By Chris Messenger | Published 20/09/2012
Operating System: A program that runs throughout your computer (or mobile device) managing all the disparate applications, programs, functions and external devices as one unified whole. Think of it as your computer’s ‘personality’ if it helps.
Android: A Linux-based operating system developed by ‘Open Handset Alliance’, now a subsidiary of Google. Android was developed as an operating system for the then-emergent Smart Phone, but has since spilled out into Tablet PCs and pretty much any mobile device.
iOS: A Unix-based operating system that serves as the portable version of Apple’s latest OS. Unlike Apple’s competitors Microsoft and Google, Apple do not license any version of their operating system to outside devices, therefore iOS is only found on Apple products such as the iPhone (for which it was originally developed) and the iPad.
Windows: The most widely used operating system in the world, developed by Microsoft in the mid 1980’s; Windows became the most easily recognised operating system on the planet. If you undertake any basic computer training, chances are it’ll be for this one. Windows 8 is the portable-device version of the latest Windows model.
Pretty much all computers (especially Tablets) make use of the same basic components, like Human beings, they are all essentially the same inside, give or take.
As Humans, we all have a brain (as hard as that is to believe sometimes!), i.e. a core processor that stores our memories, manages our emotional responses and prompts us towards desirable actions whilst at the same time warning against undesirable ones (eg: eating pancakes = good, taking the toaster into the bath with you = bad).
However, amongst us Human beings, this is not, by any means, uniform. We all think differently, as individuals, we respond and react uniquely to various stimuli and this is why different operating systems all have their champions, as well as their detractors.
What makes glaringly obvious common sense to one user may be like a dense and frustrating maze of rampant illogic to another.
With that in mind, I should say at this juncture that I am an avowed Apple fan.
I am a hands-on sort of person, I prefer vinyl to MP3, I cook from scratch instead of from a jar and I almost always learn by doing rather than reading the instructions. For me, as an individual, the ‘direct manipulation’ approach of iOS is the perfect compliment to my ‘physical’ disposition. On any system I use, I like to ‘drag and drop’ a file into a desired location, rather than rely on any shortcuts, just so that I can see the little hand icon pick it up and then feel like I’ve carried it there myself. It’s a peace of mind thing.
The Android operating system is an extremely popular model at the moment, in fact, Google have gone on record as saying that as many as 850,000 Android devices are activated daily. The benefits of such a ubiquitous model are obvious; it is, after all, one of the main pillars of Microsoft’s continued success, the more people who use a system, the more support is available, the more peripherals are developed by independent businesses and thus the more licensed products are generated. If enough people use an operating system for long enough, everything becomes compatible with it.
Windows already occupies this world to a far greater extent than any other OS mentioned here. People opt for familiarity when it comes to technology (in fact, Android has only really broken out as a result of Tablet PCs emerging from the Android-dominated Smart Phone market) and it doesn’t get much more familiar than Windows. If you’re looking for something simple, that you already know how to use before you’ve even booted it for the first time, then Windows is the operating system for you.
Each have their benefits, whilst each have their drawbacks.
Android, for example, can be rigid and unfamiliar if you don’t use a Smart Phone, it can also be an overly simplistic way to manage something as complex as a computer, even a portable one.
iOS is as uncompromising and frustratingly incompatible as ever and even though Apple have improved their tech support greatly in recent years, you can still find yourself up a certain creek and lacking a certain implement (if you catch my drift) when encountering a tech-problem. Their products, whilst uniformly excellent, are also still extremely expensive.
Windows doesn’t suffer from lack of knowledge, but it does suffer from more inherent problems than the other two combined. It is overly complex and, in the humble opinion of this writer, starting to look a little bit out of date in the face of newer, cooler, easier to use models that are finally breaking away from Microsoft’s Mafia-esque market domination of the last thirty years.
Biased though I am, I must concede however that a Unix based model has just as many critics as any other. For everyone who says that the Unix system in the movie ‘Jurassic Park’ saved the day at the end, there are also those who say that Newman from ‘Seinfeld’ shouldn’t have been able to mess about with it so easily in the first place.
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