Saturday, July 11, 2009

What's the big deal with operating systems?

Today I am going to answer one simple question that has a rather complicated answer:

"What is the big deal with these 'Operating Systems' that all these big companies are making?"

As defined by Wikipedia, an operating system is "an interface between hardware and user; an OS is responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of the resources of the computer."

Put simply, the operating system is the piece of software that lets you, the user, access the abilities of the hardware on your computer.

1. You tell a application what you want (Eg Click a website in Firefox)

2. Your application tells the operating system

3. The operating system transfers the command to the hardware

4. The hardware completes the command (uses its internet connection to get the site)

5. The information is trasferred back to the operating system.

6. The operating system give the info to the application

7. The application shows you what you wanted. (You see the webpage in Firefox)


So, if all operating systems do more or less the same thing, why are there so many different ones? Let me ask you one question: How many ways can you peel an apple? An infinite number of ways. But some are more practice than others. Some use less tools. Some work faster than others.

In the same way, there are MANY ways for a operating system to get the commands you give it and do them. Some use less hardware. Some work faster. So the whole idea is to have the right balance of what the operating system is capable of doing, how it does it, and how quickly it does it. And since computers are becoming more and more crucile to the world economy, the operating system business can create big money.

That is why operating systems are a big deal.



Livin in a box said...

Who would peel an apple? The skin's fine...

Robomaster said...

Lol, I didn't get what the comment meant at all first. But very good point. A bit too philosophical to be on a tech blog, though.

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