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Software Definition

Software is the name given to the computer programs that instruct the hardware
how to work. Software are the instructions in the form of programs which control
the operation of a computer, together with the associated documentation. Without
software, the computer would do absolutely nothing.

System Software

System software is the background programs that control a computer system.

System Software acts as a mediator between application programs and the
computer system’s hardware, as well as between the PC and the user.

Types of System Software

There are two basic types of operating systems:

Single program and Multitasking.

A single program operating system allows only one program to run at a time. This
means that if you are working in a spreadsheet and want to write a memo, you
must shut down the spreadsheet application and open up a word processor. This
is annoying, especially if you need to quote some data from the spreadsheet in
your memo! So new operating systems were designed that allowed multiple
programs to run at the same time.

The simplest form is multi-tasking. What this really means is that the programs
are taking turns with the processor. It allows a single user to have the
spreadsheet and the word processor open at the same time, and even more.
Now the user can see to copy data from one to the other. Much better!!

The computer must decide on how many time slices each program gets. The
active program gets the most. Next is programs that are doing things but which
aren't the foreground program. Last is programs that are open but aren't doing
anything. They need a little bit of time every now and then to see if they are
supposed to do something yet.
Functions of Operating System

Allocating System Resources

The operating system directs the traffic inside the computer, deciding what
resources will be used and for how long.

Time in the CPU is divided into time slices which are measured in milliseconds.
Each task the CPU does is assigned a certain number of time slices. When time
expires, another task gets a turn. The first task must wait until it has another turn.
Since time slices are so small, you usually can't tell that any sharing is going on.
Tasks can be assigned priorities so that high priority (foreground) tasks get more
time slices than low priority (background) tasks.

Memory must be managed also by the operating system. All those rotating turns
of CPU use leave data waiting around in buffers. Care must be taken not to lose
data!! One way to help out the traffic jam is to use virtual memory. This includes
disk space as part of main memory. While it is slower to put data on a hard disk,
it increases the amount of data that can be held in memory at one time. When
the memory chips get full, some of the data is paged out to the hard disk. This is
called swapping. Windows uses a swap file for this purpose.

Flow control is also part of the operating system's responsibilities. The operating
system must manage all requests to read data from disks or tape and all writes to
these and to printers.

To speed up the output to printers, most operating systems now allow for print
spooling, where the data to be printed is first put in a file. This frees up the
processor for other work in between the times data is going to the printer. A
printer can only handle so much data at a time. Without print spooling you'd have
to wait for a print job to finish before you can do anything else. With it you can
request several print jobs and go on working. The print spool will hold all the
orders and process them in turn.
Monitoring System Activities

A user or administrator can check to see whether the computer or network is

getting overloaded. Changes could be made to the way tasks are allocated or
maybe a shopping trip is in order! System performance would include response
time ( how long it takes for the computer to respond when data is entered) and
CPU utilization (comparing the time the CPU is working to the time it is idle.)

Some system security is part of the operating system, though additional software
can add more security functions. For multiple users who are not all allowed
access to everything, there must be a logon or login procedure where the user
supplies a user name or ID and a secret password. An administrator must set
up the permissions list of who can have access to what programs and what data.

File and Disk Management

Keeping track of what files are where is a major job. If you can't find a file, it
doesn't help to know that it is safe and secure somewhere. So an operating
system comes with basic file management commands. A user needs to be able
to create directories for storing files. (Dumping everything in one pile soon
becomes the needle-in-the-haystack story.) A user needs to copy, move, delete,
and rename files. This is the category of operating system functions that the user
actually sees the most.

A more technical task is that of disk management. Under some operating

systems your hard disk can be divided up, or partitioned into several virtual disks.
The operating system treats each virtual disk as though it were a physically
separate disk. Managing several physical and/or virtual disks can get pretty
complex, especially if some of the disks are set up with different operating
systems. (Some folks are never satisfied with just one of anything!)
Features of Operating System

There are many types of Operating System. For example Solaris Operating
System. The features are:

Solaris 10 includes some of the world's most advanced security features, such as
Process and User Rights Management, Trusted Extensions for Mandatory Access
Control, the Cryptographic Framework and Secure By Default Networking that
allow you to safely deliver new solutions, consolidate with security and protect
mission-critical data.

The Solaris 10 release gives you observability into your system with tools such as
Solaris Dynamic Tracing (DTrace), which enables real-time application debugging
and optimization.

Solaris 10 delivers indisputable performance advantages for database, Web, and
Java technology-based services, as well as massive scalability, shattering world
records by delivering unbeatable price/performance advantages.

With its optimized network stack and support for today’s advanced network
computing protocols, Solaris 10 delivers high-performance networking to most
applications without modification.

Data Management
Solaris 10 offers dramatic advances in file system and volume management by
delivering virtually unlimited capacity and near-zero administration.

New Solaris 10 features, such as Predictive Self Healing, support automatic
diagnosis and recovery from hardware and application faults, maximizing system
Types of Operating System

When you purchase a new computer or mobile device, it typically has an

operating system preinstalled. As new versions of the operating system are
released, users upgrade their existing computers and mobile devices to
incorporate features of the new version. Purchasing an operating system upgrade
usually costs less than purchasing the entire iperating system. There are 3 type
of operating system commonly used:

Stand-Alone Operating System

A stand-alone operating system is a complete operating system that works on a

desktop somputer, notebook computer, or mobile computing device. Some
stand-alone operating systems are caled client operating systems because they
also work in conjunction with a server operating system. Client operating systems
can operate with or without a network. Other stand-alone operating systems
include networking capabilities, allowing the home and small business user to set
up a small network. Examples of currently used stand-alone operating systems
are Windows Vista, Mac OS C, UNIC and Linux.

Embedded Operating Systems

The operating system on most mobile devices and many consumer electronics,
called an embedded operating system, resides on ROM chip. Popular embedded
operating systems include Windows Embedded CE, Windows Mobile, Palm OS,
iPhone OS, BlackBerry, Embedded Linux and Symbiam OS.

Server Operating System

A server operating system is an operating system that is designed specifically to

support a network. A server operating system typically resides on a server. The
client computers on the network rely on the server for resources. Server operating
systems are designed specifically to support all sizes of networks, including
medium- to large-sezed businesses and Web servers. Examples of server
operating systems include Windows Server 2008, UNIX, Linux, Solaris and
Popular Operating Systems
The most popular microcomputer operating systems are DOS, Windows 3.x,
Windows 95, OS/2, Windows NT, and Macintosh System. UNIX is a popular
operating system that is available for microcomputers, minicomputers, and
mainframe computer systems. The following will show the details:


DOS stands for Disk Operating System. In the early 1980s, Microsoft got the right
to QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) developed by a small company,
Seattle Computer, and then has been sold it under the name MS-DOS. Microsoft
licenses a version called PC-DOS to IBM (International Business Machines) for its
IBM personal computers, and its version, MS-DOS, to many other PC

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages: DOS has many advantages. The advantages will be the reasons for
learning DOS. DOS is the most popular microcomputer operating system for IBM
computers and compatibles ever sold worldwide. It runs thousands of
applications, and is easy to use. DOS is easy for novices to use, and many
publications and books are available for the operating system. DOS runs on low-
priced IBM computers and compatibles. DOS does not require an expensive
computer system while some others still do.

Disadvantages: DOS has some drawbacks, but there is no doubt that we will
continue to see DOS used in the 1990s. It will then slowly be replaced as the
dominant operating system. The hardware has evolved in significant ways. New
microcomputers have more capacity and faster electronics than the old IBM PC
and compatibles. This makes DOS an old operating system.
DOS has direct access to only 640 kilobytes of primary storage, although new
microcomputers have much more primary storage. This restriction is an inherent
limitation of DOS. Today's new software for word processing, graphics,
spreadsheets, and database management requires more primary storage. In
addition, DOS is a single tasking operating system. It can support only one user
and one program at a time.
Another disadvantage is that DOS has a character-based interface. A graphical
user interface is easier to the users than the character-based interface.

File Access Table(FAT)

DOS creates a FAT for each disk during formatting. Every sector on the disk is
represented by an entry in the FAT as part of a cluster. DOS looks for available
clusters when a file is enlarged or created. When DOS allocates files on a freshly
formatted disk, DOS uses the first cluster and sequences through a connected
series of clusters, leaving many never-used clusters at the end of FAT. When a
file is erased or shortened, DOS marks the released clusters in the FAT as
available again. When a file is allocated more than one cluster, each cluster
points to the next cluster that contains more of the files. The pointer is the next
cluster number. The result is a chain of clusters that comprise the map of a file's
disk storage. Thus, FAT acts as a storage map and tells DOS exactly where to go
on the disk to get all parts of a file.

How Application Programs Run in DOS

When the user specifies the application software to work on, the RAM part of
memory is filled with that image of that software. For example, if the user wants to
use WordPerfect, the command is taken from the command line and the
corresponding software is loaded on to the RAM and it works like a word

Files on DOS Disks

The files on DOS disks have specific purposes. A COM file extension identifies a
command file. Command files are the names of external DOS commands. Files
with CPI extensions operate the display screen. A file with the DAT extension is a
data file. Files with BAT extension are batch files. AUTOEXEC.BAT is a special
batch file that runs automatically when a computer is started. EXE files are
executable program files. SYS files are system files. SYS files are used to add or
modify hardware support to the basic PC operation.
Windows 3.x

This is a graphics-based operating environment from Microsoft. This operating

system runs under DOS. Thus, it is usually called "DOS with windows." Windows
3.x allows multiple tasking, allowing users to open several applications
simultaneously and shift between them. Windows operating system is very similar
to the Macintosh desktop environment.
Windows 3.x is a major upgrade of Microsoft's earlier versions. It provides a DOS
extender that allows Windows 3.x applications to run in up to 16MB of memory. In
the Windows, users can run DOS applications and change data between them.


Windows 3.x has three different operating modes.

Real Mode: This mode is for computers with less than 1MB of memory. It uses
expanded memory if available, and does not use extended memory.

Standard Mode: This is a normal Windows 3.0 operating mode. It works with
extended memory (XMS). This mode allows users to use DOS applications in the
window environment by allowing users to switch between DOS applications and
windows applications. The mode also uses expanded memory (EMS) if available.

386 Enhanced Mode: This mode is the extension of Windows/386 version that
runs on 386 and higher CPUs. This mode allows multitasking of Windows and
standard DOS applications. It converts character-based programs (DOS
applications) to bit-mapped graphics (Windows applications). It activates
EMM386.SYS memory manager to use EMS memory.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages: Windows allows multitasking capability and more primary memory.

Windows provides a memory manager to allow users to access more than 640KB
of conventional memory. Another benefit of it is that it has a dynamic data
exchange function. Dynamic data exchange allows one program (e.g., a word
processing program) to request data or information from other programs (e.g., a
spreadsheet program or a database program etc.) currently running and use
those information. A graphical user interface (GUI) against character- based
approach is another advantage. This allows users to use Windows environment
such as mouse, pointer, clicking, icon, or pull-down menu.

Disadvantages: Windows 3.x can handle multitasking, but it is really switching

between tasks. Windows 3.x is not a multithreaded operating system. This works
well for many applications, but for some information and data can be lost if
Windows does not get back to a task soon enough. There are many application
programs for Windows, but users frequently demand more powerful application
programs that exceed the capabilities of current Windows programs. The other
disadvantage is that Windows 3.x was not originally intended for networks and is
not very efficient in that environment although it has a network version, Windows
for Workgroup 3.11.

Windows 95

Windows 95 upgrades its earlier versions (Windows 3.x) in many ways. It has a
new 3-D interface. It is mostly a 32- bit system although it has 16-bit components
included for compatibility with Windows 3.x. Windows 95 does not need to have a
separate DOS. It integrates all DOS services. A Windows 95 system runs in
protected mode. This means that it speeds up the processors and provides more
Windows 95 serves two purposes: It will move developers to the Win32 API and
will ease the transition for users whose hardware is not yet ready to handle the
demands of Windows NT.
Windows 95 offers better preemptive multitasking. Although for most things,
cooperative multitasking is good. However, if users want to do several things
simultaneously, they are going to find that preemptive multitasking provides
smoother operation and better speed.
Because Windows 95 is based on Win32 and has borrowed some of NT's
features, some people are confused over which Windows to use. Windows 95 is
for anyone who has a lower capability computer that does not enable to use
Windows NT. Windows 95 is likely to perform better than NT as a desktop
system, especially when running older 16-bit Windows applications.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages: This operating system provides compatibility with existing Windows

and DOS programs. It also offers compatibility with existing Windows and DOS
device drivers. It works as in standalone computer and in networked environment
for both desktop and mobile users. It supports Windows for Workgroups, Novell
and UNIX-style networks.
It is easier to learn and use, gives users better performance, has more capacity,
integrates applications better, connects better, and crashes less than its
predecessor, Windows 3.x.

Disadvantages: Windows 95 still has limits from 16-bit components retained for
backward compatibility with 16-bit application. It does not give much benefit to the
16-bit applications. To get benefits from Windows 95, users must upgrade their
applications to 32-bit versions that support OLE and can interact directly with
Windows 95's shell. It will cost users significantly.

Difference of 95 with Windows NT

Windows 95 has a different user interface with Windows NT. The interface of NT
is much better. Windows 95 uses a different model for device drivers than NT.
Thus, not all Windows 95 applications run on NT without modification, and vice
versa. Windows 95 is a mix of 16- and 32-bit application programming interface,
but NT is solely a 32-bit interface.

Windows NT (New Technology)

Window NT is a platform for 32-bit Windows applications. This is a powerful and

one of the most advanced operating systems available today.
Windows NT was originally designed with big-system features. Beginning with
version 3.5, Microsoft began repositioning Windows NT as a workstation and
server operating system. It also has a sophisticated multiuser security system, so
Windows NT performs excellently as a disk server. NT has support for network
services useful to applications like client/server database engines. Still, all the
features of Windows NT are suitable for use in demanding applications of desktop

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages: Windows NT allows users to run all applications, including Windows

applications, from the command line. It has better speed. Windows NT does not
have arbitrary resource limits. Computer system reliability is improved by the
result of this. It has the familiar Windows 3.x-style user interface, so users do not
need to spend much time for learning. NT has a preemptive multitasking
capability, and the users can multitask applications within their own memory
spaces. It has much more reliable networking capability than that provided by
Windows 3.x or Windows 95.

Disadvantages: Windows NT is a platform for 32-bit Windows applications. 32- bit

applications are not widely available yet. Still, 16-bit applications are prevailing in
the software market. This operating system requires much resource. Windows NT
workstation requires 12MB of memory when run on Intel 486/pentium computers
(It runs in 8MB, but Microsoft recommends 12MB for NT to run adequately).
Windows NT server requires 16MB. Windows NT system that is run on an RISC
workstation also demands 16MB of memory. The NT requires at least 70MB of
hard disk space only for the operating system. After all, this operating system
requires too much for normal microcomputer users


OS/2 stands for Operating System 2. This is another operating systems for
powerful microcomputers and networking. OS/2 was designed to avoid some of
the most serious limitations of DOS. OS/2 runs in 4MB of memory, although it
runs well in an 8MB system. It requires about 30MB of hard disk space. OS/2
WARP, the window version of OS/2, performs reasonably well in 4MB system and
requires less disk space.
Users do not need to abandon DOS and Windows to try out OS/2. OS/2 provides
a dual boot feature that allows users to boot up in either DOS or OS/2. OS/2 uses
folders much like those on the Macintosh and on some UNIX GUIs.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages: It is not affected by requirements of DOS and Windows that certain

device drivers live in the first 640KB of memory. Instead, OS/2 can load network
adapter drivers, multimedia interfaces, CD-ROM software or video drivers into
memory as required. While OS/2 works very nicely with the same FAT file system
used by DOS, its HPFS has a number of benefits. It is significantly faster, it allows
a long file name, and it supports disk drivers as large as 256 gigabytes.
This operating system allows multitasking and dynamic data interchange. It also
provides common graphical user interface with mainframes, minicomputers, and
microcomputers by OS/2 WARP. OS/2 was developed to assist in the sharing of
data and programs among several microcomputers. OS/2 solidly supports Novell
Netware and TCP/IP. Most network interface cards are supported.

Disadvantages: OS/2 Shell or WARP is similar to Windows, but is not identical. It

may take users a while to adjust to some of the differences. The application
programs developed specifically for OS/2 are not as many as those for Windows,
although more and more application developers are going to converting and
developing programs for OS/2 thesedays.


UNIX was originally developed in 1969 by K. Thompson, R. Canaday and D.

Ritchie for minicomputers in the Bell Laboratories in the USA owned and run by
AT& T. By the mid-1970s, UNIX had been introduced to University of California at
Berkeley by Thompson, then widespread into an academic world. Most computer
science departments of universities have been used UNIX. UNIX initially became
popular in industry because for many years AT& T licensed the system to
universities for a nominal fee. The effect of this was that UNIX was carried by
recent computer science and engineering graduates to their new places of
employment. Rapid commercialization of UNIX followed on from this. This rapid
commercialization caused the lack of standards. Many hardware and software
vendors developed their own versions.
After UNIX was widespread, it had been used by scientists and engineers. It is
because of its scientific and technical orientation. It is less well known with
business people. All that, however, is probably about to change. The reason is
that with the arrival of very powerful microcomputers using the newer chips such
as pentium and pentium-pro chips, UNIX has become a major player in the
microcomputer world. The difficulty of learning is also about to change because of
the graphical user interface.

This is a multiuser, multitasking operating system that runs on many different

computer systems from microcomputer to mainframe, because UNIX is written in
C programming language, which is a language designed for system-level
programming. UNIX is consisted of a kernel, the file system, the user interface.
The kernel is the heart of the operating system. The file system has a hierarchical
directory method for organizing files on the disk and the shell.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages: UNIX is the portable operating system that can be used with many
different computers from mainframe to microcomputer. The other operating
systems such as DOS, Windows, Mac operating system, and OS/2 cannot be
used for other systems. One of many strong features of UNIX is multitasking.
UNIX allows users to run multiple programs simultaneously.
UNIX also shares it among multiple users. UNIX is not restrained by the computer
systems such as conventional memory as the DOS and OS/2 systems are. It can
accomplish many operations that were formerly performed on minicomputers or
mainframes. It is important, because industry can achieve the performance and
benefits of large computers from microcomputers by using UNIX.
Networking is another strong feature of a UNIX operating system. UNIX can be
connected through several different kinds of equipment. It can share files among
Disadvantages: Although UNIX can do many things, it can be difficult for novice
microcomputer users to understand. This is a reason it has had a limited impact
to date. UNIX was a minicomputer operating system used by programmers and
computer science professionals some time before the rise of the microcomputer.
This means that it has certain qualities making it useful to programmers - many
supporting utility programs and documentation, for instance. Some of its features
make it difficult for end users.
Limited application programs are another disadvantage for UNIX. UNIX off-the-
shelf programs for microcomputers are limited. However, this situation is going to
change, because many software vendors are rewriting DOS and Windows
applications for UNIX.
There is not a standard for UNIX. This may be the biggest problem for the
popularity of UNIX. The principal microcomputer versions are the AT& T UNIX
System V, the UC Berkeley UNIX, and Xenix developed by Microsoft for a
microcomputer version. AIX from IBM, Solaris, and Linux are other variants of
UNIX. An application program written for one version of UNIX may not run on
other versions.
There is also not a standard GUI for many UNIXs. There were several attempts to
combine the Sun, AT& T, and U.C. Berkeley versions of UNIX to produce a
standard graphical user interface. The one was Open Look (Sun/Open Windows)
by Sun, AT& T and Berkeley. Another graphical user interface was an OSF/Motif
by the Open Software Foundation (OSF). OSF/Motif is now in severe disarray.

Macintosh Operating Systems

It uses a graphics screen that places familiar office objects on a display screen.
Files, folders, programs, and disks are represented by icons. It has a hierarchical
file system that lets users drag document icons into and out of folder icons.
Folders can also contain other folders and so on.
In IBM computers and IBM compatible computers, software developers usually
decide how they make a user interface. In contrast, Macintosh application
developers usually conform to the Macintosh user interface. This consistent user
interface makes users easy to learn new programs from the start. This also
makes Macintosh operating system and its application programs
The Macintosh user interface style has been adapted to many other operating
systems. For example, OS/2 Presentation Manager and WARP, New Wave, most
UNIX systems, and Windows look very similar to the Macintosh graphics user
The Macintosh operating system has two major files. They are the System file
and the Finder. The system file manages the user interface. Both files work
together to achieve the operating system procedures such as formatting disks,
copying files, erasing files, and running application programs.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages: The ease of use is the primary charm of the Macintosh. The
graphics interface such as menus, screen display, and dialog boxes are quite
more consistent across applications than they are in Windows. It also offers easy
plug and play. When install a board in a Mac, users need to plug it into a slot,
drag its driver icon into the System Folder, and reboot the computer.
It provides long filenames, integrated program and file management, desktop
icons, and shortcuts. It provides a high quality graphics processing that makes
Macintosh popular for desktop publishing (Mac is the standard computer in the
publishing industry). It has a great video architecture that allows users to add
multiple monitors to a computer by adding another video board and hook up
another monitor.
The later versions of Macintosh operating system (System 7.x series) enable
users to do multitasking. That is, multiple programs can run simultaneously, each
sharing the CPU (cooperative multitasking like Windows 3.x). System 7.x allows
applications programs to exchange and share data and commands with other
application programs.
It even provides built-in sound, SCSI, and Ethernet that allow users to work easily
with multimedia. It has much better multimedia toolkit than Windows has. The IBM
and compatible computers, PC, cannot match the Macintosh's toolkits for
multimedia, and Windows multimedia applications do not work together as
smoothly as their Macintosh counterparts.
Disadvantages: The first disadvantage of the Macintosh platform is the
incompatibility with DOS and Windows (PC) applications. This has been made
Macintoshes less attractive to corporate users that want to have compatibility and
connectivity within company and between companies. However, software (e.g.,
Insignia's SoftWindows) are now available for the Mac to allow it to run Windows
on PowerMac although it runs slowly. This is a great utility for a Mac user who
needs to run DOS or Windows applications occasionally. Another solution for this
is the fact that networks connecting Macintoshes to PCs are available these days.

Types of Utilities

A utility program, also called a utility, is a type of system software that allows a
user to perform maintenance-type tasks, usually related to managing a compter,
its devices, or its programs. Most operating systems include several built-in utility
programs. Users often buy stand-alone utilities, however, because they offer
improvements over those included with the operating system. There are few
types of utilities recently used:

Antivirus Programs

The term, computer virus, describes a potentially damaging computer program

that affects, or infects, a computer negatively by altering the way the computer
works without the user’s knowledge or permission. Once the virus is in a
computer, it can spread throughout and may damage your files and operating
system. To protect a computer from virus attacks, users should install an antiirus
program and update it frequently. An antivirus program protects a computer
against viruses by identifying and removing any computer viruses found in
memory, on storage media, or on incoming files. Most antivirus programs also
protect against worms and Trojan Horses. When you puchase a new computer, it
often includes antivirus software.

Spyware and Adware Removers

Spyware is a program placed on a computer without the user’s knowledge that

secretly collects information about the user, often related to Web browsing
habits. The spyware program communicates information it collects to some
outside source while you are online. Adware is a program that displays an online
advertisement in a banner or pop-up window on Web pages, e-mail, or other
Internet services. Sometimes, spyware is hidden in adware.

Disc Burning

Disc burning software writes text, graphics, audio, and video files on a recordable
or rewritable CD, DVD, or Blu-ray Disc. This software enables the home user
easily to back up contents of their hard disk on an optical disc and make
duplicates of uncopyrighted music or movies. Disc burning software usually also
include photo editing, audio editing, and video editing capabilities.

Media Player

A media player is a program that allows you to view images and animation, listen
to audio, and watch video files on your computer. Media players may also include
the capability to organize media files, convert them to different formats, connect
to and purchase media from an online media store, download podcasts and
vodcasts, burn audio CDs, and transfer media to portable media players.
Windows includes Windows Media Player.