Compare Proprietary OS tablets
The following table compares tablets from companies who make their own operating systems - mainly Apple and Amazon, but a few other brands, too.
Note - the article that follows is somewhat out of date - almost every tablet made today uses Windows, Android, iOS, or Amazon's OS.
A Brief Guide To Your Options
In the world of mobile operating systems, Android is known as the "freest" option available at the moment thanks to its open source roots. Based on Linux, Android isn't technically as free as some would like it to be, but it still allows OEMs to modify it as they see fit.
Windows OS found on tablets is the same one as found on their laptop and desktop counterparts. Various Windows editions are installed on tablets ranging from Home to Professional.
On the other side of the coin are proprietary operating systems, which are locked down and controlled by the companies that own them. There are actually more proprietary mobile platforms on the market right now, and keeping them all straight can be confusing. Here's a quick rundown of the major competitors at present.
If you've ever used an iPhone, an iPod Touch or an iPad, you've experienced the slick wonder that is iOS. Since the debut of the original iPhone several years ago, iOS has steadily improved and added to its feature set and improved its performance. The latest iteration of Apple's flagship operating system, iOS 5, boasts improved multitasking, the new Siri digital assistant and better support for graphics and multimedia. The iOS platform is best known for its stability and responsiveness, and shows no signs of slipping any time soon.
Research In Motion has been relying on their BlackBerry OS 7 for awhile now, and the top brass at Canada's biggest technology firm realize it's time for a change. Their upcoming pan-mobile operating system, BlackBerry 10, is a completely revamped take on the mobile OS based on QNX. If you're not familiar with the underlying software, QNX is an operating system already used in routers, switches and other network infrastructure components throughout the Enterprise world. It can already be seen in action in RIM's Playbook OS, available on tablets like the Playbook and the Playbook 2.0. You can expect the QNX-based BlackBerry 10 to roll out en masse later on in 2012.
Originally developed by the now defunct Palm, Inc., WebOS is a mobile operating system based on Linux which is maintained by HP. Not too long ago, HP had big plans to enter the mobile market by rolling out tablets and phones that ran their own operating system. While they've since switched their focus to supporting Windows 7 and Windows 8, WebOS remains in active development. The most recent version, HP WebOS 2.0, offers a snappy and capable tablet experience for users and runs on devices like the HP Touchpad. Though it lacks the name recognition of Android or iOS, HP's WebOS remains a viable candidate for those who want to get the most out of their mobile hardware.
The Final Word
There's a growing debate in the software world on the viability of proprietary operating systems versus open source programs. Open source software like Android, Linux and other notable platforms certainly have their advantages, and it remains to be seen which approach will ultimately win out. The operating systems listed above prove that proprietary systems can be just as full-featured and versatile as open source competitors in the right hands. Regardless of what the future brings, Blackberry QNX, iOS and WebOS 2.0 will continue to be attractive mobile operating system options for the time being.