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what is the meaning of Operating System? (Definition)

Updated on February 14, 2017
Windows 7( An example of an Operating System)
Windows 7( An example of an Operating System)

An Operating System otherwise known as OS is the Software that centrally coordinates the hardware of a Computer and other Applications. It serves as the interface between the Computer hardware and the Application Software. Simply put, it tells the computer what to do.

This definition holds wherever this concept come to play most especially in all similar gadgets that have an Operating System. It controls the basic internal operations of a Computer System. Without it, a Computer will not function.

The popularity of any device largely depends on it OS. We have seen in recent times the great feat made by Smartphone giants like Apple incorporated can be linked to its iOS and Google with respect to its Android operating system.For example, the coming of Android computers in terms of OS into the market amounted to a great competitive challenge for old timers in the industry such as Microsoft Inc. However, android has a number of limitations on desktop PC such as a single application on screen, unlike Windows PC that can operate multiple windows simultaneously. There is a hope that there will be a greater development in this regard soon.

The Operating System resides inside the Computer Memory and Hard disk. It is the first program that turns on whenever the Computer is switched on and subsequently gives a command to other parts of the Computer as per their functions.

Some popular examples of Operating System are as follows:

  • Macintosh( MAC OS)
  • Microsoft Windows: Windows 95,98,2000,2005,2007,Window 7,8, Window XP, Vista etc.
  • Linux
  • OS X
  • UNIX
  • MS-DOS
  • Android
  • iOS

Classification of Operating System by Operating Modes

  • Real Time: It uses specialized time scheduling algorithms that are predictive of outcomes within a time frame. Manufacturing outfits use it to carry out input-output analysis in real time and thereby able to make an informed decision. An example is the QNX.
  • Multi-user: It allows more than one user at a time. This is achieved by allowing time sharing among users. It is also multi-tasking. An Example of this type of OS is UNIX.
  • Single-user: This allows a single task to be performed per time and by one single user. A typical example is the MS-DOS.
  • Multi-Access: This allows more than one Computer System to be connected together which enhances a simultaneous operation and a central control unit. A good example is an ETHERNET.

Functions of an Operating System can be summed up as follows:

1. It coordinates resource sharing. For example a number of Computers connected to one single Printer. This is common in most business centers. If you encounter difficulty bringing this to play, check if the OS is compatible with the printer.

2. It controls the workings of Application Software: There is numerous Application software in a single system. It coordinates and controls each of them so that there is no conflict of operations.

3. It coordinates simultaneous workings of different Applications’ Software. Today we here of multi-task environment in most Computers and Smartphones.

4. Memory Control: It allocates space and storage for any particular program

5. It coordinates the functions of the Basic input and output system of a Computer (BIOS) such as the keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, and Printer.

6. It manages file storage system such as files stored on the hard disk, floppy disk .et.c.

From the foregoing, the Operating system of a Computer or Smartphone is the framework on which the entire System is built. Without it, the entire System will be useless.


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