“Get a Personal Trainer for Your Computer!”©

NOTE:  Items highlighted in RED are defined elsewhere in this Glossary, while items highlighted in BLUE are site links for further information.


W3C:  The World Wide Web Consortium.  Established in October, 1994, it is the non-profit organization that is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web. [See Assocoations]

Wacom logoWACOM:  A Japanese company that produces graphics tablets (see Stylus) which professionals like graphic designers, architects and cartoonists consider to be the industry standard.  Notable for use of a patented cordless, battery-free and pressure sensitive stylus (digital pen).  Also, used in point-of-sale credit card signature pads.

WAES:  Windows Attachment Execution Service.  This is a feature added to Windows in XP SP2 and continued to the present.  Windows automatically blocks files, usually e-mail attachments, which become suspect because they violate certain specific security “zones” defined by Windows.  To view, save separately, then click on “unblock” in the file’s Properties box.

WAIS:  Wide Area Information Server.  A commercial software package that allows the indexing of huge quantities of information, and then makes these indices searchable across networks such as the Internet.  A prominent feature of WAIS is the ranking or scoring of search results according to how relevant the hits are, and the ability to refine the search through subsequent searches.

WALLED GARDEN:  A computer which is restricted as to where it is allowed to browse on the Internet, much like a walled garden behind a grade school provides a safe, restricted environment where the children may play outside during recess.  The walled garden could be created by parental controls, or ISP controls, or simply content that is intended for only a specific group of users, not accessible to the general Internet audience as a whole.  Regarding ISP controls, a situation where a carrier or ISP controls access to just it’s content, restricting access to others.  Good example:  Apple, which restricts all access through its iTunes website.

WALLET:  Sometimes also e-Wallet or Digital WalletSoftware residing on a user’s computer or cell phone that allows users to use these devices to make electronic payment transactions quickly and securely.  Wallets either store money from bank accounts or credit cards or are linked to bank or credit card accounts so that when the wallet is accessed, either through an app or a NFC or Bluetooth swipe, the funds are instantly transferred without the necessity of processing a check or credit card.  (In Starbucks’ case, they use a prepaid gift card, Apple and Samsung use your actual bank credit card.)  Stores, transportation, parking, movies, etc. all are experimenting with this type of payment.  See Google Wallet, PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo, CurrentC, Samsung Pay (which is accepted at both NFC terminals as well as conventional “swipe” terminals, click HERE for more).  Masterpass is a digital wallet.

WAN:  Wide Area Network”.  Refers to a computer network of unrestricted size, usually an ISP (Internet Service Provider) that serves thousands of local users and networks.  If you have cable or DSL, you’re connected to a WAN.  That’s the port labeled (“WAN”) on the back of your Comcast or Verizon router that you plug the connection from the cable, DSL or FIOS modem into, so that it’s shared across the other devices on your network. See also SD-WAN.

WANG:  Actually “Wang Laboratories”.  In the 1970s, the king of worAn Wang photod processors.  In the 1980s, it was estimated that it’s Office Information System was in place of 80% of the world’s large corporations.  But founder An Wang focused too much on his rivalry with IBM and the company went bankrupt in 1992.

WAR DRIVING:  The practice of driving a vehicle through neighborhoods, equipped with a laptop computer, to determine if there are any insecure wireless networks which would provide free Internet access.  In the 80s and 90s, kids used to roam the neighborhoods armed with foil lined Pringles cans attached to their laptops acting as long-range antennas for the purpose of exploitation.  But with all the free wireless networks at Starbucks, McDonalds, hotels, restaurants, libraries and the like, as well as portable wireless hot-spots and Wi-Max/LTE in entire cities, this isn’t really necessary any more.  Because of this, the term now has morphed into a negative connotation, meaning anyone who steals a wireless signal in order to hack a network, whether through a baby monitor in a house or a wireless access point at a business, neighbor’s Wi-Fi, for nefarious purposes. (See Security, IoT.)  While it’s illegal to “steal” the internet access another has paid for without permission, there are still a number of “FreeNets,” a kind of grassroots community wireless networking movement, where you are allowed to use your WiFi to hop on to the Internet through their access points and you, in turn, agree to allow other users to do the same with your wireless connection.  See, e.g. access point mapping sites like, which provides maps of free Wi-Fi, mainly for use by cell phones.  The derivation of this term is historically quite interesting:  Years ago, primarily in cities, there was actually a movement called “War Chalking”.  People searching for insecure wireless networks scoured neighborhoods for useful access points and labeled the sidewalk with one of the following (and other) symbols:  The left symbol indicates an “open” wireless network, the middle one means it is “closed” and the right symbol means it is “encrypted.”  The use of these “sidewalk symbols” actually dates all the way back to the Great Depression, when hobos (now politically correctly called “homeless persons”) would make chalkmarks near homes that were friendly to hobos and would give them food. [Credit: Gralla, Windows XP Hacks, p.155.]

WARE:  In computer terms, -ware is commonly used to form terms for various classes or types of software.  Examples:  freeware (free, sometimes “lite” versions of software), shareware (usually downloadable, generally free), vaporware (promised software that never materializes after the hype), malware (malicious software), spyware (malicious software that remotely accesses your computer), adware (advertising either invited or not), scareware (software that claims your computer is infected, urging you to purchase their removal tool, etc.), abandonware (software no longer supported or protected), vaporware (software promised but never delivered).

WAREZ:  (Pronounced “wearzz”).  A term used to refer to copyrighted software, usually with respect to illegal downloads of same. See, PUBSTRO.

WAT:  Windows Activation Technologies.  The updated version of WGA used with Windows 7.

WATCHES, COMPUTER:  See Metawatch, Smart Watches.

WATERFALL:  A design methodology/model commonly used in software development, named because the development progress flows steadily downwards like a waterfall, through the phases: Conception, Initiation, Analysis, Design, Construction, Testing, Production, Implementation and then Maintenance.  There are lots of models, but this is popular. Scrum is gaining, though.  Because Scrum is agile, for example, the testing phase is done in an iterative fashion (through each iteration of development) rather at the separate testing phase at the completion of the implementation phase in the waterfall method.

WATS:  Wide Area Telephone ServiceLong distance telephone service at a fixed rate, mostly used by enterprisesIN-WATS have numbers with 800, 888, or 877 area codes where the callers aren’t charged for their long distance calls;  OUT-WATS charges the enterprise a fixed monthly rate for a set amount of usage.  In addition, some plans are a combination of IN and OUT WATS.

WATSON:  An IBM computer system which uses natural language techniques to process a question (a “query” in computer terms), considered the most powerful artificial intelligence “AI” computer in the world.  In 2011, Watson defeated two humans on the TV quiz show Jeopardy.  And as of 2016, even though IBM says that the computer hasn’t reached even a few percent of its capabilities, it is being used at U. N. Carolina medical to diagnose cancer cures, and doing it quite well.  Don’t confuse this with Dr. Watson, the software or the man.  In 2016, GM announced that it would pair with OnStar for 2 million vehicles as OnStar Go.  At the IBM’s World of Watson annual conference for 2016, IBM’s president Ginni Rometty announced that within the next five years, every important business and personal decision will be made with Watson’s assistance, including medical treatment, retail, autos, finalcial, etc. [By the way, Watson didn’t defeat Gary Kasparov in a chess match - that was another IBM supercomputer, Deep Blue, which was programmed with specific chips to play chess, not AI.]  In 2017, H&R Block announced that it was using Watson for its tax preparation program.

WAVE, ELECTRIC:  Various pages in this site (binary, phase, dirt, THD, etc.) discuss the principle that electric signals are expressed in “waves”.  These “sine” waves are repetitive and are both in-sync (essentially reinforcing each other) or out-of-sync (between zero and 360 degrees, creating “phases”).  All waves have certain characteristics:  Amplitude (which measures the maximum “height” of the wave; the lower part of the wave is the trough); frequency (the number of waves per period, usually per second); aoscilloscopend period (the time it takes a wave to perform one complete cycle). So, taking house current as an example, the direction of current flow reverses about 60 times per second (i.e. a 60Hz period) and, if you plot the voltage against time, you would find it expressed as  a sine wave, because it is derived from a rotating generator.  The waves can be seen using an oscilloscope and would look similar to the display on the right:

WAVE:  A product introduced by Google in 2009 which is a real-time collaboration system, using a system named operational transformation, which makes changes in near-real time, virtually immediately.  Discontinued in late 2010, as was Buzz, Google’s social networking attempt.

Waybackmachine_logoWAYBACK MACHINE:  A website which is the largest internet archive of cached web site pages since its creation 1996 by Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat of San Francisco, CA.  A key feature is the ability to see archived versions of the web pages over time, which is called a “three dimensional index”.  The name is a tongue-in-cheek geeky reference to the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show, which has several episodes of which Mr. Peabody and Sherman used a time machine (called the “WABACK” machine) to visit, then participate and sometimes alter famous events in human history.

Waze_logoWAZE:  [Pronounced “ways”] The largest and most popular “community based” GPS navigation app for smart phones. There are others, like Inrix Traffic, Hopstop and the like.  Waze_screenshot It displays roadways, businesses, traffic cams, accidents, road closures, speed traps and the like through social integration, where the 50 million app users can instantly contribute to the road conditions in a wiki-like fashion right on the app.  It also contains info about where to buy the cheapest gas, and the ability to communicate with other Waze users.  In 2013, Google purchased the app from its Israeli developers for over $1 billion.  And it’s expanded to ride sharing, competing with Uber and Lyft. Don’t know where the name came from, possibly “different ways  to get to your destination”? 

WEARABLE COMPUTERS:  Items like Google Glass, Brainwave, Oculus Rift and Metawatch, which are computer devices worn like clothing or accessories.  The “wearable” computing market, which includes items such as Google Glass, Nike+ FuelBand, the Apple Watch and possibly Dell products, is going from a niche to the mainstream market, probably this year, and it is predicted by Forrester Research to be a $6 billion business by 2016.   But surveys (like that by Endeavour Partners, 2014) also show that tech wearables fail to keep the interest of users for more than a few months.  Why?  They’re easy to lose, can break, aren’t waterproof, are difficult to sync, the batteries don’t last long enough, some are quite ugly or uncomfortable and, ultimately, many don’t provide any material benefit.  [To me, they still look like those bracelets that they issue to convicted prisoners under house arrest.  But maybe that’s just me.]  The study showed that people tend to continue to use the devices when motivated by a goal, like the Nike+ FuelBand, making it part of their daily routine.  Moreover, too many wearables concentrate on the wrist.  But this is changing - e.g. Fitbit has teamed with designer Tory Burch to come up with jewelry that embeds devices.  Also, the Shine tracker from Misfit Wearables.  But also consider the security issues of these web-enabled devices. On the plus side, a 2015 survey by APX Labs shows that 93% of companies surveyed report that they are evaluating wearable technology for their enterprises, from quality assurance and safety to customer and field service and repair to sales to production, in the manufacturing and oil and gas industries to virtually every other industrial chain.  And, of course, the software is still developing...  See also, earables.


WEB:  See, WWW, Internet, Web 2.0, Web 3.0 and Deep Web in this Glossary.  Loosely, a worldwide system of computer networks through which users at any one computer can, with permission, obtain information from other computers on the network.

WEB BROWSER:  See, Browser.

WEB BEACON:  a/k/a web bug, tracking bug, tracking pixel, pixel tag, 1x1 gif, clear gifAn object which is embedded into a web page or e-mail, usually invisible to the user, but which (when used in combination with a cookie) allows a third party to monitor the surfing or shopping behavior of the user, as well as basic information about the user (IP address, geographic location, etc.).

WebGL:  A 3-D graphics tool that is appearing in the latest versions of popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox. With WebGL, users do not need plug-ins like Flash or Java as the browser itself can handle complex graphics tasks.

Webby wards graphicWEBBIES:  Shortcut for the Webby Awards.  The leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet.  Established in 1996, Webbies are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 550 member body of leading experts, business figures, visionaries and creative celebrities. [See Associations] Click HERE for the most recent Webbies.  See Shorties, Ig Nobels for other related awards.

WEBDAV:  A Microsoft protocol (World Wide Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) supported by web servers, that allow you to create and modify special documents (such as calendars). Essentially, WebDAV converts HTTP/HTTPS from a read-only protocol into a read/write protocol.

WEB 2.0:  This is a term used quite often, but with no clear definition.  It was supposedly coined by O’Reilly Media in 2004.  Generally, it refers to a perceived ongoing evolution of the World Wide Web from merely a collection of separate web sites, to a second generation of interactive web-based communities and services, such as social networking sites, wikis (see definition) and file sharing sites.  Web 2.0 does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but rather to the more collaborative use of the existing web structure.  Generally, it has a generic connotation, i.e. Joe 2.0 means the new, improved version of Joe.

WEB 3.0:  As if we didn’t have enough of a problem with Web 2.0, we have Web 3.0, attributed to John Markoff of the N.Y. Times in 2006, which takes Web 2.0 to the third level of internet-based services, such as those using semantic web, microformats, natural language search, data-mining, machine learning, recommendation agents and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, all of which emphasize machine-facilitated understanding of information in order to provide a more productive user experience.

WEBCASTING: See, Push Technology.

WEB CRAWLER:  A bot which is used by web search providers to scan web pages and report back to the provider for use in searching and ranking web sites and their pages.

WEB ENABLED PC: A PC which performs work with resources provided over the Internet, rather than loaded onto its disk drive.  See, cloud computing, SAAS, Chromebook.

WEB FILTERING: A service offered by many ISPs and some independent vendors (e.g. OpenDNS) which lets viewers control which web sites can be visitedThis is done through white lists (sites always accessible), black lists (banned sites) and category based filtering.  It can be used for parental controls and, in extreme cases, repressive governments use this type of service to limit the sites their citizens can visit.  Also, some paid services (like Norton DNS for Business) offer filtering services for small businesses.

WEBISODE:   Usually, a single push technology episode of a television show that airs initially as an Internet download as opposed to first airing on broadcast TV.  It can be a preview of a particular television show, music video or other promotion using streaming video that can be downloaded to a computer or web enabled cell phone.

WEBKIT:   An open-source application that provides a foundation upon which to build a web browser.  Originally used by Apple, it has now been further developed by others.

webOS:   An operating system used by HP (in its TouchPad, for example) which was originally a smart phone platform which HP acquired when it bought Palm.

WEBSITE (WEB SITE):  A collection of pages on the World Wide Web that are accessed via a common URL (e.g., which is a web “address”.  The pages can contain text, images, graphics, etc. and range from the purely informational (e.g. about the NIH) to educational (e.g. on-line courses) to sales (e.g. buying cars) in nature.  For more information about establishing and maintaining web sites, click HERE.  See also, bounce rate, landing pageInterestingly, the first page ever put on the WWW is still in existence:  On August 6, 1992 Tim Berners-Lee posted THIS simple page on the CERN web site.

Web TV logoWEBTV:   A product which is an adapter (a so-called “thin client”) that allows a television set to be connected to the Internet, primarily for browsing and e-mail. The setup includes a web browser, corded or wireless keyboard, possibly a printer, and a connection to the Internet.  WebTV does not allow as much functionality as a computer-based browser, but it is a low cost alternative to the purchase of a computer for browsing the Internet.    WebTV was a product and service originally developed by WebTV Networks, Inc., later purchased by Microsoft and then absorbed into MSN (the Microsoft Network).  The first hardware “box” was a labeled “WebTV” box, the second version labeled “MSN2”.  Now pretty disappeared, thanks to modern cable and FIOS providers plans.  Click HERE for more.

WEEABO: See, anime.

Norbert Weiner photoWEINER, W. NORBERT:  A brilliant mathematical prodigy (1894-1964) who defined the field of cybernetics, which is a formalization of the notion of “feedback” often used in the study of both mechanical and living systems.

WEP: See, encryption.

WES2011:  Windows Embedded Standard 2011.  This is a version of Windows 7 which will run embedded on a variety of smart devices ranging from consumer devices such as gaming systems to high-tech medical imaging equipment.

WETWARE: A term used by hackers to describe social engineeringIt’s non-firmware, non-hardware, non-software intrusion for the purpose of pilfering information from computer systems.  It derives its name because the human body is more than sixty percent water.  It covers everything from dumpster diving to obtaining information from crooked employees on the take to scammed employees who are unaware that they’re giving away the keys to the kingdom.

WGA:  Windows Genuine Advantage.  Refers to a Microsoft program intended to root out counterfeit software, included with Windows Updates and checked each time a Windows user downloads from Microsoft.  Failure to comply may render the operating system useless.

WhatsApp logoWHATSAPP: See, Messaging Services.

whiteboardWHITEBOARD:  White enamel, Melamine and sometimes metal-coated boards created to take the place of black chalkboards.  They are far easier to write on than chalkboards and can be more easily wiped clean of markers than blackboards.  Once dry-erase markers were invented, whiteboards became an instant hit.   So much so that online versions have been created for group brainstorming, sharing and interaction using drawing, writing, painting, erasing & deleting tools.  The first patent issued for a white board is generally acknowledged to have been issued to Robert Mayall in 1937, although accounts exist that Martin Heit or Albert Stallion invented it in the 1950s.

WHITE BOX: A type of network gear (in the form of an x86 server) promoted by AT&T and others which makes use of virtualization, SDN and NFV to replace network hardware devices.

WHITE HAT: See hackersThe “good guy” hackers.  They intrude on networks to test their security before they can be hacked by the bad guy “black hat” hackers, using tools like pen tests.  See also, Hacker Hall of Fame.

WHITELISTING:  A software process in an operating system, application software or Internet application which creates a list of acceptable programs, web sites or connections on that particular computer; the opposite of blacklisting.  However, paid whitelisting (where advertisers are required to make payments to ad blockers to be placed on a whitelist by them so that their advertising will reach consumers is the subject of a 2016 FTC complaint against AdBlock Plus and others, see Laws.

WHITMAN, MEG:  (B. 8/4/56):  A chief executive for many high tech Meg Whitman photocompanies.  She served as an executive for Walt Disney, DreamWorks, Procter & Gamble and Hasbro before becoming CEO of eBay 1998 - 2008.  After leaving eBay, she ran against Jerry Brown for Governor of California, but did not win.  She is now president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

Wikr logoWICKR:   A free mobile app which allows users to send each other an array of impermanent media, including self-destructing text messages, videos, audios, PDFs and the like, allowing users to customize how long their messages will live on the recipient’s device (up to several days) before disappearing.  See also, SnapShot.

WIDGET: No longer just a generic economic term, in technology a widget is an actual item, available on both computer desktops (like the “tiles” in Windows 8) and smart phones (like the “cards” in Google Now).  A widget is a convenient app or program that allows you to add continuously updated online content to your personal website, blog, social-network, search engine home page, desktop and the like.  Common widgets include weather and news guides, stock lists, movie reviews, airplane flight trackers and calendars. They can also be created from RSS feeds. 

WI-  :  When used in a definition, it “has come to meanwireless.  For example, see the following definitions in the following link:  Wi-Di, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Gig, Wi-Max, WEireless USB, WPS, Wi-Fi Sense, Second Wave Wi-Fi, Super Wi-Fi, WLAN, Wireless Charging, Wi-Bree, Wi-Max.  Then there’s the “Fi” part, too: (“Fidelity”): Mi-Fi, MIMO, Eye-Fi,  Li-Fi.  For all of these definitions and more, click HERE to see the “Wi” is for “wireless” page of this site.

Wii: (Pronounced “we”).  The seventh generation home video game console released by Nintendo, with the distinguishing feature of the Wii Remote wireless console and the WiConnect24, which enables it to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode.  What does Wii stand for?  The two “i” characters appear to represent two people standing side-by-side, gaming.  But Nintendo says that Wii sounds like “we,” which emphasizes that the console is for everyone, can’t be abbreviated, is easy to remember by people around the world, no matter what language they speak.  Competes with Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Playstation (PS). 

wii uWii U:   Successor to the Wii (above).  RSwitch logoeleased in November, 2012, it is the 8th generation Nintendo console, and it is the first to support high-definition (1060p) graphics & 2Gb memory.  It is backwards compatible with the Wii. For the 2017 Nintendo Switch, see Nintendo.

Wikipedia logoWIKI/WIKIPEDIA:  This is a type of web site that allows the visitors themselves to contribute to and edit some available content, making the site useful for collaborative authoring.  The most famous of such sites is Wikipedia, a site which allows visitors some latitude in adding to the definitions in the on-line encyclopedia.  The term is derived from the Hawaiian phrase “Wiki Wiki,” which means “super fast,” referring to the speed with which Wiki pages can be updated.  WikipediaLarry Sanger was launched on January 15, 2001 by Jimmy Wales and wife 2013Jimmy Wales (L) and Larry Sanger (R), who left in 2002 because of his stated doubts about Wikipedia’s credibility.  They coined the term wikipedia as a portmanteau of Wiki and EncyclopediaWard Cunningham one of the developers of another site, WikiWikiWeb (coincidentally  the first Wiki website), claims that he adopted the term “Wiki” when an employee at the Honolulu International Airport told him to take the Wiki Wiki Shuttle Bus which runs between the terminals.  The logo of the planet is constructed of jigsaw pieces with some missing, each piece inscribed with (“W” as in Wikipedia) glyphs from different writing systems, also has missing pieces at the top, showing the incomplete nature of the project.

Wikipedia commons logoWIKIPEDIA COMMONS:   A useful database containing over 21 million free, usable media files, contributed to by users on a daily basis.  No worries about infringement of proprietary graphics.

WILDCARD:   A character that can be used to represent one or more other characters, at the users choosing.  Most frequently used characters on computers are the “*” and the “x”.  Kind of like the blank key in a Scrabble game.  See X.

WIMP:  Acronym for “windows, icon, mouse, pointer,” now mostly superceded by GUI.

WMA:  A file format provided by Microsoft as an alternative to the popular MP3 music file format.

Got an old computer or getting a new one and want to know how much longer the operating system will be supported?  Microsoft has a “Lifecycle Fact Sheet” that’ll tell you.  For example Win XP support will end on 4/8/14; Vista on 4/11/17; Win 7 on 1/14/20 and Win 8 on 1/10/23 (if none of these are extended).  So don’t fret about having an older O/S, most will be around for a while.  The site also has dates for end of sales, service packs and downgrades.  WIN XP Update: On January 15, 2014, Microsoft announced that it would continue to provide virus warnings after the 4/8/14 end date for WinXP until 7/14/15.  This means that virus signatures will be provided for Microsoft Security Essentials and a larger number of corporate tools to protect WinXP PCs, which still comprise 30% of all existing desktop computers.  Good news for corporate users particularly.

windows buttonWINDOWS:  One of several operating systems (OSs), this software from Microsoft turns your computer from a putty-colored lump of plastic and metal into a machine that is ready to accept commands from you to actually do something.  It was introduced as an add-on to MS-DOS as a graphical user interface (“GUI”), which was made popular by Apple’s introduction of the Mac OS in January, 1984.  Although Bill Gates had announced on November 10, 1983 at a conference at the Helmsley Palace Hotel that  Windows (1.0) would soon be released, it didn’t ship for another two years until November 25, 1985 (starting a trend of delayed promises for Microsoft releases that users have come to expect, even joke about)  It cost about $100 at the time.  Microsoft has been inconsistent with naming - They started out with “version” numbers (1.0 through 3.11), then “years” (95 (remember the great rollout video with Jennifer Anniston and Matthew Perry from Friends?), 98, 2000), then “letters” (NT, ME, XP), then “Vista” (an aberration), then back to “versions” (7 [actually 6.1], then 8/8.1 and,  10 [there was no Win 9]).  [Click HERE to see a comprehensive list of various Windows versions with release and retirement dates.]  Within the OS are various components that make it run: Services are OS applications (programs) that are loaded when Windows starts and continue to run in the background.  Services usually have special “privileges” in the OS that regular programs do not (hence, the term Application As Service, which means modifying an ordinary Windows Program (Application) to run with all of the OS advantages of a native Windows Service); Processes are also launched at startup, and may be part of the OS or applications and usually perform only a single task.  Service and process applications generally involve such things as network and internet connections, diagnostics, print, video, sound, media processing, remote management, etc. 

Starting with Windows 8 and 10, which includes such items as automatic updates, Office 365 and The Windows Store, the concept of WaaS (“Windows as a Service”) is becoming a reality.  That, and the concept of Universal Windows Platform, which lets developers create Windows Universal Apps (see below) that run on the Win10 desktop, tablets, Windows 10 Phone, and even Xbox. Moreover, as part of the process, Microsoft also plans to make migrating Android and iOS apps to UWP — and from there to Windows 10 — easy for developers.  Universal Windows Apps will be much more compatible than apps from outside developers, leading to easier installation and use of software on Windows computers.

Windows has had many legal battles, particularly with Apple, but two are famous:  The first, involved the GUI.  Before the release of Windows 2, Microsoft signed a copyright agreement with Apple that let Microsoft use certain aspects of the Mac UI, such as drop-down menus, tiled windows, mouse support.  But in 1988, Apple filed a lawsuit claiming that Windows 2.03 and later stole the “look and feel” of the Apple OS and “embodied and generated a copy of the Macintosh on PCs,” seeking damages for 189 infringed patents.  After years of litigation, all but ten of the copyright claims were invalidated, the final ruling holding that “Apple cannot get patent-like protection for the idea of a graphical user interface or the idea of a desktop metaphor”.  Only the Trash and Folder icons were found to be infringed.  The second involved a case filed in May, 1988 by the U.S. Dept. of Justice against Microsoft, claiming that Microsoft had turned Windows into a monopoly by “bundling its Internet Explorer browser with the operating system, spreading it illegally and using it to crush competing browsers like Netscape Navigator and Opera. The final ruling in 1994 determined that Microsoft did indeed create a monopoly by pretending that IE couldn’t be deployed independently, for the purpose of crushing its competitors.  By 2001 the DoJ got tired of the case and Netscape Navigator was going out of business and that was that.  In an echo of that case, in 2015, the European Union is claiming that Google, through its Android O/S, is stifling competition by requiring phone manufacturers to install its search engine and web browser on mobile devices and by paying manufacturers an carriers financial incentives if they make Google’s search engine the default on those devices, ensuring that users continue to see the Google ads that they view on their desktops.

WinX:  Represents any version of Windows (the “X” being the version, i.e. Win98), just like ‘nix represents any version of Unix.

WINDOWS ACTIVE DIRECTORY: In enterprise network computing, there are many types of server directory services, such as Novell Directory Services for Novell networks.  Microsoft’s service is Active Directory Services, which is a centralized and standardized system that automates network management of user data, security and distributed resources on a network, and which enables interoperation with other directories as well.   It is a trademarked special-purpose hierarchal database developed by Microsoft and introduced with Microsoft Server O/S editions 1999 and later and used in most Windows domain networks for network authentication which does this by handling a large number of read and search operations quickly. It authenticates using LDAP Active Directory Domain Services. It’s features make “active,” rather than simply “flat”.

“Active Directory is Microsoft's Directory Server. It provides authentication and authorization mechanisms as well as a framework within which other related services can be deployed (AD Certificate Services, AD Federated Services, etc). It is an LDAP compliant database that contains “objects,” the most common of which are  are users, computers, and groups. These objects can be organized into organizational units (OUs) by any number of logical or business needs.   GPOs  can then be linked to OUs to centralize the settings for various users or computers across an organization.

“When people say ‘Active Directory" they typically are referring to "Active Directory Domain Services.’ It is important to note that there are other Active Directory roles/products such as Certificate Services, Federation Services, Lightweight Directory Services, Rights Management Services, etc.” [The quoted paragraphs are taken from  Go to this LINK for much more information about active directories, including things like forests (security boundaries), domains (management boundaries, part of forests), domain controllers and global catalogs (which provides a single source to locate any object within an organization’s network so that users can find any objects to which they have been granted access), FSMO rules and other complicated considerations way beyond this definition.  But it is not a registry replacement, it is  special purpose database.

Windows Credentials Manager:  Just like what it sounds like, the Windows O/S routinely offers to save passwords for you when you use a browser to connect to an Internet website. And when you connect to a server on your network with a user name and password other than the one you logged in with, you are also prompted to save those credentials for later reuse. Likewise, Internet Explorer (and now Edge) prompt you to save passwords so you can click on them automatically when you return to that web page. Those passwords are saved in a secure location on your O/S that only you can open, using a well-hidden tool known as the Windows Credential Manager. It can be found in the Control Panel, under the User Accounts heading. In Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, it's easier to just type “credential” in the search box and click Credential Manager at the top of the search results.  Separate icons at the top of the Credential Manager list let you view and manage saved Web credentials and Windows credentials. The Web Passwords list can't be sorted and there's no search option, so you'll have to scroll through the list to find a specific entry, however. Click the down arrow to the right of any entry to see the saved user name and password and click “Remove” if you don't want that password stored. (Unfortunately, the only way to change a saved password is to remove it and then save it by entering the new password in your web browser.)  The Windows Credentials screen offers Edit and Remove buttons for every entry, along with a handy option to back up and restore saved credentials. It is also a time saver when you're setting up a new PC.  But it’s also a security risk, since anyone who can access your computer can find these entries if they want to hack into your computer, so often more protection is required if you have these concerns (See Tip #65).

WINDOWS DEFENDER: See, Microsoft Desktop Security.

WINDOWS DEFENDER OFFLINE: See, Microsoft Desktop Security.

WINDOWS EXPLORER: A heirarchal display of Windows folders and files, renamed File Explorer after Win7.  TIP:  The default columns are limited, but if you right-click on the column title bar, there are many more options.

WINDOWS EMET: Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, anti-malware software that is especially adept at protecting Internet Explorer from zero-day threats.  See, Microsoft Desktop Security.

WINDOWS GROUP POLICY OBJECTS: An operating system feature which allows sysops for enterprises to easily and centrally manage security and other settings for groups of computer users on a domain network.  First introduced with Windows Server 2000 in 1999 and managed via the Group Policy Management Console (“GPMC”; command line: gpedit.msc) which is installed with Active Directory, this powerful tool requires Active Directory Domain Services (“ADFS”) for group policies to actually work, because to control servers or workstations they must be “joined” to the domain.  (Not that local policies on individual non-domain computers can’t be configured, but it really doesn’t provide the intended control or allow the use the best features of GPO, which onlr really work with Windows Active Directory.  And the Group Policy Editor is available for most versions of Windows, but specifically not Windows 10 Home Ed., and adding it may corrupt your system, so don’t.)  There are literally thousands of potential configuration settings and options for GPOs, which can be located by identifying the path to a computer in the GPMC and making your selections from there. Common uses are for things like the design and enforcement of password complexity (preventing network intrusion), disabling the corporate use of USB devices (preventing infections to an enterprise network), and disabling .PST (e-mail) file creating by users, (preventing them receiving possibly infected personal e-mail on their office machines).  Also, as noted in Tip#62, GPOs can be edited to restrict certain known registry keys so that specific malware (like cryptoviruses) cannot perform certain actions necessary toward their  purpose.  Microsoft has published an excellent, detailed tutorial, Group Policy for Beginners which should be your first step understanding GPOs.

WINDOWS HOME SERVER:   A (relatively) easy to use network for homes introduced by Microsoft in late 2007.  The second generation of WHS, MediaSmart Server from HP has been released in early 2009, with a starting price of $799 for a 750Gb model.  It’s easy to set up and use, is compatible with Macs, will back up to the web and saves all content from any computer on the network.  Less expensive, but harder to configure and use, is Cisco’s Linksys Media Hub, with prices starting at $350 for 500Gb.  All systems will allow you to store and access data from a home full of PCs, MACs, laptops, Xboxes, Playstations and Apple TV boxes and iPods from a central server location.

WINDOWS INSTALLER:  A Windows service that installs software onto your computer.  It is an add-on that can be downloaded and installed separately if it becomes corrupt in Windows 3.0 through Vista, but in Windows 7 and later it is actually part of the operating system itself.  You can see what version you’re running by typing msiexec in your run line.  An .msi file is what is used to launch the system-level Windows Installer tool.  The .msi file contains all of the necessary installation information, including which parts go where and what Windows has to do to get it running.  Windows Installer itself also has a hidden cache folder used for uninstallation of the program if necessary.  Sometimes, error messges (commonly Error 2502 and 2503) appear, blocking installation.  These are usually resolved by running in Administrator Mode, adjusting the permissions or scanning for malware which may have infected the .msi file. 

Windows keyWINDOWS KEY:  Also known as the Super Key, Windows Logo Key, WinKey, Flag Key and Start Key.  Introduced with Windows 95, this key is used to automatically access the Start Menu located on the far left of the Windows Taskbar on the bottom of the screen.  Abandoned in Windows Vista. Sometimes used as a meta key for Linux. (Still on keyboard.)

Windows Live LogoWINDOWS LIVE: (Although outdated, I left this definition in because (1) lots of people have older computers and (2) it’s historical, showing how we got from there to here.) This can be confusing.  Microsoft perpetually is “rebranding” itself and, in doing so, renames and rebundles its products.  Windows Live is a collective brand name for a variety of Microsoft services and software, many of which are web applications, allowing sharing and access ability over the Internet, i.e. in the cloud. Windows Live was created by Microsoft in 2005 to replace Microsoft Network or MSN (see definition), which was created back with the introduction of Windows 95.  In the 2005 changeover, the MSN IDs (Hotmail ID, Microsoft Wallet, MS Passport and MS Passport Network) were renamed Windows Live ID.  The only exception was MSN Hotmail, which briefly became and co-existed with Windows Live Mail, then Microsoft later settled on Windows Live Hotmail.  Microsoft’s goal was to bring all of its online products under one name (“Live”), so it continued by merging MSN Messenger with Windows Messenger to become Windows Live MessengerWindows Live Search, though, become Bing.  However, because of various problems with the ill-fated Vista O/S and the desire to be able to update some programs, Microsoft established Windows Live Essentials in 2006 as an on-line website from which users could download apps such as Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Photo Gallery.  This strategy worked so well for Microsoft that by 2009, Windows Live Essentials included a dozen more downloadable apps.  Most worked with both Windows XP and Vista, and some with Windows 7.  But Windows 8 Metro changed everything, because it moves from the Windows Live brand to the Windows Metro platform (maybe the legacy part of Windows 8 would still support Windows Live, but this isn’t certain) and changed the moniker to e-mail, which will be quite similar to the g-mail in interface and features. 

Office Live Add-In: Helps Office apps connect to Office Live Workspaces; Office Outlook Hotmail Connector: A glorified bug fix that lets Outlook get into Hotmail's messages, contacts, and calendar; Silverlight: Microsoft's stalled  attempt to compete with and replace Adobe Flash. It's still used as a programming framework, but it's clearly not replacing Flash. It's not compatible with Win8 Metro's version of Internet Explorer; Windows Live Family Safety: Lets admin accounts control how much time regular accounts can spend online. It also whitelists websites and blocks access to programs. All of this has been rolled into account administration in Windows 8 just as it is in Windows 7; Windows Live Mail: Microsoft's most robust, free e-mail program to date. Its Win8 replacement — Metro Mail — is at this point quite underpowered but will undoubtedly be more polished by the time it is actually released; Windows Live Messenger: After a zillion incarnations, Messenger goes Metro. [As of March, 2013 it was discontinued]. Now, Messenger is getting absorbed into all sorts of Microsoft apps and websites — most notably, Hotmail, as well as being merged with Skype (acquired by Microsoft on 5/10/11), which already has its own messaging service; Windows Live Movie Maker: Replaced Vista's Movie Maker, which was a totally different app. We don't know how — or even whether — Windows 8 will handle movie editing, though Microsoft states that it will be replaced by Metro VideosWindows Live Photo Gallery: Second only to Hotmail, WLPG is possibly the most popular Windows Live program. Microsoft states that WLPG will be replaced by Metro Photos, but the app-preview version included with Win8 Consumer Preview is light years behind WLPG (and not even a faint shadow of the iPad's iPhoto); Windows Live Sync: Presently Windows Live Mesh.  Ray Ozzie, who left Microsoft in 2010, championed this once-revolutionary product. Microsoft says SkyDrive will replace Live Sync in Windows 8, but there are many missing pieces; Windows Live Toolbar: Yet another toolbar for Internet Explorer. Windows Live Writer: Replaced Windows Live Spaces, after it was discontinued.  Beloved by many bloggers, Windows Live Writer makes it easy to create blog posts for WordPress and other blogging services. Its status is up in the air.  [Thanks to Woody Leonhard for his great analysis of this confusion.]

Windows 10 makes the situation even more confusing.  There are no longer Windows Metro apps (Metro now only refers to a menu “style”), nor are there “modern” apps, “live” apps or even “universal” apps.  Now they’re just “Windows apps”.  According to Microsoft, “Apps built on the Windows universal app platform are simply called Windows apps”.  Windows apps run everywhere (PCs, phones, tablets, etc.), while “Desktop apps” are those apps that only run on PCs.  Get it?  Windows 10 comes with Mail, Calendar, People, Videos and Music, also OneDrive and Skype.   See the Windows 10 page of this site for more.

Don’t feel left out if you have a Mac.  Click HERE for their name changes.

WINDOWS NANO SERVER: Microsoft’s Nano version of Windows Server, a remote-administered , command line verson of Windows Server, designed for use with private clouds and enterprise data centers.  It’s only for professionals, as it has no sign-in and operates using a remote PowerShell connection, and must set up a virtual machine to operate.

WINDOWS PHONE: Microsoft’s mobile operating system, since 2008, see WinMo.

WINDOWS POWERSHELL: Have you noticed that, since Win 7, there has been no “run” option on the Start Menu, and no “DOS” option on the Start program list.  [Yes, it’s still there, under All Programs>Accessories>Command Prompt, for now at least, but it’s buried, not right up front.] You may wonder why.  This is because the Windows operating system itself has evolved from its old DOS underpinning into new the world of GUI.  Back in the legacy days of DOS, users would have to write a batch file (.bat) to automate a process, or type a command in a C:/ command line to edit an operating system attribute.  Because DOS has limited capabilities, after some 30 years, in 2006, Microsoft made a move to scripts (short programs, much like batch files) built on top of the .NET Framework which are much more suited to the GUI of later Windows versions.  It was originally dubbed “Monad,” but was quickly renamed PowerShell.  Powershell uses what’s called cmdlets (“command-lets”), which are much more powerful and complete than the legacy single-line and cmd.exe text-only instructions.   Eventually, we may all have to learn some scripting in order to use this replacement tool.  Luckily, there are lots of free online learning sources available.

WINDOWS RE (RECOVERY ENVIRONMENT):  A series of “recovery” options (from startup repair to full reload) that are loaded when the operating system is not working properly.  In Win 8 and 10, it is reached when the O/S can’t be booted more than twice.  It’s also accessible from a Windows Recovery Drive, which should be created immediately after installing Windows 10 on each machine, as Windows 10 is the first device-specific O/S from Microsoft.

WINDOWS RECOVERY DRIVE):  A USB drive or CD/DVD disk which is created by the user after upgrading to Windows 10 or purchasing a computer with Win 10 pre-installed, which is used as a boot disk to access Windows RE (see above), a diagnostic and repair tool to fix startup and other errors if Windows fails to boot.


WINDOWS RUNTIME/WinRT:  See, Windows Universal Apps, below.

WINDOWS SERVER:  Just like it sounds, this is an operating system specifically designed to work with networks, either local, remote or cloud based.  First introduced in 2003 (after the NT versions) and updated every few years thereafter.  See also Windows Nano, above.

WINDOWS STORAGE SENSE:  A Win10 feature that takes a look at hard disk space in use in the Windows O/S.

WINDOWS UNIVERAL APP:  These programs are what Microsoft formerly called “Modern” and, before that, “Metro,”starting with Win8.  Whatever you call them, these software programs run “on top of” and communicate with an underlying Operating System.  They do this through a set of routines called an API (Application Programming Interface).  This sole API for Windows until Win8 was almost always Win32.  Starting in June, 2011, Microsoft revealed a new set of API’s called Windows Runtime, with the short name WinRT.  But this API is separate from the Win32 API used on desktop Windows systems.  WinRT only runs on the Metro side of Windows 8.  This is probably good, because the WinRT API hasn’t been well received, partly due to the lack of programs.  [Microsoft has had even more trouble settling on a name for this API, calling it at various times Modem UI, Windows 8 apps, Windows Store apps, New User Interface, Microsoft Design Language, Microsoft style design or Metro, before using Universal starting with Win10.  The exception to the RT API is the Windows Phone RT API, which is closely related but not exactly the same as WinRT.  (Click HERE for more history, if you’re interested.)

Winkelvoss photoWINKLEVOSS TWINS:  a/k/a The Winkelvii.   American Brothers Cameron and Tyler, former (2008) Olympians, who became famous for their legal battle with Facebook, claiming that they had created the web site for Marc Zukerberg.  They eventually walked away with stock worth $150 million.  In 2013, they made a substantial investment in BitInstant, a NY payment processor for Bitcoins.

WinMO:  Short for Windows Mobile, Microsoft’s O/S for mobile phones.  It was replaced with Windows Phone in late 2008.

WinSxS:   Short for “Windows Side by Side,” a compatibility technology for programs that require different versions of the same system files, especially DLLs, to co-exist “side by side”.  Reduces DLL Hell.  See also, Disk Cleanup.

WINS:   Windows Internet Naming Service.  A slightly older application than DNS, this service maps IP addresses to computer names in a slightly different fashion, using NetBios names from computers.

WIPE:  To “erase,” usually with reference to a hard disk driveAnd see FAQ #29 about how to wipeyour drive if necessary.

WIRED MAGAZINE:   One of the first digital magazineswired_logo dedicated to the subject of computers and technology.  Founded in March, 1993 in San Francisco, now owned by Conde Nast Publications, available in print and online editions.  Over the years, it has often been responsible for coining computer or internet phrases, such as crowdsourcing.

WIRE:  Often confused with cable, which is a collection of one or more wires.  The individual wires which make up the cable can be of varying numbers (e.g. Cat5 has 8), thicknesses (“gauges”), compositions (solid, braided), materials (copper, nickel), twists (to reduce crosstalk and interference).

cable vs wire

WIRELESS ACCESS POINT (“WAP”):   See Access Point.


WISIWYG:  Slang acronym for “What You See Is What You Get”, meaning that what you see on your computer screen is exactly what your paper printout will look like.

WISP:  Microsoft’s version of the LAMP stack of software, instead using Windows, Internet Information Services, SQL Server and PHP.

WOC:   WAN Optimization ControllerA type of technology that is used to increase website data transfer efficiencies across WAN website networks.  See also ADC, ADN.

WOL:   Stands for Wake-on-LAN.  A key energy-saving component found on most network cards that wakes up a sleeping network only when necessary for use.

WORA:   Write Once, Run Anywhere software.  See Cross Platform.

WORD:  The word processing program included in the Microsoft Office suite.

Word Perfect logoWORD PERFECT:   A word processing program (now also a program suite) which became wildly popular in the 1980s and is still widely used today.  Version 5.1 was widely used as a standardized publishing format due to its portability, number of printer drivers, virus-free macros, reveal codes and other features and style libraries.  It took the lead over WordStar (MicroPro International), which was up until that time the most popular word processing program, but which was originally written for the CP/M O/S and then ported to DOS.  Originally the property of The Word Perfect Corporation, it was acquired by Novell Corp. in 1994 and then Corel Corp. in 1996.  By the 1990s, however, Microsoft Office began to dominate the workplace and now rules as the de facto standard. 

Wordpress logoWORDPRESS:   A free and open-source program (licensed under GPLv2) which is installed on a web server that can be part of a cloud internet hosting service or a stand alone software package.  It was founded in 2001 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little and was launched in 2003 primarily as a free blogging forum, which evolved into a full content management system (“CMS”) based on PHP and MySQL. By 2017, it powers 27% of the web.

WORD PROCESSING:  Not just the old “typing” but much more:  “WP” is a computer program which creates, edits and saves text and graphics into documents for saving (as a file), printing or transmittal.  It’s like the old typing, but on steroids (lots of fancy features like fonts, colors and attributes previously available only to printers) and without the “reinvent-the-wheel” each time a document is edited, thanks to the wonder of computersWhen introduced, it was groundbreaking for those who used typewritersNo longer do you have to re-create a letter to send to multiple individuals, or rewrite an entire page just because you added a line or changed a few words.  WP is so prevalent now that we barely notice it (now it even checks your spelling and syntax).  But when it was  invented (by IBM, which coined the term, in the late 1960s), it changed the entire world of writing.  Popular examples:  Microsoft Word, Word Perfect.

WORKS:   See, Microsoft Works.

WORKSTATION:   See, Client.  A computer on a server network that works through the server computer, where the data and often the programs are resident.  Because it has no resources of its own, it’s sometimes called a “dumb terminal”.

WORLD WIDE WEB:   See, WWW, below.

WORM:   See, Spyware.

WOW: Stands for Windows-on-Windows, which is the technology in Windows operating systems which enables handling of 32 or 64-bit software on either O/S.  See bits.

WPA, WPA2: See, encryption.


WRITE COMBINING:   WC” is a computer bus technique for allowing data to be combined and temporarily stored in a buffer known as the write combine buffer (“WCB”).  Because the data is released all at once in a burst (reducing the number of physical write operations) rather than immediately in a series of bits, it can improve the performance of video cards and increase hardware acceleration.  Sometimes, on older computers though, it can cause display freezing and should be turned off.

WSE:   Microsoft’s Web Services Enhancements for .NET.  Often pronounced “Wizzy,” this is a developer tool.  If you are a user that finds this software running on your system, unless you’re a developer, it’s probably safe to remove it.

WSUS:   Short for “Windows Software Update Services” a/k/a “Windows Updates”.

WWW:  World Wide Web”.  (Sir) Tim Berners-Lee, a British software programmer at the CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics outside Geneva is generally credited with naming and popularizing the World Wide Web (“WWW”) in about 1990.  Initially, TBL considered calling the WWW the “Mine of Information” or “MOI” for short.  It’s also said that his original name was Mesh.  We’re glad that didn’t stick!] The WWW is a system allowing users to share information between computers using documents (called web pages) written in a hypertext language. The very first web site launched on the Internet was and it was launched on August 6, 1991 and hosted by Tim Berners-Lee.  Users can search, or “surf” the internet using software called a web browser (see above) to locate the pages they are interested in.  The WWW is shared between large and small computer networks across the planet over the Internet, which is the actual communications connection between those computer networks.  The physical Internet predated the WWW.  It actually began in 1960s as a network for the U.S. Military (ARPANET) and has expanded over time into an immense collection of public networks that share a common addressing scheme, currently administered by a number of registrars, which are accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (see “ICANN”).   In short,  while the Internet allowed computers to talk to each other, the WWW created a way to browse between them and access various information sources.  For more history, click here.






























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