A form of multitasking where it is the responsibility of the currently running task to give up the processor to allow other tasks to run. This contrasts with pre-emptive multitasking where the task scheduler periodically suspends the running task and restarts another.
Cooperative multitasking requires the programmer to place calls at suitable points in his code to allow his task to be descheduled which is not always easy if there is no obvious top-level main loop or some routines run for a long time. If a task does not allow itself to be descheduled all other tasks on the system will appear to "freeze" and will not respond to user action.
The advantage of cooperative multitasking is that the programmer knows where the program will be descheduled and can make sure that this will not cause unwanted interaction with other processes. Under pre-emptive multitasking, the scheduler must ensure that sufficient state for each process is saved and restored that they will not interfere. Thus cooperative multitasking can have lower overheads than pre-emptive multitasking because of the greater control it offers over when a task may be descheduled.
Cooperative multitasking is used in RISC OS, Microsoft Windows and Macintosh System 7.