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How can I Determine Which Operating System is on my Computer?

Dana Hinders
Updated May 16, 2024
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An operating system, sometimes called an OS, is the foundation of all system software on your computer. It is the part of your computer that is responsible for controlling input and output devices, managing files, and prioritizing system requests, as well as controlling and allocating memory. If your computer didn't have a working operating system, it would essentially be a large paperweight.

If you have problems with your computer and need to call a tech support hotline, you'll probably be asked which operating system you are running. The easiest way to determine which operating system your computer is running is to watch what appears when you start your computer. In most cases, your computer will display the logo of which operating system it is running for a brief time before all of the software loads.

Microsoft Windows dominates the market for personal computers, although there are several different versions of the Windows operating system available. If your computer is running Microsoft Windows, you can go to START > RUN and type "winver.exe" in the open field to be taken to a dialog box describing which version of Windows is on your computer.

If your computer is running Mac OS X, you can determine which operating system version you have by selecting "About this Mac" from the Apple menu. A small window will appear that displays your version number.

Linux is the name usually given to any Unix-like operating system that works by using the Linux kernel. Linux operating systems are mostly used by servers, but they may also be found in video game systems, mobile phones, e-book readers, and DVRs. The Linux operating system is unique in that all underlying source code can be freely used, modified, and redistributed by anyone.

While troubleshooting technical problems is one example of a situation when it's helpful to know your computer operating system, knowing which operating system you have is also useful when you're purchasing new software for your computer. Some games and desktop publishing or personal accounting programs are only compatible with certain operating systems. For example, your purchase may not work if you're running a version of Windows that is considered to be out of date. However, for general Web surfing and sending email to friends and family, any operating system that allows your computer to work effectively is sufficient. An upgrade is only required when you begin to have problems that interfere with your productivity.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dana Hinders
By Dana Hinders , Writer
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to her work as a freelance writer. After discovering her passion for freelance writing following the birth of her son, Dana has been a vital part of the EasyTechJunkie team. She also showcases her versatility by creating sales copy and content for e-courses and blogs.

Discussion Comments

By sammyG — On Oct 14, 2010

No matter what operating system you are actually using your personal computer, you need to determine whether or not your computer is open to outside attacks from hackers and crackers.

Sometimes this vulnerability to your computer doesn't even exist within the operating system rather than network that the computer is connected to. This can mean that both the Macintosh and Windows operating system computers are susceptible to outside attacks.

Outside retailers will sometimes offer you the ability to purchase antivirus and anti-spyware computer software in an effort to help you protect your system.

While this software is sometimes effective often it is the case it is over sized and unusable to the normal computer user.

By MrPolitic99 — On Oct 14, 2010

Unlike, IceCarver, I consider the most advanced operating system in the world be that of Microsoft's Windows operating system. There is a reason that this company has created the most widely sold and used operating system that is available on our market today.

Only when we are completely converted over to a completely universal operating system will we be able to tackle the issues that truly face the computer industry today.

with any hope this won't take too long to fix and most consumers will realize that they need to just use Microsoft.

By IceCarver — On Oct 14, 2010

figuring out what operating system you're on can be as simple as looking at the logo at a corner of your screen.

Once you determine that you have to really ask yourself if the operating system that you are using is a quality operating system.

I myself am a fan of Apple's Macintosh operating system number ten. This highly advanced and most secure operating system is based on the UNIX operating system was developed by Bell Labs in the 60s in cooperation with University of Berkeley.

The operating system that you choose to use on your personal computer can have significant impacts to your efficiency and quality of work that you produce. When you struggle with the difficulties of a operating system and its basic functions, this takes away from what you're able to produce during your normal work day.

It is critical that the operating system you choose allows you to work at your most efficient pace

By Ilsa — On Dec 28, 2008

I bough 2 games for my daughter and when I try to load them the computer give me the message about kernel32.dll. I have Max Secure Registry Cleaner, but it still give me the message!!!!

Dana Hinders

Dana Hinders


With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to...
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