Functions of a computer Operating System

Operating system is termed as the intermediate program between the user and the computer hardware. It primarily manages the hardware as well as provides the platform for the application programs to work on. In this article we would be exploring these functions carried out by the operating system.

The operating system is rightly called the most important part of the computer since it provides the medium of interaction between the software and the hardware of the computer. Thus it can be said that the operating system is basically used by the user to interact with the hardware of the computer system. The special feature of the operating system is that there are variations based on the requirement of the user to perform certain task.

  • Mainframe operating systems are basically designed to make the optimal use of the hardware.

  • The operating systems for personal computers are designed to support everything right from complex games to business applications.

  • Lastly it would be noticed that the handheld computers are mainly designed to provide a user friendly environment when he can easily interface with the computer in order to execute the program.

From the above points it can be clearly stated that some operating systems are designed to be convenient while some are designed to be efficient and the rest are designed as a combination of both.

Components of Computer System

As evident from the above image, the computer system is divided into 4 components namely:

  • Hardware

  • Operating System

  • Application Programs

  • Users

Here the hardware consists of central processing unit(CPU), memory and input/output (I/O) devices which are altogether used to provide the basic computing resources for the system. On the other hand the application programs i.e. the software is used to define the ways in which these resources would be used to solve the user queries.

Operating System for User

From the user point of view, the most essential purpose of the operating system is the ease of use followed by the performance and lastly resource utilization. As a result such personal computers pay more attention to performance than resource utilization which in turn leads to the optimal single-user experience.

As earlier mentioned there exist many other uses of a computer and depending on that the operating system is modified. As in the case where multiple users require to access others computer for data and exchange the same within themselves, the most important feature to focus on turns out to be resource utilization therefore the operating system is designed to obtain maximum of it.
Next one could imagine workstations which are connected to some other workstation via the server. Here the users have a dedicated resource but also require to exchange information via the network and servers. Thus the operating system is designed in such a manner that the user receives the optimal balance between usability and resource utilization.

Standalone computers have turned out to be a key part of almost every working individual's life, thanks to its portability and performance. The real secret behind this is that the operating systems are designed mostly for the individual usability but along with this the amount of performance achieved for the given battery life is looked into.

Lastly there are some computers which have little or almost no user view e.g. the embedded computers in home devices and automobiles which often have digital displays or maybe numeric keypads but the operating system is designed in a manner to work absolutely without human intervention.

Operating System from System View

Till now we discussed how the operating system is designed to increase the ease of usage but if we consider the operating system keeping the system efficiency in mind, it primarily deals with the hardware. Its task is to manage the execution of multiple requests flowing in each second by efficiently allocating them to the available resources i.e. the components of computer hardware. Due to the above function the operating system can be efficiently called the resource allocator.
This function is most needed during mainframe or minicomputer where multiple computers continuously interact with each other which leads to numerous conflicting requests for the resources.

The other significant role played by the operating system is that of a control program to manage the execution of user programs by avoiding errors and preventing improper use of computer. It is mainly concerned with the operation and control of the I/O devices.

Defining the Operating System

Based on all the above features of the operating system we arrive at a formal definition of the same. Operating systems exist because they offer a reasonable way to solve problem of creating usable computing system. Fundamental goal of computer systems is to execute user programs and to make solving user problems easier. This is the main goal based on which the operating systems are designed. It is so because the hardware is not easy to use and the application programs require some common operations in order to control the peripherals. To solve this problem the operating system has been developed. One can also define the operating system by calling it the only program that runs all the time on the computer (usually called the kernel) since all other programs i.e. system programs and application programs are usually run for a shorter period.

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Author: Srijita Dey24 Mar 2017 Member Level: Silver   Points : 0

Such a wonderful subject.I must appreciate your lucid explaination.

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