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Computing Academy GCSE Computer Science

Drivers While the OS

Drivers While the OS takes on much of the responsibility for controlling and managing peripherals such as the mouse, keyboard and printer, it needs a little help. There are thousands of manufacturers, producing thousands of different products that you might wish to connect to your computer system; many of these peripherals may have been designed after the OS was released - so there is no way that an OS can possibly be prepared to communicate with and control peripherals without some additional help. Device Drivers are small programs written by the hardware designers specifically for a piece of hardware. When you purchase a new printer or webcam it normally comes packaged with the drivers, or instructions about where on the Internet you can download the drivers. A driver recognises signals sent from a piece of hardware and translates these so that the OS understands. 49

Applications Off the Shelf If you need to word process an essay or report you’ll use a word processor application; if you need to conduct some research on the Internet you’ll use a web browser application; if you want to enhance your holiday photos you’ll use a photo editing application. These applications already exist and you can purchase them from both high street and online shops. They are called off the shelf applications as the user has no input into the design or features of the software; the user simply buys the application as it is ‘off the shelf’. 50

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