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Batch Operating System Overview

A batch operating system is a type of operating system that manages and executes batch processing tasks without user interaction. In a batch processing environment, users submit jobs to the computer system in the form of batches. These batches contain a sequence of commands or programs to be executed, and the operating system processes them one after another without any immediate user intervention. Batch operating systems were prevalent in the early days of computing and are still used in some specialized applications today.


Batch Operating System Detail

In batch operating system the tasks were executed in batches. This system was most popular in the 1970’s. There was a single mainframe computer that was used. Moreover, people who were using this computer did not have direct interaction with the computer. Each user would have to do their job using an offline device and submit it to the computer operator. To speed up the processing, the tasks with similar requirements are grouped and executed as a group only.

In the batch operating system, the jobs are executed as groups and executed simultaneously. A computer with this operating system performs the batch operating activities as below –

  • A job is considered as a single unit which is consisting of sequence of commands, programs and data.
  • The processing of the given data will be processed in the order they are received i.e, first come first serve basis.
  • These processed jobs are stored in the memory and executed without any requirement of manual intervene.
  • The operating system will release its memory when a job is successfully run.


Batch operating systems are a type of computer operating system where tasks are executed in batches, without the need for user interaction during the processing of each task. These systems were prevalent in the early days of computing and are still used in specific applications. There are several types of batch operating systems:


Sequential Batch Operating System

In this type, each job is processed in sequence. The next job starts only when the previous one has completed. This is the simplest form of batch processing and was the earliest batch processing method.

Multiprogramming Batch Operating System

In this type, multiple jobs are loaded into the system’s memory at once. The operating system schedules and executes these jobs concurrently. If one job is waiting for I/O, the CPU can work on another job. This type of system improves CPU utilization.

Multiprocessing Batch Operating System

In a multiprocessing batch operating system, multiple processors or CPU cores are used to execute multiple jobs simultaneously. This can significantly enhance the system’s performance and throughput.

Priority-based Batch Operating System

This type of system assigns priorities to different jobs. Jobs with higher priority are given preference in CPU scheduling, and this helps in ensuring that more critical tasks are processed first.

Round-Robin Batch Operating System

In a round-robin scheduling system, jobs are executed in a circular order. Each job gets a fixed time slice on the CPU, and the CPU switches between jobs after their time slice is up. This ensures fairness in CPU allocation but may not be suitable for all types of jobs.

Background Batch Operating System

In a background batch system, low-priority jobs are processed in the background while the user’s interactive tasks are given priority. This ensures that background tasks do not interfere with the user’s experience.

Cooperative Batch Operating System

Cooperative batch systems allow jobs to interact with one another and share data, often through a shared memory system. These are more complex and less common than other types of batch systems.

Distributed Batch Operating System

In distributed batch systems, jobs are distributed across multiple computer nodes, each with its own processing power. This type of system is useful for tasks that can be parallelized.

Cluster Batch Operating System

Cluster batch systems are similar to distributed batch systems but focus on clusters of interconnected computers working together to process jobs efficiently.

Grid Batch Operating System

Grid batch systems take the concept of distributed computing to a larger scale, where jobs are distributed and processed across a global grid of interconnected computers.

Reason Why the Batch OS is still Used

The benefits of batch operating system is such that even now a days still people are using it. It loads less stress on CPU and also minimal user interaction. A large repetitive task can be performed without interacting with the computer in order to notify to the system to perform after it finishes its assigned job.

The user in the previous batch operating was not interacting with the program while executing it as the batch operating systems weren’t interactive. However, the batch operating systems in the present generation supports interaction.

Working of Batch Operating System


In the batch operating system, the tasks are stored in memory and starts executing them one after the other. In other words, the assigned tasks will be executed on first come first serve. Each set of job is defined as a batch. After the task is completed, its memory will become free and the output of the finished work’s will be moved into an output section for further printing and processing.

However, the user interaction in this operating system is very limited unlike other systems. Here, the user will become free after the system takes up the task from him. Another advantage of the batch operating system is that the suer can use them to update data of any records or transactions.

Characteristics of Batch OS

Here are some key characteristics and features of batch operating systems:


  1. Job Submission: Users prepare their jobs by creating batch files or decks, which include a list of instructions or programs to be executed. These batch files are then submitted to the operating system.
  2. No User Interaction: Once a job is submitted, the user does not interact with the computer system until the job is completed. This is in contrast to interactive operating systems, where users interact with the system in real-time.
  3. Job Scheduling: The batch operating system’s scheduler determines the order in which jobs are executed based on factors like job priorities and resource availability. It queues jobs for execution and starts each job when the necessary resources become available.
  4. Resource Allocation: The operating system allocates resources (such as CPU time and memory) to each job as it runs. Jobs are often assigned a fixed amount of CPU time, and they are terminated if they exceed this limit.
  5. Error Handling: Batch systems typically provide error checking and handling mechanisms. If a job encounters an error, the system can take predefined actions, such as notifying the operator, logging the error, or attempting to continue with the next job.
  6. Batch Queues: Jobs may be placed in batch queues, where they wait for their turn to be executed. Different queues might exist for different types of jobs or different user priorities.
  7. Output Handling: The results of each job are often recorded to output files or printed for later review by the user or system operator.

Examples of Batch Operating Systems

Batch operating systems were more common in the early days of computing, but they are still used in some specific applications. Here are a few examples of batch operating systems:


IBM OS/360 and Successors

IBM’s OS/360 (Operating System/360) was one of the earliest and most influential batch operating systems. It evolved into various versions, including OS/370, MVS (Multiple Virtual Storage), and z/OS, which are still used in mainframe environments for large-scale batch processing.

Unisys MCP

The Master Control Program (MCP) is a batch operating system used on Unisys ClearPath mainframe systems. It’s designed for high-performance and high-reliability batch processing.


IBM’s z/OS (previously OS/390 and other variations) is a modern mainframe operating system that supports both batch and interactive processing. It’s commonly used in large enterprises for critical business operations.


OpenVMS (formerly known as VAX/VMS) is a batch and time-sharing operating system designed for DEC’s VAX computers. While not as prevalent today, it’s still used in some legacy environments.

Batch Processing in Unix/Linux

Unix and Linux systems support batch processing through tools like cron and at, which allow users to schedule jobs to run automatically at specific times. While not traditional batch operating systems, they enable batch-style processing in a Unix/Linux environment.

Windows Task Scheduler

Microsoft Windows provides a task scheduling system that allows users to automate batch processing tasks. While not a batch operating system per se, it’s used to schedule and automate batch jobs on Windows-based systems.

Job Control Language (JCL) Systems

Some mainframe systems use specialized job control languages like JCL to specify and manage batch jobs. While JCL itself isn’t an operating system, it’s integral to batch processing on systems like IBM’s z/OS.

Batch Processing in Scientific Computing

In scientific and high-performance computing, batch processing systems are often used to manage complex and resource-intensive computations. These systems vary widely and may not be traditional operating systems, but they’re designed for batch-style parallel processing.

Media Encoding and Rendering Servers

In media and entertainment industries, there are specialized batch processing systems for encoding, rendering, and transcoding media files. These systems often run on dedicated hardware or cloud-based services.

Advantages and Disadvantages 

Advantages Disadvantages
Time slot of the assigned job is unknown. However, only Batch OS could forecast it If a assigned job fails, then it has to be scheduled again and time slot to complete it is unknown.
Can manage the large jobs again and again The operators should be thorough with batch systems
It can be bifurcated into different stages so as to increase processing speed It is difficult to debug in batch systems
The job will be executed on its own after one assigned job is completed No direct interaction between the user and computer system
Utilization of CPU gets improved Since the execution period is not known, the other entered job has to wait for some time.

Batch Operating System vs Multiprogramming

Batch operating systems and multiprogramming are two different concepts in the realm of computer operating systems, but they are related and often used together to optimize computer system performance. Here are the key differences between batch operating systems and multiprogramming:

Batch Operating System vs Multiprogramming

1. Nature of Processing

  • Batch Operating System: Batch operating systems are primarily designed for processing non-interactive jobs in sequence. Each job is executed one after the other without user intervention. Users submit their jobs, and the system processes them in a batch mode.
  • Multiprogramming: Multiprogramming, on the other hand, is a technique that allows multiple programs or jobs to be loaded into the computer’s memory simultaneously and executed concurrently. It aims to maximize CPU utilization by overlapping the execution of multiple jobs.

2. User Interaction

  • Batch Operating System: Batch systems typically lack user interaction during job execution. Users submit their jobs and receive the results when the batch processing is complete.
  • Multiprogramming: Multiprogramming can support both batch processing and interactive processing. Interactive tasks can be interleaved with batch jobs, providing a more responsive computing environment.

3. Resource Utilization

  • BOS: Batch systems are less efficient in terms of resource utilization, as they execute one job at a time, leading to potential idle time while waiting for I/O operations to complete.
  • Multiprogramming: Multiprogramming aims to improve resource utilization by keeping the CPU busy with other jobs when one job is waiting for I/O. This reduces idle time and enhances overall system throughput.

4. Job Scheduling

  • BOS: Batch systems typically use simple job scheduling algorithms, such as first-come, first-served (FCFS), to process jobs in the order they are received.
  • Multiprogramming: Multiprogramming systems use more advanced scheduling algorithms, like round-robin, priority-based scheduling, and others, to decide which job to execute next, based on factors such as job priority and available resources.

5. Interactivity

  • BOS: Batch systems are not well-suited for interactive computing, as they prioritize non-interactive, predefined tasks.
  • Multiprogramming: Multiprogramming systems are designed to handle both batch and interactive tasks, making them more versatile and user-friendly.

6. Historical Context

  • Batch Operating System: Batch processing was more common in early computer systems and large mainframes when user interaction was limited.
  • Multiprogramming: Multiprogramming became more prevalent as computer systems evolved and user demands for interactive computing increased.
Read Also:
RTOS (Real Time Operating System) – Types, Kernel, How it Works, Uses
Chakrasthitha is a B.E (Medical Electronics) and has work experience in MatLab and Lab View Software as Design Engineer at BCS innovations and Manipal hospital as Biomedical Engineer. She is an author, editor and partner at Electricalfundablog.


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