January 23, 2020

The Operating System and the Development of the PC

The Functions of an Operating System

 

An operating system performs three distinct functions. It controls the computer's hardware, acts as the interface between the machine and the user, and runs applications.

The user can control many of the services provided by the operating system. For example, Windows enables the user to delete data by dragging a folder icon to the recycle bin, or open an application by double clicking a shortcut icon.

Hidden services perform communication between the hardware and the applications. The operating system directs basic operations such as displaying data on the monitor or saving it to disk. It will control the flow of data into and out of the computer, manage the computer's resources, such as memory, enabling applications to run correctly.

Many systems permit multitasking, allowing several programs to be used simultaneously. The operating system ensures that sufficient storage space is available and that the CPU executes each instruction as quickly as possible. Other services check the hardware for faults, keep record of where data is stored and provide secure means of protecting that data.

Some systems assist networking with multi-user and multi-tasking capability across a range of linked computers. These systems will be complemented by additional security measures such as read/write privileges.

 

Next page » The history of operating systems

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