A personal computer is made up of multiple physical components of computer hardware, upon which can be installed an operating system and a multitude of software to perform the operator’s desired functions.
A personal computer (PC) is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end user, with no intervening computer operator. This is in contrast to the batch processing or time-sharing models which allowed large expensive mainframe systems to be used by many people, usually at the same time, or large data processing systems which required a full-time staff to operate efficiently.
A personal computer may be a desktop computer, a laptop computer, tablet computer or a palmtop. The most common microprocessors are x86-compatible CPUs, ARM architecture CPUs and PowerPC CPUs. Software applications for personal computers include word processing, spreadsheets, databases, Web browsers and e-mail clients, games, and myriad personal productivity and special-purpose software. Modern personal computers often have high-speed or dial-up connections to the Internet, allowing access to the World Wide Web and a wide range of other resources.
A PC may be used at home, or may be found in an office. Personal computers can be connected to a local area network (LAN) either by a cable or wirelessly.
While early PC owners usually had to write their own programs to do anything useful with the machines, today’s users have access to a wide range of commercial and non-commercial software which is provided in ready-to-run form. Since the 1980s, Microsoft and Intel have been dominating much of the personal computer market with the Wintel platform.
An Operating System (OS) is an interface between hardware and user which is responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of the resources of the computer that acts as a host for computing applications run on the machine. As a host, one of the purposes of an operating system is to handle the details of the operation of the hardware. This relieves application programs from having to manage these details and makes it easier to write applications. Almost all computers (including handheld computers, desktop computers, supercomputers, video game consoles) as well as some robots, domestic appliances (dishwashers, washing machines), and portable media players use an operating system of some type. Some of the oldest models may, however, use an embedded operating system that may be contained on a compact disk data storage device.
Operating systems offer a number of services to application programs and users. Applications access these services through application programming interfaces (APIs) or system calls. By invoking these interfaces, the application can request a service from the operating system, pass parameters, and receive the results of the operation. Users may also interact with the operating system with some kind of software user interface (SUI) like typing commands by using command line interface (CLI) or using a graphical user interface (GUI, commonly pronounced “gooey”). For hand-held and desktop computers, the user interface is generally considered part of the operating system. On large multi-user systems like Unix and Unix-like systems, the user interface is generally implemented as an application program that runs outside the operating system. (Whether the user interface should be included as part of the operating system is a point of contention.)
Common contemporary operating systems include BSD, Darwin (Mac OS X), Linux, SunOS (Solaris/OpenSolaris), and Windows NT (XP/Vista/7). While servers generally run Unix or some Unix-like operating system, embedded system markets are split amongst several operating systems., although the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems has almost 90% of the client PC market.
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