5 Personal Computer Operating Systems

Part 2 in Cameron’s ongoing series on IT Fundamentals.

Microsoft WindowsWindows 7 is one of Microsoft’s more popular recent operating systems. Like most versions of Windows, it’s written using various dialects of the C programming language originally developed in the 1970s. One unique feature of Windows 7 is the BitLocker Drive Encryption, which enables you to encrypt your hard disk. The minimum system requirements (for the 32-bit version) are a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, and 16 GB hard drive space. Compared to its predecessors, Windows 7 is faster and possesses easier networking methods. However, there are numerous versions of the operating system. Not all of them are available in all countries. There are also features from Vista that are not present in 7.

Windows 10 is the next step beyond Windows 8. Security is much more versatile in that network restrictions are more customizable with per-application VPNs. This version of Windows can run on the same hardware as Windows 7. However, the technical preview, which is the only available version, requires a Microsoft account and Internet access. Windows 10 possesses most of the advantages of Windows 8, like the extra battery life and automatic file encryption, but is also designed with businesses still using XP in mind.

Mac OS XMac OS X is a(n) (in)famous operating system favored by artists, casual computer users, and Apple cultists alike. It is primarily written using Objective-C and Apple-made languages. The Mac OS X is not known for security breaches for a number of reasons. One is lack of use by the demographic most likely to create malware, and another are built-in components under a Mac’s figurative hood, tools like Gatekeeper and FileVault, which provide some basic protection for Mac users. Though many computer users may scoff at Macs, they do have their advantages – especially in content creation and simplicity for more non-technical users. However, due to Apple’s exclusive nature, Macs tend to be more expensive, have less support than PCs, and have fewer hardware and software choices.

LinuxLinux is a venerable and very versatile operating system. It is frequently used in electronics that we normally don’t think of as possessing an operating system – like televisions, GPS, and other devices. It’s primarily written using C and utilizes a Discretionary Access Control to set the security for individual objects. The hardware requirements for one of the latest versions of Ubuntu is a 700 MHz processor, 512 MB RAM, 5 GB drive space, a VGA monitor, and a CD/DVD drive. Linux is generally more secure than other operating systems and is open sourced. Unfortunately, it also has a steep learning curve and is the last OS to get new high-end hardware.

Chrome OSChrome OS, or “Chromium”, is designed by Google. It’s based off of Linux and is primarily designed for netbooks – coined as “Chromebooks”. Chromium takes a somewhat aggressive stance on security. When compromised, it will update the system and reboot to a previous uninfected version. Compared to other devices and operating systems, Chromebooks are fairly cheap. Data backups and software updates are also done automatically. However, Chromebooks lack the diverse functions of Windows, Mac, and other OS’s, and they require an internet connection to utilize many of the functions it does have.

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