You’ve probably heard the term “operating system” before, but you might not be exactly sure what it means. Essentially your computer’s operating system is the software that manages how you interact with the computer, how the programs on the computer use and access the computer’s hardware, and is a big part of how your computer behaves and performs. This video talks about what operating systems are, and how they differ from each other, and why it’s important to know which operating system you’re using before purchasing or using software.
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- You've probably heard the term "operating system" before, but you might not be exactly sure what it means. Essentially, you're computers operating system is the software that manages how you interact with the computer, how the programs on the computer use and access the computer's hardware, and it's a big part of how your computer behaves and performs. Think of the operating system as the master program that runs and manages all the other programs on your computer. It's the backbone of your computer, and the most important program because it controls everything that goes in and out of your computer. From allocating memory to programs, to copying files from one drive to another, to receiving commands from your keyboard and mouse, to telling you the time of day.
You can't have a computer without an operating system. Usually, the operating system comes preinstalled on your computer. But if you've had your computer for a few years, you may want or need to upgrade your operating system to the most current version the operating system's manufacturer has released. Now that said, there are many different operating systems out there. On PC, the most popular operating system is Windows. And, as I record this movie, the current version of the Windows operating system is Windows 10. On a Mac, the operating system is called Mac OS10, with the current version being OS10.11 El Capitan.
These are probably the two most well known operating systems. You've probably also heard of Linux, another popular computer operating system. Generally, any computer or device that runs programs, especially multiple programs, has an operating system. Game consoles like the Wii, the PS3, and XBox, all have operating systems. You're mobile phone has an operating system. Now, in addition to the essential purpose of managing your computer and the programs you use, most operating systems like Windows and Mac OS10 also come with built in programs also called applications. Applications are also called apps, programs, or software.
This can be simple word processing applications, applications for managing your photos, applications for sending and receiving emails, and so on. In some cases you can get by with the applications included with your operating system. For example, both Windows and Mac OS10 come with built in web browsing applications for surfing the web. But you're also free to install and use applications made by other companies. Some applications can be downloaded for free from the companies that make them, others have to be purchased. It really depends on what application you're talking about. It's also very important to note that you usually have to make sure you're downloading or purchasing the version of software that's made for your operating system.
For example, if you're running Windows, you'll need to run Windows applications. If you're on a Mac, you need Mac applications. In many cases, software developers release both versions of their software. But there are many applications that only work on one or the other. Whether you're downloading software or purchasing at a store you should always be able to find a section called system requirements that will let you know what operating system you need to run the software, as well as the minimum amount of RAM, hard drive space, and any other requirements. You'll find that some people are very particular and passionate about their choice of operating system.
The goal of this course isn't to extol the virtues of one or the other, though. What I wanted to do here was to make sure you understand what an operating system is, what it does, and why it's important to know which operating system you're using.
Interested in Mac computers? Check out Garrick's companion course, Computer Literacy for Mac.
- What is a computer?
- Purchasing a laptop vs. desktop
- Understanding files and folders
- Opening and saving files
- Working with software
- Setting up printers and Bluetooth devices
- Connecting to networks to go online
- Setting up email
- Receiving and sending email
- Searching the web