Types of Operating Systems

From the time computers have been created, operating systems have been around to help in data processing. They have evolved with the times, much like you and I. As computers that use these operating systems grew, these systems had to keep up with the growth and demand.

So let’s go ahead and go through the operating systems that are in use in today’s world.

7 Types of Operating Systems

What is a Batch Processing Operating System?

Have you ever seen shows on television, showing you how things are made? You’d see materials fly by on a conveyor machine, going into several processes by batches. You’d most often don’t see anyone making adjustments, but if the need arises, someone will come up and make the necessary changes.

It goes the same way with a batch processing operating system. Batch jobs or jobs are being processed one by one, without a user telling operating system the next step to take.

operating system


  • With a batch processing operating system, jobs can be processed without any need for additional hardware or software to support the process.
  • Computer resources are also shared between users and programs.
  • The time in processing jobs can be lessened by shifting to other resources that are less busy.
  • Using a batch processing operating system, idling computer resources can be avoided with manual intervention and supervision.


  • There is, unfortunately, training still needed for users of the operating system.
  • Once there is an issue, a batch processing operating system is difficult to debug.
  • Using a batch processing operating system takes a large amount of money.
  • When one batch experiences an issue, every batch will be affected as well.


  • Payroll systems

Think of a company that has thousands of employees. Payroll is usually processed by batch, mostly following an alphabetical order. Whenever there is an issue, you’d most often receive an email from your Human Resources people informing you of the details and what you should expect.

  • Bank statements

For a bank, regardless if it’s small or large scale, would need to keep records of their customers, be it for security or financial purposes. Especially when there is a need to send information, a batch processing operating system works for such a scenario due to a large number of details it needs to process.


What is a Distributed Operating System?

If you have a set of computers that uses software and hardware interconnecting components, then you have yourself a Distributed Operating System.

This is often true in an office setting. Computers are connected with each other either through LAN connection, as well as other peripherals like a printer or a copier machine. They are considered independent from each other, that is if a computer malfunctions, and a document needs to be printed out, it can still be opened on another and be printed out from there.

communication network


  • When you make use of a Distributed Operating System, you can be assured that your system can perform better than a stand-alone system.
  • Imagine your computer stills, you have a presentation in 15 minutes and you can’t access it. If your office uses a Distributed Operating System, you can just go to another computer and access the file from there.
  • Let’s say you need another desktop set up for you, there won’t be any worry of any overload in the system as this has been taken into consideration when the system was being set up.
  • On a limited budget, a Distributed Operating System can work wonders, as multiple devices can share a printer or a scanner.


  • With a Distributed Operating System, as several computers are sharing the network, security will be the foremost issue that will be experienced.
  • Although it will be easy to add resource into the system, overloading is still a concern if left unwatched. Bandwidth will also be an issue and can be costly.
  • Since the network is shared, any messages in the system will have the tendency to be lost in the system.


  • Internet

The Internet is a network of different computers and applications that makes use of the Internet Protocol Stack. What makes the Internet a Distributed Operating system as they are sharing one direct link with each other, via the backbone or satellite link.

  • Linux

Linux is a bit difficult to understand than Windows, especially when people mention about Linux itself. When a user has both the operating system kernel and applications that run with it, they may be using the operating system itself or a distribution, or “kernel”. There is no need to stick with one distro, but you do have the option of saving any other distros you might have in one folder for easy access.


What is an Embedded Operating System?

If you’re using computers that are built into larger systems and makes use of a specialized operating system with limited functions, you are then in use of an Embedded Operating System. It may depend on the device in question, but it may ultimately result into a single running application. This application is important to the operation of the device. This is where the Embedded Operating System comes into play. It must be reliable and able to run even with the restrictions on memory, size and processing power.

embedded computer


  • As an Embedded Operating System can function on its own, it is considered reliable.
  • It needs only a few interconnections, making the size it may occupy relatively small. This spells less cost for the user.


  • As it only has limited functions, an Embedded Operating System would have the tendency to not improve in the technological aspect.
  • It also makes use of a battery-operated source of energy, making the power supply less durable.


  • Symbian

This particular OS was used in mobile phones, mainly Nokia. These devices before needed little computing power, making the partnership of Symbian OS and Nokia compatible. But with the advent of Android and iOS, the need for more computing power was put into the limelight.


What is a Library Operating System?

Library operating systems are made up of libraries that represent an operating system’s core capabilities. These are being used by compilers  that makes up a unikernel. With this, a unikernel developer can include library components that is needed to make an application work with the unikernel code managing the drivers. Compared to an orchestra, the code is like the conductor waving its baton around to manage the music, or operation of the drivers.

Library operating systems


  • For Library Operating Systems, there is a single address space. Privilege transitions to move data between user space and kernel space are done only once.
  • Performance is great as there is a direct access to hardware without going through the transition between modes of user and kernel.


  • As there is no separation, having multiple applications side by side with a strong resource isolation would be difficult.
  • Drivers need to be regularly updated due to ever improving hardware. This will constantly be an issue, as a Library Operating System only works with specific hardware that requires device drivers.


  • IncludeOS

It’s open source, and is an OS for cloud services, which runs on C++ code on virtual hardware.

  • Runtime.js

It’s also open source and an OS for cloud services, but runs on Javascript Virtual Machines. This is often bundled up with an application and deployed as a lightweight VM image.


What is a Network Operating System

This particular OS runs and provides a server access to data, users, groups, security, applications and other networking functions. By allowing a shared file and printer access among multiple computers in a network, or what is called Local Area Network (LAN), makes up the primary use for the Network Operating System.

network operating system

network operating systemAdvantages

  • Centralized servers are stable.
  • Security is being managed by the server.
  • If there is a need for new hardware or software, upgrades can easily be integrated into the system.
  • Servers can be remotely accessed from different locations.


  • Buying and running a server is very costly.
  • Most of the operations are very dependent on a centralized location.
  • Daily maintenance and upgrades is needed for upkeep.


  • Windows 2000 server

It has Active Directory that manages and enables security, as well as extending the interconnection between the operating system in the network.

It also interfaces for database access and Active Directory services.

  • Windows XP

It’s very reliable compared to older versions of Microsoft Windows, along with automatically obtaining updates once connected to a network.


What is a Real-time Operating System

In a Real-time Operating system, the time needed to process and respond to inputs is very small and can control the environment. RTOS is also used when there are strict time requirements on processing or flow of data, which can also be a control device in a dedicated application.

Real-time Operating System


  • With an RTOS in place, task can be scheduled on shifts and can be prioritized when needed.
  • Users would rarely experience an error, and has provisions for interruptions.
  • It is very scalable and portable.


  • Getting a Real-Time Operating System can be very costly.
  • There is minimal support for a number of peripheral devices.
  • Users can rarely multi-task.


  • VxWorks

They had a long history of applications used in cars and various NASA space platforms, although users cannot get it for free.

Single User/Multi-User, Single Tasking/Multi-Tasking

What is a Single-User/Multi-User Operating System?

A Single-user Operating System has no facilities to distinguish users, but multiple programs can be run in pairs. If a particular computer has a monitor, keyboard and peripheral devices attached to it, then it is a single-user operating system. Also, if a user cannot run a program from another computer and see it on the monitor they are using, then it is a single-user operating system as well.

A Multi-user Operating System can extend the idea of multi-tasking with facilities that distinguishes processes and resources. This operating system can be used by different users to take advantage of the computer’s resources simultaneously.

What is a Single-Tasking/Multi-Tasking Operating System?

A Single Tasking Operating System manages a computer to do one thing at a time, while a Multi-tasking Operating System can handle multiple applications at the same time.

Single-User/Single-Tasking Operating System

Single-User/Single-Tasking Operating System

Multi-User/Multi-Tasking Operating System

Multi-User/Multi-Tasking Operating System


Single User/Single-tasking Operating System
  • As the name suggests, one user can use the system at a time without worrying about other users interfering with the system.
  • This particular operating system can easily be maintained as it uses less resources and is less complex, making them easier to fix.
  • As the name suggests, one user can use the system at a time without worrying about other users interfering with the system
Multi-User/Multi-tasking Operating System
  • Several printing jobs can be done at the same time with different users.
  • For a single music file, several people can access it at the same time without affecting the server.


Single User/Single-tasking Operating System
  • Tasks will take longer to process, as the system can only cater to one user.
  • Succeeding tasks need to wait for prior tasks to finish before they are processed. This results to the system resources not used adequately.
Multi-User/Multi-tasking Operating System
  • As the name suggests, one user can use the system at a time without worrying about other users interfering with the system


Single-user/Single-tasking Operating System
  • DOS/Windows 3X, Windows 95/97/98

These applications can only support a user at a time

Multi-User/Multi-tasking Operating System

There is a need for a server for these Operating Systems that can service several users at a time.

About the author


is a Software Developer and the main writer behind Computer Realm.

i cant understand ur comment. - January 26, 2010

ple enlight me on components, types and kinds of operating system

    Tisha Osuch - August 28, 2018

    Aw, this was an extremely good post. Taking the time and actual effort to make a top notch article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.|

John - February 28, 2010

I would like u guys should update me on types of operating system e.g macshitosh,unix,linux. And further more basic and day to day update on computer.thanks

Roland A. legaspi - March 4, 2010

I would like to know some new operatinf application and system so that I my self be update’s in new technology

Gidi save - January 24, 2011

I will to know if i can remove xp and install a new operating system

    rajendran - July 1, 2011

    my system is slow process. what the problem?

muthu - January 27, 2011


yadav galam - March 14, 2011

very usefull for users very implement for the operating systems

EBERECHI OKORO - May 2, 2011

Your article is nice but you should endeavor to add references too,thank

piyush - May 12, 2011

article is nice
very gud explanation …..
so simple language easy to learn…

Pragya - June 7, 2011

not bad……… it should not be in so brief

Lokesh - June 8, 2011

this is very informative, accurate and easy to understand

    Faheem - August 10, 2011

    Please give me model question paper

aparna - June 10, 2011

wat are the different types of operating systems?

please give me the suitable answer

Vivek - June 14, 2011

Too good

sanooj - June 15, 2011


SALU MICHAEL - June 23, 2011


    rajendran - July 1, 2011

    what is bios setup

angel camille ong - June 27, 2011

nice one….thank you!!

nishanth - June 28, 2011

wat r d different types of operating systems?
plz answer me tis question……

    Faheem - August 10, 2011

    Please give me answer

reena - July 4, 2011

soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo guddy guddy very nice

charan - July 7, 2011

thanks for the info.. It was very helpfull for me..

prabhu goooood - July 11, 2011


hinal mehta - July 21, 2011

very nice article

dhananjay pandey - July 23, 2011

it is being very useful for my exam time

dhananjay pandey - July 23, 2011

thanks for this comment ………………………………………..g.m.

mohammed zuheb - July 26, 2011

its simple and easy to understand..

K.Prashanth Reddy - July 29, 2011

its good but 2 length

sandeep dhillon - August 4, 2011

its very easy and understand

    sandeep dhillon - August 4, 2011

    i very happy for this os type

jeevitha - August 5, 2011

thanks its very useful

kaustubh - August 7, 2011

very easy and lucid explanation.

shashikumar - August 7, 2011

simply super

yamini - August 9, 2011

plz tell me somethng about desktop, main frame, distributed, multiprocessor,network,clusstared,handheld operating system

mehanaz - August 11, 2011

good to read

mehanaz - August 11, 2011

useful to know about the operating systems

kulveer kaur - August 17, 2011

gud explanation

kyle buko pie - September 6, 2016

amazingly awesome very informative!!

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