What Is Windows?

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(2a) What Is Windows

Windows is a graphical user interface (GOOEY or G.U.I) based operating system that gives an end user the ability to manage and control a variety of computer functions. The list of of computer functions is summarized below.

1.

It provides an ability to control hardware devices within a computer.
2.
Allows for the installation and removal of software.
3.
Permits for communication across the Internet and Maintains the ability to connect to local area networks.
4.
Provides a means for managing files and folders on local and network hard disk drives, optical drives, and removable media such as flash memory cards.

1. Hardware Device Control

The following list summarizes the different aspects an operating system controls. The first item to be discussed is Hardware Device Control which refers to the process of having the operating system initialize, control, and change the way hardware works with other components in a computer.

  • The operating system facilitates how devices such as mice, keyboards, and printers function.

    One of the main duties of the operating system is to direct how device drivers should be installed or uninstalled when hardware is added to or removed from a system. It is also responsible for controlling how the hardware functions. In case problems arise a good rule of thumb is to isolate the problem through the Windows Device Manager. Problematic devices are usually emphasized as not working by an exclamation point or red X symbol.


How The Windows Device Manager Looks In Windows

The Device Manager included in all versions of Windows provides an "at-a-glance" look referencing each hardware component and associated device driver installed in a computer. The OS facilitates the processes of installing and un-installing components using the device manager.

The Device Manager is pretty much the same in all flavors of Windows. It is listed below in different versions of Windows to give you an idea of what it looks like.

Here is what the Windows Device Manager looks like in Windows XP:

How The Windows Device Manager Looks In Windows XP
The Windows XP Device Manager


How The Windows Device Manager Looks In Windows 7

Here is what the Windows Device Manager looks like in Windows 7:

Windows 7 Device Manager
Windows 7 Device Manager


How The Windows Device Manager Looks In Windows 8.1 and Windows 10

And in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, here is what the Device Manager looks like:

The Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Device Manager
The Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Device Manager

Red X indicates a problem with a particular component.A red X shown within a device indicates the device might be disabled and re-enabling it might help during troubleshooting.
Exclamation point indicates a problem with a particular component.
A yellow exclamation point shown within a device indicates that the device might not have the correct drivers loaded or there is another problem.

 


2. Application and Software Control

The operating system facilitates the processes of installing and uninstalling software.

Windows has an Add or Remove Programs feature which permits for the easy addition and removal of software applications.

To free up disk space you can uninstall unused applications and Windows components.

How The Windows Add or Remove Programs Option Looks In Windows XP
How The Windows Add or Remove Programs Option Looks In Windows XP


How The Windows Add or Remove Programs Option Looks In Windows XP

The Add Or Remove Programs function included in all versions of Windows lists any software installed in the computer. To easily remove software locate the title of the program, left click once, and left click the remove button. This will start the uninstall program for the particular application.

The Windows Add or Remove Programs option in Windows XP is now known as Program and Features in Windows 7.

You can also remove security updates and patches downloaded from Windows Updates within this utility.

How The Programs and Features Option Looks In Windows 7.
How The Programs and Features Option Looks In Windows 7.

Generally, the same principles are used in the Windows 7 version of Add/Remove programs apply to the new version found within Windows 7/8, with the only noticeable differences are the name and a separate link for turning Windows built-in applications on and off.


3. Internet and Network Controls

The operating system facilitates the processes of connecting to the Internet and sharing resources across local area networks.

The Network Setup Wizard As Found Within Windows XP
The Network Setup Wizard As Found Within Windows XP

In Windows XP the Network Setup Wizard provides a means for setting up and connecting to local area networks, sharing resources, and printing to remote printers.

The Network Setup Wizard provides an easy method for setting up multiple PC's through one Internet connection. It also prepares a network for file and printer sharing automatically installing the necessary protocols and software so that all computers on the network can share files, folders, and printers.

What Happened To The Network Setup Wizard In Windows 7 and Windows 8?

In Windows 7 , Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 the Network Setup Wizard has been replaced by the Network And Sharing Center program tool making a simplified method for connecting to the Internet and local area network resources. You can manage network adapter settings, change advanced sharing options, setup a homegroup, connect to different networks and much more through the Network And Sharing Center.

This is how the Windows Network and Sharing Center Found Within Windows 7 and Windows 8 Looks
This is how the Windows Network and Sharing Center Found Within Windows 7 and Windows 8 Looks


4. File and Folder Management

Windows provides a very easy method to manage files and folders on local and network hard drives. The main file management software included with Windows XP is called Windows Explorer. You can also use My Computer to organize files, create new directories, and delete folders. It is basically the same thing as Windows Explorer.

Windows Explorer Details Mode
This is how Windows Explorer loooks in Windows XP Professional and Home Edition.

In Windows 7 and 8 the Windows Explorer interface has been completely redesigned for easier and quicker access to common file and folders.

Windows Explorer Details Mode in Windows 7
This is how Windows Explorer looks in Windows 7 and Windows 8

New to these versions are Libraries which are groups of files organized based on the content of each file.

You can have one library for music, one library for pictures, one for videos, and so on until desired organizational level is reached.

If you prefer using the "old-school" method to work with files and folders simply click on the Computer link to the left and then select the appropriate drive and folder to work with.


5. Gaming and Multimedia Support

Windows provides an ability to manage all your media files, DVD's, and MP3 music, and organize them based on specific criteria.

Windows Media Player in Windows 8.1
This is what Windows Media Player looks like in Windows 8.

Furthermore, Windows supports the latest games available for downloading from the Games for Windows Live marketplace.

Through Microsoft DirectX, high quality multimedia programming can be configured through a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) for handling tasks related to multimedia, especially game programming and video, on Microsoft platforms.

Originally, the names of these APIs all began with Direct, such as Direct3D, DirectDraw, DirectMusic, DirectPlay, DirectSound, and so forth. The name DirectX was coined as shorthand term for all of these APIs (the X standing in for the particular API names) and soon became the name of the collection. When Microsoft later set out to develop a gaming console, the X was used as the basis of the name Xbox to indicate that the console was based on DirectX technology. The X initial has been carried forward in the naming of APIs designed for the Xbox such as XInput and the Cross-platform Audio Creation Tool (XACT), while the DirectX pattern has been continued for Windows APIs such as Direct2D and DirectWrite.

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