Operating system: what it is, what it is for and examples

Whether you are a mobile phone or computer user, you have surely used an operating system. It is software or a set of software that is fundamental to the use of devices, such as personal computers or smartphones. Operating systems have the main function of managing the resources and functionalities present in the system, from the stored files, installed applications and even the hardware available for the machine.


In short, the operating system is the interface between the user and the machine. It is Windows, on computers, or Android, on mobile phones. Check it out below, in a special article he created Digital layoutthe main information you need to know about operating systems, as well as some examples of the most popular operating systems in the world.

What is an operating system and what is it for?

The operating system is in a way the “soul” of a computer or mobile phone. From there, users can install and open programs, check stored files, manage hardware components, and more.

The operating system is the interface between the user and the machine. He is the one who checks that all the hardware components are working, that the software is properly installed and ready to work, and much more. It converts commands made with the mouse or keyboard into actions to be performed by installed programs, as well as managing resources (such as RAM memory) necessary for the operation of applications.

Linux is one of the operating systems available for personal computers. Reproduction: Zhanna Hapanovich/shutterstock

Despite being best known on mobile phones and computers, operating systems are spread across all types of existing devices: video game consoles have their own system, as well as smart TVs and even some TV Box models.

In the past, these operating systems were text-based, as in the case of the old MS-DOS, which required the user to know command lines to use them. Over time, they got graphical elements (GUI, graphical user interface), which made it easier to use and were fundamental in the personal computing revolution between the 1970s and 1980s.

Types of operating systems

The most popular operating systems are those present in the most common devices: mobile phones and computers. In the case of computers and laptops, Linux, macOS, Windows and Chrome OS are the most well-known. All of them, even if they differ from each other, have a graphical interface for easy use and management of all the resources necessary for the operation of the application, for example.

In the case of mobile phones, there are currently two main OSs available on the market: Android, developed by Google and found in most Brazilian mobile phones; and Apple’s iOS, available on iPhone devices. These systems also have adaptations to work on tablets.

Console operating systems still exist: the current Xbox Series S and X run a modified version of the Xbox One operating system. The PlayStation 5, on the other hand, uses a very different system from the PS4, developed by Sony. The Nintendo Switch also has its own system, albeit with limitations and focused almost exclusively on gaming.

Android 13
Android 13, Google’s mobile operating system. Image: Daniel Constante/Shutterstock

There are still systems targeting other types of devices. Google has Google TV for smart TVs and some devices like Chromecast. Still in the world of smart TVs, LG models have a system called webOS, which was initially developed for mobile phones but adapted for TVs.

Examples of operating systems


The most widely used system on computers around the world, Windows was originally released in the 1980s as an evolution of the old MS-DOS. The latest version, called Windows 11, is constantly updated by Microsoft.


Launched in 2008, Android is an operating system for mobile phones and tablets developed by Google. Because it’s an open-source platform, it can be modified by manufacturers who want to include it in devices – which is what many companies, including Samsung and Xiaomi, do when they release their own Android for their smartphones.


Another open source system is Linux, which is well known for being highly customizable by users, and can adapt it to their desired use. Despite this, there are several different Linux distributions, and Ubuntu is one of the most popular. On the other hand, Linux ends up requiring more technical knowledge from users than other operating systems—fans say it’s worth learning just so you don’t have to be stuck with offerings from Microsoft, Google, and Apple.

Featured image: rawf8/Shutterstock

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