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Enterprise, Workgroup & Personal Operating Systems

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  • 0:05 Types of Operating Systems
  • 0:31 Personal Operating Systems
  • 3:45 Workgroup Operating Systems
  • 4:42 Enterprise Operating Systems
  • 7:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Paul Zandbergen

Paul has a PhD from the University of British Columbia and has taught Geographic Information Systems, statistics and computer programming for 15 years.

While every computer needs an operating system, different devices and different users need different functionalities. Learn about the different types of operating systems.

Types of Operating Systems

Every computing device needs an operating system, or OS, to function. There are many different operating systems. Some are specifically designed for a particular type of device, but many operating systems can run on different devices. There are three broad categories of operating systems: personal, workgroup and enterprise. Each has their own unique characteristics.

Personal Operating Systems

A personal operating system is used on an individual computing device that can run without being part of a network. While these devices may be connected, they don't have to be in order to run. Examples of these would be regular desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. There are a number of different personal operating systems. The most widely used ones are Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

The Windows OS was created by the Microsoft Corporation in 1985. It is the most widely used OS for personal computers, or PCs. If you have been a PC user for some time now, you may recall some of the different versions of Windows, such as Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. New versions are released to keep up with the changes in hardware and software and with general trends in the computer industry. For example, the 2013 version (Windows 8) has been designed with touch screen technology in mind.

These are the major players in the personal operating system arena.
Personal Operating Systems Examples

The Mac OS is the general name for the operating system developed by Apple Inc. in 1984. This operating system is unique in the sense that both the operating system and the hardware are made by the same company. Similar to Windows, there have been a series of different versions over the years.

The Linux OS is a free and open-source operating system developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991. It is based on the original UNIX OS developed by AT&T in 1969. The underlying source code for the operating system can be freely used, distributed and modified. Partly because it is free and open-source, it has been adapted to run on many different types of devices, from desktop PCs, to supercomputers and mobile phones. A number of commercial versions of Linux are also available, providing additional functionality on top of the regular Linux version.

Most desktop PCs and laptops use Windows or Linux, while Apple computers use Mac OS. So, what do other computing devices use? That depends. Some are designed to use an OS designed for traditional computers. For example, some tablets run on Windows 8. However, mobile devices are used quite differently compared to traditional computers. This has led to the emergence of new operating systems. These include iOS for phones and tablets made by Apple and Android and Windows phone for devices from other manufacturers.

All these different operating systems can get confusing - and they keep changing! Keep in mind that many of them use very similar features. For example, clicking on an icon (with a mouse or a finger) opens an application or file. Clicking and dragging moves something. There are of course numerous small differences, and many enthusiastic users will swear by one particular OS. You may have your own preference. Just don't get too used to it because before you know it, there's another version!

Workgroup Operating Systems

A workgroup is a collection of individuals working together on a task. This could be a formal unit in an organization, such as a department or a temporary group, working together on a specific project.

When these individuals connect their computers together in a network, this is called 'workgroup computing.' This makes it possible for the users to send e-mail to one another, share data files, schedule meetings and connect to the same printer. Specialized workgroup systems make it possible for users to define workflows where files are automatically forwarded to the right people at each stage of a process.

Workgroup computing typically uses a Local Area Network, or LAN, a collection of computers that share common resources and responsibilities. LANs are typically small with no more than 10 or 20 computers. This could be a home, a small business or a school.

A diagram of a Local Area Network
LAN Diagram

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