Computing platform

Last updated

A computing platform or digital platform [1] is an environment in which a piece of software is executed. It may be the hardware or the operating system (OS), even a web browser and associated application programming interfaces, or other underlying software, as long as the program code is executed with it. Computing platforms have different abstraction levels, including a computer architecture, an OS, or runtime libraries. [2] A computing platform is the stage on which computer programs can run.


A platform can be seen both as a constraint on the software development process, in that different platforms provide different functionality and restrictions; and as an assistant to the development process, in that they provide low-level functionality ready-made. For example, an OS may be a platform that abstracts the underlying differences in hardware and provides a generic command for saving files or accessing the network.


Platforms may also include:

Some architectures have multiple layers, with each layer acting as a platform to the one above it. In general, a component only has to be adapted to the layer immediately beneath it. For instance, a Java program has to be written to use the Java virtual machine (JVM) and associated libraries as a platform but does not have to be adapted to run for the Windows, Linux or Macintosh OS platforms. However, the JVM, the layer beneath the application, does have to be built separately for each OS. [8]

Operating system examples

Desktop, laptop, server


Android, a popular mobile operating system Android Nougat screenshot 20170116-070000.png
Android, a popular mobile operating system

Software frameworks

Hardware examples

Ordered roughly, from more common types to less common types:

See also

Related Research Articles

IBM AIX Series of Unix operating systems from IBM

AIX, is a series of proprietary Unix operating systems developed and sold by IBM for several of its computer platforms. Originally released for the IBM RT PC RISC workstation, AIX now supports or has supported a wide variety of hardware platforms, including the IBM RS/6000 series and later POWER and PowerPC-based systems, IBM System i, System/370 mainframes, PS/2 personal computers, and the Apple Network Server.

Executable and Linkable Format Standard file format for executables, object code, shared libraries, and core dumps

In computing, the Executable and Linkable Format, is a common standard file format for executable files, object code, shared libraries, and core dumps. First published in the specification for the application binary interface (ABI) of the Unix operating system version named System V Release 4 (SVR4), and later in the Tool Interface Standard, it was quickly accepted among different vendors of Unix systems. In 1999, it was chosen as the standard binary file format for Unix and Unix-like systems on x86 processors by the 86open project.

Operating system Software that manages computer hardware resources

An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, software resources, and provides common services for computer programs.

History of operating systems Aspect of computing history

Computer operating systems (OSes) provide a set of functions needed and used by most application programs on a computer, and the links needed to control and synchronize computer hardware. On the first computers, with no operating system, every program needed the full hardware specification to run correctly and perform standard tasks, and its own drivers for peripheral devices like printers and punched paper card readers. The growing complexity of hardware and application programs eventually made operating systems a necessity for everyday use.

In computing, cross-platform software is computer software that is designed to work in several computing platforms. Some cross-platform software requires a separate build for each platform, but some can be directly run on any platform without special preparation, being written in an interpreted language or compiled to portable bytecode for which the interpreters or run-time packages are common or standard components of all supported platforms.

Originally, the word computing was synonymous with counting and calculating, and the science and technology of mathematical calculations. Today, "computing" means using computers and other computing machines. It includes their operation and usage, the electrical processes carried out within the computing hardware itself, and the theoretical concepts governing them.

In computer architecture, 64-bit integers, memory addresses, or other data units are those that are 64-bit (8-octet) wide. Also, 64-bit central processing unit (CPU) and arithmetic logic unit (ALU) architectures are those that are based on processor registers, address buses, or data buses of that size. 64-bit microcomputers are computers in which 64-bit microprocessors are the norm. From the software perspective, 64-bit computing means the use of machine code with 64-bit virtual memory addresses. However, not all 64-bit instruction sets support full 64-bit virtual memory addresses; x86-64 and ARMv8, for example, support only 48 bits of virtual address, with the remaining 16 bits of the virtual address required to be all 0's or all 1's, and several 64-bit instruction sets support fewer than 64 bits of physical memory address.

An object-oriented operating system is an operating system that is designed, structured, and operated using object-oriented programming principles.

This article presents a timeline of events in the history of computer operating systems from 1951 to the current day. For a narrative explaining the overall developments, see the History of operating systems.

A cross compiler is a compiler capable of creating executable code for a platform other than the one on which the compiler is running. For example, a compiler that runs on a PC but generates code that runs on Android smartphone is a cross compiler.

In software engineering, a compatibility layer is an interface that allows binaries for a legacy or foreign system to run on a host system. This translates system calls for the foreign system into native system calls for the host system. With some libraries for the foreign system, this will often be sufficient to run foreign binaries on the host system. A hardware compatibility layer consists of tools that allow hardware emulation.

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface Operating system software specification

The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is a publicly available specification that defines a software interface between an operating system and platform firmware. UEFI replaces the legacy Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) firmware interface originally present in all IBM PC-compatible personal computers, with most UEFI firmware implementations providing support for legacy BIOS services. UEFI can support remote diagnostics and repair of computers, even with no operating system installed.

In computer security, a sandbox is a security mechanism for separating running programs, usually in an effort to mitigate system failures and/or software vulnerabilities from spreading. It is often used to execute untested or untrusted programs or code, possibly from unverified or untrusted third parties, suppliers, users or websites, without risking harm to the host machine or operating system. A sandbox typically provides a tightly controlled set of resources for guest programs to run in, such as storage and memory scratch space. Network access, the ability to inspect the host system, or read from input devices are usually disallowed or heavily restricted.

The following is a timeline of virtualization development. In computing, virtualization is the use of a computer to simulate another computer. Through virtualization, a host simulates a guest by exposing virtual hardware devices, which may be done through software or by allowing access to a physical device connected to the machine.

Comparison of user features of operating systems refers to a comparison of the general user features of major operating systems in a narrative format. It does not encompass a full exhaustive comparison or description of all technical details of all operating systems. It is a comparison of basic roles and the most prominent features. It also includes the most important features of the operating system's origins, historical development, and role.


  1. "What I Talk About When I Talk About Platforms". Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  2. "platform". Free On-line Dictionary of Computing
  3. Andrew Binstock (July 2, 2012). "Google's Redefinition of the Browser As Platform". Dr. Dobbs .
  4. Chip Wilson; Alan Josephson. "Microsoft Office as a Platform for Software + Services". Microsoft Developer Network .
  5. "What Is PAAS?". Interoute .
  6. "Twitter Development Platform - Twitter Developers".
  7. "Facebook Development Platform Launches..." Facebook . August 15, 2006.
  8. "Platform independence in Java's Byte Code". Stack Overflow.