A technician might be asked to choose and install an OS for a customer. There are two distinct types of operating systems: desktop and network. A desktop operating system is intended for use in a small office, home office (SOHO) environment with a limited number of users. A network operating system (NOS) is designed for a corporate environment serving multiple users with a wide range of needs.
A desktop OS has the following characteristics:
- Supports a single user
- Runs single-user applications
- Shares files and folders on a small network with limited security
In the current software market, the most commonly used desktop operating systems fall into three groups: Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS, and Linux. This chapter focuses on Microsoft operating systems.
Windows is one of the most popular operating systems today. The following versions of Windows are available:
- Windows 7 Starter - Used on netbook computers to make networking easy
- Windows 7 Home Premium - Used on home computers to easily share media
- Windows 7 Professional - Used on small business computers to secure critical information and to make routine tasks easier to complete
- Windows 7 Enterprise - Used on large business computers to provide more enhanced productivity, security, and management features
- Windows 7 Ultimate - Used on computers to combine the ease of use of Windows 7 Home Premium with the business capabilities of Windows 7 Professional and provide added data security
- Windows Vista Home Basic - Used on home computers for basic computing
- Windows Vista Home Premium - Used on home computers to expand personal productivity and digital entertainment beyond the basics
- Windows Vista Business - Used on small business computers for enhanced security and enhanced mobility technology
- Windows Vista Enterprise - Used on large business computers to provide more enhanced productivity, security, and management features
- Windows Vista Ultimate - Used on computers to combine all the needs of both home and business users
- Windows XP Professional - Used on most computers that connect to a Windows Server on a network
- Windows XP Home - Used on home computers and has limited security
- Windows XP Media Center - Used on entertainment computers for viewing movies and listening to music
- Windows XP 64-bit Professional - Used for computers with 64-bit processors
Apple Mac OS
Apple computers are proprietary and use an operating system called Mac OS. Mac OS is designed to be a user-friendly GUI operating system. Current versions of Mac OS are based on a customized version of UNIX.
Linux is based on UNIX, which was introduced in the late 1960s and is one of the oldest operating systems. Linus Torvalds designed Linux in 1991 as an open-source OS. Open-source programs allow the source code to be distributed and changed by anyone as a free download or by developers at a much lower cost than other operating systems.
NOTE: In this course, all command paths refer to Microsoft Windows, unless otherwise noted.