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Your Computer’s Operating System

The most important piece of software inside a computer is its operating system. And the operating system is no slacker. The operating system has several duties:

  • Control the computer’s hardware.

  • Manage all the computer software.

  • Organize the files and stuff you create on the computer.

  • Interface with you, the human.

On PCs, the most common operating system is Windows (see this figure). Other operating systems are available, all of which do the things just listed and can handily control the PC’s hardware, but Windows dominates the marketplace.

Windows is the typical PC operating system
Windows is the typical PC operating system

Your operating system really is your computer’s number-one program — the head honcho, the big cheese, Mr. In Charge, Fearless Leader, le roi:

  • The operating system typically comes with the computer when you buy it. You never need to add a second operating system, although operating systems get updated and improved from time to time.

  • The computer hardware surrenders control of itself to the operating system mere moments after you turn on the computer.

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