All technological devices have some sort of system which is referred to as the operating system, this is what enables the device to turn on and function.

Various operating systems are in use on mobile, desktop, and other platforms. It is useful to be able to identify which operating system a given device is using, this expedites troubleshooting and support/filter queries.

Most desktop computers and laptops run the Windows operating system, this can be determined by looking at the corners of your screen and finding the Start icon and taskbar. If you are unable to find the icon and taskbar, move your mouse pointer along the edges of your screen to display it, as it may be hidden.

While the Windows taskbar is usually found along the bottom edge of the screen, it can be docked to any side including the top.

Compare your screen with the following images to determine the version of Windows running on your computer.

Windows GenericWindows Generic
Windows XPWindows XP
Windows VistaWindows Vista
Windows 7Windows 7
Windows 8 DesktopWindows 8 Desktop
Windows 8 Start ScreenWindows 8 Start Screen
Windows 8.1 DesktopWindows 8.1 Desktop
Windows 8.1 Start ScreenWindows 8.1 Start Screen
Windows 10Windows 10

Locate the Apple logo () at the top-left corner of the screen and click it, then choose About This Mac. This will open a window containing the Mac operating system name and version number.

Mac InformationMac Information

Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google, and is found on many branded (Sony, Samsung, LG, Motorola etc.) and unbranded smartphones, tablets and other electronics.

To determine the Android version installed on your device, locate and tap the Settings icon, then scroll down and look for About phone or About tablet option. Now look for Android version to find the version number.

Android InformationAndroid Information

iOS is the mobile operating system used by Apple for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. To find the software version, go to Settings > General > About and locate the Version row.

iOS InformationiOS Information

Other Operating Systems
Basic phones, MP3 players, and similar consumer devices also rely on an operating system to function. This is often referred to as Firmware because as its name, it is firmer than software and cannot be altered as such. Firmware is usually locked down by the device manufacturer and can only be updated via a process called flashing.

Knowing the exact operating system in use by such devices is not required, but being aware of the brand and model number is essential.