Section 3.1: Operating System Features

There are many types of operating systems (OS) available these days. Each operating system offers many different features, complex functions, and most importantly it allows interfacing with the hardware. It actually provides a platform on which other applications can run.

An OS provides a consistent environment for other applications to run. It allows users to send commands to applications and get back results or output. OS communicates with computer hardware to perform disk and file management, memory management, and device access.

Once an OS is installed on a computer, you can instruct the computer through input devices such as a keyboard or a mouse. An OS is a centre system through which system hardware, software, and users communicate with each other. One of the most commonly used operating systems these days are Windows based operating systems. The two major types of operating systems are network and desktop operating systems.

One of the earliest networks based Windows OS was Windows NT. After Windows NT Windows 2000 was released. It had many versions but most popular were Windows 2000 Professional (workstation OS) and Windows 2000 Server (server OS).

The Windows XP was the next OS, which was available in five versions: Home, Professional, Tablet PC Addition, Professional X64, and Media Centre. Windows XP professional contains more corporate and networking features and media centre is designed to unleash multimedia. It also allows you to set up your TV through your computer.

After Windows XP came Windows Vista in year 2007. It also came in many different additions such as Home, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate. The most important feature included in Windows Vista is its user interface called Windows Aero. It also contains UAC (User Account Control), easy access popup side bars and gadgets, and speech and handwriting recognition.

Many OSs available these days are available as 32 bit and 64 bit OSs. For Example Windows Vista is available in both 32 bit and 64 bit versions. The 32 bit OSs can run on 32 bit processors and 64 bit processors but a 64 bit OS can only run on a 64 bit processor. The phrase X86 is used to denote OSs that can run on Intel based processors and phrase X64 denotes an OS that can run on a 64 bit processor.

Section 3.1.1: Minimum System Requirements

Before installing any operating system it is important to determine its minimum hardware requirements and hardware compatibility. Microsoft has uploaded a list of all the hardware that works with each version of a Windows on the website URL The list of hardware for an operating system is called its hardware compatibility list (HCL). The minimum requirements of Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP Professional, and Windows Vista are:


2000 Professional Requirement

XP Professional Requirements

Vista Requirement


Pentium 133

233MHz Pentium/Celeron or AMD K6/Athlon/Duron






Free hard disk space



15 GB free on a 20GB drive

Floppy disk

Required only if installing from boot disks

Not required





Required (but not listed as requirement)



Super VGA or better