What languages have been used to write Windows, Mac OS and Linux OS?

We know that an operating system is considered the backbone of any system that you may use. The three most common and widely used operating systems share things in common just as well as they share differences. While there are cases where one might outperform another, those cases and such scenarios are very rare.

The most notable difference one can notice is how they store the files in their file structure, like in case of windows, it follows a directory structure to store the different kinds of files of the user, whereas the Mac OS file structure is known as MAC OS X and when it comes to Linux the file structure is entirely different from Windows and Mac as it stores the data in the form a tree.

Another major difference is the tech stack that these languages were built upon, and the programming languages that played a major key role in their development and deployment.

It should also be noted that a major part of any operating system is the kernel and the kernel is different for each of the operating systems, like we have a different kernel in Windows which is developed using a different programming language, as when compared to a kernel of Mac OS.

In order to take a look and understand what different languages these operating systems use and why they use those particular languages only, we need to visit the official comments of such operating system developers.

Linus Torvalds (Founder of Linux) has this to say about −

“It's mostly in C, but most people wouldn't call what I write C. It uses every conceivable feature of the 386 I could find, as it was also a project to teach me about the 386. As already mentioned, it uses an MMU, for both paging  (not to disk yet) and segmentation.”

When it comes to Linux, most of the things that are there in the OS are written in C programming language, and assembly language also plays an important role in the Linux architecture. Also, many userland apps that we see in Linux are developed using Python.

Now, we know what Linux is made of, it’s time to explore more about Mac OS X and understand what technologies it uses and why.

Mac mainly makes use of Objective C, as much of the Cocoa is implemented in Objective-C, which is nothing but a superset of the legendary programming language C. At the kernel level, the Mac is developed mostly using the C programming language, and the PnP subsystem is Embedded in C++.

In the case of windows, there is a bit of a mix of three programming languages that they used to develop their OS. The mixture of languages involved C, C++ and C# where the first two were used to develop the most of the legendary code, while C# has been used in fairly recent upgrades, like .NET which is shipped with Windows. A lot of .NET is in C#.

So in conclusion, we can summarize all the languages that these operating systems use in a simple table.

Operating SystemProgramming Language Used
Mac OS XObject C, C
WindowsC, C++, C#
LinuxC, Objective-C

Updated on: 12-Jul-2022

5K+ Views

Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started