What Is an Operating System? Definition and Overview

Blog author avatarWritten By: Krishna GuptaJune 15, 2023

Introduction: Basics of Operating Systems

Operating systems are a core component of any computer system. An operating system is a set of software that allows the hardware of a computer to communicate with applications. It serves as an interface between the user and the system, allowing users to interact with it by providing input and receiving output.

Essentially, the operating system acts as the foundation upon which all other programs and applications can be built upon. It is responsible for managing multiple aspects of a computer's functioning, such as input/output control, memory management, file system organization, networking support, security measures and more. The goal of any operating system is to ensure that every piece of hardware in a computer works together in harmony for maximum efficiency and performance.

How Does an Operating System Work?

Operating systems provide an interface for hardware and software, allowing useful programs to execute. An operating system works by coordinating the activities of all of its programs in order to efficiently use the available storage and processor resources. The functions provided by an operating system differ based on the type of system, but generally include memory management, process control, I/O control, and storage management.

At its core, an operating system serves as a kernel which is responsible for program execution. It provides low-level functionality such as memory segmentation, scheduling of program processes and maintaining memory spaces so that multiple user programs can be executed without conflicts. It also provides services to user programs such as allocation of system resources like primary memory space and processor time. Furthermore, it helps in managing the peripheral devices connected with a computer through device drivers specifically allocated per device.

What are the Different Types Of Operating Systems?

Depending on a computer’s purpose and its configuration, there can be a variety of OS's to choose from. Some examples include Windows OS, macOS, Linux OS, and many more. Each operating system differs in user interface design, multiprocessing capabilities, memory management techniques and other features it provides. Here are some examples:

Windows Operating System: Windows Operating System, developed by Microsoft, is the most widely used Operating System in the world. It has been around for more than three decades and has undergone numerous updates in order to bring its users the best experience possible. It is used on desktops, laptops, tablets, and even mobile phones to help users manage their files, browse the web and stream media content. Windows Operating system comes with features such as security features, voice recognition software and even virtual assistants to help you out with tasks. With its intuitive interface and secure environment, Windows has become a reliable operating system necessary for everyday computing activities.

Mac OS: The Mac OS, also known as macOS, is a Unix-based graphical user interface developed and distributed exclusively by Apple. It is the operating system that runs all the Macintosh computers and laptops. The Mac OS has been in use since 1984 and it provides the features needed by Apple to give its users optimal performance with intuitive tools, including graphics applications. With every edition of macOS, new features and improvements are released by Apple to empower its users with better experience and enhanced productivity.

Linux Operating System: Linux is an open source operating system, which means it can be accessed and altered by anyone free of charge. It is designed to be user friendly and it can run on any hardware platform, regardless of computer size or configuration. It provides the same basic functions as many other operating systems, such as secured user accounts, graphical user interface (GUI), efficient multitasking capabilities and a powerful shell for scripting. Furthermore, Linux also offers huge support for third-party applications and can host all kinds of software solutions on its platforms. With its rich set of features, Linux has become one of the most popular operating systems in use today.

Android Operating System: Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google, based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open source software. It is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Android's user interface is mainly based on direct manipulation, using touch gestures that loosely correspond to real-world actions, such as swiping, tapping, pinching and reverse pinching, to manipulate on-screen objects, along with a virtual keyboard for text input. In addition to touchscreen devices, Google has further developed Android TV for televisions, Android Auto for cars and Wear OS for wrist watches.

iOS Operating System: iOS is Apple's mobile operating system. It is the most widely used mobile platform in the world, and makes it possible to use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. iOS provides a secure and intuitive user experience with features such as easy navigation, voice assistance support, productive apps, advanced security protections and device performance optimization. The latest iOS brings further improvements to HomeKit, CarPlay functions and ARKit support for enhanced augmented reality experiences. With regular software updates being released to keep up with the times, iOS provides its users with an ever-evolving experience.

Chrome OS: Chrome OS is a Linux-based operating system (OS) developed by Google. It is designed specifically to run web applications including web browsing, media playback, messaging, and document editing as well as other applications on Google’s own Chrome browser. As a result, Chrome OS devices can easily access cloud-based services such as Gmail, Google Drive and Docs, and more. Compared to Windows or macOS based PCs and laptops, most Chrome OS devices are relatively light weight and feature longer battery life with their low power processors. They also have better security features since they are updated continuously with the latest virus definitions directly from Google’s servers.

Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOS): Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOS) is a software platform designed to support the development of applications requiring high throughput, low latency, and predictable performance in an embedded system. It enables the use of computing resources in an organized way which improves the overall speed and accuracy of application execution. RTOS is used to manage real-time tasks as well as device drivers, communication protocols, peripherals, memory management and scheduling tasks. By providing an appropriate environment that enables these components to work reliably together in harmony, a real-time system can be realized. The use of RTOS makes it easier for developers to design reliable and efficient embedded systems with shorter development timeframes.

Embedded Operating Systems: Embedded Operating Systems (EOSs) are specialized variants of operating systems designed to serve a dedicated purpose. Unlike traditional general-purpose operating systems, EOSs are intended for devices that have limited computing resources and tight control requirements. These operating systems are tailored to fit the diverse power, memory, performance and safety requirements of embedded systems by optimizing the code for specific tasks. By utilizing built-in features for connecting and controlling peripherals such as sensors, motors, and displays, EOSs provide developers with flexibility in application development with less time and effort. Embedded Operating Systems also offer security by having built-in authentication mechanisms that protect against external threats such as unauthorized access or malware injection. With their numerous application possibilities and robust security measures, Embedded Operating Systems could revolutionize the world of embedded systems in the future.

Security & Maintenance Consideration for Different platforms

In today’s digital world, security and maintenance of operating systems is essential for every business. With the increasing number of threats and maintenance tasks, it’s important to understand the different security and maintenance considerations for different platforms. Whether you are talking about Mac OS, Windows OS or Linux OS, each comes with its own set of security features and maintenance tasks.

Whether you are an individual user or an enterprise organization, it is important to ensure that your computers and systems are equipped with the latest security features to protect against viruses, malware, hackers and other forms of cybercrime. Similarly, regular maintenance tasks should also be conducted in order to keep your systems up-to-date and running optimally.

(1) Windows OS:

Windows OS, being one of the most widely used operating systems in the world, requires suitable security and maintenance measures in order to ensure its performance as well as to protect against potential threats.

It is important for a user to ensure enacted security procedures for Windows OS since different cyber criminals employ new methods and techniques regularly to gain access to user data and a compromised system could incur serious losses. By ensuring Windows system security and maintenance, users can protect their valuable information from malicious activities like cyber-attacks.

Regularly applying updates and patches along with using antivirus software are essential elements of security maintenance for Windows OS. Furthermore, maintaining password strength along with auditing user access rights also help prevent unauthorized access. Therefore, vigilant maintenance schemes should be taken into account while managing up-to-date Windows systems.

(2) Mac OS:

Mac OS, the popular operating system from Apple, is designed with strong security, but it is still essential for users to be vigilant and take responsible steps to protect their devices. Whether you’re a professional or everyday user, understanding the importance of protecting your MacBook or iMac is a must.

It’s important to not only be aware of the potential threats but also understand some general security and maintenance considerations that you need to follow when using Mac OS. This includes keeping all software up-to-date and performing regular system scans for any potential viruses or malware. Additionally, it's important to back up your data regularly in case of any hardware failure. By following these recommended steps, you can ensure that your Mac remains secure and in top running condition at all times.

(3) Linux:

Linux is a great operating system for a variety of purposes, from large-scale enterprise applications to consumer mobile devices. However, to make sure that you are getting the most out of your Linux environment, it’s important to consider some general security and maintenance concerns. From the installation of security updates to making sure that the appropriate level of access priviliges are granted, these considerations can help protect your environment against malicious attacks and other breaches. Whether you are deploying a single instance device or an entire corporate network, security and maintenance should be at the forefront of any Linux setup.

(4) Android:

Android devices are now the most used devices to access the internet, which puts them at risk of various types of viruses, malware, and other threats. It is important to take general security and maintenance into consideration in order to protect your device from these threats. Security measures such as setting strong passwords, using a VPN to browse securely and avoiding suspicious websites could go a long way in protecting your device.

In terms of general maintenance, keeping your Android device updated with the latest version is one of the key things users can do. This ensures that you have access to all the latest features, improved performance and better security for your device. Furthermore, ensuring that you have enough storage capacity for applications and documents will not only improve usability but also help prevent data loss due to lack of spac

(5) iOS:

Apple's iOS platform is a secure environment for all your data, but there are important security and maintenance steps that all iOS users must take to make sure their device remains safe. This includes setting up strong passwords, enabling 2-factor authentication, and regularly updating the OS and applications. Additionally, parental controls need to be enabled if children are using the device, while also ensuring backup files are securely maintained in the cloud. All of these considerations will help ensure your device stays secure from malware or malicious software.os

User Friendly GUI Interfaces for Popular OS Platforms

Creating a user friendly GUI interface is an important part of developing a successful software system. As the demand for more powerful operating systems increases, the need for designing user-friendly graphical user interfaces becomes even more significant. Developers are constantly working towards crafting attractive visual designs that will enable customers to find their way around the system easily. Popular operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS and Linux all feature versatile GUIs that provide smooth user experience and offer users complete control over their devices. Such interfaces are also designed to support applications targeting different types of users in order to provide personalization and customization options so that each person can get the most out of their technology.


A secure and performing operating system is crucial for the success of both individuals and businesses. It's important to keep the OS up-to-date with all the latest security patches and feature updates to maintain a high level of security and performance. By following certain best practices, you can ensure that your OS runs at its optimal speed and is protected from malicious attackers. This article outlines key tips for keeping your OS secure and running smoothly, including installing essential safeguards, using reliable applications, taking precautions on public networks, protecting passwords, regularly backing up files, setting up firewalls, scanning for malware, disabling unnecessary services and applications, limiting user privileges when required.

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Krishna GuptaSoftware EngineerI am a full-stack developer with a passion for creating beautiful, functional, and user-friendly websites and applications. As a full-stack developer, I have expertise in both front-end and back-end technologies. I specialize in using tools such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, TypeScript, React, Next.js, Node.js, and Express to build responsive and interactive user interfaces. I also have experience working with databases like MySQL and MongoDB, as well as server-side language Node.js.