What is a computer operating system?

An operating system is the most important software that runs on a computer. It manages the computer’s memory and processes, as well as all of its software and hardware. It also allows you to communicate with the computer without knowing how to speak the computer’s language. Without an operating system, a computer is useless.

Operating system (OS), program that manages a computer’s resources, especially the allocation of those resources among other programs. Typical resources include the central processing unit (CPU), computer memory, file storage, input/output (i/o)devices, and network connections. Management tasks include scheduling resource use to avoid conflicts and interference between programs. Unlike most programs, which complete a task and terminate, an operating system runs indefinitely and terminates only when the computer is turned off.


Operating systems usually come pre-loaded 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, macOS, and Linux.

Modern operating systems use a graphical user interface, or GUI (pronounced gooey). A GUI lets you use your mouse to click iconsbuttons, 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.

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft created the Windows operating system in the mid-1980s. There have been many different versions of Windows, but the most recent ones are Windows 10 (released in 2015), Windows 8 (2012), Windows 7 (2009), and Windows Vista (2007). Windows comes pre-loaded on most new PCs, which helps to make it the most popular operating system in the world.

viewing a windows operating system


macOS (previously called OS X) is a line of operating systems created by Apple. It comes preloaded on all Macintosh computers, or Macs. Some of the specific versions include Mojave (released in 2018), High Sierra (2017), and Sierra (2016).

viewing a mac operating system


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. The advantages of Linux are that it is free, and there are many different distributions—or versions—you can choose from.


An operating system has three main functions: (1) manage the computer’s resources, such as the central processing unit, memory, disk drives, and printers, (2) establish a user interface, and (3) execute and provide services for applications software. Keep in mind, however, that much of the work of an operating system is hidden from the user; many necessary tasks are performed behind the scenes. In particular, the first listed function, managing the computer’s resources, is taken care of without the user being aware of the details. Furthermore, all input and output operations, although invoked by an applications program, are actually carried out by the operating system. Although much of the operating system functions are hidden from view, you will know when you are using an applications software package, and this requires that you invoke-call into action-the operating system. Thus you both establish a user interface and execute software.

Drop your comment

Hits: 2

Comments and Responses

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *