An operating system is a software programme required to operate and manage a computing device like smartphone, tablet, computer, smartwatch etc. It is the operating system that eliminates the need to know coding language to interact with computing devices. At the heart of an operating system is the kernel, which controls all major functions of a computer’s hardware. The kernel resides in the system’s memory – responsible for memory management and process management. It decides which process gets the processor resources when and for how much time. Applications that are visible to the users like web browsers interact with the kernel through a set of functions called system call interface (SCI). The three widely-used operating systems for computers are Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s macOS and open source operating system Linux. Windows is pre-loaded on most computers, except Apple devices. MacOS comes as pre-loaded OS on all Apple computers. While Linux is not pre-installed on many computers, it is free to download. In the smartphone segment, Android commands a 70% market share and iOS 30% in India.
Other mobile operating systems have a negligible presence.India’s plant to support the development of indigenous mobile OS could be aimed at countering the dominance of American tech giants Google and Apple. Previously, companies like Microsoft and Blackberry had developed their own mobile OS, but they have been discounted amid the growing influence of Android and iOS. Earlier, the government had attempted to develop its own OS named Bharat Operating System Solutions, which didn’t find many takers. Indus OS, created by a group of IIT graduates in 2013, also couldn’t garner many fans. This time, the government is hopeful to negate the Google-Apple duopoly riding on India’s thriving tech startup ecosystem. The government is looking for capabilities within start-up and academic ecosystems for development of the indigenous operating system. To this end, the union minister had hinted at plans to come up with a policy that will facilitate India’s startups and internet entrepreneurs to develop it. In fact, Indian startups have long been complaining about the charges levied by Apple AppStore and Google Play for hosting apps in their platforms. An indigenous operating system also gives the government a degree of control on the apps hosted, data sharing, security and more. The plan is in line with its Atmanirbhar Bharat or Self Reliant India policy.