Operating system is an essentially basic computer program required for a computer to work. All computer systems must have an operating system to function properly. Though you can install more than one operating system, but to have OS installed is a requirement for most general-purpose computers. It bridges the gap between hardware and software, so they can be functional together. Almost all general-purpose computers require an operating system. Computer applications or programs are built to be compatible with an operating system. In other words, computer applications are built on top of a computer platform. Otherwise it just won’t work.
Operating systems have various basic functionalities built-in. Most common of those are calculator, ability to handle input and give output, to handle USB drives and printers, a web browser for surfing, keeping track of files and file directories etc. A large computer would increase responsibilities of an OS like it will have to make sure that computer programs don’t interfere with each other, multiple user accounts work smoothly, etc.
Another critical responsibility of an OS is to maintain security. A good operating system comes with a built-in anti-virus software installed. Like Windows 10 brings Windows Defender, which does a pretty good job of keeping computers safe from malware and malicious attacks.
There are many types of operating systems. Some are for mobiles and handheld devices, others are for personal computers. Android, for example, is an operating system designed to work with smartphones and tablets (though it can used on PC as well). Whereas Windows and Mac OS X are designed for personal computers and Macintoshes (Apple computers), respectively. Other ways in which operating systems are classified is by means of their functions:
- Multi-user : Allows multiple users to use one operating system simultaneously.
- Real-time : Responds to input in real-time. Windows and Ubuntu best exemplify this type. DOS and UNIX are not real-time!
- Multitasking : This type of operating systems can run two or more programs simultaneously, without them interfering with one another.
- Mutiprocessing : Can support running one program over more than one CPU.
“After all this talk of OSs, mind an example?” you say. Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, etc. all different breeds operating systems. Although there are more operating systems than you can count on your fingers, but market usage share is dominated by a few popular names.
Windows is ubiquitious. So it doesn’t matter if I add here or not, it will still be considered as a top OS, agree? It’s everywhere. Windows is basically a family of operating systems for personal computers. With market share of over 90+%, it enjoys sheer dominance. Windows has its roots to as back as 1985, when Microsoft developed MS-DOS for IBM, a computer hardware manufacturer. According to NETMARKETSHARE, most used version of Windows 7, which has over 60% of market share! However that’s apart from the share of other Windows versions. So if we totalled the market share all versions of Windows has, it will go beyond 90%! Suffice to say Windows rules, no?
Recently Microsoft released Windows 10 and gave it away for free. Guess what happened? Since millions of computers across the world were eager to download, the Internet was at the verge of crashing! Though that did not happened (thanks to Microsoft for intelligently distributing the OS in waves!). Within 24 hours the release, more than 14 million devices had installed the brand-new OS. Incredible, right?
Side note: If you’re interested in obtaining your free of Windows 10, here’s your guide!
A list of operating systems is outright incomplete without Ubuntu. It’s an open source, freely distributed operating system and it’s based upon Linux kernel. In 2004 while Linux was already positioned as enterprise server platform, Mark Shuttleworth, gathered a team of developers from a Linux-based Debian OS and started Ubuntu. Being open source, Ubuntu is freely built, modified and distributed by a community of volunteers. Today Ubuntu is probably the most used OS, which is based on Linux.
Ubuntu’s development is looked upon by a UK-based company Canonical, a company owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. Part of what makes Ubuntu what it is today is its user interface or desktop environment, which is minimalist and smooth. If you’re looking to get your hands dirty with Ubuntu, here’s our guide for ways to try out Ubuntu OS.
Mac OS X
It comes from Apple, the world’s most valuable brand. Mac OS X is the version of Apple’s Mac OS from 2000 and onwards. Mac OS is credited with having popularised graphical user interface. The OS in question has a market share of 11.74% (July, 2015), as per NETMARKETSHARE. Mac OS X brings you with a set of beautifully designed applications to do your everyday chores extraordinarily.
Applications that make surfing the web, storing your personal photos, listening to music and communicating via email an integral experience. Mac OS X is based upon Unix OS, which was based on NeXTSTEP operating system and XNU kernel, which Apple obtained after acquiring NeXT with Steve Jobs returning to Apple as CEO. Mac OS X’s latest version is 10, however it has a large history of independent earlier Mac OS releases. Another thing that makes Mac OS X stand out from the rest is its ability to integrate with iOS, Apple’s OS for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV. With the duo (OS X and iOS) integrated properly, you can operate your iPhone right from the Macintosh. Gotta call someone? You can do it via Mac. You can even receive phone calls from Mac. Start or edit a document on iPhone, surf web or clear your inbox via iPhone, you can pick up where you left off on your Mac. Works wonderfully!