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In Computing, What is a Platform?

A computer motherboard.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2014
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Platforms in the world of computing perform the same general task as in the real world. Essentially, a computer platform is a foundation that is made up of both hardware and software. Together, these components create a secure base for all the operations and functions of the computer system in question.

One commonly identified component of the computer platform is the operating system. Created to make use of a specific set of instructions associated with the processor and other hardware in the computer proper, the operating system allows for the logical movement of data and commands across the hard drive. There are a number of different types of operating systems in use today. Some are specifically designed for use with personal computers, while others are created for use on mainframes or enterprise servers.

Another important part of the computer platform is the hardware architecture. Along with the processors, this architecture also includes the data bus, the motherboard and other key hardware components that provide the equipment necessary to drive the operating system. The hardware helps to set the perimeters for the function of the operating system and issues the instructions needed to trigger the functionality.

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A third aspect to the platform is the collection of application frameworks. Generally, software applications are written to accommodate the specifications of particular operating systems and hardware architecture. They become an integral part of the foundation that makes the whole system functional and productive for the end user. Software frameworks can include integrated spreadsheet, word processing, presentation, and email functions. In other instances, software for client databases may interact with word processing and email software programs, helping to expand the base or platform to accommodate more applications of the same basic data. The range and scope of a software framework vary based on the needs of the end user.

In the broadest sense, a platform in the world of computing is just about any mix of foundational technology that provides the basis for the function of the computer system in question. A platform may be relatively simple, or be complex based on the purposes of the system and the types of tasks that the system is expected to support.

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One select item, usually for the PC platform, is the operating system. It is established to make use of a specific set of instructions associated with the processor and other devices in the appropriate computer. The operating system allows for the movement of logical data and commands across the hard drive.

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