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:
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:
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:
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:
Multithreading - Operating systems that allow different parts of a program to run concurrently. Examples of operating systems that would fall into this category are:
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.
Operating system listing
Below is a listing of different operating systems available today with their history, platforms, and its developer.
Common operating system questions and answers
- How to find what operating system is on a computer.
- How to fix the missing operating system error.
- Linux vs. Windows.
- Command line vs. GUI.
- Can I upgrade my OS from 32-bit to 64-bit?
- How to set up dual booting.
For specific operating system questions and answers, see click one of the operating system links in the above section.
- See our operating system definition for further information and related links.