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WHAT IS AN OPERATING SYSTEM?

When you turn on your computer, it's nice to think that you're in control. There's the trusty
computer mouse, which you can move anywhere on the screen, summoning up your music library or
Internet browser at the slightest whim. Although it's easy to feel like a director in front of your
desktop or laptop, there's a lot going on inside, and the real thing behind the curtain handling the
necessary tasks is the operating system (sometimes abbreviated as "OS").

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. The
operating system (OS) is the first thing loaded onto the computer, without the operating system, a
computer is useless. Users usually interact directly with the operating system through a graphical
user interface (GUI), which is usually accessed using a mouse.

More recently, operating systems have started to pop up in smaller computers as well. If you like to
tinker with electronic devices, you're probably pleased that the operating systems can now be found
on many of the devices we use every day, from cell phones to wireless access points. The computers
used in these little devices have gotten so powerful that they can now actually run an operating
system and applications. The computer in a typical modern cell phone is now more powerful than a
desktop computer from 20 years ago, so this progression makes sense and is a natural development.

The purpose of an operating system is to organize and control hardware and software (software is
sets of instructions that performs some task on a computer) so that the device it lives in behaves in a
flexible but predictable way.

All desktop computers have operating systems. The most common are the Windows family of
operating systems developed by Microsoft, the Macintosh operating systems developed by Apple
and the UNIX family of operating systems (which have been developed by a whole history of
individuals, corporations and collaborators). There are hundreds of other operating systems
available for special-purpose applications, including specializations for mainframes, robotics,
manufacturing, real-time control systems and so on.

The most popular Operating Systems

The most used operating system is made by Microsoft. Microsoft have managed to dominate the
world with its Windows operating system. However there are other operating systems made by
other companies that are very popular. Each year these companies are slowly gaining in popularity
and giving Microsoft a run for its money.

Microsoft Windows Operating Systems

Most personal computers use Microsoft's operating system. All Microsoft operating systems are
named Windows, then a year or a version name. The following list shows the different versions
released so far (up to 2013).

Windows Operating Systems (newest to oldest)

Version Year
Windows 8 2013
Windows 7 2009
Windows Vista 2007
Windows XP 2001
Windows 2000 2000
Windows Me 2000
Windows 98 1998
Windows 95 1995
Windows NT 1993
Windows 3.1 1992
Windows 3.0 1990

Apple Mac Operating Systems

Apple Macs computers run on Apples own operating system. All Apple operating systems are
named Mac, then a version number and then they are named after big cats. The following list shows
the different versions released so far (up to 2013).

Version Year
Mac OS X V10.6 (Snow Leopard) 2010
Mac OS X V10.5 (Leopard) 2009
Mac OS X V10.4 (Tiger) 2007
Mac OS X V10.3 (Panther) 2005
Mac OS X V10.2 (Jaguar) 2003
Mac OS X V10.1 (Puma) 2002
Mac OS X V10.0 (Cheetah) 2001

Linux Operating System

Linux is a operating system that was designed to provide personal computer users a free or very low-
cost operating system comparable to traditional and usually more expensive operating systems.
Linux has a reputation as a very efficient and fast-performing system. Linux's kernel (the central part
of the operating system) was developed by Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki in Finland. To
complete the operating system, Torvalds and other team members made use of system components
developed by members of the Free Software Foundation for the GNU Project. Linux is a remarkably
complete operating system, including a graphical user interface. Unlike Windows and other
proprietary systems, Linux is publicly open and extendible by contributors. Linux comes in versions
for all the major computer systems. Although Linux is popular among users, it remains far behind
Windows in numbers of users. However, its use in the business is growing.

If you are unsure what operating system to choose then contact ComputerFixed, where we can give
you advice on the operating system that would suit your needs.

Taken from: ComputerFixed.co.uk

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