Purpose of an Operating System

Topics: Operating system, Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows Pages: 6 (1286 words) Published: October 1, 2014

The Purpose of an Operating System
Professor John St. John
COMP 129 – PC Hardware and Software
October 2, 2014

Some professionals in the Information Technology (IT) field might describe the Operating System (OS) of a Personal Computer (PC) as its software brain. Jean Andrews, Ph.D., describes an OS this way: “An operating system is software that controls a computer. It manages hardware, runs applications, provides an interface for users, and stores, retrieves, and manipulates files” (Andrews, 2010). In other words, the OS is the Graphical User Interface (GUI) from which the PC’s operator controls any piece of hardware or software. Before installing an OS, a user must understand the purpose that it serves – why it is important to have an OS. Once understanding what purpose the OS serves to the user, he/ she will understand how this can help to operate and maintain his/ her own computer. Eventually, the user should hope to gain enough knowledge about a particular OS, that he/ she will be able to assist others with installing it on another PC. There are three major reasons why a person would want to install Windows, or another Operating System onto a PC: it provides a user-friendly GUI from which a user can control the entire machine, an OS comes with a valuable support system to take advantage of if there is ever a problem with the computer, and most OS manufacturers provide security monitoring to ensure that the computer is as safeguarded as possible. As previously mentioned, the most prevalent reason to install an OS onto a PC is to control all the hardware and software. The rise of the Graphical User Interface has provided a great deal of control for the average computer user to be able to perform any every day function with ease – an OS is the single source from which a PC user will perform any function from browsing the Web to installing a print driver. If there should ever be a problem with the software or hardware, any licensed OS comes with manufacturer support. The PC user has every right to expect quality when purchasing an OS, just like any other consumer purchase, and should not hesitate to contact technical support in the event of an OS-related system failure. It should also be mentioned that some open-source Operating Systems – such as Linux – do not provide manufacturer support. Open-source Operating System like this are free for download, and the source code can be freely modified as user’s desire. Although these Operating Systems do not contain manufacturer support, there are countless forums of developers to assist with any problems that arise. Finally, the security that comes with purchasing a licensed Operating System is difficult to overlook. Windows, for example has an entire team of vulnerability representatives which constantly provides security patches to mitigate any vulnerabilities to a Windows operated PC. Gordon Mah Ung and David Murphy explain the reason why Windows Updates are so important this way, “with the dangers of infected Flash ads, JavaScript exploits and an untold number of threats poised to attack unpatched machines, wading into the internet [without Windows Updates] is about as wise as running buck naked and blindfolded into a cactus patch” (Mah Ung & Murphy, 2013). Once the PC owner understands what the benefits are of installing an OS such as Microsoft Windows, it becomes clearer how it can help a user with his/ her PC at home. The PC has become an almost necessary resource for use at home – it is needed for students to conduct research and write research papers, it is needed for the homeowner to organize finances and balance the monthly budget, and it is needed for countless other functions. Without an OS, these everyday tasks would be much more difficult. The OS is the interface that translates the needs of the user to the PC’s hardware and applications. If a user needs to browse the Web, write a...

References: Andrews, J. P. (2010). A+ Guide to Managing and Maintaining Your PC, 7th Edition. Boston,
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Ung, G., & Murphy, D. (2013). NEW RIG DONE RIGHT. Apc, 33(4), 52-56.
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