The Computer Revolution
The way of the computing world is changing at a neck breaking pace. People are looking for computers to be easy to use, and to make life easier for them. The computer manufactures and software developers have started to tailor computers and programs to fit the needs of the new "computer age". Graphical Interface Software (GUI) began to make computing easier and people who never dreamed of owning computers began to buy them. Macintosh was one of the first GUI computers to hit the market, but it was not IBM compatible, so it did not take over the mainstream of the computer industry. Since most computers where being make to fit the IBM compatible standards, Microsoft saw the need to replace DOS (Disk Operating System) with something easier to use. That is when they developed Windows, which covered the difficult to use DOS with a new face that made computing easier. The first Windows was a start in the right direction. In an effort to make computing meet the needs of the public, Microsoft developed Windows 95. Windows 95 has the appearance of being a completely user friendly operating system and it pretty much is as far as the average user is concerned. The compatibility with most hardware makes it easy for someone to upgrade their computer. The desktop is designed so the user has point and click access to all their open and closed programs. Utilizing the 32 bit programing it was written with, users are able to work with more than one program at a time and move information between programs. This gives the user the freedom they need to begin to explore the world of computing without having to learn all the "computer stuff". Today everyone wants the fastest computer with the best monitor and fastest modem this was an interrupt address nightmare until Windows 95 was developed. People didn't know what jumpers needed to go where to make their hardware work. Or why their CDROM wouldn't work since they changed their sound board. Most hardware periphials have all the configurations built into a chip that communicates with Windows 95 to find out where it needs to put itself in the address map. This allows users to have fancy big screen monitors and connect to the Internet with high speed modems. They can also put in faster video cards that use all the nice Windows 95 features, thus making their computing less complicated Windows 95 is set up with novice users in mind. As with Windows 3.x, it has boxes that open up with the program inside called windows. These windows are used to make computing more exciting for the user. No one wants to look at a screen with just plain text anymore. Before a window is opened, it is represented by an icon. Double clicking this icon with the mouse pointer will open the application window for the user to work in. Once the window has been opened, all visible functions of the program will be performed within it. At any time the window can be shrunk back down into an icon, or made to fit the entire screen. For all essential purposes the user has complete control over his windows. Since more than one window can be open at a time, the user can work with more than one program. Being able to work with more than one program brings out other special features of Windows 95. In a regular DOS system only one program can be open at a time. With previous versions of Windows more than one program could be open, but they did not work well together. Since Windows 95 is a 32 bit program, it manipulates memory addresses in a way that makes it look as though your programs are running simultaneously. This makes it easier to share information between programs. For example (I run Windows 95) while I am writing this paper using a word processor, I am logged onto the Internet and have five different programs running. I can move information from the Internet, or any other open program, into this paper without stopping anything else, something entirely impossible in DOS. Some people think the because they never see DOS anymore, it is not there. This could not be farther from the truth. DOS is alive and well hidden under the Windows 95 curtain. But unless the user wants to use DOS, there is no reason to even bother it. In Windows 95, DOS (version 7) has a few added goodies the some users enjoy. The biggest one is being able to open Windows applications by typing the program file name at the DOS prompt. Another one is being able to run more than one DOS application at a time. This does not work as well as with Windows applications, but it has similar effect. DOS can be used alone, outside of Windows 95, as before. Or it can be opened in a window on the desktop like a normal Windows program, and can be manipulated in size and style. The desktop is where the icons and windows we discussed before live. In older versions of Windows the icons lived in the Program Manager. In Windows 95 they live under the Start button. Once the start button is clicked, it displays a pop up windows. Moving the mouse pointer in the pop up windows gives you access to the different programs available. Icons can also be moved onto the desktop itself, these are called shortcuts. Double clicking a shortcut will open the program the shortcut represents. Shortcuts can be linked to a program or a file, and can be moved to any position on the desktop the user likes. You can also change the picture of the icon to any "Icon" picture you have available. The desktop can be fashioned in any way the user likes. For example colors and background pictures can be changed. Even the colors and thickness of the window outlines and menus can be changed. While programs are open on the desktop, they are displayed on the Task Bar at the bottom of the screen as buttons. One option with the task bar is that it may be moved to any of the four sides of the screen. The buttons have a picture and word identifier on them so the user knows which button is for which program. Clicking once on the button will switch to the program represented, which makes it easier to switch between more than one program. This just about gives the user total control over his computer, which is what most users want. The ease of use is what makes Windows 95 appealing to the "modern" computer user. In time Microsoft will improve on the reliability of Windows 95, making it easier to work with. Being the most complete and user friendly IBM compatible operating system on the market, I feel that Windows 95 will be the dominant operating system for several years to come.