2. Single user operating systems

Single user operating systems can be split into two types:

  • single user, single application operating systems
  • single user, multi tasking operating systems

Single user, single application

single user single app deviceThis type of operating system only has to deal with one person at a time, running one user application at a time.

An example of a this kind of operating system would be found on a mobile phone or an iPad. There can only be one user using the device and that person is only using one of its applications at a time.

Single user, multi-tasking

You will find this kind of operating system on a personal computer.

The operating system is designed mainly with a single user in mind, but it can deal with many applications running at the same time. For example, you might be writing an essay, while searching the internet, downloading a video file and also listening to a piece of music.

Example operating systems are

  • Windows (all versions_
  • Linux
  • Mac OS X Leopard.

The difference compared to the Single-Use, Single Application operating system is that it must now handle many different applications all running at the same time.

The memory available is also very different, for example it is quite normal to have Gigabytes of RAM available on a personal computer which is what allows so many applications to run.


challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you

Click on this link: choice of operating system