Operating systems

Updated: 04/30/2020 by Computer Hope
Windows XP

An operating system or OS is software installed on a computer's hard drive that enables the computer hardware to communicate with and run computer programs. Without an operating system, a computer and software would be useless. The picture is an example of Microsoft Windows XP, an early popular operating system.

Operating system types

As computers have progressed and developed, so have their operating systems. Below is a list of operating systems categories and examples of operating systems that fall into these categories. Many computer operating systems fall into more than one of the below types.

GUI - Short for Graphical User Interface, a GUI operating system contains graphics and icons and is commonly navigated by using a computer mouse. See the GUI definition for further information. Examples of GUI operating systems are:

System 7.x
Windows 98
Windows CE

Multi-user - A multi-user operating system allows multiple users to use the same computer at the same time and at different times. See the multi-user definition for a complete definition. Examples of operating systems that would fall into this category are:

Linux
Unix
Windows 2000

Multiprocessing - An operating system capable of supporting and utilizing more than one computer processor. Examples of operating systems that would fall into this category are:

Linux
Unix
Windows XP

Multitasking - An operating system that is capable of allowing multiple software processes to run at the same time. Examples of operating systems that would fall into this category are:

Linux
Unix
Windows 8

Multithreading - Operating systems that allow different parts of a program to run concurrently. Examples of operating systems that would fall into this category are:

Linux
Unix
Windows XP

Troubleshooting

Common questions and answers about operating systems are in the operating system questions and answers section below. All other questions relating to an operating system are in its corresponding operating system page link in the box below.

Linux and variants
macOS
MS-DOS
IBM OS/2 Warp
Unix and Variants
Windows CE
Windows 3.x
Windows 95
Windows 98

Windows 98 SE
Windows ME
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows 8 and 8.1
Windows 10

Operating system listing

Below is a listing of different operating systems available today with their history, platforms, and its developer.

Operating system Date first released Platform Developer
AIX and AIXL Unix and Linux history. Various IBM
AmigaOS Currently, no AmigaOS history. Amiga Commodore
Android November 5, 2007 Mobile Google
BSD Unix and Linux history. Various BSD
Caldera Linux Unix and Linux history. Various SCO
Chrome OS July 7, 2009 Various Google
Corel Linux Unix and Linux history. Various Corel
CP/M Currently, no CP/M history. IBM CP/M
Debian Linux Unix and Linux history. Various GNU
DUnix Unix and Linux history. Various Digital
DYNIX/ptx Unix and Linux history. Various IBM
HP-UX Unix and Linux history. Various Hewlett Packard
iOS 2010 Mobile Apple
IRIX Unix and Linux history. Various SGI
Kondara Linux Unix and Linux history. Various Kondara
Linux Unix and Linux history. Various Linus Torvalds
Mac OS 8 Apple operating system history. Apple Macintosh Apple
Mac OS 9 Apple operating system history. Apple Macintosh Apple
Mac OS 10 Apple operating system history. Apple Macintosh Apple
macOS X Apple operating system history. Apple Macintosh Apple
Mandriva Linux Unix and Linux history. Various Mandriva
MINIX Unix and Linux history. Various MINIX
MS-DOS 1.x MS-DOS history. IBM Microsoft
MS-DOS 2.x MS-DOS history. IBM Microsoft
MS-DOS 3.x MS-DOS history. IBM Microsoft
MS-DOS 4.x MS-DOS history. IBM Microsoft
MS-DOS 5.x MS-DOS history. IBM Microsoft
MS-DOS 6.x MS-DOS history. IBM Microsoft
NEXTSTEP Apple operating system history. Various Apple
OS/2 1987 IBM IBM
OSF/1 Unix and Linux history. Various OSF
QNX Unix and Linux history. Various QNX
Red Hat Linux Unix and Linux history. Various Red Hat
SCO Unix and Linux history. Various SCO
Slackware Linux Unix and Linux history. Various Slackware
Sun Solaris Unix and Linux history. Various Sun
SuSE Linux Unix and Linux history. Various SuSE
Symbian 1997 Mobile Nokia
System 1 Apple operating system history. Apple Macintosh Apple
System 2 Apple operating system history. Apple Macintosh Apple
System 3 Apple operating system history. Apple Macintosh Apple
System 4 Apple operating system history. Apple Macintosh Apple
System 6 Apple operating system history. Apple Macintosh Apple
System 7 Apple operating system history. Apple Macintosh Apple
System V Unix and Linux history. Various System V
Tru64 Unix Unix and Linux history. Various Digital
Turbolinux Unix and Linux history. Various Turbolinux
Ultrix Unix and Linux history. Various Ultrix
Unisys Unix and Linux history. Various Unisys
Unix Unix and Linux history. Various Bell labs
UnixWare Unix and Linux history. Various UnixWare
VectorLinux Unix and Linux history. Various VectorLinux
Windows 10 Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows 2000 Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows 2003 Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows 3.X Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows 7 Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows 8 Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows 95 Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows 98 Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows CE Microsoft Windows history. PDA Microsoft
Windows ME Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows NT Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows Vista Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Windows XP Microsoft Windows history. IBM Microsoft
Xenix Unix and Linux history. Various Microsoft

Common operating system questions and answers

Tip

For specific operating system questions and answers, see click one of the operating system links in the above section.

Additional information

  • See our operating system definition for further information and related links.