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Computer terminology

Kernel :
When referring to a computer operating system, the kernel is the first section of the operating
system to load into memory. The computer kernel can be responsible for such things as: disk
drive management, interrupt handler, file management, memory management, process
management, etc.

Microsoft Corp's version of the UNIX operation system that runs on PCs.

Virtual machine:
Software program that is capable imitating a physical device, such as a computer. A good
example of a software application capable of doing this is VMware.

Commonly abbreviated as X, X-window or XWindow is a graphics system that began
development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1984 for Unix workstations.
To get into X-Window from the command line type startx otherwise computers with X-Window
system installed will automatically start or prompt the user with the availability when the
computer first boots.

Windows XP:
Often abbreviated as XP, Microsoft Windows XP was codenamed Whistler and is short
for Windows eXPerience. Windows XP is an operating system designed to bridge the gap
between Windows 9x/ME and Windows NT/2000 users and is an available upgrade for
Windows 98, ME, and 2000 users. The two primary versions of Windows XP are Windows XP
Home Edition and Windows XP Professional.

Windows XP is also available in Windows XP N, also known as Windows XP Home Edition

N, which is a version of Windows XP released by Microsoft as part of an agreement with the
Europe's competition commissioner. In Microsoft Windows XP N, users have the ability to
choose their media player and download and install it on their computer.
Windows vista:
Microsoft Windows Vista is an upgrade to Microsoft Windows XP and Windows 2000 users that
was released to the public on January 30,2007. Windows Vista contains a dramatic new look for
users used to previous versions of Microsoft Windows that has been designed to help create an
overall better experience

Windows NT:
Microsoft Windows operating system originally released as Microsoft Windows NT 3.1 which
had a similar interface to Windows 3.1x with advanced networking capabilities and hardware
support. In August 1996 Microsoft released Windows NT 4.0 with an interface similar to
Windows 95. Windows NT was later replaced by Windows 2000; however, it still had the
Windows NT kernel.

Windows ME:
Codenamed Millennium, Windows ME is short for Windows Millennium and is an operating
system released by Microsoft on June 19, 2000. Windows ME was an upgrade for Windows 98
and included additional fixes, support, and applications.

Windows key:

A keyboard key commonly found on IBM compatible computers running

the Microsoft Windows operating system. The Windows key has the Microsoft flag logo on it
and is located between the CTRL and ALT keys on the keyboard. This key allows a user to
perform commonly performed tasks using the Windows key in combination with another key.

Users who are not familiar with IBM compatible computers but are familiar with Apple
Macintosh computers can relate this key to the Apple command key.

Below is a graphic of what the Windows and Menu keys look like on a keyboard with these
keys. Each Windows keyboard will have the two keys shown below as well as an additional
Windows key on the other side of the keyboard.

Windows CE:
Officially known as Windows Embedded, Windows CE was first released in 1996 as Windows
CE 1.0; today, Microsoft Windows CE is a strong competitor to other operating systems for hand
held computer devices.
Windows Aero:
Short for Authentic, Energetic, Reflective, and Open, Aero is a completely new graphical user
interface (GUI) introduced with Windows Vista and found on the Home Premium, Business,
Ultimate, and Enterprise Editions (Excluded from Vista Home Basic).

Some of the key features of Windows Aero include a new Glass or translucent appearance to
each of the windows as shown in the image to the right. Windows Flip and Flip 3D, which
allows you to visually flip through each of the open windows displaying each of the windows
and not a simple icon like previous versions of Windows. When minimizing windows the
window will visually shrink to the taskbar. Finally, Aero provides a support for higher DPI and
smoother performing windows.

Windows 9x:
Abbreviation used to describe Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows 98, the x represents
a wildcard.

Windows 98:

Microsoft Windows 98 is the upgrade to Microsoft Windows 95. While this was not as big as
release as Windows 95, Windows 98 has significant updates, fixes and support for new
peripherals. Below is a list of some of its new features.

Protection - Windows 98 includes additional protection for important files on your computer
such as backing up your registry automatically.
Improved support - Improved support for new devices such as AGP, DirectX, DVD, USB,
FAT32 - Windows 98 has the capability of converting your drive to FAT32 without losing any
Interface - Users of Windows 95 and NT will enjoy the same easy interface.
PnP - Improved PnP support, to detect devices even better than Windows 95.
Internet Explorer 4.0 - Included Internet Explorer 4.0
Customizable Taskbar - Windows adds many nice new features to the taskbar that 95 and NT
do not have.
Includes Plus! - Includes features only found in Microsoft Plus! free.
Active Desktop - Includes Active Desktop that allows for users to customize their desktop with
the look of the Internet.

Includes the same additional features as Windows 98; however, includes additional fixes and all
of Year 2000 patches have been included in Windows 98 Second Edition. Below is a listing of
the various new features Windows 98 SE includes.
Updates - Includes all the latest updates such as the Year 2000 updates, USB support, and more.
Software - Updated versions of Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player,
DirectX, NetMeeting and more.
Drivers / Support - Additional support for latest technology such as MMX, USB, Intel Pentium
III and more.

Win SE:
Short for Second Edition, SE, WinSE, Win98 SE, or Windows 98 SE is a term used to
describe the second edition of Microsoft Window 98 (Version 4.10.1998).

Windows 95:

The next installment of Windows from Windows 3.11. Windows 95 added major enhancements
when compared to Windows 3.11.

Below are some of the new features that Windows 95 has that Windows 3.x does not.

Plug and Play Allows hardware devices to be automatically installed into the computer with the
proper software. Does not require jumpers to be played with.
32 Bit 32-Bit operating system allowing the computer to run faster and more efficiently.
Registry Combines the power of multiple configuration files into two files, allowing the system
configurations to be located easier.
Memory Windows 95 has an improved memory handling processes compared to Windows 3.11.
Right mouse click Allows you new access and text manipulation by utilizing both buttons
instead of one.
CD-Player Enhanced CD-Player with improved usability and AutoPlay feature.

Windows 95B:
Codenamed Detroit, Windows 95B is the second release of Microsoft Windows 95; it included
previous fixes as well as support for new hardware features, such as AGP and USB

Windows 8:
Codenamed Midori, Windows 8 is the next release of Windows to replace Windows 7 that
should be released in 2011.
Windows 7:
Codenamed Vienna and Blackcomb, Windows 7 is the successor to Windows Vista that was
officially released to the public October 22, 2009.

Windows 3.0:
Abbreviation to describe Microsoft Windows 3.0 or 3.1, the x represents a wildcard. Other
versions of Microsoft Windows, such as Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11, are also often
abbreviated as Win3.x.

Windows 3.1:
Abbreviation to describe Microsoft Windows 3.0 or 3.1, the x represents a wildcard. Other
versions of Microsoft Windows, such as Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11, are also often
abbreviated as Win3.x.

Windows 3.11:
Abbreviation to describe Microsoft Windows 3.0 or 3.1, the x represents a wildcard. Other
versions of Microsoft Windows, such as Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11, are also often
abbreviated as Win3.x.

Windows 3.x:
Abbreviation to describe Microsoft Windows 3.0 or 3.1, the x represents a wildcard. Other
versions of Microsoft Windows, such as Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11, are also often
abbreviated as Win3.x.

Windows 2k:
Codenamed Odyssey, and also known as Windows 2k, Windows 2000 is an operating system
released by Microsoft in February 2000 that was based on the Windows NT kernel. Windows
2000 included advanced features as well as had overall better support for computer hardware.

Windows 2000:
Codenamed Odyssey, and also known as Windows 2k, Windows 2000 is an operating system
released by Microsoft in February 2000 that was based on the Windows NT kernel. Windows
2000 included advanced features as well as had overall better support for computer hardware.

When referring to an operating system, Windows, or win, is an operating environment created
by Microsoft that provides an interface known as Graphical User Interface (GUI) for IBM
compatible computers. Windows eliminates the need for a user to have to type each command at
a command line, like MS-DOS, by using a mouse to navigate through drop-down menus, dialog
boxes, buttons, tabs, and icons. To the right is an image of what Microsoft Windows 2000 may
look like.

A section of the computer's display in a GUI that shows the program currently being used. For
example, the browser window that you are using to view this web page is a window. Windows
allow a user to work easily with multiple programs and/or view multiple programs at once.
Almost all windows will also you to minimize and maximize them, allowing you to hide and
view a program temporarily. Below is an example of what a Microsoft Windows window may
look like and each of its major functions.

Unix or UNIX is an operating system that was developed by some of the members of the Multics
team at the bell labs starting in the late1960's, many of who also helped create the C
programming language. Today, Unix is not just the work of a couple of programmers, many
other organizations, institutes, and various other individuals have contributed significant
additions to Unix and its variants, making it a widely used and popular operating system today.

A variant of Linux, which is an African word for "humanity to others", that follows the ideas that
it should be free, usable by anyone in their native language, regardless of disabilities, and that
people should be able to freely customize and alter the software.

User interface:
The portion of a software program or hardware device that is used to navigate and control
aspects of the software program or hardware device.


1. Short for Variable Bit Rate; when referring to audio, VBR is a method of encoding
an MP3 file by how much data is in the MP3 file.
2. Short for Variable Bit Rate; when referring to a network, VBR is a type of network
setup that is capable of handling fixed timing and non-fixed timing traffic.
3. Also known as the Volume Boot Sector, VBR is short for Volume Boot Record and is
the first sector of the first cylinder on a hard disk drive that contains information about
where each of the important operating system files are located.

Task manager:
A software utility found in Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, and Windows XP that
enables a user to view each of the tasks currently running on the computer, each of the processes,
and the overall performance of the computer. The Task Manager is easily accessed by pressing:
"Ctrl + Alt + Del" on the keyboard. Below is a visual example of the Microsoft Windows Task
Manager under Windows 2000. A quicker way to access the Task Manager is to press: Ctrl
+ Shift + Esc.

System file:

A file that is in use by an operating system and cannot be deleted or modified without causing
the operating system to no longer work. Often these files cannot be deleted because they're in use
by the operating system.

A system file is also an attribute that can be added to any file in Microsoft operating systems that
allow the operating system to know the file is an important system file. Files that are marked as a
system file will also be hidden files.

System 32:
A required Microsoft Windows system directory, the Windows System32 directory is often
located in either C:\Windows\System32 or C:\Winnt\system32. Often, many Microsoft
Windows error messages will contain the system32 directory because many of the
system filesWindows uses to run are stored in this directory. By itself, the System32 directory
will not cause any errors unless it is missing, of course.

If you are getting an error with a file in the System32 directory, search for that file instead
of the full path.

System 7:
An Apple Macintosh operating system that contains virtual memory, multitasking, hotlinks and
TrueType fonts. System 7 was also the first operating system to utilize system extensions and
stop using INIT.

The Microsoft Windows Systray is a portion of Windows that was first introduced with the
Windows 95 and found with all later versions of Windows that displays many of the programs
running in the background. The Systray is located on the right portion of the Taskbar next to the
time. To the right are two examples of what the Windows Systray may look like. The top image
is what all versions of the Windows Systray up to Windows 7 looked like. Windows 7
introduced a new look to the Systray hiding all the icons until the user clicks the small up arrow.

Swap file:
A file stored on the computer hard disk drive that is used as a temporary location to store
information that is not currently being used by the computer RAM. By using a swap file a
computer has the ability to use more memory than what is physically installed in the computer.
However, users who are low on hard disk space may notice that the computer runs slower
because of the inability of the swap file to grow in size.

It is perfectly normal for the swap file or page file to grow in size, sometimes growing several
hundred Megs in size. Below is a listing of common Microsoft operating system swap file
information; however, it is important to realize that this information may vary. Finally, by
default the swap files are hidden.