The operating system software is ubiquitous as the part and parcel of every computer in the age of information technology. One needs the operating systems for out in the cosmos inside the communication equipment’s used by the NASA and the ISRO in their shuttles and spacecraft, as well as in the palmed mobile sets so near to us that had changed everyday life in this 21st Century. Operating systems are required in the department of defense in their submarines operating outside the territory of the home government, as well as in the department of atomic energy in their nuclear projects secured in a safe location. Whether present inside the computers required for meteorological forecast and computations or in the computers associated with the World Wide Web and the Human Genome projects or inside the cheapest possible tablets in each backpack, they are the master software required for the running of the computers, however large or small. The niche and the operating conditions of the operating system software are thus as diverse as the computers themselves. This article describes and refers to the well-known operating systems running the desktop computers and mobile cellular phones, their market shares and some projections for the future directions, hinting that the non-US economies such as Russia, China and India would assume a more domineering role in the global market for information technology beyond the year 2020.
The advent of high-speed computation and the associated phenomenal growth in mobile technologies had impacted our daily living enhancing our ability to communicate with another object or individual in unthought-of ways. Mobile platforms are also being encouraged in research to avail the benefits of Digital India projects. The author’s group had explored the possible use of distributed systems and mobile technologies in learning and research that could possibly reduce the load on hard copy printing and inbuilt memory storage, an amateurish approach that had been validated as ‘cloud computing’ by computer professionals. The goal of this article is to draw attention to the various mobile, desktop and other computer operating systems available and their respective market share, that being considered an indirect measure of changes in lifestyle.
All computer programs and the computational environment depend on a functional operating system (OS) that manages hardware, other software, services and the users. It is the software when loaded onto the hardware that runs the environment of the machine, without which both the computer and the users are rendered useless. The operating system (OS) also can be directly accessed by the user through a command line or a graphical user interface (GUI) whereas the other programs, called applications or application programs, can make use of the OS through an application program interface (API) designed for specific applications.
Silberschatz, Galvin, and Peter had described the computers being made up of four components – namely the hardware, the operating system, the application software and the users. The authors defined the operating system as “A program that acts as an intermediary between a user of a computer and the computer hardware”. The goals of the operating systems, according to these authors in the year 2008, are to execute user programs, to make solving user problems easier, thirdly, to make the computer system more convenient to use and finally, to use the computer hardware in an efficient manner. The vast majority of the OS programs are usually written in C and C++ languages by experienced system programmers. Some of the OS source codes are open access and free, others are proprietary information of the companies that market them.
Degree level courses in computer science and information technology require familiarity in handling the OS programs. One can look into the curriculum of the established foreign institutions, for example, the University of Illinois (https://www.cs.uic.edu/~jbell/CourseNotes/OperatingSystems/), the MIT (https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-828-operating-system-engineering-fall-2012/), the Imperial College (http://www.imperial.ac.uk/computing/current-students/courses/211/), and the Stanford University (http://www.scs.stanford.edu/09wi-cs140/).
Types of OS Currently Popular:
The various operating systems had been popularly named by the companies that developed them (e.g. Windows, Android etc.) During the technical discussion, OS’s are also referred to pointing out the functional features, or the size, structure, and architecture of the computers they are housed in. Windows are maintaining the lion’s share in the field of desktop operating systems, whereas the majority of mobile handsets use Android as the OS. The details of various operating systems are discussed in this issue of the Computer Society of India Communications, and elsewhere (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_system). A succinct and comparative discussion of various types is available from the Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_operating_systems).There are several ways of classifying the OS. They had been traditionally described as a batch, time-sharing, distributed, network and real-time OS depending on the type of the computers and the tasks they perform. Services performed by an operating system include multitasking, internal memory sharing, handling input and output devices, reporting system status and error messages, scheduling to offload batch jobs and also parallel processing when the programs run on more than one processors. The name of the OS may also reflect the size of the computer e.g. mainframe, handheld mobiles, personal computers, mini and microcomputers etc. The three major desktop computer operating systems are Windows, Mac Os, and Linux; with the Windows taking about 85% of the market share in August 2016, Mac taking little over 6% and Linux about 2%. The popularity of handheld systems that changed our lives is referred to as mobile operating systems (MOS) running on smartphones, tablets, and other similar devices. The familiar brand names are Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows phone etc. The day-to-day life in the digital age abounds with examples of embedded systems present in the ATM’s, cars, PoS, digital cameras etc. Interest in Web-based computing environments also had developed the field of cloud computation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud (operating_system)).There had also been discussions on alternate or future OS programs like business operating systems, AMOGAO, HAIKU, SKYOS, MORPHOS, DEXOS etc. that have not been commercial as competitive as the few main brand names (http://royal.pingdom.com/2008/09/26/10-amazingly-alternative-operating-systems-and-what-they-could-mean-for-the-future/).
Non-Us Operating Systems:
Currently, Windows for PC is overwhelming the market for OS. However several countries with large domestic markets (e.g. India, Russia, China etc.) had followed the approach to replace Windows software, and even hardware, to indigenize the computer industry and information technology.
The Moscow Times (https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/russian-operating-system-to-launch-in-next-decade-50052 accessed on Dec 16, 2016) quoted Russian Government sources informing the decision of the government to replace the Windows-based software and even computer hardware with domestic Russian products, the target remaining to substitute Windows software at all government agencies and strategic enterprises by the period 2025–2030. Currently, the Windows enjoy a virtual monopoly in the PC systems; and among the mobiles, 35% Apple iOS and 27% Android OS software are in use. The Russian plan also aims at building its own hardware by that time replacing Microsoft and Apple products and the associated application software.
Currently, Astra-Linux and Phantom OS are being developed as the Russian substitute. The former is Linux- like that intends to meet the needs of the Russian defense industries (www.astra-linux.com). It’s developed by RusBitTech available in English and Russian. The latter, the Phantom, is developed by the Russian programmers. It’s object-oriented and not Unix-like; it is available through Digital Zone (www.dz.ru/en).
Amidst the indigenization drive for the mobile platforms, Russian company Open Mobile Platform is hiring developers to use Android and iOS compatible applications to adapt to the non-US MOS platforms. The Sailfish OS had been an independent alternative. The open source software is developed by the Finish mobile company Jolla Ltd. and Sailfish OS community (https://sailfishos.org).
Chinese, German and Indian OS:
China had also made efforts to develop non-US operating systems. Its product Kylin (later versions named neo-Kylin and Ubuntu Kylin) is Unix-like and available in about 60 languages (www.kylinos.com.cn). The product had been developed in the National Univ. Of Defence Technology.
Germany had developed the RTOS embedded system for the German Aerospace Center for applications that require high dependability. It is named Rodos Operating System (Real-time Onboard Dependable Operating System) written in C, C++ and assembly languages. (www.Dlr.de/rodos)
India had reported, originally on Jan 10, 2007, the Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS) as an alternative operating system developed by the National Resource Centre for Free Open Source Software (NRCFOSS/ CDAC, India). It is Linux-like and with multilingual ability to work with at least 18 languages and is boasting to replace Windows in India (www.bosslinux.in)
The homegrown computer operating system from Japan, TRON, (http://web-japan.org/trends/science/sci030522.html) is credited to the work by Professor Ken Sakamura of the University of Tokyo in 1984, who had advocated the idea of “ubiquitous computing,” in which tiny semiconductor chips are invariably embedded in every product. TRON stands for ‘The Real-Time Operating System Nucleus’. The features like free open access to the source code and very high speed of data processing had made TRON an attractive choice in cellular phones and a large number of domestic electronic goods. The Japanese business organizations mean to utilize TRON or Linux in all devices connected to the internet (info-appliances). It had been once estimated that about half of all the embedded chips run on TRON.
Mobile Operating Systems (MOS):
In the rest of this article that follows, the author emphasizes more details on the mobile technology operating systems that have become part of daily routine in the past decade revolutionizing the way common people think of action at a distance and globalization. This topic is also the time when the emphasis is being laid on the Digital India projects.
The mobile systems were primarily meant for use in the telephonic conversations. Then they eventually started competing in the internet technology claiming its share in e-commerce, e-banking, and e-learning. The trend became deciding after 2010.
The major mobile operating systems include:
- Android-based on Linux kernel is free open source introduced by Google. It had been popular in the smartphones and also in some desktops,
- iOS is proprietary software from the Apple Inc. and is based on MacOS;
- Windows Phone is a Windows 10 (and earlier versions) based platform and is closed source proprietary software;
- Blackberry is a product of BlackBerry Limited (formerly Research in Motion Limited) and is a closed-source proprietary product.Other MOS is known to the consumers, but not so popular now, include Bada from Samsung Electronics, Symbian from Nokia, and Palm OS from Access Company Ltd. etc. In Q1 of 2016, the total sale for smartphones was more than 1 billion world over; and the global market share was 84.1% for Android, 14.8% for iOS, 0.7% for Windows phone and 0.2% for Blackberry.The Wikipedia article lists the links that guide the reader to the major literature related to the mobile operating systems (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_operating_system)
Changes in Lifestyle and Emerging Trends:
The competition for capturing the market for internet technology on the mobile systems had been well studied by many marketing research agencies (see Table 3.). The appearance of the World Wide Web really turned the globe into a village within the reach of common people from the privacy of one’s own home. Though the World Wide Web is only about a quarter of a century old, its growth and impact in human life are undeniable. According to a survey, about half a billion new users got connected to the web in 2014 alone, bringing the total number of surfers to 3 billion worldwide. In a review in January 2015 (http://www.mobileindustryreview.com/2015/01/3-billion-internet-users-2015.html; accessed Dec 20, 2016) more than 80% of the population in Western Europe and the USA had access to the internet compared to about 19% in the South Asian population. According to one survey, people were spending on an average almost 4.5 hours daily in 2015 in comparison with the 2 hours they used to spend about 10 years ago in this world that typified the change on lifestyle adjusting to the age of information technology. The number of mobile broadband (3G and 4G) in the UK is 89% of the population while the same figure for India is merely 8% in the year 2015. These figures only speak of the potential for the market of broadband internet (mobile) technology when India adjusts to the modern lifestyle after digital penetration, especially in the business sector. An average worldwide speed of the internet was 3.8 Mbps in 2013, whereas it had enhanced to 4.5 Mbps in 2015 world over. In the UK 27% of the web pages served to mobile devices. Smartphones accounted for 38% of mobile connections worldwide, and 40% of the world mobiles are broadband enabled. New research from leading analysts finds that over 1 billion mobile phone users will have used their devices for banking purposes by the end of this year. This global user base is forecast to reach 2 billion by 2020, by which time it will represent 37% of the global adult population. (https://www.juniperresearch.com/press/press-releases/mobile-banking-users-to-exceed-1-bn-this-year). The mobile technology scenario in the UK is comparable to the USA in relative terms, but India is falling behind China. In essence, the expansion in India is likely to be faster beyond the year 2016. The American lifestyle is taken as a typical pattern of the rich and advanced country that had adjusted to the mobile and internet technology over a short period of time, utilizing its existing infrastructure of the PC, the mainframe computers, and the e-mail presence. According to a survey conducted during 2014, 90% of American adults own a cell phone; 42% of American adults own a tablet computer; 32% of American adults own an e-reader. The utilization of the mobile time pattern had been described as follows: 81% of the cell owners send and receive text, 60% access internet, 52% receive e-mail, 50% download Apps as part of their daily use (http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/)).Another survey cites that the number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion in 2016, (world population 7.4 billion in Aug 2016) representing over a quarter of the global population and that number is expected to grow to more than 2.56 billion people, or a third of the world’s population, in 2018. The vast amount of growth in the use of smartphones will come from China, the global leader in the market for smartphone users. India is to become the second largest, surpassing the USA, in registered users of the smartphone. Alongside Russia is likely to surpass Japan to become the fourth largest smartphone user population. The projected number of smartphone users in the UK is 46 million in 2018, and one should compare this number with the US population of about 325 million in December 2016 and the UK population of about 65 million in December 2016. In conclusion, the three countries, China, India, and Russia, are going to dominate in the market capitalization of smartphones by 2018 and beyond. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/mobile-phones/11287659/Quarter-of-the-world-will-be-using-smartphones- in-2016.html).
The general discussion had been on the hundreds of handsets available from commercial vendors and the salient features of their inbuilt operating systems [for example see Wikipedia page] The private communication in the 21st-century information technology had opened up myriads of opportunities in day-to-day dealing of data including images and voice. The upcoming technology with its various applications software running on the handsets has changed the financial budgetary patterns in many families and offices. Emphasis on online and e-governance and availability of such services on mobile systems can appropriately be called m-commerce, m-government, and m-learning. In addition to the routine use of the mobile platform to every customer, the author’s group had used such opportunities for furthering knowledge and research as described earlier. This particular article reviews the salient features of the software behind that charming looks of ‘consumable’ handsets rightly called the ‘mobile operating system’, and the changes in the ‘mobile’ lifestyle. In addition, the article distinguishes the emerging markets for the computer and mobile technology outside of the USA to point out the fact that the Indian economy is likely to become a global decision-maker beyond 2018.
No instruction is required to introduce the reader to the computer and the world; such habits are included and inculcated in every one of us in our daily routine. The purpose of this article is to make ordinary public and the corporate executives aware of the various systems commercially available and their trends so that the reader can form a well-informed opinion. Moreover, the vast literature cited through the website links would be an added benefit to the students and teachers alike for the classroom exercises.