Non-Preemptive Multitasking

What Does Non-Preemptive Multitasking Mean?

Non-preemptive multitasking is a legacy multitasking technique where an operating system (OS) allocates an entire central processing unit (CPU) to a single process until the process is completed. The program releases the CPU itself or until a scheduled time has passed. It was unveiled in Windows 3.1 and similar Mac OS versions of that era.

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Techopedia Explains Non-Preemptive Multitasking

In non-preemptive multitasking, the CPU control largely remains with one program for longer durations. Non-preemptive multitasking works well with applications and programs that require intensive and continuous CPU resources. However, when a program holds the CPU for such long periods, it affects other programs that must wait for the current program to finish or voluntarily release the CPU.

Non-preemptive multitasking also incorporates some elements from cooperative multitasking, where one or more programs cooperate, to some extent, in CPU utilization sharing and collaboration.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.