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MICROSOFT Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition

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Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition

n. An existing software module that can be designed into a program, much as an integrated circuit can be designed into a logic board. Abbreviation: software IC. See also abstract data type, module (definition 1), object-oriented programming.

software interrupt

n. A program-generated interrupt that stops current processing in order to request a service provided by an interrupt handler (a separate set of instructions designed to perform the task required). Also called: trap.

software package

n. A program sold to the public, ready to run and containing all necessary components and documentation.

software piracy n. See piracy.

software portability

n. See portable (definition 1).

software program n. See application.

software protection

n. See copy protection.

software publisher

n. A business engaged in the development and distribution of computer software.

Software Publishers Association n. See SIIA.

software publishing

n. The design, development, and distribution of noncustom software packages.

software rot

n. See dead code.

software stack n. See stack.

software suite

n. See suite (definition 1).

software tools

n. Programs, utilities, libraries, and other aids, such as editors, compilers, and debuggers, that can be used to develop programs.


n. Acronym for Small Office/Home Office, a term used for home-based and small businesses. The fast-growing SOHO market has sparked a concomitant expansion in computer software and hardware products designed specifically to meet the needs of self-employed individuals or small businesses. See also distributed workplace, telecommuter.


n. Acronym for silicon on insulator. A method used in the construction of microprocessors in which the chip’s transistors—the tiny circuits that conduct electrical charges—are built on a layer

Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition

of silicon placed on top of a layer of insulating material, such as glass. SOI construction improves speed at the same time it reduces the amount of power required by the microprocessor.

solar cell

n. A photoelectric device that produces electrical power when exposed to light. Also called: photovoltaic cell.


n. A distributed UNIX-based computing environment created by Sun Microsystems, Inc., widely used as a server operating system. Versions of Solaris exist for SPARC computers, 386 and higher Intel platforms, and the PowerPC.


n. An electromagnetic device that converts electrical energy to mechanical movement, typically consisting of an electromagnet with a movable rod through the center.

solid ink

n. Ink manufactured in the form of solid sticks resembling crayons, for use in solid-ink printers. See also solid-ink printer.

solid-ink printer

n. A computer printer using solid ink sticks. The ink sticks are heated until they melt, and the molten ink is sprayed onto the page, where it cools and solidifies. See also solid ink.

solid model

n. A geometric shape or construction that has continuity in length, width, and depth and is treated by a program as if it had both surface and internal substance. Compare surface modeling, wireframe model.

solid-state device

n. A circuit component whose properties depend on the electrical or magnetic characteristics of a solid substance (as opposed to a gas or vacuum). Transistors, diodes, and integrated circuits are solid-state devices.

solid-state disk drive

n. A mass storage device that holds data in RAM rather than in magnetic storage. See also magnetic storage, RAM.

solid-state memory

n. Computer memory that stores information in solid-state devices.

solid-state relay

n. A relay that depends on solid-state components, rather than mechanical components, to open and close a circuit.


n. 1. Acronym for System Object Model. A language-independent architecture from IBM that implements the CORBA standard. See also CORBA, OMA. 2. Acronym for self-organizing map. A form of neural network in which neurons and their connections are added automatically as needed to develop the desired mapping from input to output.


n. Acronym for Synchronous Optical Network. A high-speed network that provides a standard interface for communications carriers to connect networks based on fiberoptic cable. SONET is designed to handle multiple data types (voice, video, and so on). It transmits at a base rate of 51.84 Mbps, but multiples of this base rate go as high as 2.488 Gbps (gigabits per second).

Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


vb. To organize data, typically a set of records, in a particular order. Programs and programming algorithms for sorting vary in performance and application. See also bubble sort, distributive sort, insertion sort, merge sort, quicksort, Shell sort.

sort algorithm

n. An algorithm that puts a collection of data elements into some sequenced order, sometimes based on one or more key values in each element. See also algorithm, bubble sort, distributive sort, insertion sort, merge sort, quicksort, Shell sort.


n. A program or routine that sorts data. See also sort.

sort field

n. See sort key.

sort key

n. A field (commonly called a key) whose entries are sorted to produce a desired arrangement of the records containing the field. See also field (definition 1), primary key, secondary key.


n. See silicon-on-sapphire.

Sound Blaster

n. 1. A family of sound cards manufactured by Creative Technology or its subsidiary, Creative Labs. See also sound card. 2. A de facto standard set by the family of sound cards developed by Creative Technologies and its subsidiaries. Many other manufacturers also make Sound Blaster– compatible products.

sound board

n. See sound card.

sound buffer

n. A region of memory used to store the bit image of a sequence of sounds to be sent to a computer’s speaker(s).

sound card

n. A type of expansion board on PC-compatible computers that allows the playback and recording of sound, such as from a WAV or MIDI file or a music CD-ROM. Most PCs sold at retail include a sound card. Also called: sound board. See also expansion board, MIDI, WAV.

sound clip

n. A file that contains a short audio item, usually an excerpt from a longer recording.

sound editor

n. A program that allows the user to create and manipulate sound files.

sound generator

n. A chip or chip-level circuit that can produce electronic signals that can drive a speaker and synthesize sound.

sound hood

n. A five-sided box, lined with soundproofing material, that is placed over a loud printer to muffle its noise.

Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


n. An optional Windows feature that instructs Windows to produce a visual cue such as a screen flash or a blinking title bar whenever a system beep occurs. SoundSentry is designed for users with hearing impairments or users who operate a computer in a noisy environment.


n. 1. In information processing, a disk, file, document, or other collection of information from which data is taken or moved. Compare destination. 2. In a FET, the electrode toward which charge carriers (electrons or holes) move from the source under control of the gate. See also CMOS (definition 1), drain (definition 1), FET, gate (definition 2), MOSFET, NMOS, PMOS.

source code

n. Human-readable program statements written by a programmer or developer in a high-level or assembly language that are not directly readable by a computer. Source code needs to be compiled into object code before it can be executed by a computer. Compare object code.

source code control system

n. A tool designed to track changes made to source code files. Changes are documented in such a way that previous versions of the files can be retrieved. Source code control is used in software development, particularly in situations involving concurrent development and multiple user access to source code files.

source computer

n. 1. A computer on which a program is compiled. Compare object computer. 2. A computer from which data is transferred to another computer.

source data

n. The original data on which a computer application is based.

source data acquisition

n. The process of sensing, as with a bar code reader or other scanning device, or receiving source data. See also source data.

source data capture

n. See source data acquisition.

source directory

n. During a file copy operation, the directory in which the original versions of the files are located.

source disk

n. Any disk from which data will be read, as during a copy operation or when an application is loaded from a disk into memory. Compare target disk.

source document

n. The original document from which data is taken.

source drive

n. The disk drive from which files are being copied during a copy operation.

source file

n. 1. A file that contains source code. See also source code. 2. A file that contains the data that a program will process and store in a destination file. 3. In MS-DOS and Windows commands that involve the copying of data or program instructions, the file containing the data or instructions that are copied.

source language

Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition

n. The programming language in which the source code for a program is written. See also programming language, source code.

source program

n. The source code version of a program. See also source code. Compare executable program.

source statement

n. A single statement in the source code of a program. See also source code, statement.


n. See SIIA.


n. The long key occupying much of the bottom row of most keyboards that sends a space character to the computer.

space character

n. A character that is entered by pressing the Spacebar on the keyboard and that typically appears on the screen as a blank space.

space-division multiplexing

n. The first automated form of communications multiplexing, which replaced the human-operated switchboard. Space-division multiplexing was replaced by frequency-division multiplexing (FDM), which was in turn replaced by time-division multiplexing (TDM). Acronym: SDM. See also FDM, multiplexing, time-division multiplexing.

spaghetti code

n. Code that results in convoluted program flow, usually because of excessive or inappropriate use of GOTO or JUMP statements. See also GOTO statement, jump instruction.


vb. To distribute unwanted, unrequested mail widely on the Internet by posting a message to too many recipients or too many newsgroups. The act of distributing such mail, known as spamming, angers most Internet users and has been known to invite retaliation, often in the form of return spamming that can flood and possibly disable the electronic mailbox of the original spammer.


n. 1. An unsolicited e-mail message sent to many recipients at one time, or a news article posted simultaneously to many newsgroups. Spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail. In most cases, the content of a spam message or article is not relevant to the topic of the newsgroup or the interests of the recipient; spam is an abuse of the Internet in order to distribute a message to a huge number of people at minimal cost. 2. An unsolicited e-mail message from a business or individual that seeks to sell the recipient something. Also called: UCE, unsolicited commercial e- mail.

spam blocking

n. See address munging.


n. A program or device that automatically posts large amounts of repetitive or otherwise inappropriate material to newsgroups on the Internet. See also bot (definition 3), robopost, spam1.


n. An individual who lures users to spam-related Web sites by loading the site with hundreds of hidden copies of popular keywords, even if those words have no relation to the Web site.

Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition

Because the keywords appear so many times, the spamdexter’s site will appear near the top of search result and indexing lists. The term spamdexter was created by combining the words spam and index. Also called: keyword stuffing.


n. See range.


n. Short for Scalable Processor Architecture. A RISC (reduced instruction set computing) microprocessor specification from Sun Microsystems, Inc. See also RISC.

sparse array

n. An array (arrangement of items) in which many of the entries are identical, commonly zero. It is not possible to define precisely when an array is sparse, but it is clear that at some point, usually when about one-third of the array consists of identical entries, it becomes worthwhile to redefine the array. See also array.

sparse infector

n. A type of virus or other malicious code that delivers its payload only when certain predetermined conditions are met. A sparse infector might hide on an infected computer until a certain date or until a certain number of files or applications have been run. By restricting their active phases to only certain situations, sparse infectors are more likely to avoid detection.

spatial data management

n. The representation of data as a collection of objects in space, particularly as icons on a screen, in order to make the data easier to comprehend and manipulate.

spatial digitizer

n. A three-dimensional scanner most often used in medical and geographical work. Compare optical scanner.

speaker dependent recognition

n. A type of automatic speech recognition (ASR) in which the computer system becomes accustomed to the voice and accent of a specific speaker, allowing a larger vocabulary can be recognized. See also ASR, speaker independent recognition.

speaker independent recognition

n. A type of automatic speech recognition (ASR) in which the computer system will respond to commands from any speaker. Because the system does not adjust to the nuances of a specific voice, only a limited vocabulary is possible. See also ASR, speaker dependent recognition.


n. See specification.

special character

n. Any character that is not alphabetic, numeric, or the space character (for example, a punctuation character). See also reserved character, wildcard character.

special interest group n. See SIG.

special-purpose language

n. A programming language whose syntax and semantics are best suited for a given field or approach. See also Prolog.


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition

n. 1. A detailed description of something. 2. In relation to computer hardware, an item of information about the computer’s components, capabilities, and features. 3. In relation to software, a description of the operating environment and proposed features of a new program. 4. In information processing, a description of the data records, programs, and procedures involved in a particular task. Also called: spec.

spectral color

n. In video, the hue represented by a single wavelength in the visible spectrum. See also color model.

spectral response

n. In relation to sensing devices, the relationship between the device’s sensitivity and the frequency of the detected energy.


n. The range of frequencies of a particular type of radiation. See also electromagnetic spectrum.

Speech API n. See SAPI.

Speech Application Programming Interface n. See SAPI.

speech recognition

n. See voice recognition.

Speech Recognition API n. See SRAPI.

Speech Recognition Application Programming Interface n. See SRAPI.

speech synthesis

n. The ability of a computer to produce “spoken” words. Speech synthesis is produced either by splicing together prerecorded words or by programming the computer to produce the sounds that make up spoken words. See also artificial intelligence, neural network, synthesizer.

spelling checker

n. An application that employs a disk-based dictionary to check for misspellings in a document. Also called: spell checker.


vb. On the Internet, to post an excessive number of e-mail messages or newsgroup articles.


n. An automated program that searches the Internet for new Web documents and indexes their addresses and content-related information in a database, which can be examined for matches by a search engine. Spiders are generally considered to be a type of bot, or Internet robot. Also called: crawler. See also bot (definition 3), search engine (definition 2).


n. A transient electrical signal of very short duration and usually high amplitude. Compare surge.


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition

n. 1. An axle for mounting a disk or reel of magnetic tape. 2. Any drive included within the chassis of a laptop or other portable computer. A laptop including a floppy disk drive and a hard drive would be considered a two-spindle machine.


n. An emerging field of study in electronics and physics that is based on the ability to detect and control the spin of electrons in magnetic materials. Using spintronics, it might eventually be possible to produce small, fast electronic devices, including transistors, memory devices, and quantum computers.

Spirale virus

n. See Hybris virus.

splash screen

n. A screen containing graphics, animation, or other attention-getting elements that appears while a program is loading or as an introductory page to a Web site. A splash screen used with an application typically contains a logo, version information, author credits, or a copyright notice, and it appears when a user opens a program and disappears when loading is complete. A splash screen used on a Web site serves as a front door, typically loading before any content-related pages.


n. In computer graphics, a curve calculated by a mathematical function that connects separate points with a high degree of smoothness. See the illustration. See also Bézier curve.


split screen

n. A display method in which a program can divide the display area into two or more sections, which can contain different files or show different parts of the same file.


n. A post to a newsgroup or mailing list that reveals what is intended to be a surprise, such as a plot twist in a film or television episode or the solution to a game. The subject line should contain the word spoiler, but netiquette requires that the sender further protect readers who do not or cannot scan posts for subject lines in advance by encrypting the post, putting one or more screenfuls of white space above the text, or both. See also netiquette.


n. The practice of making a transmission appear to come from an authorized user. For example, in IP spoofing, a transmission is given the IP address of an authorized user in order to obtain access to a computer or network. See also IP address.

Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


vb. To store a data document in a queue, where it awaits its turn to be printed. See also print spooler.


n. A “composite dot” produced through the halftone creation process on a PostScript printer that consists of a group of dots arranged in a pattern reflecting the gray level of a particular pixel. See also gray scale, halftone. Compare dot (definition 2).

spot color

n. A method of handling color in a document in which a particular color of ink is specified and each page having elements in that color is printed as a separate layer. The printer then prints one layer for each spot color in the document. See also color model, color separation (definition 1), PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM. Compare process color.

spot function

n. The PostScript procedure used to create a given type of screen in a halftone. See also halftone, PostScript, spot.


n. See scalable parallel processing.


n. An artist’s tool in Paintbrush or another graphics application for applying a pattern of dots to an image.

spreadsheet program

n. An application commonly used for budgets, forecasting, and other finance-related tasks that organizes data values using cells, where the relationships between cells are defined by formulas. A change to one cell produces changes to related cells. Spreadsheet programs usually provide graphing capabilities for output and a variety of formatting options for text, numeric values, and graph features. See also cell (definition 1).

spread spectrum

adj. Of or pertaining to a system of secure radio communication in which the content of a transmission is broken into split-second pieces, which are transmitted over separate frequencies. When a receiver identifies a spread spectrum signal, it reassembles it to its original form. Spread spectrum was invented by the actress Hedy Lamarr in 1940, but it was not used until 1962.


n. Handspring Inc.’s expansion platform for its line of Visor handheld personal digital assistants. The term describes both the 68-pin Springboard socket incorporated into the Visor, as well as a series of add-on Springboard modules that fit into the socket. Add-on modules include features such as multimedia, games, e-books, additional memory storage, and a wireless phone module. See also Visor.


n. In computer graphics, a small image that can be moved on the screen independently of other images in the background. Sprites are widely used in animation sequences and video games. See also object (definition 3).

sprocket feed

n. A paper feed in which pins engage holes in the paper to move it through a printer. Pin feed and tractor feed are both sprocket feeds. See also paper feed, pin feed, tractor feed.

Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition


n. 1. Acronym for Sequenced Packet Exchange. The transport level (ISO/OSI level 4) protocol used by Novell NetWare. SPX uses IPX to transfer the packets, but SPX ensures that messages are complete. See also ISO/OSI reference model. Compare IPX. 2. Acronym for simplex. See simplex.


n. See structured query language.

square wave

n. A blocklike waveform that is generated by a source that changes instantly between alternate states, usually at a single frequency. See the illustration. Compare sine wave.

Square wave.


n. See static RAM.


n. Acronym for Speech Recognition Application Programming Interface. A cross-platform application programming interface for speech recognition and text-to-speech functions supported by a consortium of developers including Novell, IBM, Intel, and Philips Dictation Systems. See also application programming interface, speech recognition.


n. Acronym for Serial Storage Architecture. An interface specification from IBM in which devices are arranged in a ring topology. In SSA, which is compatible with SCSI devices, data can be transferred at up to 20 megabytes per second in each direction. See also SCSI device.


n. Acronym for solid-state disk. See solid-state disk drive.


n. Short for Streaming SIMD Extensions. A set of 70 new instructions implemented in Intel’s Pentium III microprocessor. SSE, more formally called Internet SSE (ISSE), uses SIMD (singleinstruction, multiple-data) operations to accelerate floating point calculations. Designed to improve performance in visual areas such as real-time 3-D and graphics rendering, SSE also provides support for development of such applications as real-time video and speech recognition. See also SIMD.


n. 1. See small-scale integration. 2. See server-side include.


n. Acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. A protocol developed by Netscape Communications Corporation for ensuring security and privacy in Internet communications. SSL supports authentication of client, server, or both, as well as encryption during a communications session.

Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition