Graphical User Interface: interface between operating system and user that uses mouse and keyboard for inputs and a graphics screen for outputs. It represents basic objects and tasks by graphical symbols and operations, which can be arranged freely on the screen (the ``desktop'').

Task GUI representation
starting a program double clicking with a mouse button
working with files dragging icons, symbolizing the files
choosing actions clicking on menues

Window: usually rectangular area on the screen, which represents input and output of an application. Windows allow to work with several applications at once or they structure many possible views of one complex application.

Windows on the screen may overlap each other, they can even be completely obscured by others. Usually only one window is ``active'', i.e. reacts to user input.

Most window systems use similar graphical elements for the manipulation of windows, e.g.

Element Purpose
border change size of the window
title bar move the window
buttons minimize/maximize the window or close the application

Elements of a typical window in Windows95/98/NT:


Elements of a typical window in UNIX/CDE:


Part of a graphical user interface are a set of standard applications that allow to do many tasks in a purely graphical way (i.e. with the mouse).

File manager, application manager, simple text editor, calculator, clock.

A special application is the command line interface (``DOS window'', ``shell''), which allows to input system commands in text form.

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Peter Junglas 8.3.2000