Compare Tablets by OS

Tablet Operating Systems

Compare Android tablets  |  Compare Windows tablets  |  Compare Apple tablets and other proprietary OS tablets


Tablet PCs are powered by different operating systems. The two used on the widest range of tablets are Android (a Google product) and Microsoft's Windows. A handful of companies use their own proprietary OS. The most famous is Apple, whose iOS software helped create the whole industry. Few other manufacturers have the resources to develop their own operating system, but there are a handful.

For information about tablet OS market share, scroll to the bottom of the page and play around with the interactive map and timeline (click BEGIN). It shows smartphone OS market share in various countries with data starting in January 2012 - the trends are likely to be similar for the tablet segment too.

Android OS

Android is by far the most common OS in tablet computers. It can be found on various tablets, especially on slates. The operating system was initially developed by Android Inc. before the company was sold to Google in 2005. The Android operating system is based on a modified version of the Linux kernel, and it makes use of the Java programming language. A vast base of developers writes applications for this operating system and due to its popularity and number of developers, new functionalities are added to Android devices every day. Initially, it was developed as a cellphone operating system but soon became widely used in tablet PC computers.

Open Handset Alliance

Project Android started on Nov. 2007 along with the creation of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). The Open Handset Alliance was the name given to a consortium of software and hardware companies. Google created the OHA in an effort to develop open standards for mobile devices. The goal was to create a cheaper and better mobile experience for customers - a goal they have more than delivered on.

Android is used as the Samsung tablet operating system, along with other brands like LG and Sony.

Pro tip - if you want to know what Android OS your tablet is using, simply use it to visit this website:

Windows OS

Previous versions of the Windows OS met with little enthusiasm in the market. A fork of Windows 8 (Windows 8 RT), specially designed for the ubiquitous ARM CPUs, was released in 2012. It mimicked the controversial user interface of the desktop PC version.

In 2015 released Windows 10, said to be the final version. In future, upgrades will be released continuously over time, ending the marketing cycle that made Microsoft so rich in the 1990s. The new OS was met with widespread acclaim. Microsoft tried to integrate the smartphone, tablet, and desktop experience, hoping customers would be enticed by picking up their phone and continuing to read an article they had started on their PC.

Proprietary OS

Two famous brands that created tablets with a custom operating system were BlackBerry (the PlayBook range) and HP (TouchPad). One found a niche for a time but both were ultimately crushed by the brutal pressure in the industry. The TouchPad was discontinued after a paltry 49 days, which is both hilarious and tragic.

Apple, of course, has the resources and inclination to pursue its proprietary iOS software. It has its fans and its haters, but given that it is specifically designed for a very limited range of hardware it is always competitive as one of the best tablet operating systems.

Other proprietary operating systems come from brands little known even in the tech world. Often coming out of Asia, they are found on low-end tablets that sometimes perform - and sell - surprisingly well.

Dual OS tablet

It's the tablet industry's best-kept secret. Instead of joining in on internet forums that bitterly debate which is the best tablet OS, why not buy a tablet that runs both Windows and Android?

The main reason is that file sharing between the two operating systems is impossible or impractical. It's a problem that could be solved with an external hard drive or USB stick, so customers who want the best of both OS worlds might be willing to put up with some minor hassles.

Asus is the biggest brand willing to experiment with the dual boot format, with the rest of the niche being filled by obscure Chinese companies.