Instructions are required to perform tasks on a computer. A computer is a machine, and it does not understand human language. These instructions are converted into a machine language so that the computer can understand what task the user wants to perform. Machine language is made up of binary numbers, or "bits", that represent instructions and data. It is very hard for a user to communicate with a computer using a machine language because it just zeros and ones. A single absence or presence of a zero or one can cause failure of computer operations. And it is very hard to detect errors in machine language. Therefore an operating system is used as an interface between user and computer hardware to use a computer easily.

What is an operating system?

The operating system works as an interface. It is a software program which is used to manage computer hardware and software resources. The operating system can handle all the computer operations. An Operating system enable different computer applications to interact with computer hardware. The operating system performs basic tasks on a computer such as memory management, controlling inputs and outputs, controlling peripheral devices, managing files etc. The computer program which is the core of the computer operating system is called kernel.

Functions Of An Operating System

Memory Management- It keeps tracking the primary memory for optimum memory usage. It allocates the memory to the programs and processes when needed. The operating system stores programs and data in the memory.

Processor Management- It controls the schedule of all different processes running on a computer such as starting, stopping or execution of different programs. It determines the time required for each operation.

File Management- Operating system is used to create, delete, manipulate files. Copy one file from one folder to another. Used to transfer a file from one computer to another.

Security- Operating systems secure the user data and computer. Operating systems use firewalls for protection against cyber-attacks. Such as Windows firewall for Windows operating system.

Error-Detecting Aids- It includes methods of error-detection and debugging.

Control over System Performance- Operating system stops the execution of some programs if there is delay recorded between request and response. It manages computer resources such as CPU, memory, peripheral devices and identifying bottlenecks to get maximum performance from computer.

Job Accounting- An operating system keeps track of resources and time used by various jobs and users.

User Interface- Operating system presents a user interface to user which makes it easy to control and manipulate computer hardware and software. Operating systems are either command line interface (CLI) or graphical user interface. CLI is basically software which is used to interact with operating systems using a keyboard by entering commands. GUI is used to interact with computers using icons, menus and visual indicators on computer screen using a mouse or touch pad.

Network Management- Operating system helps in networking for example connecting many independent and physically separated computers via a single channel this is supported by the operating system.

Types of operating systems

Distributed operating system- This type of operating system is used to manage a group of different computers and makes it appear to be a single computer. All the computational power is divided between different computers and their respective operations. The operating system is designed to work with a network of computers. Distributed operating systems are commonly used for telecommunication networks, peer to peer networks, airline reservation controls etc. This operating system allows remote networking.

Embedded operating system- Embedded operating systems are designed to operate on small machines and devices with limited resources. Smartphone, hand wearables etc. are examples of devices which uses embedded operating systems. Google's Android OS and Apple’s iOS are examples of embedded operating systems.

Network operating system- Network operating systems are used in servers. Network operating system enables multiple users to connect to a single computer or server simultaneously irrespective of location. Server is connected to different client computers. Windows 2000 server is an example of a client server network operating system. NOS creates and manages user’s network accounts. It does troubleshoot and monitoring of the network.

Batch operating system- The Batch operating system is used for lengthy and time-consuming tasks such as data mining, big data analyzing, managing payroll systems, data integration etc.

Real-time operating system- A real-time operating system is used to perform computer tasks in real time, an operating system that guarantees that the critical task will be completed within a range of time. It is used in applications where quick and precise actions are required such as airline traffic control systems, robotics, industrial control systems etc.

Time-sharing or multitasking operating systems- In that operating system time is allocated to a particular task and the operating system works by switching between tasks frequently. In that operating system multiple users share the computer and its resources simultaneously. Examples of the time-sharing OS are Windows, Linux, Unix, Multics, etc.

Single-user operating systems- Single user operating systems support multiple programs to run at a time but are designed to support only one user at a time. Examples are Microsoft Windows and Apple’s macOS.

Multi-user operating systems- Multi-user operating systems allow multiple users to use a computer at the same time.

Commonly used and the most popular operating systems are Microsoft Windows, Linux, Apple macOS etc.

Microsoft Windows

The Windows OS has been around since the 1980s.
It was created by Microsoft. It is the most popular and most used operating system for personal computers. Most of the computers come with a pre-loaded version of Windows. Microsoft Windows was updating, and different versions came into play such as Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Vista, Windows 10, Windows 11. Windows operating system is used for professional computing as well as home computing. Users can play games, watch videos, store files, use software and connect to the internet using Windows. Global market usage share of Windows operating system is up to 70-80%.

Apple’s macOS

Is the operating system designed and created by Apple for Apple’s Mac computers. MacOS is very fast and accurate because it is specifically designed for the hardware of apple computers. Which makes it hardware compatible to the software.

MacOS is a very popular operating system but its global market usage share is only up to 10-16%. Because Apple computers are more expensive than others. Apple operating system is known for lack of bugs, its security and user appeal to the beautiful user interface.


Linux is a free, open-source operating system, released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Which means it can be modified and distributed by anyone around the world. Linux is easy to customize and contains lots of options. Different versions of Linux are available to choose from. It is used for web servers, database servers, email servers because it is easy to customize. Linux occupies up to 4% of the usage market share. I