If you use computers, you’ve probably heard the term “operating system” at least a few times. You may even understand how critical an operating system, or OS, is for a computer to function in the first place.

But what about the world of healthcare? As we’ve frequently explored, the healthcare sector imposes unique challenges on a computer’s software and hardware. A computer’s OS is no different in this regard, and today, we’ll look at some of the most popular operating systems and why they are (or aren’t!) used in the healthcare sector. 

What is an Operating System, and What Does It Do?

An operating system’s job is to manage a computer’s software and hardware, including:

  • Booting: Turning your device on, powering the system, and activating the necessary programs. 
  • User interface: The user interface allows them to enter and receive information to and from their computer. For example, you interact with the user interface when you click on a program’s icon on your desktop to launch it. 
  • Loading and executing programs: The OS is in charge of loading programs the user wishes to use, whether a video game, a word processor, or to bring up an EMR
  • Managing memory: When programs are running, the operating system will allocate resources from the computer’s CPU and memory to allow them to function correctly. 
  • Data security: An OS should include cybersecurity features like firewalls and antivirus programs that protect the computer. 
  • Disk management: Operating systems allocate space for programs to the computer’s storage, such as hard drives and solid-state drives
  • Controlling peripheral devices: A computer’s OS will allow the user to control other devices, such as cameras, printers, flash drives, and more. 

The Most Popular Operating Systems and Their Use In Healthcare

Any device that processes or interacts with data requires an operating system. However, this article focuses on the three most popular operating systems computers use today.

Microsoft Windows

Since 1985, Microsoft Windows has been the world’s most popular operating system for desktop computers. Over time, Windows has gone through numerous iterations and is available in both consumer and business packages. 

Windows, also known as WinOS, is widely used in the broader computer market as well as healthcare due to its user-friendly interface and ease of implementation. Developing new programs and applications for WinOS is also relatively easy, making it attractive for software developers. 

Most medical computers come with Windows as standard, as it is the operating system most healthcare providers are already familiar with. Sometimes, a medical computer will use Windows as the user interface while another operating system manages loading and running programs. In such scenarios, that second OS is usually…


Linux is different from other operating systems because it is not proprietary software but a family of open-source systems. It means anyone can modify or distribute a Linux-based program, making it extremely popular among coders and programming enthusiasts. Many industries, including healthcare, utilize Linux to develop programs or run embedded systems in everything from medical devices to spacecraft!

Linux OS comes with no licensing fees, making it cheap to use, and it can be customized to meet healthcare regulations such as IEC 62304 and FDA requirements. Numerous medical devices rely on it; many EMRs are designed to run on the operating system. 


macOS is the proprietary operating system developed by Apple. Like Microsoft Windows, macOS isn’t meant to be tweaked or modified by end-users and has also gone through numerous iterations over the years, the most recent being macOS Sonoma. 

While macOS has a dedicated user base, it is less widespread than Windows due to its lack of compatibility with various hardware and software options. While a Windows-based PC can be customized with multiple CPUs, memory, and graphics processors, Apple products could be more flexible. This means that healthcare companies have much less incentive to develop programs or tools for macOS.

Additionally, Apple’s “walled garden” approach to its products makes it difficult for third-party developers, such as medical companies, to create devices that work with them. For these reasons, medical devices rarely use macOS. 

Closing Thoughts

The right choice in operating systems is just as critical as selecting a computer’s CPU or screen size. Your selection will need to support the full range of devices, software, and equipment your hospital or clinic relies on. In such instances, investing in a medical computer or tablet running multiple operating systems can answer that requirement perfectly. 

If you need medical-grade tablets or computers capable of supporting multiple operating systems, contact the team at Cybernet Manufacturing. Our devices are designed from the ground up for healthcare and can work with whatever medical devices or software you require. 

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