Manage your programs (or "applications") in Windows Vista
Windows Vista is the "operating system" of your computer, a special kind of program, or application, that manages almost everything else on your PC. This series of tutorials will discuss the various aspect of using and managing applications on your computer: installing a new program, uninstalling a program, uninstalling Windows updates, and setting programs as default handler for various tasks.
The words "program" and "application" can be used interchangeably. You will also sometimes hear the word "utility", which is also a type of program: a utility is typically a program designed to do a single, very simple task. The various types of applications are discussed below.
Types of applications in Windows Vista
There are mainly two types of applications: "web applications" and "desktop applications". Windows Vista introduced a third sub-type of applications, the sidebar gadgets, clarified below as well.
Web applications ("online applications")
Online applications are programs you run online, from your web browser (like Internet Explorer). The webmail service Hotmail is an "web application", or "online application". There are plenty of other web applications for auction management, time and project management, etc. In most cases, a web application will run directly from your web browser, without requiring any sort of installation. You log in (or not), and start using the application from any internet-connected PC.
Desktop applications are the programs that come pre-installed on your computer, like Notepad, Paint, or WordPad, or programs you install yourself using an installer: either an installer that runs from a CD, or an installer you may have downloaded from a website. This series of Vista tutorials focuses primarily on desktop applications. Microsoft Office is a suite of desktop applications; Windows Mail is a desktop application; iTunes is yet another desktop application (that happens to connect to the internet to access the iTunes store, but it remains a desktop installable application).
Windows Sidebar Gadgets
There is yet a third type of application in Windows Vista: the Sidebar gadgets. These are extremely small and limited (though often useful) applications; the applications are given a full series of separate tutorials: learn more about sidebar gadgets in Windows Vista.up ↑