A primer on operating systems

A while back in a previous post, we discussed the difference between desktop computers and servers, and where operating system fit in and how you interact with them in order to work with your computer. Now we’ll outline some key desktop and server operating systems themselves. First, we’ll review what an OS is, then highlight the differences between desktop and server operating systems (OS):

What is an Operating System (OS)?

An OS is the software that allows a user to run programs and interact with their computer. It manages the system’s hardware resources, and supports basic functions such as scheduling background tasks, controlling peripherals, and managing interfaces.

What is the Difference Between a Desktop OS and a Server OS?

  • A desktop OS can run programs like MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. as well as video games. It allows applications like MS Outlook manage your email, and makes browsing the web a breeze. It uses LAN (Local Area Networks – both wired and wireless) and Bluetooth connections. A desktop OS is much cheaper than its server-based counterpart.
  • A server OS on the other hand is expensive. Server operating systems enable a vast number of user and network connections, virtually unlimited in fact. They have a much greater memory and storage capacity, and the software they run enables them as servers for websites, emails, databases, and large scale applications. A server OS handles multiple desktops and users since it is optimized for network capability, unlike a desktop OS that caters for just one user.


What are the Most Prominent Operating Systems?

The top 6 operating systems as of 2021 are:

  1. MS-Windows: The most popular and familiar operating system by far. Microsoft Windows (Windows 95 up to Windows 10) has been the operating system of choice worldwide. It is user-friendly, starts up and resumes operations fast, and has built-in security to keep your data safe. Windows has evolved well over time, but it can be expensive. Windows is best used for programs & apps, web browsing, email, personal use, and gaming.
  2. Ubuntu: Ubuntu is a Linux based OS that’s free to download, install and share. with everything that you are looking for in an operating system. It is perfect for organizations, schools, and home use. It is free to download, use, and share and that alone should be worth checking this app out. Its good for open source downloading, programs & apps, web browsing, email, and gaming.
  3. Mac OS: Mac OS has been the standard OS of most Apple devices ever produced. It has evolved over time like Windows to include features that first and foremost define innovation and cutting edge technology & design. Mac OS is completely free with the occasional free upgrade of recent, and for Apple users, there is no other option. Mac OS is good for Apple-exclusive programs & apps, Dynamic Desktop, web browsing, email, personal use, and gaming.
  4. Fedora: Another Linux-based OS that gives Ubuntu a run for its money. Reliable and user-friendly, Fedora is a powerful operating system for any laptop or desktop computer. Is generally used by casual users, students, hobbyists, and corporate professionals. Good for open source development, corporate use, etc.
  5. Solaris: This is a UNIX-based OS, originally developed by Sun Microsystems in the ’90s. It was recently renamed ‘Oracle Solaris’ after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in the 2010’s. It is highly scalable and perfect for corporate environments. Ideal for large workloads & jobs, managing multiple databases, etc.
  6. Free BSD: This is a free UNIX-based open-source product. Compatible with a variety of platforms, FreeBSD focuses on features such as speed and stability, and was originally built by a large computing community in the University of California. Good for networking, internet and intranet server compatibility.


In Conclusion – Which is Right for Me?

The OS is the heart of your computer, and it’s important to get it right. There are lots of operating systems on the market, so choose the best one to suit your requirements, tech-level, and comfort.

  • For personal use, like gaming and browsing, then Windows is perfect for you. If you have an Apple device then you have no other option than using the MAC OS.
  • For business use, there’s lots of option; Windows and Apple both have solid business architecture in place, as do Linux and UNIX-based operating systems. Your professional environment will help you choose as quite often the OS is chosen by your sector: you may find you’ll be using Mac OS in educational or health-related industries, Windows in traditional office workplaces, and UNIX or Linus in IT or data-centers.


Whatever you choose, your operating system should be capable of:

  • Running core, productive, critical applications.
  • Manage a device’s software and hardware efficiently.
  • Should be secure and robust.


Contact TechPoint for more info on operating systems, and on choosing the right OS for you and your business.

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