For most of us, computer operating system means we hope that our computer system works, but understanding some of the technical terms of an operating system helps users better determine the system that best fits their needs. Essentially, an operating system is a software program that allows the hardware of your computer to communicate with the software you have installed on your machine. Sounds simple, but there are some technical terms that you should understand, especially if you’re in the market for a new computer in 2011.
- GUI – Graphical User Interface, or the stuff you click on with your mouse that contains icons and graphics. Example: Windows 98.
- Multi-user – Allows for multiple people to operate the computer at different times or at the same time. Example: Windows 2000
- Multiprocessing – You’ve probably heard the terms Linux or Unix at some point in your computer history. Multiprocessing allows for more than one computer processor.
- Multitasking – You know how you’ve got multiple programs running at the same time while you’re working on the computer? Essentially multitasking is the Operating System that allows several software applications to be running at the same time. Examples of this are Unix or Windows 2000. Notice that Windows 2000 is a multi-user and multitasking operating system!
- Multithreading – Windows 2000, Unix and Linux are operating systems that fall into this category. Multithreading allows you to have multiple parts of a software program running at the same time.
When it’s time to choose a new computer, don’t be overwhelmed by these terms. If you feel at ease with the person from whom you are buying the computer, essentially all you need to explain is what you use the computer for, and what issues you’ve had with your old machine. A good operating system will allow you to do multiple things at the same time, like having Pandora going and reading this information.