An operating system enables the computer user to start multiple programs and work with them through task switching without having to quit one program to start the next. It also provides the user with an integrated environment where the user need not consider how the peripheral units interacts with the programs, where peripheral units can be for example hard disk, screen, keyboard, mouse and network.
From a more general point of view, the operating system starts and coordinates the execution of many programs, background processes as well as user applications, and enables all these programs to communicate seemlessly, to avoid the intellectual burden of the user starting all programs manually and switching between them according to an elaborate plan in order to maintain system integrity and perform his/her job task using the computer.
Contemporary desktop operating systems other than Linux include:
- the DOS family: 95, 98, Me
- the NT family: 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8
- PC-BSD (based on FreeBSD)
- FreeDOS (MS-DOS clone, open source)
- Sun Microsystems Solaris (semi-proprietary)
- ReactOS (Windows compatible, open source)
- Haiku (BeOS clone, open-source)
- Syllable (Amiga clone, open-source)
- MenuetOS (64-bit closed-source, 32-bit open-source)
- KolibriOS (open-source, based on MenuetOS)
- ArOS (Amiga imitator, open-source)
- WebOSs such as eyeOS and DesktopTwo