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The operating system (OS) manages all of the software and hardware on your computer. More often than not, there are multiple programs running at the same time, and all require access to your computer's central processing unit (CPU), memory, and storage. The operating system coordinates these processes to ensure each program gets what is required.
Types of operating systems
Operating systems typically come pre-loaded on most computer systems purchased from a retailer. Most people use the operating system that comes with their computer; however, it is possible to upgrade or change operating systems. The most commonly used operating systems for personal computers is Microsoft Windows.
There are multiple versions of Windows available, however, the most recent, Windows 10 (released in 2015), preceded by Windows 8 (2012), Windows 7 (2009), and Windows Vista (2007). Windows comes pre-installed on most new PCs, which serves to make it the most popular operating system in the world.
There are countless desktop applications, some are more full featured (like Microsoft Word), while others may only serve one or two functions (like a clock or calendar app).
Below are just a few examples of applications you might use:
Word processors: A word processor allows you to write a letter, design a flyer, and create different types of documents. The most popular word processor is Microsoft Word.
Web browsers: A web browser is a tool used to access the Internet. Most computers come with a web browser pre-installed, but you can also download a different browser if you’d like. Examples of browsers include Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari.
Media players: If you want to listen to MP3s or watch movies you have downloaded, you'll need to use a media player. Windows Media Player and iTunes are popular media players.
Games: There are many types of games you can play on your computer. They range from card games like Solitaire to action games like Halo. Many action games require a lot of computing power, so they may not work unless you have a newer computer.