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What is a Client Operating System?

Troy Holmes
Troy Holmes

The computer desktop is a standalone computer processing unit. It is designed to perform automation tasks for people. A desktop computer is unique because it does not require any networks or external components to operate. The client operating system is the operating system for computer desktops or portable devices. This operating system is typically different from centralized servers because it only supports one user.

Smart phones and small computer devices contain a client operating system. This operating system manages the components of the device, including printers, monitors, and cameras. Each computer typically has a specific operating system.

Some computers can use multiple operating systems.
Some computers can use multiple operating systems.

Some computers can use multiple operating systems. This is considered a dual boot configuration. When a computer is built in this manner, it can be configured to run specific devices for each operating system configuration. This provides flexibility for software that is operating-system specific. Having two operating systems gives the user more access to complex software programs.

A client operating system is the operating system for computer desktops or portable devices.
A client operating system is the operating system for computer desktops or portable devices.

Many computers today connect to central servers on the Internet by using telecommunication software. These central servers run many popular social networking programs including Twitter, Facebook and Myspace. The operating systems of the central servers are typically different than the local client operating system. These computers do not require operating system compatibility because they share information with special network software.

Today there are many forms of operating systems designed for client computers. These include Windows®, Linux®, Mac® and Android®. Each operating system is designed to function on specific hardware. This hardware compatibility is one of the primary considerations when selecting an operating system for client computers.

There are many freeware versions of Linux® available for desktop computers. This client operating system provides multiprocessing power at minimal costs. Most Linux® operating system configurations require specialized system engineering knowledge. This installation process is not designed for the novice computer user.

Windows® is one of the most widely used client operating systems today. This operating system became popular with the introduction of Windows® 95. Most businesses use the Windows Office® suite for word processing. This software will not function without the Windows® operating system. The Windows® operating system requires special hardware that is designed to support this application.

Discussion Comments


@everetra - Personally, I think the distinctions about which operating system is better can be somewhat academic.

The reason is that everything is moving towards mobile computing and their operating systems. I realize that even with the mobile platforms you have a choice of operating systems, but what will really power these client operating systems is the power of the Internet.

In that sense, everyone will be on equal footing, whether you use an Android, an iPhone, Windows Phone or whatever. Furthermore, mobile computing will force all operating systems to operate in a more efficient manner, because the mobile devices have limited resources.


I have a friend who’s a graphic artist. He owns a Mac (most buyers of Macs are graphics professionals).

He does a dual boot to switch over to Windows. He’s still a die hard Mac fan but for his profession he has had to diversify. He needs to work with some Windows programs, especially the database applications.

He tells me that the Mac is still better; he claims that Macs never suffer from viruses. I’ve heard that claim echoed by other Mac enthusiasts.

I don’t know if it’s true. If it is, I doubt it’s because it’s impossible to write a virus for the Mac. More than likely, Windows is the bigger target, and far more prevalent, and therefore most viruses are written for Windows.

Problems aside, I still prefer Windows for the abundance of software that’s available. Also, computers that run Windows tend to be cheaper than comparable Macintosh computers from what I’ve seen.


@hamje32 - I played with Linux years ago, just for fun. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I still consider Linux the operating system of techie guys, and not ideal for the average computer user.

Yes, it now has a Windows look and feel, but the absence of a lot of software for Linux is a big problem in my opinion. There are many computer users who are not that computer literate.

Whatever else you may say about the memory demands of Windows, a lot of those big programs are big because they go out of their way to being user friendly. Not everyone needs the hand holding, but Microsoft has to target the largest possible market.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been a fan of every implementation of the Windows operating system. I didn’t care for Vista, but XP and Windows 7 are both awesome in my opinion.


I think it’s safe to say that Windows is the most popular operating system in the world.

What has always been up for debate is whether it became that way because Microsoft used to hold a virtual monopoly on the default operating systems installed on personal computers, or whether it is in fact a better operating system than alternatives.

I believe it’s been that way because of the Microsoft monopoly. I realize that nowadays you can request a different operating system when you buy a new computer, but most software is still made for Windows, so people stick with it.

I installed Linux years ago and found it much better than Windows, however. It’s leaner, faster and in many ways emulates a lot of the functionality you find in Windows, without needing gobs of memory.

In my opinion an operating system should require no more than 16 megabytes of RAM to operate.

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    • Some computers can use multiple operating systems.
      By: viappy
      Some computers can use multiple operating systems.
    • A client operating system is the operating system for computer desktops or portable devices.
      By: rh2010
      A client operating system is the operating system for computer desktops or portable devices.