Difference between Multiprogramming and Multitasking in Operating System

Difference between Multiprogramming and Multitasking in Operating System

Computer hardware and other software applications need an operating system that helps in managing. It acts as a middleman of all computer operations. Without an operating system, a user is unable to send any type of communication or give commands directly to the CPU. There needs to be a middleman who sends communication or allows it to happen between the user and the CPU.

More tasks are linked to the operating system other than the basic functions of controlling the peripheral devices. Other tasks include showing output on the screen, tracking data and files, and also multiprogramming and multitasking.

Multiprogramming Vs. Multitasking in Operating System

The difference between these two tasks of the operating system is that multiprogramming allows the CPU to execute more than one program simultaneously. Multitasking on the other hand allows the CPU to execute more than one task simultaneously.

Comparison between Multiprogramming and Multitasking in Operating System

  • Multiprogramming allows the execution of one or more programs simultaneously as soon as they are loaded into the system. Multitasking on the other hand refers to the process of allowing programs that are running at the same time to be executed simultaneously.
  • Multiprogramming has a purpose which is to improve the CPU’s utilization while multitasking helps to improve the response time.
  • Multiprogramming has a longer execution time for the execution of programs. In multitasking, there is less time taken to execute any task from the program.

What is Multiprogramming?

This is the process whose aim is to increase the utilization of the CPU. Multiple processes are run at the same time and on a single processor. During multiprogramming, the CPU can jump onto another task while the execution of programs is still going on. There are several jobs or programs kept in memory during the multiprogramming process. The operating system, therefore, enables the CPU to select the jobs or programs as they run and begin executing them.

If the job selected needs to wait before it can be executed, then the CPU randomly picks up another program and begins to execute it. This process is what keeps the CPU busy and highly utilized at all times.

Regardless of whether the CPU is slow processing or not, the process of multiprogramming can still take place. The only thing that is needed on such a CPU is less memory. That is, ROM and RAM. The purpose of multiprogramming is to ensure that the CPU will not sit idle at any given time.

Advantages of multiprogramming include:

  • Allowing the CPU to have high utilization for a long period.
  • Allowing for a shorter response time for tasks and programs assigned.
  • Ability to give priority to the jobs.

Disadvantages of multiprogramming include:

  • Difficulty in scheduling implementation.
  • More management is needed.

What is Multitasking?

Multitasking is the process by which you can work on more than one task at a time. An example could be using your computer and listening to songs from the same computer at the same time.

Another example means looking up something on the internet from your computer and still working on an assignment on a word document on the same computer. While it seems like all these tasks are happening at the same time, it is usually the processor switching between different speeds and makes it seem like the tasks are happening at the same time.

While multitasking and multiprogramming are almost similar, the difference is that the CPU is allocated a fixed time for executing tasks in multitasking. One program or task is executed at the same time.

Users are allowed to interact with the system during the process of multitasking. Large memory is required in the execution of the tasks. This is another difference between multitasking and multiprogramming.

The large memory helps to improve and increase the CPU’s timing and response time.

Unlike the multiprogramming operating system, multitasking is a little complicated. It involves allocating a fixed time interval for each task to be executed. If a program needs a high degree of parallelism, multitasking is the required process.

Advantages of multitasking include:

  • Decreased response time.
  • Logical parallelism for task and program execution.
  • CPU utilization.

Disadvantages of multitasking include:

  • The process of multitasking is difficult to implement on a slow process as it requires high memory.
  • Without large memory, the process of multitasking is ineffective.

Difference between Multiprogramming and Multitasking in Operating System

  • The main purpose of multiprogramming is to increase the utilization of the CPU. Programs are arranged in a way that execution is always happening and the CPU is not idle at any point. Multitasking on the other hand helps to improve the response time of the CPU.
  • In multiprogramming, an ongoing process will need to first stop before switching on to another task can take place. Once the ongoing process stops, the CPU can be allocated another task or program to execute. In multitasking, an ongoing process does not need to stop for the next one to be executed. Execution can happen simultaneously.
  • Multiprogramming is still possible on a computer with low storage while multitasking requires a computer with high storage for the execution of programs. The large memory is to ensure that tasks can be executed at the same time.
  • There is more time taken to execute programs in the multiprogramming process which is not the case in multitasking.
  • While the concept of multiprogramming is based on switching from one program to another for effective execution to take place, multitasking requires time-sharing as programs are allotted the same time that is fixed for execution.


In conclusion, both multiprogramming and multitasking processes in the operating system are quite similar. The only difference is how they help with the CPU utilization.

Multitasking helps to execute more than one program at the same time. As such, a large memory is needed to ensure that the time at which the execution needs to be done is not slowed down.

Multiprogramming is slower but still helps to keep the CPU busy. It is slower because a program needs to be executed before it can move on to the next. They are, however, both modern aspects of the operating system.

Leave a Comment