What Is the Classification of an Operating System?

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The classification of an operating system is a grouping that differentiates or identifies the operating system based on how it works, the type of hardware it controls and the applications it supports. The basic function of an operating system is to make the hardware usable and enable user applications to run as they are designed to.

An operating system is regarded as system software, a type of software whose primary function is to operate and control hardware. By managing the operations of the hardware, users are shielded from the complexity of how the computer performs its functions. Once an operating system is in place, all other applications can be installed and used appropriately. Users can then accomplish powerful tasks with ease.

The main operating system classifications include real-time operating systems, single-user single task systems, single-user multitasking systems and multi-user operating systems. Single-user operating systems are designed to let the user perform one task at a time, while single-user multitasking systems allow users to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. Multi-user operating systems allow multiple users to carry out multiple operations at the same time. According to HowStuffWorks, these systems typically need enormous computing resources to function properly, such as large amounts of computer memory and processing power. Typical examples of multi-user systems include Open Virtual Memory Systems (OVMS), mainframe operating systems and a variety of Unix-based systems.