What is an Operating System?

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An operating system (OS) is the most important software that runs on a computer. The OS manages the computer’s memory, processes, its software and hardware.

The OS also allows you to communicate with the computer without knowing how to speak the computer’s “language.” Without an operating system, a computer is useless.

The Work of an Operating System

You’ve probably heard about booting your computer. Booting is the process that occurs when you press the power button to turn your computer on. During this process (which may take a minute or two), the computer does several things:

• It runs tests to make sure everything is working correctly.

• It checks for new hardware.

• It then starts up the operating system.

Once the operating system has started up, it manages all of the software and hardware on the computer. Most of the time, there are many different programs running at the same time, and they all need to access your computer’s central processing unit (CPU), memory, and storage.

The operating system coordinates all of this to make sure each program gets what it needs. Without the operating system, the software wouldn’t even be able to talk to the hardware, and the computer would be useless.

Operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk, and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers.