An Algorithmic and Social Introduction to Computer Science (CSC-105 2000S)

How have operating systems broadened the horizons of what users and programmers can do with computers?




Operating systems have broadened horizons in the sense of allowing computers to become more user friendly. It seems like it just automated a lot of things that made computers less complicated and easier for the average person to use. That's my understanding of it anyways!


1. That was not my exact conclusion. I don't understand how an operating system "mediates" anything. If you mean it facilitates the easier use of computer's by users, then okay, but I associate the word mediate with conflict, which I don't see as an issue. Operating systems simply expand the applications of computers because we don't have to directly program the basic structure of the computer or it's switches, which would curb our ability to use the number or quality of applications we currently have available.

2. Operating systems broadened the horizons of computers by making the standard operations of a computer mainstay functions included in the computer initially. This frees users to turn their attention fully to the applications of computers, which is where they have value, instead of spending a great deal of time programming the structure of a computer's operation. Operating systems save time and thought about issues of a complexity unnessary to most users actual, practical, needs. Also, having an operating system basis that is like an "interchangable" part, in a sense, assists the development of more advanced operating systems and more powerful applications, because computing can operate in a language system where multiple groups of computer scientist-developers can exchange ideas fastened to a basic, common system.



This is a very difficult question because I have very little to compare operating systems to. I have a vague recollection of an Apple II GS that did not have the capability to store information on the hard-drive. The computer ran and stored information on hard-disks. It seems that once again computers are moving away from data storage on CPUs to data storage on networks. The advantage of storing information on networks is that it can be access from anywhere and anyone with proper user rights can use the information.

The operating systems give users a starting point from which to access programs. Rebooting the computer is not necessary to run a separate program. It also allows multiple programs to run at the same time. The additions of virus checkers and Explorer (Microsoft product--I am sure there are others that are similar however I don't know what they are) make the system easier to configure and maintain.

Finally, OS allow users to communicate with one an other in more efficient ways. The universal recognizability of languages makes communication between computers easier; operating systems played a critical role in the development of these languages.


Well, it doesn't say much about how operating systems broaden the horizons of users and programmers in Chapter 53 and I was unsuccessful searching the Net as well. One example I can think of, though, is in the PC market - operating systems powered by Intel's microchip are becoming faster and faster - up to 600 MHz (or even more by now). This has just allowed users to be able to do more and do it faster on their personal computers (and computers in general - like at the office, etc). There is a limit to how high/fast they can go, and I'm curious as to what they'll do when this limit is reached, but right now they seem to be expanding rapidly and improving the speed and effeciency of computers.


I think operating systems have been one of the single most productive creations in the history of programming, if not the most all by itself. With an operating system, I can look at my Instant Messenger buddy list, listen to music, look at information about Political Science classes in the Course Catalog thingy while I'm trying to decide about which classes to take next semester--all this while typing this e-mail. As described by Dude-knee (misspelling intentional), in the old days, even before the days of Sam, switches directly connected to the disks of the computer had to be flipped in order to change programs and such. I've not pressed a switch to change songs; instead all I do is click one little button on my WinAmp window. It's all very nice and easy, and I think it also makes programmers better able to work harder on the program aspects of programming instead of trying to figure out how to deal with the hardware and such of the physical computer. I guess it also means that someone with Linux can't always play the great games I get to play on my Windows machine because programs are often written for just one operating system, and usually the popular one, which, at the moment, is Windows. Oh wel


I would say that OS have broadened the horizons by making it less difficult to communicate with the computer. While one can run a computer at the lowest level and create all the processes from scratch, it makes more sense to have a set of basic processes stored permanently in the computer so time isn't wasted each time the need comes up.

However, I also might argue that OS as we know them (windows and Mac) lessen the potential of the user. The GUI (graphical user interface, using icons to control the computer instead of a command line) has made computers more accessible to the general public, but they have also made the processes the computer goes through more obscure. To save a document in Microsoft Word, I don't really ever have to know what the endings .doc or .txt mean. However, even using the HPs in the MathLAN bring the user a step down on the flashiness scale of the OS, but closer to the processes of the computer. (Sorry, I'm kind of bleeding into my reading for Wednesday...)


Well, like they said in the chapter, writing a DOS program is extremely complex. I'm sure that the complexity of programming and the technology level have increased directly, so with these two factors hand in hand, I think the possibilities continue to be endless. As long as technology continues to evolve, the means to run it must grow as well. Operating systems have made computing much more accessible and user friendly. Programmers probably never run out of problems to fix, probably evidence of their struggle to keep up with technology. I think that the values and benefits of programming operating systems and the systems that run them have a reciprocal relationship that is constantly evolving, forever broadening horizons.

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