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The Basics of Computer Terminology
By Andrew Reichenberg Posted in Emerging Tech, Software on October 13, 2013

After learning the basic terminology of computer hardware, the next logical step is to learn about software and what the different technical words mean.  The good news is that the definitions are easy to understand and a degree in IT is not needed to get the basic gist of things.  Software is basically all of the programs that are on a computer.  Software helps a user accomplish tasks such as surfing the internet, writing text documents, creating spreadsheets and sending emails.  There is computer software available for almost everything a person could want to do with a computer.  There is photo editing software, movie-making software, music software, software for watching TV and software for countless other tasks.

There is some basic technical terminology for computer software :

An operating system is by far a computer’s most important piece of software.  This is the system that allows a user to execute programs, and the most common operating system is Windows.  Various versions of windows exist and there are plenty of computers running older versions.

Warez refers to pirated or illegal software and is pronounced “wares”, not “wa-rez”.

A serial means the serial number for a certain type of software.

Uploading means transferring a file from a computer to another computer, a host computer, using the internet.  For example, when submitting a photograph or video to a website such as, the user is uploading content to

Downloading occurs when a user transfers a file from internet to his or her computer via clicking a link and saves the file to his or her computer.

Apps is an abbreviation for application software.

Trial Software is a version of software which is available temporarily for free; when the trial time expires, the user can no longer access the software unless it is purchased.

Desktop:  This means everything a user sees on their screen when their PC or laptop starts but does not include the taskbar.

Wallpaper:  This is the background on the monitor over which the desktop icons are seen.  Many people choose one of their own photographs to use as their computer’s wallpaper.

Cookie:  A cookie is a text message of information that is stored on the user’s PC or laptop after he or she has visited a certain website.  The “cookie” is then used to recognize the user if he or she returns to the same website later.

CD or DVD burning:  This refers to the recording or writing of data to a CD or DVD disk.  When a user saves copies of his or her home videos to a CD or DVD, he or she is “burning” a disc.  It never, under any circumstances, refers to setting an object alight!

With these definitions, hopefully a computer beginner or novice will start to understand some of the intricacies of computers and wish to learn more about the wonderful technology we all have access to.

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