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What Are the Different Types of Computing Platform?

Andy Hill
Andy Hill

There are various different types of computing platform, both software and hardware based. The term platform refers to any software framework or hardware architecture from which a software application can be launched. Computing platforms can include graphical user interfaces (GUI) and operating systems (OS) such as Windows or Macintosh OS and OSX, programming languages, or the actual computer hardware architecture itself.

In software development, the platform can be utilized as a means of ensuring the constant performance of a product when the platform is running. This can result in a software application that can be executed independently of the operating system installed on the hardware. Examples of these types of software applications include Java and QuickTime-based packages. Some Internet-based software companies utilize these platforms to allow online gaming to take place without the restriction of installed operating system affecting the operation of the software. By using a computing platform to emulate an older operating system, these services allow games to be played on modern hardware that would normally be incompatible with the software.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

Some software houses have used built-in soft platforms to allow their software to be compatible with two operating systems from one storage media. An example of this would be a software application or game that the user is able to install both on a personal computer (PC) running the Microsoft Windows operating system and on an Apple Macintosh computer. This is referred to as a cross-platform application.

The level of compatibility demonstrated by a cross-platform application is achieved by the programming language also acting as the platform. By utilizing this built-in computing platform, software applications can be programmed to launch on hardware without a working operating system. This is used to provide a graphical user interface during the installation of operating systems on an otherwise empty drive. As an example of platform independence, the programming language Java acts as both the programming language and as the computing platform. Applications programmed in this language will successfully launch on any operating system or hardware.

Software-based types of computing platform are common and include computer and mobile-based operating systems such as Linux and Unix-based systems, Google Chrome, Android, and Palm OS. Hardware-based platforms include large mainframe systems and supercomputers all the way down to home video game consoles. Hardware-based forms of computing platform also incorporate advanced reduced instruction set computer machine (Advanced RISC Machine or ARM) for mobile system architectures, Unix systems, and Intel x86-based systems.

Discussion Comments


One of the biggest races in computing platform technology right now is with tablets and smartphones. Everyday you see a new one coming out and trying to trump all of the others.

I always find it amusing that companies put so much money in to their platforms and don't think enough about the software that is going to run on them. Many are unsuccessful because they just aren't making enough applications to keep people happy.

I believe that for a company to truly be successful in launching a new piece of technology it really has to be accessible to all of the software that is currently popular. Plus, it has to bring its own software to the table to make it unique. This is in no way an easy task, so it isn't surprising for me to see so many new projects fail.


I am looking forward to the day that I can use my MAC OS without having to fight with issues of computing platform incompatibility from other software makers. It had always bothered me that so many of my favorite programs just don't work on Apple computers.

Nowadays it is possible to easily create cross-platform drives so I can also run Windows on my MAC, but the point is, I don't want to have to do that. I really want there to be truly universal software that doesn't care what computing platform you are using.

It seems to me that we may be a long way off from a universal grade of software just because so many companies have stake in what plays on which computer platform. I figure if there is money to be made the chance of them opening up and making everything fully compatible is unlikely.


@strawCake - I like Macintosh OS and Microsoft Windows both, for different reasons. Luckily, these days you don't have to choose just one! I was able to partition my lap top and install both operating systems on it. I can choose which one I want to use depending on what I want to do.

I really think this kind of stuff is the way of the future. I know companies are in competition with each other, but a lot of consumers don't want to have to choose just one thing. They want to be able to take advantage of all the options! I think in the next few years we might see computers actually come with dual operating systems installed.


Macintosh OS is hands down my favorite computing platform. I switched from PC to Mac when I was a freshman in college and I've never looked back.

The thing I like best about Mac OS is it just works. Everything is just so intuitive! It's not hard to maintain, to use, or to install new programs. Also, Mac OS isn't as virus prone as windows. I've had the same lap top for three years now and not a virus in sight. I had my old PC for only a few months before I started having problems with viruses and adware. And that was with an anti-virus software installed!

I don't think I'll ever go back to Windows. I have toyed with the idea of trying Linux, but we'll see.

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      Woman doing a handstand with a computer