The hardware, the central processing unit (CPU), the memory, and the input/output (I/O) devices, provides the basic computing resources for the system. The application programs, such as word processors, spreadsheets, compilers, and Web browsers define the ways in which these resources are used to solve users’ computing problems.
The operating system controls the hardware and coordinates its use among the various application programs for the various users.
We can also view a computer system as consisting of hardware, software, and data. The operating system provides the means for proper use of these resources in the operation of the computer system. An operating system is
similar to a government. Like a government, it performs no useful function by itself. It simply provides an environment within which other programs can do useful work. To understand more fully the operating system’s role, we next explore operating systems from two viewpoints: that of the user and that of the system.