Operating system buying guide

What is an operating system?
An operating system (OS) is the software powering your computer. It displays all your programmes in a clear format that makes it easy to use your computer. The OS is important as it defines your choice of device. It enables the computer to run programs and perform tasks in a defined, easy way. It enables your device to read, create and modify your files using various programs. The OS manages all the information in your computer, allowing its components to communicate. It starts up programs for you and manages how they run, cleaning up after them when you close them down to keep your information organised. While each OS shares common traits, they are different and define the overall performance of your chosen computer. 

Operating system logos

Who are Apple?

Apple designs and sells personal computers and computer software. The company's best-known products are its iMac computers and the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Apple’s software includes the OS X and IOS Operating Systems, and the popular iTunes music download software.

Which operating systems do they use?
Apple's has two operating systems: iOS and OS X.
Every iMac Laptop and Desktop computer runs on OS X Mountain Lion. This works around the Launchpad system. You can instantly access all your applications (or 'apps'), arranging them how you want.

Each app is represented by an icon, and Launchpad creates as many pages of these icons as you need. OS X Mountain Lion gives access to the Apple App Store where you can find and automatically update apps.

iOS is the Operating System used on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It's intuitive, easy to use and designed for touchscreen use.

Apple Operating Systems can be 'shared’ - you can share your music, apps, movies and other files across multiple devices - purchase an app on your iPhone and access it on the iPad, without paying twice. You can also access the Apple App Store via your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Thanks to shared Operating Systems, access the App Store and share apps between your iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch) without paying twice, no matter which device you purchased the app on. Likewise, share apps and files between your OS X Mountain Lion devices (iMac, MacBook, Mac Pro, Mac Mini) seamlessly and easily.

Apple computing devices

Apple device types:


Apple offers an exciting range of portable and home or professional devices.

From portable iPods and incredible iPhones, to awesome iPads, portable and versatile MacBook Air and powerful MacBook Pro with Retina Display; to powerful Mac Mini, Mac Pro and iMac computers, there is an Apple device for all needs.


Learn more about each Apple computer by clicking the device types tab at the top
Features that count.

1. iCloud

Keeps your content up to date on every Apple device you use. So when you add, delete or change something on your Mac, it also happens on your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

2. Notification centre

Provides you with email, messages, reminders, alerts and more. It keeps you updated on mail, messages, software updates, all in one ordered and convenient place on your desktop.

3. iMessages

Lets you send unlimited messages to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac. You can also send photos, videos, documents and contacts from your Mac no matter where you are.

4. Sharing

On social networks is easy with your new Mac. You'll have instant access to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Vimeo directly from the app you’re using at the push of a button.

5. Airplay technology

Lets you send what’s on your Mac to a HD TV wirelessly with Apple TV, or stream music, podcasts and other audio to AirPlay-enabled speakers.

Who are Microsoft?

Microsoft is one of the world’s largest computer software manufacturers. Their best-known products include Windows, the popular Microsoft Office software suite, the Xbox games console and apps such as Skype. Previous versions of Windows include Windows 7, Vista and XP. Windows is used on the majority of PCs.

Introduction to Windows 8 OS / app store
Windows 8 is the newest version of Microsoft’s operating system, its fast, fluid and attractive interface bringing you closer to the internet and giving you easier access to all your files and programs.

Designed for use on touch screen devices, it will also feature on and be fully compatible with devices using mouse, keyboard and touchpad. Its interactive design means you are more in control, enhanced performance and faster startup times place so much more at your fingertips for an easy, exciting computing experience

This new and improved Windows uses Cloud technology, enabling your personal settings, files and favourite apps to interact on your Smartphone, Laptop and Tablet, so you can use them seamlessly across all your devices. An improved security gives you more control over your personal info and shields you from online threats.

The Windows Store gives you a wide range of new apps to download, designed to work together on any of your devices using Windows 8, so it's easier to do what you want to.

Windows computing devices

Windows device types:


Windows device types include products referred to by the term 'PC', as opposed to Mac.

The new Windows 8 operating system is now available on many different devices. It works with both touchscreen and standard device types.

From portable Tablets and Convertible Laptops; to slimline Ultrabooks and powerful Windows 8 Laptops; to Tower and All-in-One Desktop PCs, there is a Windows PC product for all needs.


Learn more about each Windows computer by clicking the device types tab at the top
Features that count.

1. App Store

Access the Windows Store to personalise your PC. There are apps for productivity, photos, entertainment, social networking and games.

2. Full web browsing

With Internet Explorer 10, you're free to experience the full extent of the web on Windows 8 with touch-friendly, fast and fluid web applications.

3. Touch or non touch

Windows 8 is designed for touch screen use, but works equally well with a mouse or keyboard, giving you complete freedom of choice.

4. Always connected

Windows 8 lets you Integrate your online favourites from FaceBook, Flickr, Hotmail etc with content from your PC such as photos and contacts.

5. Personalisation

You'll be able to customise your start screen to make it home to all your favourite apps and programs. You can even sign in with your favourite photo.

Introducing the Chrome OS and app store

The Chrome OS is a web-based operating system created by Google, who pioneered the popular search engine and also created the Android operating system.

You log on to Chrome devices via an internet browser screen rather than the conventional desktop. Chrome offers fast startup and internet browsing, simple navigation and organisational features, and advanced internet security.

Chrome runs off a “cloud”, a safe online space that stores your apps, documents and settings for remote access from any compatible devices. It automatically updates your software and apps when you access them, saving you time and hassle. When you connect to the internet after working in offline mode, your work will automatically be saved to the Cloud.

On the Chrome Web Store you can download thousands of apps, extensions and themes, enabling you to personalise your device with content that matters to you.

Google computing devices

Chrome device types:


Chrome OS is available on the Chromebook and Chromebox which are specifically designed to be accessed via the internet.

Chromebooks are essentially Laptops using Cloud technology. Available in 3G and Wi-Fi types, they feature a comfortable keyboard to control internet windows. Apps from the Chrome Web Store are used instead of traditional programs.

The Chromebox is a standalone computer hard drive operated by externally-connected monitor, mouse and keyboard using its 6 versatile USB ports. Its small size and Wi-Fi connectivity enable flexible placement and portability.
Both can be used in an offline mode.

Features that count.

1. Speedy boot-up

Chrome OS runs applications off the Cloud in the Chrome browser rather than an internal drive, so your Chrome device can switch on within 8 seconds for instant access to the internet.

2. Cloud built in

Your Chrome device comes with Cloud computer storage to make your life easier. Never lose another file or photo, and access your files securely from anywhere.

3. Security built in

Chrome devices have built-in virus protection with multiple layers of security, including sandboxing, data encryption and password-protected startup for added security.

4. Automatic updates

Your Chrome device automatically updates itself: all your apps, files and documents stay up-to-date, and you'll get the latest version of the operating system without having to think about it.

5. Chrome Web store

Thousands of apps, themes and extensions are available from the Chrome Web Store.

Introducing the Android OS and app store

Created for small devices like smartphones and Tablets, Android OS was created by Google, who pioneered the popular search engine and also created the Android operating system.

Android is the most popular mobile platform with fast mobile internet access and entertainment on the go with Google Play.

The interface is completely customisable - put important information and media where you want and enjoy easy-access notifications, seamless multi-tasking, and real-time voice typing. You can capture and edit photos and videos, and Android devices get ‘smarter’ as new features are added and updated.

Android computing devices

Android device types:


Android OS works on Tablet and Smartphone touchscreens. Starting on a home screen, you use your fingers to manipulate screen objects fluidly and instantly – adjust the screen format, interact with apps or play games.

The home screen is the primary navigation point, made up of app icons and widgets which offer auto-updating content - email, texts, and more. You can swipe back and forth through icons and widgets to find the apps you want.


Learn more about each Apple computer by clicking the device types tab at the top
Features that count.

1. Search the web

The Google Search app is the fastest way to search the internet, directly from the Google Search box on your home screen.

2. Gmail

With Gmail you get smarter email. You'll be able to integrate the contacts and apps on your Android phone or Tablet with Gmail to create a rounded and flexible email service.

3. Apps at your fingertips

Thousands of eBooks, songs, movies, TV shows, and magazines are available from the Google Play store, plus over 600,000 apps and games- all directly accessible from your Android device*.

4. Widgets

Put the important stuff within easy reach and interact with your favourite apps directly from your home screen with widgets.

5. Create and collaborate

Google Docs is a free internet-based set of document-creation products. It lets you create, edit and save documents, which you can instantly share with other people, directly from your Android phone or Tablet.

*Google Play is not on all Android devices. Other App marketplaces are available on Android devices not offering Google Play

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