operating system

noun Computers.
the collection of software that directs a computer's operations, controlling and scheduling the execution of other programs, and managing storage, input/output, and communication resources. Abbreviation: OS

Origin:
1960–65

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Collins
World English Dictionary
operating system
 
n
the set of software that controls the overall operation of a computer system, typically by performing such tasks as memory allocation, job scheduling, and input/output control

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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
operating system   (ŏp'ə-rā'tĭng)  Pronunciation Key 
Software designed to handle basic elements of computer operation, such as sending instructions to hardware devices like disk drives and computer screens, and allocating system resources such as memory to different software applications being run. Given uniformly designed operating systems that run on many different computers, developers of software do not need to concern themselves with these problems, and are provided with a standard platform for new programs.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
operating system (OS)

The software that allows computer users to run applications with the hardware of a specific system. Microsoft® Windows® or Apple® Computer's OS are examples of operating systems.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

operating system definition

operating system
(OS) The low-level software which handles the interface to peripheral hardware, schedules tasks, allocates storage, and presents a default interface to the user when no application program is running.
The OS may be split into a kernel which is always present and various system programs which use facilities provided by the kernel to perform higher-level house-keeping tasks, often acting as servers in a client-server relationship.
Some would include a graphical user interface and window system as part of the OS, others would not. The operating system loader, BIOS, or other firmware required at boot time or when installing the operating system would generally not be considered part of the operating system, though this distinction is unclear in the case of a rommable operating system such as RISC OS.
The facilities an operating system provides and its general design philosophy exert an extremely strong influence on programming style and on the technical cultures that grow up around the machines on which it runs.
Example operating systems include 386BSD, AIX, AOS, Amoeba, Angel, Artemis microkernel, BeOS, Brazil, COS, CP/M, CTSS, Chorus, DACNOS, DOSEXEC 2, GCOS, GEORGE 3, GEOS, ITS, KAOS, Linux, LynxOS, MPV, MS-DOS, MVS, Mach, Macintosh operating system, Microsoft Windows, MINIX, Multics, Multipop-68, Novell NetWare, OS-9, OS/2, Pick, Plan 9, QNX, RISC OS, STING, System V, System/360, TOPS-10, TOPS-20, TRUSIX, TWENEX, TYMCOM-X, Thoth, Unix, VM/CMS, VMS, VRTX, VSTa, VxWorks, WAITS.
FAQ (ftp://src.doc.ic.ac.uk/usenet/news-info/comp.os.research).
Usenet newsgroup: news:comp.os.research.
[Jargon File]
(1999-06-09)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Example sentences
Depending on your operating system, you will find the cache folder in one of
  the locations below.
Information thieves can now go around encryption, networks and the operating
  system.
But the situation is already awful in plug and play operating system land.
However, as we'll see below, the choice now depends more on the type of work
  you do and not on the operating system.
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