What is an Operating System (OS)?

We all encounter the term OS when using our devices and those who are not fully into the technology industry might wonder why every end user device runs an Operating System. Ranging from our laptops, desktops, servers, network equipment to our mobile device, its a scientific setup that will find all these devices running an OS.

By Shingie Levison Muringi 

Your computer’s operating system (OS) manages all of the software and hardware on the computer. Most of the time, there are many different computer programs running at the same time, and they all need to access your computer’s central processing unit (CPU), memory, and storage. The operating system coordinates all of this to make sure each program gets what it needs.

We have many types of Operating Systems which are in use today. Operating systems usually come preloaded on any computer you buy. Most people use the operating system that comes with their computer, but it’s possible to upgrade or even change operating systems. The three most common operating systems for personal computers are Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and Linux.

Modern operating systems use a graphical user interface, or GUI (pronounced gooey). A GUI lallows you to use your mouse to click icons, buttons, and menus, and everything is clearly displayed on the screen using a combination of graphics and text.

Each operating system’s GUI has a different look and feel, so if you switch to a different operating system it may seem unfamiliar at first. However, modern operating systems are designed to be easy to use, and most of the basic principles are the same.

Before GUIs, computers had a command-line interface (CLI), which meant users had to type every single command to the computer and the computer would only display text. Those early computers running CLI were only operated by expects unlike nowadays where even the tech-phobics are also able to run basic computing on modern devices.

Now we are going to have a brief peep into the current popular Operating Systems so that we all get to understand the intelligent technologies behind our computers:  

Mac OS X

Mac OS X

The Apple proprietary Operating System

Mac OS is a line of operating systems created by Apple. It comes preloaded on all new Macintosh computers, or Macs. All of the recent versions are known as OS X (pronounced O-S Ten), and the specific versions include Yosemite (released in 2014), Mavericks (2013), Mountain Lion (2012), Lion (2011), and Snow Leopard(2009). Apple also offers a version called Mac OS X Server, which is designed to be run on servers.

According to StatCounter Global Stats, Mac OS X users account for 9.5% of the operating systems market as of September 2014—much lower than the percentage of Windows users (almost 90%). One reason for this is that Apple computers tend to be more expensive. However, many people prefer the look and feel of Mac OS X.

Microsoft Windows

Ms Windows

A Microsoft Corporation OS

Microsoft created the Windows operating system in the mid-1980s. Over the years, there have been many different versions of Windows, but the most recent ones are Windows 8 (released in 2012), Windows 7 (2009), and Windows Vista (2007). Windows comes preloaded on most new PCs, which helps to make it the most popular operating system in the world.

If you’re buying a new computer or are upgrading to a newer version of Windows, you can choose from several different editions of Windows, such as Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. You may need to do some research to decide which edition is right for you.



Linux (pronounced LINN-ux) is a family of open-source operating systems, which means they can be modified and distributed by anyone around the world. This is different from proprietary software like Windows, which can only be modified by the company that owns it (Microsoft). The advantages of Linux are that it is free, and there are many different distributions—or versions—you can choose from. Each distribution has a different look and feel, and the most popular ones include Ubuntu, Mint, and Fedora.

Linux is named after Linus Torvalds, who created the Linux kernel in 1991. The kernel is the computer code that is the central part of an operating system. According to StatCounter Global Stats, Linux users account for less than 2% of the operating systems market as of September 2014. However, most servers run Linux because it’s relatively easy to customize.

The above three Operating Systems are the most popular in the market right now. Across the globe, you will find almost all those three being used in each country.

The battle for relevance continues….

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