Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Operating System is Right For You?

I recently wrote up a post explaining exactly what a Operating System (shortened to OS from this point on) does, and why it's so important. While that post in itself is very informative, it leads to a larger, more difficult question: Which OS should you use?

I am going to discuss the pros and cons of the three major operating systems currently available:

-Windows Vista, made by Microsoft
-Mac OS X Snow Leopard made by Apple
-Ubuntu 9.04 made by the world-wide comm

First off is Windows Vista. Microsoft Windows is currently the most used OS in the entire world. That's a pretty big strong point. Being such a popular OS, there are programs, both free and commercial, that can let you do nearly anything. Almost any hardware available is compatible with Windows - It is so widely used that the majority of the computer
market comes with a version of Windows already installed on it.

However, Microsoft is notorious for having horrible support, and their newest stable OS, Windows Vista, had major compatibility issues on release (now fixed) and it has unnecessary services and processes that can slow down our computer. Another major issue; being the most
popular OS, it is the most prone to viruses, spyware, and adware that can damage your computer. Windows also requires regular maintenance and clean up to stay away from reduced performance and system errors. The cheapest "Basic" version of Vista costs a hefty $200, while the "Ultimate" edition an almost ridiculous suggested retail price of $320.

While Windows Vista has several strong points, the negative side of this OS is significant, and in most cases I believe you should try to avoid this OS. (Windows 7, Vista's successor, is a completely different story! Check out a post on it here.)

Second is Apple's OS X Snow Leopard. A OS completely different from Windows, Leopard
offers a sleek, simple interface. Leopard comes with a set of well-made applications that let you do anything from buying music to chatting friends to making a movie. There are many advanced
features in OSX that make it appeal to more accomplished users. Leopard is reliable and, in many cases, offers much higher performance than Vista does. It is also very resilient against viruses and is much less prone
to all forms of malware.

Nevertheless, Leopard is not perfect. Leopard only works on Apple-Manufactured hardware, which is often much more expensive than it should be. It has a smaller library of software compared to Windows, and it can be difficult or impossible to get Windows programs to work on a Apple computer.

In any case, OS X Leopard is a strong, well-developed piece of software that is a solid choice as an operating system.

Last but not least is Ubuntu. While not quite as well-known as the other two Operating
Systems, Ubuntu is definitely a choice worth considering. It is created by a community of people around the world all who work for free - if wanted to, you could sign up and help develop it right away. Because it is created by the people who use it, it is very easy to use and is 100% free. Because it is based on Linux, it is next-to-invulnerable to viruses, unlike Windows and Leopard. It has a large amount of free software that can usually do whatever you would have been able to do on a Windows or Mac computer. Also, it is able to run most Windows programs with a compatibility layer such as Wine. Ubuntu is reliable, lightning fast, and has a very good interface.

Even so, advanced use of Ubuntu and more complicated tasks may require more technical skills than a Windows or Mac would. Also, many commercial programs may not work on Ubuntu.

The Bottom Line:
Even though there is no clear-cut best operating system, each has its pros and cons and different people will choose different ones. Microsoft Windows is the most popular and is a good choice for anyone who will need to use Windows programs. Apple's OS X would be most suitable for those who can afford to spend a little more and need a fast computer. Ubuntu would be best for anyone with more technical skills than the average user, and looking for a free and fast operating system. I hope this article helps you choose the right operating system for you.



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