To understand the capabilities of an operating system, it is important to first understand some basic terms. The following terms are often used when describing operating systems:
- Multi-user - Two or more users have individual accounts that allow them to work with programs and peripheral devices at the same time.
- Multitasking - The computer is capable of operating multiple applications at the same time.
- Multiprocessing - The operating system can support two or more CPUs.
- Multithreading - A program can be broken into smaller parts that are loaded as needed by the operating system. Multithreading allows different parts of a program to be run at the same time.
All computers rely on an OS to provide the interface for the interaction between users, applications, and hardware. The OS boots the computer and manages the file system. Operating systems can support more than one user, task, or CPU.