Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Intro to Windows XP - Part 1

There must be countless sites out there that talk about Windows XP and all the tips and advanced hacks that you can do.

But I know that the common person like you isn't interested in that kind of stuff. You just want to know the basics and how to avoid problems and hassles, and just get a bit more educated.

Today, let's just start with Windows XP and its identity as an operating system (aka OS).

What is an operating system?

Well, it's basically software that acts as an interface and allows you to use your hardware to accomplish the tasks that you want to accomplish.

At a very basic level, it's like your hardware is your car parts. It's got the engine, the tires, the seats, the wheels, etc.

But in order to get it to do what you want it to do (take you somewhere) you need to interface with it somehow. You need to somehow control this thing.

So you have the steering wheel, and the gear shifter (automatic or stick) and the gas pedal and the brakes as your main ways of interacting with your car.

Your operating system is the same thing in a sense (I know it's not a perfect example, but at the basic level it is)

Through all the programming language that makes up Windows XP, it allows you to do thing like register letters and numbers on the monitor when you type via your keyboard.

It also even talks to printers so that if you want to send your document to print, it does so when you click on the print button in MS Word.

So in essence, your OS allows you to interact with your hardware.

There are other OS's out there, but Windows XP is probably the most popular these days (with Vista not faring so well in its debut).

Mac has its OS X in different versions, the latest being Leopard (10.5) and Linux has several flavors of different OS's, such as Ubuntu and OpenSUSE.

But I don't go into those today.

Just think of different OS's as different steering wheels, seats, or color, etc. They are all trying to help you do the same things, but they give you a different experience, each with their pro's and con's of course.

UPDATE 2/27:
If you want a more 'geeky' but more thorough explanation of an OS, you can check out Webopedia's definition here.


Anonymous said...

That was the worst explanation of an OS I've ever read. Wow.

Average Joe Tutor said...

@anonymous - just wondering, how would YOU explain it to someone who doesn't know much about computers at all?

I intentionally simplify the explanation, as this blog is geared toward those who DON'T know.

It's always easy to criticize without offering a solution.