• Glenn Laredo

Best Computer Support Practices - Pt.1

It’s no secret that windows can be a pane. I mean Windows can be a pain. That was a pun..but you saw clear through that. My online thesaurus was playing tricks on me.

But seriously folks…

Windows is software. “Soft” being the operative word, because one size fits all. It’s malleable. It is written by Microsoft, but it needs to work with every brand of PC hardware: Dell, HP, Aver Lenovo, etc etc. Think about it. How does a software write code to work with every possible variation of computers..past, present and future? In a word: “Compromise”.

Your yoga pants have to fit me too..and whoah...that’s quite a stretch.

While it seems to be an unreachable goal for Congress, Microsoft is a master at compromise. At the heart of this scheme, is a core Windows system that can boot all PCs. But your computer is not the same as mine, which is not the same as your best friend’s system, which is not the same as my Aunt Mildred’s. Otherwise, we would all go to the store and get the current year’s standardized model and be done with it.

But you know that’s not the case.

My laptop has a built in screen while your desktop does not. I have a machine that’s twice as slow as yours, because the processor is less expensive and can’t interpret my computer’s commands as fast. You have four processors in fact, but I have only two. But, my music really rocks because I paid for a super audio component. How does Windows handle the seemingly infinite possible combination of hardware and electronic structures of all of the world’s PCs?

In another word: “Drivers”. i.e. software add-ons for each computer component that provides the framework which allows Windows to communicate with the specific hardware. There are drivers for your wired network component, another for your wireless hardware. You would have no keyboard or mouse functionality without the proper drivers. You need software that allows your system to communicate with your printer. There are dozens of totally different drivers added to the core Windows operating system for every computer. They are invisible to you – and unless you lose the functionality of one of your computer’s operations, you would probably never give it a second thought.

Next question: How does Windows keep track of all of these drivers and adapt itself to talk nicely with them for your enjoyment? This requires two words: “The Registry”.

The Registry is the software component of Windows that keeps track of your ever changing technical environment. Here, the word “soft” refers to the ability of the computer code to morph and control your peripherals. In simple terms, software changes. Hardware does not.

The Registry keeps track of everything! It changes when you add or remove an application. It changes when you change the speed of your mouse or employ a new screensaver. It knows. It is the man behind the curtain… but you had best pay attention to this one…. because those ruby slippers need some TLC to continue to work their magic!

To Be Continued


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