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Desktop OS market share
as of October, 2008[1]
Windows - 90.29%
Mac OS X - 8.23%
Linux - 0.91%
iPhone - 0.32%
Playstation - 0.03%
SunOS - 0.01%

These tables compare general and technical information for a number of widely used and currently available operating systems.

Due to the large number and variety of available Linux distributions, they are all grouped under a single entry; see comparison of Linux distributions for a detailed comparison. There are also a variety of BSD operating systems, covered in comparison of BSD operating systems. For information on views of each operating system, see operating system advocacy.

Desktop OS market


General information

Name Creator First public release Prede- cessor Latest stable version Latest release date Cost/ Availabi- lity Preferred license1 Target system type
AIX IBM 1986-?-? System V  R3 6.1 2007- 11-? Bundled with hardware Proprie- tary Server, NetApp, Worksta-tion
Amiga OS Amiga, Inc. 1985-07-23 TRIPOS (as the disk opera-ting compo- nent of AmigaOS) 4.1 2008- 09-16 Bundled with hardware Proprie- tary, Clones available under GNU GPL Worksta-tion, Home Desktop
Free BSD The FreeBSD Project 1993-12-? 386BSD 7.0 2008- 02-27 Free BSD Server, Worksta-tion, NetApp, Embedded
Haiku Haiku Inc. - BeOS R5   (Nightly builds) Free MIT License Home Desktop
HP-UX Hewlett-Packard 1983-?-? Unix 11.31 "11i v3" 2007- 02-15 $400 Proprie- tary Server, Worksta-tion
IBM i IBM 1988-?-? OS/400 V6R1 2008- 04-? Bundled with hardware Proprie- tary Server
IRIX SGI 1988-?-? Unix 6.5.30 2006- 08-16 Bundled with hardware Proprie- tary Server, Worksta-tion
Infer no Bell Labs 1997-?-? Plan 9 Fourth Edition 2007- 02-? Free MIT/GNU GPL/GNU LGPL/LPL NetApp, Server, Embedded
Linux Linus Torvalds, et al. 1992-?-? Unix4, Minix 5 Linux kernel; GNU C Library 2.7 2008- 08-01; 2007- 10-23 See Compa-rison of Linux distribu-tions GNU GPL, GNU LGPL and other licenses See: Compari-son of Linux distributions
Mac OS Apple Inc. 1984-01-24 None2 7 9.2.2 2002- 05-12 Bundled with 68K and PowerPC Macs;

versions 7-9 sold as retail upgrades3

Proprie- tary Worksta-tion, Home Desktop
Mac OS X Apple Inc. 2001-03-24 NeXT STEP / OPEN STEP / Rhapsody, Mac OS 10.5.5 "Leopard" 2008- 09-15 Bundled with hardware; also sold separa- tely:
Desktop $129 (Single User)
Family Pack $199 (5 license)
Open source core system (Both Intel and PowerPC versions) (APSL, GNU GPL, others) with proprie- tary higher level API layers Worksta- tion, Home Desktop, Mobile (embedded)
Mac OS X Server Apple Inc. 2001-03-24 NeXT STEP / OPEN STEP / Rhapsody, Mac OS 10.5.5 "Leopard Server" 2008- 09-15 Bundled with hardware; also sold separately:
$499 (10 clients)
$999 (unlimited clients)
Open source core system (Both Intel and PowerPC versions) (APSL, GNU GPL, others) with proprie- tary higher level API layers Server
Minix3 Andrew S. Tanen- baum 2005-10-? Minix2 3.1.2a 2006- 05-29 Free BSD Worksta-tion
NetBSD The NetBSD Project 1993-05-? 386BSD 4.0 2007- 12-19 Free BSD NetApp, Server, Worksta-tion, Embedded
Net Ware Novell 1985 S-Net 6.5 SP7 2007- 10-? $184 (single-user) Proprie- tary Server
Open BSD The OpenBSD Project 1995-10-? NetBSD 1.0 4.3 2008- 05-01 Free BSD Server, NetApp, Worksta-tion, Embedded
Open VMS DEC (now HP) 1978-02-? RSX-11M 8.3 2006- 08-? Free for non-commer- cial use Proprie- tary Server, Worksta-tion
OS/2 IBM and Microsoft 1987-12-? MS-DOS, Windows 3.x 4.52 2001- 12-? $300 Proprie- tary Home Desktop, Server
PC-BSD PC-BSD Software 2006-?-? FreeBSD6 1.51 2008- 04-23 Free BSD Desktop, Worksta-tion, Server
Plan 9 Bell Labs 1993-?-? Unix Fourth Edition (Daily snap-shots) Free LPL Worksta-tion, Server, Embedded, HPC
QNX QNX Software Systems 1982-?-? Unix 6.3.2 2006- 09-28  ? Proprie- tary Worksta-tion, Server, Embedded
Solaris Sun 1992-07-? SunOS 10 5/08 2008- 04-15 Free CDDL Server, Worksta-tion
Win- dows Server (NT family) Microsoft 1993-07-27 MS-DOS, OS/2, Windows 3.x Windows Server 2008 (NT 6.0) 2008- 02-27 $469 Web Server; other editions dependent on number of CALs purchased Proprie- tary Server, NetApp, Embedded, HPC
Micro- soft Win- dows (NT family) Microsoft 1985-11-20 MS-DOS, OS/2, Windows 3.x Windows Vista (NT 6.0) 2006 Novem-ber - 2007 January 8 Home Basic (Retail) $99.95, Home Premium (Retail) $129.95, Business (Retail) $199.95, Ultimate (Retail) $219.95[2] Proprie- tary Worksta-tion, Home Desktop, media center, Tablet PC, embedded
RISC OS Acorn Compu- ters, RISC OS Limited, Castle Techno- logy Ltd 1989-04-? ARTHUR, also the BBC Master OS RISC OS 6.10 Select4i4 and RISC OS 5.13" 2008- 05-28 $127 (?70) Proprie-tary; originally bundled with computer educatio-nal desktop, home computer
ZETA yellowTAB 2005-06-? BeOS R5 1.2 2006- 04-27 Profes- sional $110, Student $80 Proprie- tary Home Desktop, Media Worksta-tion
STOP 6 / XTS-400 BAE Systems 2003-?-? STOP 5 / XTS-300 6.4.U1 2007- 06-? Unknown; supplied to customers on- demand by BAE Systems Proprie- tary Server, Worksta-tion, cross- domain solution, network guard
React OS ReactOS develop-ment team 1996-?-? Windows NT 0.3.4 2008- 01-22 Free GNU GPL, GNU LGPL Worksta-tion, Home Desktop
z/OS IBM 2000 OS/390 1.9 2007 Monthly License Charge (about $130 and up) Proprie- tary IBM mainframe
Name Creator First public release Predeces-sor Latest stable version Latest release date Cost/ Availability Preferred license1 Target system type

Note 1: Most OS distributions include bundled software with various other licenses.
Note 2: Although Lisa OS ran on the same (albeit a slower version) microprocessor and was developed by Apple Computer at the same time as Mac OS, they were developed as different projects, sharing only a similar GUI between them. [1]
Note 3: Mac OS versions up to 7.5.5 are available free of charge here.
Note 4: GNU is a recursive acronym for GNU's Not Unix, which was chosen because its design is Unix-like, but differs from Unix by being Free software and by not containing any Unix code.
Note 5: Minix inspired the Linux kernel. No code from Minix was used to create the Linux kernel.
Note 6: PC-BSD uses FreeBSD as a base system with custom configuration and several desktop oriented tools to create an easy to use FreeBSD system for Desktops and Workstations.
Note 7: Mac OS 7.6 was the first Mac OS operating system to be labeled Mac OS. Operating systems prior to this were named System Software 0.1 (available only to developers) through System Software 7.5, and known as System #.# for short.
Note 8: Windows Vista was released to manufacturing on November 8, 2006, and was subsequently made available to software developers and businesses in November 2006, with retail availability following on January 30, 2007

Technical information

Name Compu-ter architec-tures suppor-ted File sys-tems suppor- ted Kernel type Sour- ce lines of code GUI defa-ult is on6 Package manage- ment Update manage- ment Native APIs 7 Non- native APIs suppor- ted through subsys- tems
AIX Power PC JFS, JFS2, ISO 9660, UDF, NFS, SMBFS, GPFS Mono-lithic   No installp, RPM Service Update Manage-ment Assis-tant (SUMA) SysV, POSIX  
Amiga OS 68k, PPC (x86 Clone availa-ble, see: AROS) Proprie- tary (OFS, FFS,SFS, PFS), FAT, ISO 9660, UDF, many others via 3rd party drivers, such as SMBFS, etc. Micro-kernel   Yes Installer 19 (almost not necessa- ry) 20 Ami Update (almost not necessa-ry) 21 Proprie- tary UNIX (BSD) (avail- able through 3rd party ixemul. library)
Free BSD x86, x86-64, PC98, SPARC, others UFS2, ext2, ext3, FAT, ISO 9660, UDF, NFS, ReiserFS (read only), XFS (experi- menttal), ZFS (experi-mental) and others Mono-lithic with modu-les   No ports tree, packa- ges by source (CVSup, port-snap), network binary update (freebsd-update) POSIX, BSD Win16, Win32, Linux
Haiku x86, 68k BFS (default), FAT, ISO 9660 Micro-kernel   Yes - None POSIX, BeOS API  
HP-UX PA-RISC, IA-64 VxFS, HFS, ISO 9660, UDF, NFS, SMBFS Mono-lithic with modu-les   No swin- stall swa (HP-UX Soft-ware Assis-tant) SysV, POSIX  
Linux x86, x86-64, PPC, SPARC, Alpha, others ext2, ext3, ext4, ReiserFS, FAT, ISO 9660, UDF, NFS, and others Mono-lithic with modu-les ~ 9 milli- on [2] See: Comparison of Linux distributions POSIX, LSB, QT or GTK Mono, Java, Win16, Win32
Inferno x86, PPC, SPARC, Alpha, MIPS, others Styx/ 9P2000, kfs, FAT, ISO 9660 Mono-lithic with modu-les, user space  file sys-tems   Yes ? ? Proprie-tary  
Mac OS Classic 68k, PPC HFS+, HFS, AFP, ISO 9660, FAT, UDF Mono-lithic with modu- les   Yes None Soft-ware Update Toolbox, Carbon (from version 8.1)  
Mac OS X PPC, x86, x86-64, ARM HFS+ (default), HFS, UFS, AFP, ISO 9660, FAT, UDF, NFS, SMBFS, NTFS, FTP, WebDAV, ZFS (experi-mental) Hybrid ~86 milli- on [3] Yes Mac OS X Installer Soft-ware Update Carbon, Cocoa, Java, BSD/ POSIX, X11 (since 10.3) Toolbox (only in versions up to Mac OS X 10.4, not suppor- ted on x86 architec-ture), Win16, Win32
Minix3 x86   Micro-kernel 4000 No     POSIX  
Net BSD x86, x86-64, PPC, SPARC, 68k, Alpha, others UFS, UFS2, ext2, FAT, ISO 9660, NFS, LFS, and others Mono-lithic with modu-les   No8 pkgsrc by source (CVS, CVSup, rsync) or binary (using sysinst) BSD, POSIX  
Net Ware x86 NSS, NWFS, FAT, NFS, AFP, UDF, CIFS, ISO 9660 Hybrid   Yes NWCON FIG. NLM, RPM, X11- based GUI installer binary updates, ZEN Works for Servers, Red Carpet Proprie-tary  
OES-Linux x86 PPC NSS, NFS, AFP, UDF, CIFS, ISO 9660, Netware Traditio- nal File System Mono-lithic with modu-les   No RPM, X11- based GUI installer binary updates, ZEN Works for Server, Red Carpet Proprie-tary (?)  
Open BSD x86, x86-64, SPARC, 68k, Alpha, VAX, others ffs, ext2, FAT, ISO 9660, NFS, some others Mono-lithic with modu-les   No8 ports tree, packa- ges by source BSD, POSIX  
Open VMS VAX, Alpha, IA-64 Files-11 (ODS), ISO 9660, NFS, CIFS Mono-lithic with modu-les   No PCSI, VMSIN- STAL ? Proprie-tary POSIX
OS/2 x86 HPFS, JFS, FAT, ISO 9660, UDF, NFS Mono-lithic   No Feature Install and others ? Proprie-tary, DOS API, Win16 Win32
PC-BSD x86 10 UFS2, ext2, ext3, FAT, ISO 9660, UDF, NFS, ReiserFS (read only), XFS (experi-mental) and others Mono-lithic with modu-les   Yes ports tree, packa-ges, PBI Graphical Installers by PBI updates, source (CVSup, port-snap), network binary update (freebsd-update) BSD, POSIX, QT Win16, Win32
Plan 9 x86, Alpha, MIPS, PPC, SPARC, others fossil/ venti, 9P2000, kfs, ext2, FAT, ISO 9660 Mono-lithic, user space  file sys-tems   Yes None replica Proprie-tary (Unix-like) POSIX compati- bility layer
React OS x86, PowerPC FAT Hybrid 1-2 mil Yes None None Win16, Win32, NT API  
RISC OS ARM (both 26 and 32-bit) Acorn ADFS, Econet ANFS, FAT, ISO 9660, many others as loadable filesys- tems Unpro-tected mono-tas-king micro- kernel with large num-ber of reloca- table modu-les   Yes Applica-tions self-contai-ned; hardware drivers often in ROM  !Iyo Up Wtch Huge number of SWI calls; exten- sive C libraries  
Solaris x86, x86-64, SPARC UFS, ZFS, ext2, FAT, ISO 9660, UDF, NFS, QFS, some others Mono-lithic with modu-les   Yes SysV pack- ages (pkgadd) Sun Connec- tion SysV, POSIX, GTK Win16, Win32
STOP 6 / XTS -400 x86 Proprie- tary Mono-lithic   No RPM for some untrus- ted applica-tions Binary updates via postal mail and proprie- tary tools some SysV, some POSIX, some Linux, some proprie-tary  
Win-dows Server (NT family) x86, x86-64, IA-64 NTFS, FAT, ISO 9660, UDF; 3rd-party drivers support ext2, ext3, reiserfs 9, and HFS Hybrid ~45 milli-on [4] Yes MSI, custom installers Windows Update Win32, NT API DOS API, Win16 (only in 32-bit versions), POSIX, .NET
Win-dows (NT family) x86, x86-64 NTFS, FAT ISO 9660, UDF; 3rd-party drivers support ext2, ext3, reiserfs 9, and HFS Hybrid ~ 40 (XP)/ 64 (Vista) milli-on Yes MSI, custom installers Windows Update Win32, NT API DOS API, Win16 (only in 32-bit versions), POSIX, .NET
ZETA x86 BFS (default), FAT, ISO 9660, UDF, HFS, AFP, ext2, CIFS, NTFS (read only), ReiserFS (read only, up to v3.6) Hybrid   Yes Software Valet, script-based installers None POSIX, BeOS API  
z/OS z/Archi- tec- ture VSAM catalogs, HFS, zFS, etc. Mono-lithic   No SMP/E SMP/E Access methods, etc. POSIX
Name Compu-ter architec-tures suppor- ted File sys-tems suppor- ted Kernel type Sour-ce lines of code GUI defa-ult is on6 Package manage -ment Update manage-ment Native APIs 7 Non- native APIs suppor- ted through subsys-tems

Note 6: Operating systems where the GUI is not installed and turned on by default are often bundled with an implementation of the X Window System, installation of which is usually optional.
Note 7: Most operating systems use proprietary APIs in addition to any supported standards.
Note 8: NetBSD and OpenBSD include the X Window System as base install sets, managed in their respective main source repository, including local modifications. Packages are also provided for more up-to-date versions which may be less tested.
Note 9: Windows can read and write with Ext2 and Ext3 file systems only when a driver from FS-driver or ext2fsd is installed. However, using Explore2fs, Windows can read from, but not write to, Ext2 and Ext3 file systems. Windows can also access ReiserFS through rfstool and related programs.
Note 10: only i686 CPU
Note 19: Amiga OS features since OS 2.0 version a standard centralized Install utility called Installer, which could be used by any software house to install programs. It works as a LISP language interpreter, and install procedures could be listed as simple text. AmigaOS can also benefit of a 3rd party copyrighted library called XAD that is available for all POSIX (Unix, Linux, BSD, and for AmigaOS, MorphOS, etc.). This library is freely distributable and publicly available on Aminet Amiga centralized repository of all Open Source or Free programs and utilities. XAD.Library, complete with GUI Voodoo-X, is based on modules and capable to manage over 300 compression methods and package systems (Voodoo-X GUI supports 80 package systems), including those widely accepted as standards such as .ZIP, .CAB, .LHA, .LZX, .RPM, etc.
Note 20: A standard AmigaOS installation requires usually only few files (typically 3 to 10 files) to be copied in their appropriate directory, and libraries and language files for national localization to be put in their standard OS directories. Any Amiga user with some minimal experience knows where these files should be copied and could perform programs installations by hand.
Note 21: AmiUpdate is capable to update AmigaOS files and also all Amiga programs which are registered to use the same update program that is standard for Amiga. Updating AmigaOS requires only few libraries to be put in standard OS location (for example all libraries are stored in "Libs:" standard virtual device and absolute path finder for "Libs" directory, Fonts are all in "Fonts:" absolute locator, the files for language localization are all stored in "Locale:", and so on). This leaves Amiga users with a minimal knowledge of the system almost free to perform by hand the update of the system files.


  Resource access control Subsystem isolation mechanisms Integra- ted firewall Encry-pted file systems No execute (NX) page flag Known unpatched vulnera- bilities9
Hard- ware Emula-tion Number Oldest
AIX Unix, ACLs chroot IP Filter, IPSec VPNs, basic IDS No Yes 24 n/a 3 2002- 10-11
FreeBSD Unix, ACLs, MAC chroot, jail, MAC Partitions IPFW2, IPFilter, PF Yes Yes No 25 3 2006- 10-11
HP-UX Unix, ACLs chroot IPFilter No ? 4 2002- 12-12
Inferno Unix Name- spaces ? ? No No Unknown
Linux Unix, ACLs10, MAC chroot, Capability-based security 11, seccomp, SELinux Netfilter/ Varied by distribu-tion Yes Yes No10 13 2004- 05-10
Mac OS Classic No No No No No No 0 -
Mac OS X Unix, ACLs13 chroot ipfw Yes No Yes (Intel Only) 5 2006- 11-22
NetBSD Unix, Veriexec, PaX, kauth chroot, systrace, kauth IPFilter, PF Yes Yes No Unknown
NetWare Directory-enabled ACLs Protected Address Spaces IPFLT. NLM Yes Yes No Unknown
OES-Linux Directory-enabled ACLs chroot IPFilter Yes Yes No Unknown
OpenBSD Unix chroot, systrace PF Yes Yes Yes 1 2007- 08-16
OpenVMS ACLs, Privileges logical name tables ? ? ? 0 -
OS/2 / eCom Station ACLs14 No No No ? Unknown
PC-BSD Unix, ACLs, MAC chroot, jail, MAC Partitions IPFW2, IPFilter, PF Yes18 ? 1 2006- 09-26
Plan 9 Unix (?) Namespaces ipmux Yes No No Unknown
Solaris Unix, RBAC, ACLs, Least privilege, Trusted Extensions chroot, Containers 15 IPFilter Yes22 Yes No 13 2005- 04-13
Win- dows Server 2003 ACLs, Privileges, RBAC Win32 Window Station, Desktop, Job objects Windows Firewall, IPSec TCP/IP Filtering Yes Yes Yes 10 2003- 04-22
Win- dows XP ACLs Win32 Window Station, Desktop, Job objects Windows Firewall, TCP/IP Filtering, IPSec Yes (With NTFS) Yes 26 Yes 27 2; 29 2007- 02-23; 2002- 09-02
ZETA Unix 16 No No No No No Unknown
STOP 6 / XTS-40017 Unix, Multilevel security, Biba mandatory integrity, ACLs, Privileges, subtype mechanism Multilevel security, Biba Integrity Model, subtype mechanism No No No No 0 -
z/OS RACF RACF, key-protected address spaces z/OS IP Security Optio-nal Yes (key-protec-ted address spaces) Yes 0 -

Note 9: Comparison of known unpatched vulnerabilities is based on Secunia vulnerabilities reports with a severity of less critical and above. Updated automatically.
Note 10: POSIX ACL support is included in Linux 2.6, but requires a file system capable of storing them (such as ext3, XFS or ReiserFS).
Note 11: A jail mechanism is available separately in the Linux-VServer project, but is not integrated into any mainline Linux kernel.
Note 12: The Exec Shield and PaX extensions provide NX emulation on x86 hardware. They are not yet integrated inside the mainline kernel but are available as patches or separate kernels
Note 13: ACLs were added to Mac OS X beginning with version 10.4.
Note 14: ACLs are available only in OS/2 Server versions with HPFS386 filesystem.
Note 15: "Solaris Containers" (including "Zones") are a jail-type mechanism introduced with Solaris 10.
Note 16: Zeta has full Unix file permissions, but the OS is single user, and users always run as superuser.
Note 17: STOP 6 is certified under Common Criteria at EAL5+.
Note 18: Additionally swap space may be encrypted during installation, uses memory based tmp file storage by default.
Note 22: Through ZFS
Note 23: Novell NetWare uses MSDOS to load itself in to memory and once it is running, MSDOS is not used and can be unloaded (it is a common misconception that NetWare "runs on top of MSDOS").
Note 24: AIX use the PowerPC architecture which offer page-level protection mechanism. Since AIX version 5300-03 (5.3), this feature can be activated using the sedmgr command.
Note 25: FreeBSD can be built with ProPolice/SSP.
Note 26: Available on XP sp2, 2003 sp1 and newer.
Note 27: By default, software-enforced DEP helps protect only limited system binaries.


  1. ^ Operating System Market Share, May 2008, courtesy of Net Applications, a marketing company which obtains its data from the Alexa Toolbar or related products. Because people who install these products on their computers are not always aware that the product reports web browsing habits back to the marketers at Alexa some security software considers the Alexa Toolbar spyware and removes it. Both the automated removal-as-spyware and the self-selecting nature of those who install software that reports on personal web browsing habits raises questions as to whether the resulting data represents a unbiased statistical sample of Internet users.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Jobs, Steve (August 2006). "Live from WWDC 2006: Steve Jobs Keynote". Retrieved on 2007-02-16. "86 million lines of source code that was ported to run on an entirely new architecture with zero hiccups."
  4. ^ Ben Liblit, Andrew Begel, and Eve Sweetser. "Cognitive Perspectives on the Role of Naming in Computer Programs". Retrieved on 2007-12-26.

See also


Published - October 2008

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