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12: Installing and Upgrading Windows
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Table 121
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The popularity of programming paradigms such as Java might make some folks want to challenge the idea that every application must come in different versions for different operating systems Although a piece of Java code may run on any computer, each computer must have some programming installed that can interpret that Java code That programming is OS-specific
Linux
different OSs Table 121 shows a selection of OSs and applications written specifically for them The creators of an OS always provide a rule book that tells programmers how to write programs for a particular OS These rule books are known as application programming interfaces (APIs) Last, an OS must have flexibility and provide some facility for using new software or hardware that might be installed It just wouldn t do, for example, to be stuck with the same game year after year! (See Figure 121)
Communicating with Hardware
In earlier chapters you learned that the system BIOS, stored on some type of non-volatile memory (ROM or Flash ROM) on the motherboard, stores programs that know how to talk to the most basic and important parts of the computer These include the hard drives, floppy drives, keyboard, and basic video The OS must work with the system BIOS to deal with these devices If users want to access the hard drive to retrieve a program, the OS must take
Figure 121
Progress is good: Half-Life 2 (top, the larger image) and Wolfenstein 3-D (bottom)
Mike Meyers A+ Guide to Managing and Troubleshooting PCs
the request and pass it to the appropriate hard drive BIOS instruction that tells the drive to send the program to RAM Plus, if for some reason the BIOS lacks the ability to perform its function, the OS should bypass the system BIOS and talk to the piece of hardware directly Most recent operating systems, including Windows, skip the system BIOS and talk directly to almost every piece of hardware, reducing your system BIOS to little more than a relic of the past For the OS to take control of a new piece of hardware, it needs to communicate with that hardware Therefore, the OS needs a method to add the programming necessary to talk to that device, preferably in some simple and flexible way Most operating systems use device drivers to add this necessary code An OS maker (such as Microsoft) tells hardware makers how to create these programs (and makes money selling the development tools) and also creates a method of adding the device driver to the OS code Because makers of a particular piece of hardware usually supply the device drivers with the hardware, and because drivers act something like BIOS, this solution can be jokingly, although accurately, thought of as BYOB (Bring Your Own BIOS) Because the OS handles communicating with hardware, it should provide some type of error handling, or at least error notification If someone attempts to use a piece of hardware that isn t working properly, the Cross Check OS should either try to fix the problem or at least attempt to Working with BIOS communicate with the device a In 5, BIOS and CMOS, you learned that all hardware needs few more times If the device conBIOS So turn to that chapter now and see if you can answer these questinues to fail, the OS should protions What are the two ways for a device to BYOB What are the privide an error message to notify the mary tools or programs for working with BIOS user of the problem
Creating a User Interface
Most users have fairly straightforward needs First, they want to know which applications are available; second, they want easy access to those programs; and third, they want to be able to save the data they generate with some easy-to-use label by which they can retrieve it later A shoe store makes a good analogy for a user interface The front of the shoe store is filled with attractive displays of shoes, organized and grouped by gender (men and women), age (adults and children), function (dress or sports), and style Shoe sellers do this so consumers can see everything that s available and to make it much easier to select the shoes they want to purchase If a customer wants to buy a pair of shoes, what happens The customer points out the shoes he or she wants to try on The salesperson looks at the inside of the shoe and disappears through a small door Wonder why the salesperson looked in the shoe To read an inventory code that shoe manufacturers print inside every shoe Have you ever seen the back of a shoe store It s scary All the shoes are organized, not by gender, age, function, or style, but by inventory code, and the salesperson reads the inventory code to know where to look for that
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