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About Operating Systems

diagram smallOperating systems



An operating system (also called an OS) is software that is needed to run the programs on a computer or on a mobile device. The programs that run on an operating system talk to the hardware. Programs are also known as Applications or “Apps”.

Operating Systems for Computers

The operating system is the most important program on a computer. Every computer must have an operating system to run other programs. Operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognising input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk, and controlling peripheral devices like disk drives and printers.


Operating Systems for PCs

There are Microsoft Windows Operating Systems (e.g. Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10) which you have to pay for, and Linux open source operating system (Linux OS) which is free.  Popular Linux OS distributions include Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Red Hat and openSUSE.

For Apple Macintosh Systems

Mac OS is a series of operating systems developed by Apple Inc. for their Macintosh computer systems.
OS X is the latest version of Apple's operating system. Click for more information about OSX

The Chrome Operating Systems

All Chromebooks are powered by the Google Chrome operating system, which has been developed to provide a fast, simple, and more secure computing experience for people who spend most of their time on the web.

Operating Systems for Mobile Devices

A mobile operating system, (mobile OS) is an operating system that is specifically designed to run on mobile devices such as mobile phones, smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices.The operating system determines the functions and features available on your device, such as synchronisation with applications, email, text messaging and more.The mobile OS will also determine which third-party applications (mobile apps) can be used on your device.

Popular Mobile Operating Systems

Android OS  (Google Inc.)

The Android mobile operating system is Google's open and free software stack that includes an operating system, middleware and also key applications for use on mobile devices, including smartphones. Updates for the open source Android mobile operating system have been developed under “dessert-inspired” codenames (Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly-Bean) with each new version arriving in alphabetical order with new enhancements and improvements.

What is Android?

(from an article in Newsletter 80, May 2015 by Carl Horn)
Android is often mentioned - as is Samsung - at SeniorNet, and in the media, and often refers to the same thing. Android is the system that runs many tablets, mostly made by Samsung, but also by many other brands. The same system is in more than half of the mobile phones being sold worldwide, and by now more than half of the tablets, surpassing iPads in sales. It is reported to have over 80% of the market. You‘re in good company If you have one.

Technically speaking, many programs (software) can be run simultaneously on modern computers, each performing a specific function. A program which controls all the internal functions of a computer, such as its keyboard for input, its touch screen for input and output, its connection with the Internet for both input and output, and its connection with the mobile phone system, is called an operating system. There are many different brands of operating system. The Android operating system was developed by Google. If your phone or tablet was manufactured by Samsung, it is using a version of the Android operating system. If your device is an i-phone or an i-pad, then it was manufactured by Apple and its operating system was developed by Apple. I-phones and i-pads do not use the Android operating system. Even though a manufacturer may use a basic version of the Android operating system as their base program to control their device, they frequently program the next layer of the operating system themselves. The result is that the appearance of the home screens and the location of icons on them will probably look different, not only from the Android devices of other manufacturers but also different from other models of the same manufacturer.

iPhone OS / iOS (Apple)

Apple's iPhone OS was originally developed for use on its iPhone devices. Now, the mobile operating system is referred to as iOS and is supported on a number of Apple devices including the iPhone, iPad, iPad 2 and iPod Touch. The iOS mobile operating system is available only on Apple's own manufactured devices as the company does not license the OS for third-party hardware. Apple iOS is derived from Apple's Mac OS X operating system.

Windows Mobile (Windows Phone 7 or 10)

Windows Mobile is Microsoft's mobile operating system used in smartphones and mobile devices – with or without touchscreens. The Mobile OS is based on the Windows CE 5.2 kernel. In 2010 Microsoft announced a new smartphone platform called Windows Phone 7. A Windows 10 version was released late in 2015.

There are many other mobile operating systems – such as Blackberry OS and Chrome OS.

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