In this article we’ll describe and discuss the most popular Operating Systems (OS) for different types of devices such as computer PCs and laptops, smartphones, tablets etc.
Before continuing further, let’s first define and describe briefly what an Operating System is:
What is an Operating System?
An operating system is used by everyone that utilizes a PC, Smartphone, or Tablet. But what exactly is an operating system, and what does it do?
Every computing device comes equipped with hardware components that perform functions ranging from computing data to rendering complex graphics.
However, in order to take advantage of these components, there must be a way for people using the device to communicate with the hardware.
An operating system functions as the go-between and helps connect the computer hardware components with the person using the PC, Smartphone, or Tablet.
The OS is the middleware that controls the hardware components and offers software and application capabilities to the user.
Imagine trying to communicate with another person who speaks a complex and foreign language.
Cooperation, understanding, and even basic instructions would be nearly impossible in the above scenario unless a translator were present who could relay information.
Similarly, a person cannot be fluent in the computer’s language without some additional help from a third party.
For this reason, operating systems function as a vital component to all the latest cutting-edge electronic devices and make things like internet browsers, applications, and games possible.
The following information covers today’s most popular Operating Systems and explores their application in various forms, such as laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets.
Most Popular OS for Computers (Laptops, Desktops):
There are three major players in operating systems currently found in both Desktop and Laptop computers.
Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux share a portion of the market but have some notable differences.
Here are the most popular Operating Systems for Computer devices (Desktops and Laptops):
1) Microsoft Windows 10
Microsoft has been around for decades, with Windows first introduced in 1985. Since then, the platform’s popularity has soared with several updates and new and improved features. Windows 95, Windows XP, and Windows 7 are generally regarded as the best iterations of Microsoft’s efforts.
However, Windows 10 has proved to be a proficient and feature-filled operating system that retains the popular Start menu and other user favorites.
Boasting a new browser called Microsoft Edge, users can experience secure and fast web surfing with several new options.
For those familiar with virtual assistants such as Siri or Google Now, Microsoft introduced Cortana, which can answer questions, help manage calendar appointments, and more.
Other notable features in Windows 10 include a virtual desktop that allows for more efficient open window management for those heavy multitasking moments.
With around 75% market share, Windows overwhelmingly dominates the field compared to both macOS and Linux.
While most users are still currently on Windows 10, Microsoft has been hard at work on version 11 and made it available for those who wish to switch immediately.
Apple Inc. first introduced its operating system on the Macintosh PC in 1984. With its revolutionary integration of a graphical user interface, Apple is widely heralded as the inspiration for Microsoft’s Windows.
Apple operating systems were built with ease of use in mind and offered a user-friendly experience that didn’t require extensive previous computer knowledge.
Currently, Apple’s operating system or macOS offers the latest iteration called Monterey.
For several years, macOS has used names for iconic California locations such as Yosemite, Sierra, Catalina, and Big Sur.
With the latest, Monterey, Apple has updated its FaceTime video chat technology and incorporated a technology called Universal Control which allows for a seamless desktop to tablet transition. Other notable options include a focus mode to help reduce distractions and new time-saving shortcuts that help increase productivity.
At 15% of the market share, Apple’s MacOS users are far fewer than Windows users.
However, macOS is still widely considered the most straightforward user experience and is a go-to for those in creative fields such as video and audio production.
First released around thirty years ago, Linux is a unique approach to operating systems that offered another option apart from Microsoft and Apple.
Linux is open-source, free, and built using a modular design that combines several different components by different companies.
Due to this modular structure, Linux isn’t beholden to any one corporation or entity and has remained a free option for those interested.
Updates to the operating system come in the form of Linux Distro or distribution centered on the Linux kernel.
Among the most notable advantages of Linux is the consistently high security due to the open-source nature, with anti-virus applications being unnecessary on the platform.
Privacy is another big plus for Linux as, unlike Windows, which regularly collects user data, Linux allows users to see everything transmitted from their PC.
Linux currently only has about 2.5% of the market share but is continually updated with more powerful features.
Most Popular OS for Smartphones:
The Smartphone device has become integral to the daily lives of millions worldwide but wouldn’t be possible without a mobile operating system.
These devices have specially designed operating systems that function optimally for a mobile platform.
Android and Apple iOS are the most popular and feature similarities and differences when compared.
Here are the most popular OS for smartphones:
The mobile operating system Android is based on Linux and includes a similar modular and open-source design. It is the most popular mobile OS.
First introduced in 2007, Android was devised by a group of developers called the Open Handset Alliance and received support from the tech giant Google.
With around 72% of the market share, Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system.
Android also incorporates Google applications on most devices, such as Chrome, Google Play, and Google Maps, providing a familiar, user-friendly experience.
2) Apple iOS
For those with an Apple Smartphone like the iPhone 13, the mobile operating system built into the device is Apple iOS.
This operating system is exclusively available on Apple products and carries over the accessibility of macOS onto the Smartphone.
First released in 2007 on the very first iPhone, Apple iOS incorporated the App Store, Safari browser, and iTunes, among many other features.
With 28% of the total market share, Apple iOS has a dedicated following, with new devices and major operating system upgrades every two years.
Most Popular OS for Tablets:
Like the smartphone platform, the most popular Tablet operating systems are Apple iOS and Android. The operating systems function much the same on Tablets as they did on smartphones.
However, the popularity order is reversed in the Tablet arena with Apple iOS being the most popular:
1) Apple iOS
The iPad is a tablet developed by Apple and released in 2010. At first, Apple ported over the iPhone operating system but then created an off-shoot specifically for the iPad that could take advantage of the unique hardware.
The iPadOS allows users to utilize a stylus, physical keyboard, and several excellent business productivity tools.
With a larger market share of 54%, Apple iOS edges out Android concerning Tablets.
Android has seen many updated versions throughout the last several years, the current being Android 12.
The design of this operating system sought to make the user experience better with larger buttons, more animation, and updated visuals.
With 46% of the overall market share on tablets, Android is used regularly throughout the world on tablets from many different manufacturers, such as Samsung.
Most Popular OS for all devices:
After examining Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and Apple iOS, which one is the most popular?
Surprisingly, Android, based on Linux, is the most widely used operating system, with a 43% global market share among all OS types.
Next, Windows is the second most popular, with a 30% market share.
The iPhone’s Apple iOS comes in third place with a 17% total share, followed by the desktop/laptop macOS operating system with 6%.
Lastly, the desktop/laptop version of Linux garners only a .98% global market share.