An operating system is software that runs on a computer and is responsible for managing software applications and computer resources. The most installed operating system in the world is Android. For desktop PCs, Windows is the most popular operating system. This paper looks at the most popular operating systems, number of users, and their history.
A computer is a combination of hardware and software. The hardware components of a computer include a monitor, a keyword, a power supply, hard drives, a motherboard, memory modules, processors, a system fan, and other devices. A computer may also have some external devices such as a printer, fax, and a hard drive. The software component of a computer is a set of software applications including the operating system that makes hardware talk to each other and tell them to do something such as print.
In the desktop world, Microsoft Windows is the most installed operating system and controls 82% of desktops. Apple’s macOS is installed on 13% of computers. The rest of the 5% is shared among various operating systems including Linux.
According to global data collected by statcounter (image below), Android is the most popular operating system in the world with 40% of the world’s devices powered by Android. To be exact, Android, Windows, iOS, OS X, and Linux are the top 5 most popular operating systems in the world with 39.5%, 36.4%, 13.1%, 5.8%, and less than 1% respectively.


Windows is the second most popular operating system, and powers most of the PCs and laptops with 36% of the market share. iOS, OS X, and Linux are the other three most popular operating systems with market shares of 13%, 6%, and 1% respectively.
Windows, developed by Microsoft, is an operating system for PCs and powers over 1 billion devices. Currently, there are two major Windows OS versions, Windows and Windows Server.
The following table summarizes Windows OS versions and their release dates.
Release Year Version  
1983 Initial launch Bill Gates announced Microsoft Windows
1985 Windows 1.0 Priced at $100.
1987 Windows 2.0
1988 Windows 286 Microsoft Windows 286 was introduced in June 1988. Priced at $100.
1990 Windows 3.0 Full version of Microsoft Windows 3.0 was priced at $149.
1991 Windows NT Windows NT was introduced.
1991 Windows 3.0a Windows 3.0a with Multimedia was released.
1992 Windows 3.1 Sold 1 million copies within months.
1992 Windows for Workgroups Windows for Workgroups 3.1 was released.
1993 Windows NT 3.1
1993 Over 25 million licenses were sold.
1995 Windows NT 3.51
1995 Windows 95 Windows 95 was released that become “the Windows”
1996 Windows NT 4.0
1996 Windows 95 (4.0)
1996 Windows CE 1.0 Windows Compact Edition for devices.
1997 Windows CE 2.0
1998 Windows 98
1999 Windows CE 3.0
2000 Windows 2000, Windows ME
2001 Windows XP One of the most popular Windows for home and individual users.
2003 Windows Server 2003 Microsoft Windows Server 2003 was released.
2006 Windows Vista Was a major disaster.
2008 Windows Server 2008
2009 Windows 7
2012 Windows Server 2012, Windows 8
2015 Windows 10 Windows 10 continues to improve.
Oct 2016 Windows Server 2016
Nov 2019 Windows Server 2019 Windows Server 2019 on-premises and Windows Server 2019 on Azure
Among all Windows versions, Windows 10 is the most popular with more than 55% of market share. Windows 7 is the next version that is used by 33% of users.
Windows 10 OS Breakdown


Android, originally developed by Android Inc., was later acquired by Google and is a Linux-based mobile and tablet operating system that powers more than 2 billion monthly active devices worldwide. Android not only powers mobile devices but also runs TVs, smart watches, cars, gaming consoles, digital cameras, and other electronics.
According to statcounter, Android took over Windows to become the world’s most popular operating system in April 2017.
The following table summarizes Android versions and their release dates.
Version Codename Release Date
Android 1.0 Sept 2008
Android 2.0 Éclair Oct 2009
Android 3.0 Honeycomb Feb 2011
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Oct 2011
Android 5.0 Lollipop Nov 2014
Android 6.0 Marshmallow Oct 2015
Android 7.0 Nougat Aug 2016
Android 8.0 Oreo Aug 2017
Android 9.0 Pie Aug 2018

iOS and macOS

iOS and macOS are two operating systems developed by Apple. The iOS operating system is for Apple’s mobile devices including iPhone and iPad.
Version Release date
iPhone OS 1 Jan 2007
iPhone OS 2 July 2008
iPhone OS 3 March 2009
iOS 4 March 2010
iOS 5 June 2011
iOS 6 June 2012
iOS 7 June 2013
iOS 8 June 2014
iOS 9 June 2015
iOS 10 June 2016
iOS 11 June 2017
iOS 12 June 2018
macOS is the operating system Apple designed for Mac machines, including Mac computers and MacBooks. macOS is the second most widely used operating system for desktop computers, laptops and home computers.
macOS’s predecessor was OSX. Here is a list of the latest macOS releases and their features.
macOS Sierra Sept 2016 Siri, Optimized Storage, Updated Photos, Messages, iTunes, and Video Maker.
macOS High Sierra Sept 2017 Updates to Safari, Photos, and Mail, Apple File System
macOS Mojave Sept 2018 Better performance, System-wide dark mode, new apps lifted from iOS.


Linux is a clone of Unix, written from scratch by Linus Torvalds and released in 1991. Linux provides modern OS features, including true multitasking, virtual memory, shared libraries, demand loading, shared copy-on-write executables, proper memory management, and multistack networking including IPv4 and IPv6.
Although originally developed for 32-bit x86-based PCs (386 or higher), today Linux also runs on a multitude of other processor architectures, in both 32- and 64-bit variants.
Linux is one of the first and most successful community-driven, free and open-source software that has changed the way we build, distribute, and manage software. Linux is distributed under GNU/Linux license, which means any one can download, use, modify and distribute software.
Linux Kernel is the engine that runs all Linux based operating systems. Today, the Linux Kernel-based operating system powers billions of devices including servers, personal computers, embedded devices such as TV sets, wearables, automobiles, routers, gaming consoles, and smart appliances. Mobile devices, mainframes, and supercomputers run on Linux.
The most popular Linux Kernel-based operating systems are Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian, Fedona, RedHat/centOS and openSUSE.
The latest version of Linux kernel, Linux kernel 5.0, was just released. Some of the key features released in this version include AMD FreeSync display support, new console font for HiDPI/retina displays, Raspberry Pi Touchscreen support, Btrfs swap file support, Adiantum data encryption, and Logitech high-resolution scrolling.