You probably use an operating system (OS) every day without realizing it. An OS is a program that provides a platform for other software programs to run. In other words, it is the base upon which all other programs are built.
Operating systems are responsible for managing all the hardware resources attached to a computer and running and containing the different types of software programs that users want to run.
How Do Operating Systems Work?
An operating system comprises several files, including device drivers, system files, and application files. A device driver is a program that allows a particular type of hardware attached to a computer to work correctly. For example, there is a device driver for the keyboard, another for the mouse, and another for the network card.
System files are necessary for the OS to run correctly. These include startup files, command interpretation files, and menu systems.
Application files make up the applications, or programs users want to run on their computers. These can be things like word processors, web browsers, or games.
For an operating system to work correctly, all these different types of files must work together in harmony.
Types of Operating Systems
There are four main types of OSs: multi-user, multi-processing, real-time, and embedded.
If you need an OS that can collaborate with others, then it’s good to have a multi-user OS. This kind of OS allows multiple users to access a single computer simultaneously. An example would be a server enabling various people to connect and use its resources simultaneously.
Multiprocessing OSs are designed to take advantage of computers with more than one processor (CPU). This type of OS can distribute tasks across multiple processors to get them done more quickly.
Precision is essential for certain types of jobs. That’s why real-time OSs are designed to handle tasks that require exact timing. They are often used in mission-critical situations where even a slight delay could result in disaster.
Certain compact and easy-to-carry devices still require simple OSs to make them function. Embedded OSs are used in devices where there is no need for a human user interface—such devices include things like digital watches, TiVo boxes, and routers.
There are also different brands of OSs out there. Here are the most popular:
Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system in the world, installed on over 87% of all PCs. That’s more than a billion people using Windows. In addition, Windows is known for its flexibility; it can be installed on computers of all shapes and sizes, from budget laptops to high-end gaming rigs. Windows also has a vast array of software available, including everything from productivity suites like Microsoft Office to creative tools like Adobe Photoshop.
macOS is the operating system that powers all of Apple’s computers, from MacBooks to iMacs. macOS is known for its simplicity and usability; it’s often praised for being more user-friendly than Windows. One of the most significant advantages of macOS is its tight integration with Apple’s other products, like the iPhone and iPad. This allows for a seamless experience if you own multiple Apple devices. Another big plus is that macOS has a suite of excellent built-in apps, like Mail and Safari.
For those who require collaboration and customizability, Linux is the go-to choice. Linux is an open-source operating system that anyone with the right programming skills can freely modify. As a result, there are thousands of different types of distros (a distro is just a version of Linux). As a result, many companies will tailor their version of Linux to suit their specific needs. Additionally, there are Linux remote desktop services that can help businesses work from home. These services allow further collaboration and help to reduce hardware costs.
Android is a popular operating system for mobile devices, especially smartphones. Android is primarily controlled by Google, although it’s also open-source and can be customized to suit the needs of individual manufacturers or applications. One of the main strengths of Android is its app ecosystem; thousands of apps on the Play Store give users access to everything.
Now .that you know a little bit more about operating systems—what they are and how they work—you can start to understand why they are so important. It is hard to overstate just how integral they are to personal computing and large-scale business operations; without them, neither would be possible! So next time you sit at your computer or pick up your smartphone, take a moment to think about the remarkable feat of engineering that makes it all possible: the operating system!