An operating system is a set of data and programs that runs on computers as an interface between user applications and hardware. Every computing machine needs an operating system to run. Operating systems, or OS, are the brains behind a computer. Over the years, there have been scores of operating systems that have been developed.
The most popular, if not the best operating system, is Microsoft Windows. It began as an added component of the older MS-DOS system that Microsoft had developed for IBM computers back in the early ’80s. This operating system slowly developed over the years, and changed into the Microsoft NT kernel, on which all the later versions are based. The latest offering, released in 2009, is the Windows 7 operating system. Although Windows 7 has been quite popular, the most popular Microsoft operating system is Windows XP. Released in 2001, this is the operating system that is used by most ordinary users around the planet, making Microsoft one of the richest companies in the world.
The other important operating system is UNIX. This was written on the platform of a language called simply B. It was developed by a computer genius named Ken Thompson. Nowadays, there are many versions and branches of UNIX. Most of these are open source, which are free to use. UNIX is a much more stable operating system than Microsoft Windows, and it is widely used for large-scale server systems in businesses, as well as in running academic and library databases.
A UNIX family operating system that is very popular is Linux. Many users, from beginners to advanced, run their computers on Linux. There is a whole gamut of applications, office suites and media editing programs that can be used on Linux.
Lastly, there is the Mac OS, a set of Unix based operating systems developed by Apple for their Mac computers.