operating system (OS)

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Computer software which handles the basic operation of a device, such as updating the display, communicating with hardware, managing files and running other programs.

Desktop and laptop computers typically come pre-installed with off-the-shelf operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, or Linux.

Tablets and smartphones are pre-installed with a mobile operating system such as Android or iPhone OS.

E-readers generally use custom-built operating systems that are unique to that particular reader or brand.