Basic Guide to Windows – Overview of What Windows is and What Windows is Not?

Basic Guide to WIndows Article Cover
Basic Guide to WIndows Article Cover

This page provides an overview of what windows is and what it is not. outlining different responsibilities of the Windows operating system.

Hardware Device Control

This is Device Manager as shown in used in Windows XP Pro.
The Device Manager included in all versions of Windows provides an “at-a-glance” look referencing each hardware component and associated device driver installed in a computer. The OS facilitates the processes of installing and uninstalling components using the device manager.

A red X shown within a device indicates the device might be disabled and re-enabling it might help during troubleshooting.

A red X shown within a device indicates the device might be disabled and re-enabling it might help during troubleshooting.

A yellow exclamation point shown within a device indicates that the device might not have the correct drivers loaded.

A yellow exclamation point shown within a device indicates that the device might not have the correct drivers loaded.

The operating system facilitates how devices such as mice, keyboards, and printers function.

One of the main duties of the operating system is to direct how device drivers should be installed or uninstalled when hardware is added to or removed from a system.

It is also responsible for controlling how the hardware functions.

In case problems arise a good rule of thumb is to isolate the problem through the Windows Device Manager. Problematic devices are usually emphasized as not working by an exclamation point or red X symbol.

You can uninstall a device driver, by right clicking on the appropriate hardware component, and from the drop down menu selecting Uninstall. This will cause Windows to either rollback to a previous device driver version.

 

Application Control

The operating system facilitates the processes of installing and uninstalling software.

Windows has an Add or Remove Programs feature which permits for the easy addition and removal of software applications.

To free up disk space you can uninstall unused applications and Windows components.

How The Windows Add or Remove Programs Option Looks In Windows XP
How The Windows Add or Remove Programs Option Looks In Windows XP – The Add Or Remove Programs function included in all versions of Windows lists any software installed in the computer. To easily remove software locate the title of the program, left click once, and left click the remove button. This will start the uninstall program for the particular application.

The Windows Add or Remove Programs option in Windows XP is now known as Program and Features in Windows 7.

Programs and Features in Windows 7 Professional
How The Programs and Features Option Looks In Windows 7 – Generally, the same principles are used in the Windows 7 version of Add/Remove programs apply to the new version found within Windows 7/8, with the only noticeable differences are the name and a seperate link for turning Windows built-in applications on and off.

In addition to removing and adding new software to the Windows computer, you can also install or remove security updates and patches downloaded from Windows Updates within this utility.

Internet and Network Control

The operating system facilitates the processes of connecting to the Internet and sharing resources across local area networks. The Network Setup Wizard provides an easy method for setting up multiple PC’s through one Internet connection. It also prepares a network for file and printer sharing automatically installing the neccessary protocols and software so that all computers on the network can share files, folders, and printers.

The Network Setup Wizard in WIndows XP Professional
The Network Setup Wizard Found Within Windows XP Professional And Home Edition Operating Systems

In Windows XP the Network Setup Wizard (now known as the Network Sharing Center in future versions of Windows), provides a means for setting up and connecting to local area networks, sharing resources, and printing to remote printers.

In subsequent releases of Windows, the Network Setup Wizard had been replaced by the Network And Sharing Center, as illustrated below:

The Network and Sharing Center found in versions of Windows 7 or higher.
This is how the Windows Network and Sharing Center Found Within Windows 7 and Windows 8 Looks

File Management Control

Windows provides a very easy method to manage files and folders on local and network hard drives. The main file management software included with Windows XP is called Windows Explorer as shown in the illustration below:

Windows Explorer in Details Mode View
Windows Explorer in Details Mode View

Windows Explorer is also used as the program My Computer. You can also use My Computer to organize files, create new directories, and delete folders. It is basically the same thing as Windows Explorer.

In Windows 7 and 8 the Windows Explorer interface has been completely redesigned for easier and quicker access to common file and folders.

New to these versions are Libraries which are groups of files organized based on the content of each file.

You can have one library for music, one library for pictures, one for videos, and so on until desired organizational level is reached.

If you prefer using the “old-school” method to work with files and folders simply click on the Computer link to the left and then select the appropriate drive and folder to work with.

This is how Windows Explorer looks in Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems.
This is how Windows Explorer looks in Windows 7,  Windows 8, and Windows 10 operating systems.

Gaming and Multimedia Support

Windows provides an ability to manage all your media files, DVDs, and organize them based on specific criteria. Furthermore, Windows supports the latest games available for downloading from the Games for Windows Live marketplace. And through Microsoft DirectX, high quality multimedia programming can be configured through a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) for handling tasks related to multimedia, especially game programming and video, on Microsoft platforms.

Windows also provides a way to playback DVD media and other multimedia content. You can stream music through Windows Media Player, and use different software to playback other multimedia content.

This is what Windows Media Player looks like in Windows 8.
This is what Windows Media Player looks like in Windows 8. Windows Media Player allows you to playback and manage a variety of multimedia files including MP3 Audio, WMV, AVI, and other video file formats.

Congratulations! You now know what functions the Windows operating system controls. As you should have learned Windows controls numerous functions, and is necessary as your first point of entry for completing tasks.

About Mike Casimir 145 Articles
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