We saw several new operating systems for the first time in 2011. Some were for fully fledged computers. Others were meant for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. And not all of them were available on the market by the end of the year.
On the computer side of the market, we saw Apple's Mac OS X Lion hit virtual shelves. Apple made the decision to sell its new OS through the Mac App Store as a digital download. Some incompatibility issues with older software kept some users from adopting the new OS for a few months.
Microsoft unveiled a developer build of the next version of Windows, which the company called Windows 8. The OS sported a new user interface (UI) called Metro that resembled what you would find on a mobile device. The company revealed that Windows 8 will be optimized for touch-screen interfaces, though you can still navigate it using the traditional keyboard and mouse combination.
Linux fans got to play with two new builds of Ubuntu over 2011. The first was called Natty Narwhal and the second was Oneiric Ocelot. And Google devotees finally got their hands on the Google Chrome OS, an operating system that offloads most applications to the cloud.
Mobile operating systems that debuted in 2011 included Apple's iOS 5, an early look at Android Ice Cream and the Playbook's OS developed by QNX. Paired with HP's announcement that webOS will move to the open-source community, this news means that there's more competition than ever before in the operating system market.