Classifying operating systems

Classifying operating systems

Before we classify operating systems(OS), let us first define what is an OS, what are they used for and some of the major designers of OS?

According to (Brookshear, 2011, pp110) he defines it as “ An operating system is the software that controls the overall operation of a computer. It provides the means by which a user can store and retrieve files, provides the interface by which a user can request the execution of programs, and provides the environment necessary to execute the programs requested.”

“Operating systems are generally not hardware dependent, but the hardware configurations required to use them can vary”(Kumar, 2013)

Some of the operations an OS performs are as follows:

  • Manages to share of internal memory amongst multiple applications.
  • OS handles input and output
  • It is interactive with users.
  • It manages processes and batch operations.

Some of the major designers of operating systems are Microsoft, Apple, Linux – Open Source community of developers and designers.

When it comes to the classifying operating system into three distinctive criteria it can somewhat of a  challenge to do so. One has to broadly look at what is considered useful and the type of operations it will be used for. For the purpose of this paper will be focusing on an operating system that will be using for my line of work or job description. I am a User Interface/User Experience Developer and what I do on a daily basis are as follows: Application Development, Graphic Design, Video Editing, Website Maintenance, IT Support, Software Testing and Deployment, Database Management and for leisure time; watch movies and play any game, but mostly football. With that said setting criteria for classifying operating systems somewhat becomes earlier.

When classifying an operation system one has to give thought to the functionality of the operating system. Thus, the three criteria were derived:

  • Multiprocessor OS
  • Multi-user OS
  • Graphical User Interface (GUI)-based OS

Multiprocessor OS

The reason for choosing Multiprocessor has to do with what lays beneath the hood, the engine, the driving force behind what makes a computer a powerhouse. “Multiprocessing operating systems allow for the use of more than one central processing unit (CPUs) within one computer system. The CPUs within the computer can be equal, or they can have specific purposes and functions.” (Sephton, 2008), this, in turn, allows for a tighter coupling that will facilitate a single memory base. What this boils down to is being able to support the executions of multiple processes simultaneously. Which in turn uses multiple CPUs and make execution time, less and operations faster. Faster execution is a way to increase productivity and efficiency. Examples of this are Windows Edition with 64 bit – Windows 7 x64 and Mac Yosemite –most Mac operating system are 64 bit by default.

Multi-user OS

Who doesn’t like the ability to have one system that multiple users can access? This simply refers to the ability for multiple users to use the same system simultaneously using terminals. This is largely seen in organizations and companies in which employees access a remote computer to save, edit or view company files and use applications. By an operating system facilitating multi-user functionality organizations and or companies are able to cut cost and save on application implementation and maintenance. Examples of this are Window Server 2008 R2 –most if not all Windows Server and Linux Fedora Server 21.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)-Based OS

In many organizations and or companies employees work more efficiently when they are able to relate to what they are seeing on screen rather than typing a command on a DOS screen. Modern day computing involves the use of Microsoft Office suite, web-based, and cloud-based applications all of which required GUI has a prerequisite before use. GUI-based OS is easier to use because they facilitate users with click menus, icons “The pretty stuff” and a wide range of visual aids. Thus making it more user-friendly than let’s say a DOS command line. Examples of this are Microsoft’s newly released Windows 10 and Apple’s El Capitan.

In conclusion, there are many, many more criteria that could have been considered when classifying operating systems namely: Real-time Operating Systems, Multithreading Operating Systems, Distributed Operating Systems, Single-Tasking Operating Systems, Batch Processing, Character User Interface (CUI)-Based Operating Systems and the list goes on and one. What was listed in my opinion are three of the most essential criteria when looking at operating systems overall and the functionalities they will provide overall, whether for personal use or for organizations and companies.


Brookshear, J. G., Smith, D. and Brylow, D. Computer Science: An Overview, 11th Edition. Reading, MA: Pearson (Addison-Wesley), 2012

Kumar, N. M. (2013) Classifications of Operating System, Available at: (Accessed: March 30, 2016).

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