Windows and Office 365

What is an Operating System? Features and Functions

Operating system is a software that manages and controls all the basic functions, allowing you to interact with your computer and run different programs.

Operating systems also control and manage input and output to all hardware on a computer, including keyboards, displays, disk drives, network devices, and printers. All these other system parts are known as the computer’s “platform”.

If we were to break this down in very simple terms, the operating system is a piece of software that sits between the application software and the machine itself. It takes the application program commands and breaks them into small pieces that can then be executed, managed and stored efficiently. The operating system will also take instructions from the application software and put them back together in a manner that is consistent and understandable to the program.

Most operating systems are built on top of an Operating System kernel. This is the “engine” that drives the entire operating system. It is what allows the computer to work at all. It is the interface that allows you to send commands to the computer. The operating system kernel will interpret and manage the application program commands in a fashion that guarantees that the computer will do what it is intended to do.

If you are like most other Windows users, you use a variety of tools on your operating system. For example, you might use Notepad to write and save your notes. You might use File Explorer to view documents and folders. You might use the Windows Command Prompt to execute any programs you want to run. And you might use Chrome to access the Internet and browse through websites.

Features of an Operating System

User Interface

The operating system provides a user interface to interact with the system. There are two types of user interfaces: Command Line Interface (CLI) and Graphical User Interface (GUI). A CLI allows the user to enter commands through a command prompt, while a GUI provides a visual interface with icons, buttons, menus, and windows.

Memory Management

In addition to managing and controlling all the basic functions of your computer or device, such as hardware resources and file management, the operating system also plays a role in managing the memory resources. What does that mean exactly? Well, let me break it down for you!

One of the key tasks of the operating system is allocating and deallocating memory to the programs that are running on your computer. When you open a program, the operating system makes sure that it has enough memory to run smoothly. It keeps track of which areas of memory are being used and which are available for use.

But what happens when you close a program? The operating system steps in and deallocates the memory that was being used by that program. This helps to free up memory resources for other programs and tasks that you may want to use.

Process Management

The operating system manages the processes in the system. A process is an executing program or a part of a program. The OS creates, schedules, and terminates processes as per the user’s request.

Whenever you open a program or initiate a task, the operating system creates a process for it. It’s like giving that program or task its own little space to run and do its thing. The operating system is responsible for scheduling these processes, determining when they should run and for how long.

In addition to creating and scheduling processes, the operating system also handles their termination. When you’re done with a program or task, the operating system takes care of ending the process associated with it. This ensures that your computer’s resources are used efficiently and that unnecessary processes aren’t taking up valuable memory and CPU power.

File System Management

The operating system manages the files and directories in the system. It provides a hierarchical file system structure and supports various file systems such as FAT, NTFS, and EXT.

Device Management

The operating system manages the input/output devices of the system. It controls the communication between the devices and the programs. The OS also provides device drivers to interact with the hardware devices.


The operating system provides security features to protect the system from unauthorized access and malicious attacks. It provides user authentication, access control, encryption, and firewall services.


The operating system provides networking services to connect the system to the network. It supports various network protocols such as TCP/IP, HTTP, FTP, and SMTP.

Functions of an Operating System

Resource Allocation

The operating system allocates the system resources such as CPU, memory, and input/output devices to the running programs. It ensures that each program gets a fair share of the resources and does not starve other programs.


The operating system supports multitasking, which means running multiple programs simultaneously. It schedules the processes in such a way that each program gets a fair share of the CPU time and does not cause a system hang or crash.

Interprocess Communication

The operating system provides facilities for interprocess communication (IPC) between the processes. IPC allows the processes to communicate and share data with each other.

Error Handling

The operating system handles the errors and exceptions in the system. It provides the user with error messages and diagnostic information to help them identify and resolve the errors.

System Call Interface

The operating system provides a system call interface, a set of functions the programs can use to access the OS services. The system call interface acts as a bridge between the user programs and the kernel.

System Configuration

The operating system allows the user to configure the system settings such as date and time, display settings, network settings, and power settings. The user can also install and uninstall the software programs and device drivers.

System Monitoring

The operating system provides facilities for system monitoring and performance analysis. It allows the user to monitor the system resources and the performance of the running programs. The OS also generates system logs and performance reports for troubleshooting and optimization.

Show More

Raj Maurya

Raj Maurya is the founder of Digital Gyan. He is a technical content writer on Fiverr and When not working, he plays Valorant.

Leave a Reply

Back to top button