the Window’s emblem on it.
Changes to the GUI, or, the graphical user interface (the layout, default colors, buttons, features) is another reason operating systems change over time. Whether it’s a new way to organize or just better colors and features, operating systems often have different layouts than a previous version.

As you can see, your operating system is responsible for most of your computer processes. It is also constantly being improved (or at least changed) and upgraded by their designers. These changes are an inevitable part of progress and an undeniable part of technology.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, Copper.net.

Copper.net is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at www.copper.net! Check out my blog for more articles!

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About the author

Hannah Miller is an Online Marketing Representative for Copper.net - America's best provider for Dial-Up Internet Service since 1997.

Hannah has been a Customer Service and Tech Support agent for Copper.net since 2007, which has supplemented her knowledge of dial-up, computers, and the Internet. The entries that are posted in this blog are professional articles relating to our industry. Email your questions, suggestions, and other comments to hmiller@copper.net.

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