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1. Working with windows 98: Important Features

1. The Desktop

2. Icons

3. Taskbar and start button

4. Window

5. Menus

SECTION 2: Windows Basics

Section Objective: Basic understanding of Windows and ability to perform elementary tasks

Windows is the operating system developed and marketed by Microsoft Corporation. In 1995 Microsoft released a complete operating system, Windows 95. It was a successor to an earlier version of operating systems marketed by Microsoft, the Windows 3.x. Windows 95 came with several improvements over the previous versions. It was the first full-fledged GUI-based operating system for Intel PCs from Microsoft. It could run any DOS or Windows 3.x program (written in 16-Bit code) and at the same time it could exchange information with programs requiring faster 32-bit processing. It was the first PC operating system to offer 'Pre-emptive Multitasking' which allowed efficient working. This OS also provided a standard for connecting new hardware, and offered compatibility with networking software. Windows 98, was an upgraded version of Windows 95, and was launched in 1998. Windows 98 included Internet Explorer Web browser which was not present in Windows 98. It also allowed support for emerging technologies and hardware, including support for up to 8 screens. In this chapter we will learn about some operations in Windows 98.

CHAPTER 2.1: Working with Windows: Important Features

Chapter Objective: Basic understanding of important features of Windows

To be able to use Windows proficiently for your work, you need to become familiar with the important features of Windows.

TOPIC 2.1.1: The Desktop

When you turn on the computer, the computer starts the booting process. In this process it also launches the Windows OS. After the starting process is complete, a graphical screen appears displaying various icons and pictures. This screen is called the Desktop. The icons and pictures used in this screen stand for some programs and documents in your computer. If you left-click twice in quick succession (double-click) your mouse pointer on these icons and pictures then that program or document is opened and you can work in it. Some of the regular icons found on a desktop are 'My Computer', 'Recycle Bin', 'My Documents', and 'Internet Explorer'. You can access all items on the Desktop by using the arrow direction keys on the keyboard to reach the program you want to launch and then pressing the 'Enter' button.

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TOPIC 2.1.2: Icons

These are pictures that represent programs, document files and folders, disk drives, and so on. To work with a particular program, you activate the icon representing that program. This is done easily by mouse or by using the arrow keys on the keyboard.

If you are using a mouse, then an icon is selected by one left-click over the icon. To activate the program, double click on the icon. Icons can be moved by holding the left-click down on the icon and then moving the mouse to the place the icon has to be moved. If you right-click on the icon, a shortcut menu bar appears. This menu bar provides quick access to most commonly used commands associated with the application or program represented by the icon.

If you are using the keyboard, then once you reach a screen the first icon appears already selected. To reach the icon you want to activate, you will have to use the arrow keys. Press 'Enter' key, to activate the program, once you have reached the icon representing it.

For example: the 'My Computer' icon on the desktop provides access to various computer resources such as

  • Floppy Drive (A: or B:)
  • Hard Drive (C:)
  • CD-ROM Drive (D: or E:)
  • Printers
  • Control Panel
  • Scheduled tasks

Besides icons, there are several buttons that you will come across while working on Windows. Buttons are small areas on the screen which when clicked start a specific action or task. All buttons are labeled with the task they will start. For example, 'Open' button will open a program or document or 'Cancel' button will close a program or document.

TOPIC 2.1.3: Taskbar and start button

Along with the appearance of the Desktop, a bar also appears on the bottom of the screen. This bar is known as the Taskbar. The main purpose of this bar is to display button for the programs that are being run on the computer. It displays some more information.

On the left-hand corner of the task bar is the 'Start' button. It is the permanent feature of the task bar. We know how to click the Start button. On clicking this button Start Menu appears. This menu contains shortcuts to various programs on your computer. There are several options such as Shut Down, Run, Help, Find, Settings, Documents and Programs. You can access these options either by moving mouse over the specific icon, or by using the arrow keys to move up, down or sideways.

Instructor link: Classroom activity on Start Menu

On the right-hand corner, the task bar displays information such as time and provides short cut to some utilities such as volume control, task scheduler etc. The task bar also provides access to some applications such as the internet explorer, outlook express, media players etc.

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TOPIC 2.1.4: Window

Whenever a program is launched, it may occupy the whole screen or it may open in a rectangular frame. You can open many programs at the same time, and each program opens in a separate frame of its own. This frame is called a window. From top to bottom a typical program window consists of the following elements:

1. Title bar - This is the top most portion of any window. It is a thin rectangular strip that displays the name of the opened window on the left-hand corner. For example, if you have clicked on the 'My Computer' icon on the desktop, then the title bar will display 'My Computer' on the left-hand corner. On the right-hand corner of the title bar, three buttons are displayed. From left to right, these buttons are

  • Minimize - Clicking on this button will reduce the program window to a button on the taskbar. If you are using the keyboard, press 'Alt' key, space bar and then 'N' key to minimize the window.
  • Maximize - Clicking on this button will enlarge the program window to occupy the whole screen. If you are using the keyboard, press 'Alt' key, space bar and then 'X' key to maximize the window.
  • Close - Clicking on this button will close the program window. If you are using the keyboard, press 'Alt' key, space bar and then 'X' key to maximize the window.

2. Menu bar - This is a horizontal row of various command options, and is located just below the title bar.

3. Standard tool bar - Just below the Menu bar is the standard tool bar. It consists of various icons that represent short cut to select frequently-used tools.

4. Address bar - Below the standard tool bar is the address bar. It displays the name of the folder being accessed, along with its complete Path. This part is present in some windows while it would be absent in some program windows.

5. Content Pane - This occupies the maximum space of a window. The user performs all tasks in this pane.

6. Status bar - It provides information about the contents of a window, such as the number of items in the content pane, total memory space used by the items, name of the window, or in case of some programs the number of pages, and so on.

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TOPIC 2.1.5: Menus

On the top of each window there is a row of options called the menu bar. The menu bar consists of menu options for performing various operations. When a particular option is clicked, a menu drops down from it displaying a list of commands. By clicking on these commands you can perform a specific task. Though some of the menu options are similar in all windows, some menu options may differ in different windows, and the appearance of these options depends on the type of program being run. Some of the common menu options are

  • File option - This is used to carry out specific file-related operations such as opening, closing, saving files etc. To open drop-down of this option from the keyboard, press 'Alt' key once and then 'F' key.
  • Edit option - This is used to carry out editing operations within the file. To open drop-down of this option from the keyboard, press 'Alt' key once and then 'E key.
  • View option- This is used to change the appearance of the window. To open drop-down of this option from the keyboard, press 'Alt' key once and then 'V' key.
  • Help option - This is used to seek help whenever the user encounters problems. To open drop-down of this option from the keyboard, press 'Alt' key once and then 'H key.

Chapter Exercises

  • What are icons?
  • List the icons available on your desktop?
  • List the elements of a typical window.
  • How would you open the Start Menu from your keyboard?
  • Complete these exercises:
    1. Open Recycle bin from the desktop
    2. Open windows explorer from start menu
    3. Open Help menu drop-down from menu bar
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    Term Explanation

    GUI refers to Graphical User Interface, which are computer interfaces for users where the users interact with graphical objects on the screen using a pointing device (such as a mouse).

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    This is referred to as the hierarchy of folders and sub-folders that must be accessed or opened by a user in order to reach a particular folder or document. For example, if you have created a document called Test.txt and placed it into a folder called Testing. Now, suppose that this folder resides in My Documents folder, which in turn resides in the hard drive (C:). The path to reach Test.txt will be C:/My Documents/Testing/Test.txt. It means that you will first open C:, then you will open My Documents, then Testing and finally Test.txt.

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    Pre-emptive Multitasking

    Pre-emptive multitasking means that if one program fails the user can access all other programs in the memory without having to restart the computer.

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    Classroom Activities

    Start Menu

    The instructor should familiarize the students with the various options on the start menu and explain the function of each element.

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