Operating Systems Widely Used on Personal Computers
The Operating System of a computer must be considered when selecting Assistive Technology to be used to for accessing the computer, or accessing information displayed upon the computer monitor. It can be very frustrating to have purchased an application-- and learn it is not compatible with the operating system of your computer.
The operating system of a computer performs basic tasks such as: recognizing information from the keyboard and mouse, sending information to the monitor, storing of information to the hard drive, and controlling device peripherals as printers and flatbed scanners.
Operating systems provide the basis for running common applications such as word processors and Internet browsers. Operating systems are also responsible for running Assistive Technology applications such as screen magnifiers, and applications that read text aloud.
Common Operating Systems
Windows XP Professional
This is built upon the Windows 2000 architecture and ideal for business and advanced home computing.
- Windows XP Home
An upgrade to Windows ME incorporating some of the features and functionality of Windows XP Professional.
- Windows 2000
This is built upon the Windows NT architecture and the best choice for most business uses. This is NOT an upgrade of Windows 98.
- Windows ME
Designed for home use, and is the logical step for Windows 98 users. Windows Millennium Edition is a stand alone operating system unlike Windows 3.1, Windows 95 and Windows 98 that were built on TOP of DOS. ME operating system includes new system safeguards such as "System Restore" and improved help functions when troubleshooting.
- Windows CE
Designed for personal computers often called Handhelds or Palmtops that use a stylus or keyboard for input. The Windows CE operating system is very similar to that of Windows 95.
A free Unix style operating system originally created by Linus Torvalds with the assistance of developers around the world. This operating system is becoming very poplar with networking professionals. Software applications are widely available and are often free. Linux is also starting to develop a liking by advance home users as an alternative to Windows operating systems.
- Mac OS
Name of operating system used by Macintosh computers. Originally, the Macintosh operating systems were called System x.xx (x represented the version numbers). System is no longer used since the release of Mac OS 8.
Recent/Older Operating Systems
- Windows NT
Short for New Technology and is the most advanced Windows operating system, and capable of preemptive multitasking (running of one or more applications simultaneously).
- Windows 98
The replacement for Windows 95. Supports new advancements such as USB, and MMX (Multimedia Instructions) which integrated text, video, graphics and sound.
- Windows 95
Introduced several improvements and advances that included applications to run much faster if written for Windows 95, and support of the mouse as a new interface.
- Windows 3.1
Microsoft Windows used this operating system to support GUI Graphical User Interface that takes advantage of the computer's graphics, thus making programs easier to use. The Windows GUI copies many of the earlier Macintosh GUI features such as: windows with menus, icons, desktop, and the mouse for pointing and selecting.
Short for Disk Operating System. DOS was developed by Microsoft for IBM, and MS-DOS was for IBM compatible personal computers.