Operating Systems

What are they? What can they do?
Article written by Ariff Fadhullah bin Azman

The operating system (OS) is the most important
program that runs on a computer. Every generalpurpose computer must have an operating system
to run other programs and applications.
It is the first piece of software that the computer
executes when you turn the machine on. The
operating system loads itself into memory and
begins managing the resources available on the
computer.
It then provides those resources to other applications that the user wants to execute. It even
perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the
display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk, and controlling peripheral
devices such as printers. 1
In short, it acts as a middleman to ensure both hardware and software interact
correctly.

An operating system has three main functions:


Manage the computer's resources, such as the central processing unit, memory, disk
drives, and printers
Establish a user interface
Execute and provide services for applications software.

Popular examples of operating systems:
Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux and Unix are the big
operating system contenders. Most desktop or laptop PCs come
pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows. Macintosh computers
come pre-loaded with Mac OS X. Many corporate servers use
the Linux or UNIX operating systems. Each of them is different and have their own
advantages and disadvantages, but are all based off on the same concept.

MS-DOS (acronym for Microsoft Disk
Operating System) is a discontinued operating
system for x86-based personal computers mostly
developed by Microsoft. It was the main
operating system for IBM PC compatible
personal computers during the 1980s and the
early 1990s, when it was gradually superseded
by operating systems offering a graphical user
interface (GUI).
1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_system

2

Windows 3.1x

is a series of 16bit operating systems produced by
Microsoft for use on personal
computers. The series began with
Windows 3.1, which was first sold
during April 1992 as a successor to
Windows 3.0. During its lifespan,
Windows 3.1 introduced several
enhancements to the still MS-DOSbased platform, including improved
system stability, expanded support for
multimedia, TrueType fonts, and
workgroup networking.

Windows 95

merged Microsoft's formerly
separate MS-DOS and Windows products. It featured
significant improvements over its predecessor,
Windows 3.1, most notably in the graphical user
interface (GUI) and in its simplified "plug-and-play"
features.

Windows 98, like its predecessor, is a hybrid 16bit/32-bit monolithic product with an MS-DOS based
boot stage. It included support for USB and DVD.
Internet explorer was integrated into the desktop for a
unique internet experience.

Windows Millennium Edition (ME)

was released on June 2000 with the
marketing focus on multimedia and home networking enhancements. It was the first version of
Windows to include System Restore. Also introduced Media Player 7 and Movie Maker

Windows NT

is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, the first version of
which was released in July 1993. It is a processor-independent, multiprocessing, multi-user
operating system. "NT" was formerly expanded to "New Technology" but no longer carries any
specific meaning. The first version of Windows NT was Windows NT 3.1 and covers up until the
latest Windows version, Windows 10.

Mac OS

is a series of graphical user interface–based operating systems developed by Apple Inc.
for their Macintosh line of computer systems. The Macintosh, specifically its system software, is
credited with having popularized the early graphical user interface concept.
It has a two-layered system: the attractive GUI sits atop a Unix core, and Unix is best-known for its
security features. It's simply impossible to install a destructive trojan or virus unless the user explicitly
allows it.
Mac OS is incredibly stable as Apple controls production from start to finish, so every part of a Mac
is designed and tested to work together. At the same time, it runs on Intel chips, which means you can
run XP or Vista concurrently with Mac OS, with Boot Camp or Parallels software. 3

Linux

or GNU/Linux is a free and open source software Unix-like operating system for
computers. This means that it doesn't put any license restrictions on users. This is one reason
why many people like to use Linux.
The defining component of Linux is the Linux kernel. Typically, Linux is packaged in a form
known as a Linux distribution, for both desktop and server use. Some of the popular
mainstream Linux distributions are Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, openSUSE, Arch
Linux and Gentoo. 4

2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Windows
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS
4
https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux
3