Operating systems are the software that is central to the operations of a computer. Without the operating system (OS) the computer cannot run hardware or software. You can also think of the operating system as a translator between you and the computer – it’s the way you can communicate with the computer.
When you use your computer, you usually have more than one program running. Even if you only open a web browser or only one document, several background programs are running to show you the desktop, give you sound, give you graphics, etc. The OS makes all this happen. All the programs work from the OS.
When you are typing a document and saving it, the OS does that too. Every time you tell the computer to open something, save something, move something, etc., you are communicating with the OS. All of these programs and commands that you give need to access the three main things of your computer’s functions: central processing unit (CPU), memory, and storage.
The CPU or processor is the thing that determines the speed and how many programs can successfully run at the same time without making the computer slow. The memory refers to the rate at which the computer can multitask. The storage is where you save all your files, pictures, etc.
There are many different operating systems on the market. You will find the three main ones that most computers operate on and then there also smaller or lesser known operating systems that can be used instead of or together with the three main ones. Most computers are sold with the operating system already installed, but you can upgrade or change this if you want. You can choose which operating system works for you.
Microsoft Windows – This is the most well-known and most-used operating system due to its user-friendly nature and because it does the things people want the best. The Windows OS comes standard with most computer brands, with the exception of Apple computers. There have been many different versions of which the latest is Windows 10.
Mac OS X – This operating system only works on Macintosh computers or Macs that are manufactured by Apple. Fewer people use this operating system because it only works on Apple computers which tend to be quite expensive. Some people prefer Macs, however, because of its look and feel and multi-media capabilities. Macs are generally considered to be good for people who work a lot with graphics, music, and other types of multimedia.
Linux – Linux is the least used OS in the world. It is open-source which means that it is free and that any person can make changes to it. This means that there are many different versions of it. Linux is mostly used by programmers who do coding and create apps.
Our smartphones have also become like mini computers and we now have tablets as well. Smartphones do not use the same OS as computers, but rather similar ones that are specially designed for mobile devices. The most used ones are Apple iOS and Google Android.
So, that is the basics of operating systems and what they are. Try out the different ones and see which one works best for you.