BushArts.com - Training ...General Computing
Whilst the following pages will mainly focus on using Microsoft Windows in your computer, there are another couple of categories to general computing that you may need to be aware of. Even though many computer functions are performed automatically, it will help if you are aware of the distinct differences between each of these categories, and how they combine to allow our systems to operate as expected.
The Different Categories...
There are Three main components of computing to be aware of.
The "Operating System" (OS) used to interact with us...
The individual "Software" programs that do a specific task... (Note: these are now also called "apps")
The "Hardware" or physical components of your computer.
Each of these three must be compatible with the other two, for our systems to work correctly.
An "Operating System" interacts firstly with the "Hardware" to get our computers functioning, and then presents us with an easy method of being able to use the computer system.
Without a modern Operating System, we would all need to learn the hundreds of typed commands used to control our computers. These modern systems use a "Graphical User Interface", (GUI). In layman speak that means... "Looks pretty, I press a button and the computer just does it!".
There are many different Operating systems, EG:
- Apple Mac/Ios
- Google Android
- Microsoft Windows
Linux is a system based on the Unix language, and popular amongst the computer literate groups, Apple Computers various "Mac/IOS" Operating Systems are widely used in professional and academic fields, with specific variations each for computers, iPad Tablets and iPhones. Google has its own Tablet and phone Android system with cute names like "Jelly Bean", "Kit Kat" or "Ice Cream Sandwich", currently at Android 13, and Microsoft Windows is the Operating System that took computing to the general public, and is the system we will be referring to throughout these pages. "Microsoft" being the Company, "Windows" the Operating System.
Windows itself comes in different forms, and we have seen Windows Computer versions named 3, 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista and a few others, each being an updated version of the previous, but here we will only concentrate on the mainstream versions of Windows... currently "Windows 11". Windows from version 8 onwards has a few different features that make some of the content of these pages redundant post 2015, but much still applies.
Software is usually written in a manner particular to an Operating System, thus programs written for Linux, Android or Mac are not usually able to run on a Windows computer, and vice versa, (there are many exceptions). Even within the Windows family, certain programs will only operate as expected on a particular version of Windows.
Just to confuse you a little... A Windows PC can "talk" to a Mac or Android operated system, and vice versa.
What OS or version are you using now?
The Windows Operating System includes many inbuilt functions that allow you to use the computer, but there is so much more that a computer can do... and this is where we have the aid of Software programs (Apps). In whatever field you can imagine, there will be some form of software program to perform that function, or at the least, assist in the process.
Programs are generally designed to perform a specific task, but often are able to perform several (related) tasks in conjunction. NO program is capable of performing every function that mainstream computers are capable of, so you need to use the appropriate program for the matching task.
Want to write a letter? You would open a "Word Processing" program. Want to view your photos? Open a graphics program. Want to play music? Open a music player... and so on.
At this very moment, you would be using a software program specifically designed to present a web page.
The actual box housing your computer chips and hard drives, the monitor, keyboard and mouse are all parts of the Hardware category. Presumably, these are all working reasonably fine right now, allowing you to read this page.
We have a Hardware Overview Page at the end of this training section, showing a slightly deeper look at many of the individual components to be considered in general computing.
Turn the computer power on... the "Hardware" starts up, and loads the "Operating System".
Once the "Operating System" is fully loaded, we are able to open a "Software Program" to perform whatever task we have chosen.
The "Software" interacts with the "Operating System", which in turn interacts with the "Hardware"... all being well, we get the result on screen, via email, sent to a printer... etc etc.
Understanding the distinction between these three categories of computing will help you to understand what is going on in your system, or where to look if there is ever a problem.
But this is just the first step, continue on for a further look into Windows basic computing...