An Operating System is described as software made up of data and programs that is a common feature on most computers and completes a variety of functions such as managing computer hardware resources as well as providing common services to assist with the execution of the operations of various application software (computer software which is designed for the express purpose of helping the user to perform single or multiple related tasks, such as media players, office suites and accounting software). For hardware functions (such as memory allocation and input and output), the operating system acts as a kind of ‘middle man’ between the computer programs and the application software.
Operating structures can be considered quite probably the most important examples of system software that is present in a computer system since without an operating system, it would be impossible for a user to run an application program on their computer (that is of course unless the application is ‘self-booting’ and therefore would not require the assistance of an operating system). It is for this reason that operating systems are found on almost every device that contains any form of computer, ranging from top of the range supercomputers and web servers everyday technological devices, such as video game consoles and even mobile phones.
Components of operating structures include the Kernel (the most important of all components of an operating application) which acts as a bridge between application software and the actual data processing that is conducted at hardware level. Responsibilities of this component include managing the resources of the system (the managing of the communication between the hardware and the software components). Interrupts (asynchronous signals which indicate the need for attention or indicating a synchronous event in a piece of software that needs a change in execution) are another essential part of operating applications, as is multitasking (the running of multiple independent computer programs on the same computer).
It is often the case that application software is written to be used on only one single operating system (and sometime even for one specific piece of hardware) and as a result it has become possible in recent years for computers to support a number of different independent operating structures. The cost in supporting a number of diverse operating applications can be avoided by the user instead writing applications against software platforms (a crucial element in the development of software) such as Java.