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This is a question that I get asked often; which system is better: Windows, Mac or Linux. The problem is it’s not as simple as that, each system has it’s own inherent strengths and weaknesses. Depending on what you want to do with your computer depends on what system is best for you. Perhaps the best way to evaluate this is to look at each system independantly; its stengths, its weaknesses and what exactly you get for your money.
The most popular Operating System in the world, used by around 90% of computers globally in one form or another. Windows latest incarnation, dubbed “Windows 7″, came out last year to an improved reception from users compared to the previous version, Windows Vista.
Windows 7 has a number of improvements on previous versions, it’s designed to be more user friendly from the ground up, its performance is greatly improved compared to Vista and any Vista programs are guaranteed to run properly (according to Microsoft). There’s also a degree of compatibility with Windows XP programs as well; even if the program won’t run correctly under Windows 7, there’s a compatibility wizard that will (hopefully) allow your Windows XP programs to run.
- The most popular operating system by far
- Widespread software support
- The best platform for games
- Regular security updates
- Expensive (unless bundled with a new PC)
- Most at risk from viruses
- Little bundled software
Mac OS X
OS X is the name of the operating system on Apple Macintosh computers, the current version being 10.6 (dubbed Snow Leopard).
Mac’s are slightly different from other computers in that you can’t buy OS X and install it on any computer, you have to buy an Apple Mac to run OS X. If you can overlook this flaw (and it is quite a big one) then the Mac system has some great features. None of the other systems can compare with the Macs ability to manage media (photos, music, movies) right out of the box. Photo and video editing is a breeze on a Mac, whats more the basic software for doing so (called the iLife suite) is bundled with every new Mac.
Support for Macs is growing as a result of Apples success in other markets with the iPod and iPhone, more companies are developing software for the Mac platform all the time, and just recently the gaming industry has shown a slight shift toward the Mac platform with the release of the “Steam” program for Mac.
- Great for managing your media
- Little threat from viruses
- Increased software support from developers
- Microsoft Office available for Mac
- Expensive – you have to have a Mac to run it
- Not as much software available as for Windows
- Still some compatibility issues with Windows
Linux is coming along in leaps and bounds at the moment, there are many variants available depending on what you want to do, but the most popular at the moment is the Ubuntu project. Ubuntu’s latest release goes a long way to addressing some of the problems of earlier releases. It’s now easier to install software from the ever increasing catalogue of free applications, some of which have features to rival some of the expensive Windows alternatives. It’s also less likely to be infected by viruses or malware due to the way it’s written.
Linux will also run on a Mac, or any reasonably modern PC.
- Free – can be downloaded direct from the web
- An ever expanding catalogue of free software
- not susceptible to virus attacks
- continues to evolve – new releases every six months
- Very little commercial support from software developers
- A bit of a change from Windows
- Almost no decent games available
There is no clear winner in all this, each system has its own advantages and disadvantages, and its own place in the market as well. If photo and video editing is your thing (and you have the money) then Mac is probably the way to go. If games are your thing, then it has to be Microsoft Windows. If, however, you’re on a budget and open to trying new things, Linux might be the way to go.
None of these systems will ever overpower and destroy the competitors, in fact as time goes on it seems likely that the market share of these systems will approach equilibrium. It is up to the individual to decide what system is right for them, long time users of any platform may try one of the competitors and find it suits their needs better. Or, they may find that their loyalty was deserved all along. If you don’t try, you’ll never find out…
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