By Anthony Fordham

Perhaps, like many people, you don?t hang around the internet reading up on the latest developments in computer system software. But thanks to Microsoft?s massive marketing campaign, even the most casual of users would have noticed the release of a little thing called Windows Vista.

Ask the man on the street what Vista is and he?ll say ?Oh yeah, that?s that new Windows… thing?? Microsoft has done a lot to create public awareness of Vista, but plenty of people still don?t have a handle on exactly what it is. It?s the new Windows, that seems obvious enough, but what does it mean to put a ?new Windows? on your PC?

Rather than spend the next 600 words banging on about Vista, let?s take a step back and examine what exactly an Operating System is, and how, like it or not, almost all our entertainment products now use one.

Thanks to that wonderful buzzword ?convergence?, very few of the consumer electronics you use today are free from having some kind of computer inside them. Any device that does more than simply count off ticks on an internal clock needs a set of circuitry to manage an increasingly complex set of tasks.