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The operating system is the software that interprets your commands for the computer. Examples of operating systems are Windows 98, Windows 95, DOS, Linux etc. In other words, Windows is an operating system. It interprets your commands, in this case mouse clicks and keystrokes, so your computer will understand what you're wanting it to do. You may want to have an operating system installed if you're upgrading from an older version, such as upgrading from Windows 95 to 98 or if your computer requires a complete reinstallation because of corrupt software or a virus.