What Everyone Should Know … About Operating Systems

The average person doesn’t have to (or want to) know much about Operating Systems, but I’d like to offer you two basics:

  • What is an operating system?
  • What are the popular operating systems?

An operating system is the piece of software that your devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones) use to perform basic operations. Some operating systems come with enough features that you don’t have to load any more, but most people like to add features to their operating system by installing “apps” or “programs”.

The way to solidify this definition is to talk about specific operating systems. Here are the main ones in no particular order:

Windows is the operating system on over 91% of all desktops and laptops. It includes basic features like typing, printing, browsing, and enjoying multimedia. It has a large selection of apps/programs to increase its functionality. There are many versions of Windows, right up to the current Windows 10.

Linux is the operating system on 1.66% of all desktops and laptops. It includes basic features, but also some more advanced ones like Office document handling. There are many distributions of Linux, and each distribution has many versions, but they are ally typically free.

Mac OS X is the operating system on about 7% of all desktops and laptops. It is made by Apple, and based on Linux, but I have listed it separately here. Like Linux, it has both basic and more advanced features.

iOS is the operating system on all Apple iPads and iPhones. iOS is loaded on nearly 14%2 of all smartphones.

Android is the operating system on (pretty much) all other tablets and smartphones. Android is loaded on nearly 83% of all smartphones.

Windows, BlackBerry, and others are loaded on the remaining 3.3% of all smartphones.

Next month, I’ll talk about what things are compatible between operating systems.