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Definition of Operating System: And The Relationship to Software

There are many computer software programs; for example, pc monitoring software and computer applications. All computers run on an operating system. What is the definition of operating system? What are the best operating systems?

The definition of operating system is important in relation to software (also known as applications or 'apps'): software needs to run on an operating system (OS).

Your operating system is necessary: it recognizes input from the keyboard; sends output to the display screen; it keeps track of directories and files on your system disk; and it controls other devices such as the printer, disk drives, the mouse and more.

If you are what's known as a 'power user' (someone who works hard and long on their system and uses a variety of applications), you will likely already have a favorite OS that is robust enough for your specific needs. If you are a regular and/or 'light' user, then test a couple of options at your local computer store to see what works best for you.

Today's best operating systems offer pros and cons for each system:

  • The most widely recognized operating system is Windows by Microsoft: Windows 8 was released in October 2012 (and often comes pre-loaded if you're buying a new computer) but Windows 7 is still the more commonly used version; and Windows Vista and Windows XP are still in use on some older systems. Microsoft Windows is used globally for business and personal systems, relatively expensive, most common system for gamers, and often targeted by hackers/viruses;

  • Linux - is usually available for free but requires a more advanced system knowledge; limited software programs available although experienced users can access other programs through a compatability layer;

  • And Mac OS X - considered reliable and is well-loved by its user community; runs only on MacIntosh/Apple systems.

Got your computer all built, your operating system installed, and now you need some computer software to keep things running smoothly? Here is a list of free or inexpensive software that will help you do that.

There are a ton of free computer software applications out there these days. I have tried to gather together the most useful of them. I have concentrated on applications that will be the most useful to you in the following categories:

Know of a great free application or utility that I don't have listed? Let me know and I'll get it added in.
  • Computer Monitoring Software
  • Utilities and Benchmarking
  • Computer Applications

My goal here was to collect together some of the most useful computer programs and free applications. I spend a lot of time on the web, and so come across a lot of these on a daily basis. I have kept the list to those that I have used, or those that others I know have used. So jump in, browse around and find the software that you need.

Computer Monitoring Software

This category includes programs that will monitor the health of your computer. Programs like virus scanning, firewalls, and anti-spyware are all in here.

Protect Your Computer


Utilities and Benchmarking

Computer utilities are smaller programs that allow you to get detailed information on your computer and monitor things like CPU temperature and fan speeds. Along with that is benchmarking that will report your computer's speed and allow you to compare it against other similar computers.

Inspect Your Computer


Computer Applications

Computer applications are programs that allow you to do various tasks; word processing, spreadsheets, burn a DVD - you will find them all here.

Computer Applications


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Computer Software

computer software questions

Software for your system is more than the standard office type of product (such as a word processor, a spreadsheet program and more).

You also need to consider the software that operates your system and that helps it to operate efficiently (and to troubleshoot it when it doesn't run).

Make sure that you develop a working knowledge of what's available in these areas: operating systems to run your computer; monitoring software to protect your computer; utilities for managing and reporting on the functioning of components, such as the CPU and HD; benchmarking which will compare speed, BIOS and hardware details to other systems; and applications (such as a word processor) to run on your computer.

computer troubleshooting

Computer Troubleshooting

Need help diagnosing computer problems or challenges? Check out our troubleshooting page for common computer building issues.



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