PC Hardware

Lesson Summary: Operating Systems and Softwares

The following points summarize the main elements of this lesson:

  • Windows 3.x is an operating environment that runs on top of MS-DOS.

  • Windows uses a GUI (graphical user interface) instead of the command line interface of MS-DOS.

  • In addition to the MS-DOS configuration files, Windows uses .INI files.

  • WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, and CONTROL.INI are the primary configuration files for Windows.

  • Sysedit is used to modify system files.

  • Windows also uses DLL (dynamic-link library) files to configure and run applications.

  • MS-DOS applications will run in Windows, but might require special settings to run properly. A .PIF file is used to create these settings.

  • Windows uses protected mode to allow the multitasking of applications.

  • General Protection Faults (GPFs) occur when an application tries to use resources allocated to other applications.

Tutorial Summary

The following points summarize the key concepts in this tutorial:

Operating System Basics

  • MS-DOS is considered synonymous with the term DOS, even though there were other disk operating systems produced.

  • The three programs that constitute the core operating system of MS-DOS are IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS, and COMMAND.COM.


  • CONFIG.SYS loads extra hardware and device drivers that are not built into the IO.SYS file.

  • It is important that you are familiar with the steps involved with the boot process.

Windows 3.x

  • Windows 3.x is not an operating system, but provides a common user interface for applications written to its standards.

  • It is important that you are familiar with the different modes of Windows and how (and where) they function.

  • Windows runs on top of MS-DOS. It is an MS-DOS-based program that provides a graphical user interface (GUI).

  • It is important that you know the different areas of memory.

  • Windows provides three types of fonts: vector fonts, raster fonts, and TrueType fonts.

  • There are three methods for managing or configuring Windows: the Control Panel, Windows Setup, and Windows .INI files.

  • Sysedit is a program for editing the system files (AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, WIN.INI, and SYSTEM.INI).

  • PROGRAM.INI controls the settings for the Program Manager Group files.

  • Virtual memory allows the processor to use the hard drive to simulate RAM.

  • A popular disk cache is SMARTDRV.EXE. It is provided as part of MS-DOS and is activated by entering it into the CONFIG.SYS file.

  • Windows uses a .PIF (Program Information File) to hold the necessary data to set up the virtual machine.

  • Windows 3.x problems can be divided into three distinct groups: lockups, GPFs, and erratic behavior.


  1. What does DOS stand for?

  2. What was DOS created to do?

  3. Which version of MS-DOS is bundled with Windows 95?

  4. Describe the core operating systems within MS-DOS.

  5. What are the two MS-DOS startup files?

  6. Which MS-DOS command is used to determine the amount of free space left on a disk?

  7. Describe the difference between real mode and protected mode.

  8. Windows provides a GUI for the user. What does "GUI" stand for? What is its advantage over the older MS-DOS system?

  9. Describe the three kinds of fonts used in a Windows environment.

  10. Name five settings that can be changed from the Windows Control Panel.

  11. Which wildcard character can be used to replace a single character in a search string?