Part of the Operating systems glossary:

In computer programming, a task is a basic unit of programming that an operating system controls. Depending on how the operating system defines a task in its design, this unit of programming may be an entire program or each successive invocation of a program. Since one program may make requests of other utility programs, the utility programs may also be considered tasks (or subtasks). All of today's widely-used operating systems support multitasking , which allows multiple tasks to run concurrently, taking turns using the resources of the computer.

In preemptive multitasking , each task may be assigned a priority depending on its relative importance, the amount of resources it is consuming, and other factors. The operating system then preempts (cuts short) a task having a lower priority value so that a higher priority task is given a turn. Windows 2000 , OS/390 , Linux , and Amiga are examples of operating systems that use preemptive multitasking. Cooperative multitasking is the ability for an operating system to manage multiple tasks such as application programs at the same time, but without the ability to necessarily preempt them.

It's easy to confuse the terms multithreading and multitasking . Multithreading is the management of multiple concurrent uses of the same program. Most operating systems and modern computer languages also support multithreading.

This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • operating system (OS)

    - What is an operating system? An operating system (sometimes abbreviated as "OS") is the program that, after being initially loaded into the computer by a boot program, manages all the other program... (WhatIs.com)

  • Firefox OS

    - Firefox OS is a Linux-based mobile operating system designed for smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. The OS was developed by the open source community of the Mozilla Foundation, best known for the... (WhatIs.com)

  • Microsoft Windows 8.1

    - Microsoft Windows 8.1 is a PC and tablet operating system released in October 2013. (SearchConsumerization.com)

Glossaries

  • Operating systems

    - Terms related to operating systems, including definitions about open source and proprietary operating systems and words and phrases about system programs, boot mechanisms, kernels, command interpre...

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.