So what on earth does a computer operating system do?
Wednesday 16 August 1995
In technical terms, the operating system is itself a computer program which runs other programs and looks after the hardware of the machine, such as its central processor, hard disc drive, floppy disk drive, keyboard, screen monitor, CD-Rom, speakers and external connections to networks or telephone lines. If a user wants to run a word-processing program, the operating system finds that program on the hard disc and loads it into the computer's memory. It then runs it, while picking up the input from the keyboard and displaying it on the monitor, and saving any data to the disc drives.
The concept of the Windows operating system, and of the rival Apple's Macintosh computers, is that rather than typing commands to make the system perform a task, you move a pointer (the handheld "mouse") across the screen and click a button on it.
Microsoft dominates the market for operating systems of personal computers: Windows already runs on 100 million PCs worldwide, compared with the 20 million using Apple Macintoshes. And Windows 95 marks a notable advance - though not a revolution - over the current version. "It's like putting new soles, heels and polish on an old pair of shoes," says Lawrence Magid, a US consultant. "It makes the PC look and feel better without disturbing the user's comfort."
With Windows 95, the screen will be less cluttered and easier to use. It should run programs more quickly, and be able to run a number of different programs at once. It will be able to sense when a new piece of hardware, such as a printer or speakers, is attached to the computer. And it will have a link to Microsoft's own online computer service, which will have connections to the Internet, the worldwide network with 30 million users.
Apple Macintosh users say all these are hardly innovations, as they have been available on their systems for years; some refer to Microsoft's new product as "Macintosh 89". But this ignores the market dominance of Windows. A common joke in computer circles is: "How many Microsoft programmers does it take to change a light bulb?" To which the answer is, "None - they just redefine the industry standard as darkness."
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
British are sexually uptight, dirty and drink too much – according to Spanish book
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...