An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs. All computer programs, excluding firmware, require an operating system to function.

Time-sharing operating systems schedule tasks for efficient use of the system and may also include accounting software for cost allocation of processor time, mass storage, printing, and other resources.

For hardware functions such as input and output and memory allocation, the operating system acts as an intermediary between programs and the computer hardware, although the application code is usually executed directly by the hardware and frequently makes system calls to an OS function or is interrupted by it. Operating systems are found on many devices that contain a computer – from cellular phones and video game consoles to web servers and supercomputers.

The dominant desktop operating system is Microsoft Windows with a market share of around 82%. OS X by Apple Inc. is in second place (9.8%), and Linux is in third position (1.5%). In the mobile (smartphone and tablet combined) sector, based on Strategy Analytics Q3 2016 data, Android by Google is dominant with 87.5 percent or growth by 10.3 percent in one year and iOS by Apple is placed second with 12.1 percent or decrease by 5.2 percent in one year, while other operating systems amount to just 0.3 percent. Linux is dominant in the server and supercomputing sectors. Other specialized classes of operating systems, such as embedded and real-time systems, exist for many applications.

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