Saturday, October 8, 2011

Operating Systems

This is something it seems like I always get asked/have trouble with – what operating system do you have?  When I do phone support, one of the first questions I usually ask is “what operating system do you have?”  It seems like very few people know or they’ll says something like “does Windows XP sound right?”  There are slight differences (sometimes not so slight) between different operating systems/versions.

Most of you have probably heard of Microsoft and their Windows operating system there are actually a larger number of operating systems including Mac OS, Linux, or a newer contender Chrome OS.  The first version of Windows was released in 1985 and was version 1 or Windows 1; before that it was DOS.  The latest version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system is Windows 7 (see screen shots below of both Windows 1 and Windows 7).

Windows-1

windows-desktop

So, what is an operating system?  An operating system manages the computers hardware allowing for interaction (mouse, keyboard, ect.) between a user and an application (such as browsing the web).  An operating systems is basically just a giant program (actually set of programs) and without it your computer is worthless.

How do you know what version of Windows you have?
The desktop is not an good choice for determining which version of windows that you have due to the fact that various themes can make your version either look like an older edition or a newer edition. 

  • First when you bought your computer you should have documentation that says what version of Windows was installed on your computer.  It is worth noting that this sometimes is not correct.  Also worth noting there are different editions of versions for example Windows XP Home and Windows XP Pro.
  • The next easiest way to tell what version of Windows you are running is while the computer is booting.  Below are the screenshots of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 starting up.
    Windows XP
    windows-xp-startup-screen
    Windows Vista
    windows-vista-startup-screen
    Windows 7
    Windows-7-startup-screen
  • A third easy way to determine which operating system you have is go to Start, right click on My Computer (or Computer) and click Properties.  This will open up the system information.  This method will also tell you what Version and Edition of Windows that you have.
    right-click-my-computer-properties-from-start-menu
    windows-7-edition-system-information

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