What is the operating system?

It is an interface between a user and computer hardware that performs all basic tasks of memory management, file management, process management, input, and output handling and controlling peripheral devices. OS is a system software i.e. it controls the system’s hardware and interaction between software and user. Its main purpose is to translate your command into code that is machine-readable.

Functions of Operating System

It performs the following functions:

  • Display the user-interface or all the elements with which the user interacts.
  • It works by securing the system. Passwords are allocated to files to protect the data.
  • It helps to boost and monitor the system performance and inform the user if it requires some necessary changes.
  • OS also manages the main memory. Loading of the program into main memory is done efficiently by it.
  • It also works in device management i.e. the device communication with the input/output controller is all managed by it.
Types of Operating Systems.

The OS can be categorized into four main types: real-time, single-user/single-tasking, single-user/multitasking. Below is the description of each type

Real-Time Operating Systems

This OS serves the real-time applications i.e. their response to the input is so small and immediately process data. It is very fast and responsive. It has many applications in embedded systems that are part of microdevices. Its important features are:

  • Engage less memory
  • consume few resources
  • quick response times
  • saves the inter
  • support multiple simultaneous tasks

Sing-User/ Single-Tasking Operating Systems

It is the type of OS which only single user at a time to work on a single task only. It is so designed to manage the task and allowing only one user to work effectively on one thing. Examples of such an operating system are MS-DOS and Palm OS. Although they have limited features they take up very little space in memory when functioning and do not need powerful and expensive computers for their working.

Single-User/ Multi-Tasking Operating Systems

It is the type of OS which allows a single user to work on multiple functions at a time. This feature of multitasking has increased the productivity of people by enabling them to accomplish more in a shorter time period. The disadvantage of such an operating system is that the increased size and complexity it needs to support multi-tasking. The most commonly used OS is Microsoft Windows and the Macintosh Operating System.

Multi-User/Multi-Tasking Operating System

This OS allows multiple users to utilize the programs currently working on a single network server. It gives each user a complete environment on the server, known as a server. In this OS environment, most of the computing occurs at the server. The advantage of this operating system is that its management is done by simply changing one server rather than too many systems. The applications which require a powerful system to complete their task can also be run on this OS. And the major disadvantage is that if the network connection with the server is broken, the user cannot do any work on the application available on that server.

Examples of Operating Systems

Microsoft Windows

It is the most commonly used operating system, with various versions. The most recent one is Windows 10. Microsoft Windows was first released in 1985. It offers graphical user interface, multitasking, virtual memory management, and support for peripheral devices.

Mac OS

It is the primary OS used in Apple desktop and laptop computers. It is preloaded in all Macintosh computers. Its common versions are Mojave, High Sierra, and Sierra.


It is a family of open-source operating systems i.e. they are capable of modifications by anyone around the world. This is different from Windows (which is proprietary software) because that can only be modified by the owner. Its main advantage is that it is free and it has many versions available.

Hence the operating system is the most essential software required to manage the computer’s memory and processes and act as a communication bridge with the computer which only understands the machine language. The computer is no doubt useless without an operating system. Learn more about it here.

Also check: Hardware Security