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application software

software designed for a specific purpose such as word processing, database creation, producing graphics, entertainment


the process of starting the computer and loading the operating system

bootstrap program

a short program that loads some basic files into memory, then turns the startup operation over to the operating system


errors in programming code

cabinet (.cab) files

compressed files that contain the operating system hardware

cold boot

turning on the computer at the power switch


set up a computer for use with specific hardware or software

cooperative multitasking

one program dominates the operating system but allows another program to run while the primary program is idle (MacIntosh and Windows 3.x)


a file used to group other files together in a hierarchical file structure. Analogous to a file folder in a paper filing system


software that enables proper communication between the PC and peripheral devices


the second part of a filename. typically three letters, that tell the OS the function of the file


a collection of data that forms a single unit

file allocation table (FAT)

a table used by the operating system to recall the locations of files and bad sectors on the disk

graphical user interface (GUI)

OS interface that allows user to perform functions by selecting on-screen icons rather than issuing text-line commands


the core of an operating system


running two or more programs at the same time

operating system (OS)

Software that provides the user with a file system structure and allows the user to communicate with the computer system's hardware


a string of characters used to identify a file's location in a directory structure

Plug and Play (PnP)

a BIOS function that enables the automatic detection and configuration of new hardware components. Also the automatic assignment of system resources such as DMA channels, interrupts, memory, and port assignments

POST (Power On Self Test)

a routine check of the computer's hardware that executes every time the computer is turned on

preemptive multitasking

multiple programs sharing control of the operating system (time-slicing)


a database that stores configuration information about hardware, software, and users

root directory

the directory at the top of the file structure hierarchy. analogous to a cabinet drawer in a traditional, paper filing system

warm boot

using the reset button or key combination (ctrl-alt-del) to restart a computer that is already running

Windows System Disk

a disk containing all the files necessary to start the PC and load the operating system

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