The thing is, these two operating systems have a lot of differences you might not have thought about when it comes to their day to day running, and this could have a drastic impact on the way that you not only work with your new computer or laptop, but also how you play with it or even use it for a hobby.
And I bet that there are some people reading this article that didn’t even know there are more options than just the big two when it comes to choosing an operating system. So let’s jump into it; the different operating systems available, what they are good for, and whether or not you should buy them.
Let’s start with the biggie – Windows. Synonymous with Microsoft, Windows has long been the go-to OS for hundreds of thousands of people around the world – and depending on your long term goals for your computers use, it could actually be perfect.
Think of it like this; the different Windows OS systems have been the standard fare for beginner PC users for a long time because they are so simple to use, and so universally compatible. To demonstrate, let’s take it from the top.
Say you are a beginner to the world of computers – up till now the only thing you have had to contend with is tablets with an attached keyboard, or you have only ever dabbled with PCs to use Microsoft Word. A windows based PC or laptop is a fantastic starting point because it opens so many different doors at the same time.
You have the standard fare of the Microsoft Office suite giving you access to some of the best professional tools on the market, you have a door into the world of internet browsing and the capability to play different forms of media on your desktop.
Really, its everything you need it to be and more, with Microsoft right out the gate being the best OS (in my opinion) for beginners into the PC world full stop. You can even take it a step further and say that thanks to the litany of different computer courses out there that the traditional Windows-based PC is the best place to start when it comes to building PC skills.
Speaking of widespread usage, a huge bonus to consider when you are looking to choose an OS is that because Windows is so universal, most of the problems you are going to come up against when using the OS will have already been solved by somebody else online – meaning that troubleshooting and solving problems with your PC will be incredibly easy – often just a case of googling and following some steps online.
But that’s not all, is it? Because we know that Windows supports an almost scary amount of third party software which can allow your PC to morph into whatever kind of machine you want it to be, including a bastion of editing software, a gaming titan or even a full musical outlet – it all depends on what you want from your machine.
Let’s focus on the gaming aspect for a moment though. If you weren’t aware, it’s pretty well known throughout the PC communities that if you are looking for a way into PC gaming, then Windows is always going to be your best bet. Why? Well basically, MacOS has been incompatible with a whole bunch of games for years and looking to the future that doesn’t look set to change. Windows, however, is the format that nearly every single PC game is either created or adapted for use on – with the distinct advantage in that Microsoft, who own Xbox, are going to be porting all of their first-party games to both console and PC in the future, making Windows the ideal gaming hub if that is what you are looking for.
You also have the advantage of knowing that nearly all drivers you have to download for your PC are also available in Windows format, meaning that you never have to worry about keeping your kit up to date with the latest version. A big advantage if your planning on buying a lot of internal or external components for your PC, and are looking to use them over an extended period of time.
This leads to the fact that outside of gaming, your Windows OS is going to be a great platform on which to run different programs like Adobe level editing software, Ableton to master music, or even Notepad++ to get some coding done.
You can even easily link your smartphone, smart TV, tablets, or any other devices to your Windows-based PC with the minimum of fuss, and thanks to its aforementioned compatibility level its always going to be a doddle to get your different devices up and running on a PC within a matter of minutes.
All of this links into the simple fact that a Windows-based OS is always going to be simple to run and modify into whatever machine you want to use it for – but that doesn’t mean it is the perfect answer. Whilst Windows is great at many different aspects of everyday PC life, it isn’t the master of all of them (though it does come close).
What should you look for if you are wanting to use professional-grade creative software, and aren’t too bothered about gaming as a main feature?
Enter Apple, and their MacOS. If you didn’t already know, the operating system on a Macbook is entirely different to the one that’s used on a Windows-based PC, because MacBook’s and iMac’s are made by Apple – so they ship with Apple software, rather than Windows, which is made by Microsoft.
With that out of the way, let’s say this – the MacOS system is another system that can initially be great for beginners – if you can accept that statement comes with a big fat ‘but’ on the end of it. Let’s run through some of the positives first though.
Firstly, just like Windows the initial setup of MacOS on any system is simple – you can do it with or without a sign-in (again just like Windows), but its always going to be simpler to create and assign an Apple ID just for synchronicity and conformity across all the devices you use. Plus it opens up options like voice search, messaging, and purchase history into your new system.
However, once you are in the OS you are going to notice quite a stark difference between what Apple have as their operating system, and Windows users as theirs. Considering that 80% of the world are running Windows, you can’t be blamed if you have little to no experience of the actual MacOS system.
For example, Apple’s MacOS system usually launches with a litany of different apps than you would find in a Microsoft Windows ran PC, which can (frankly) often run better than their Windows counterparts. And if that’s not enough, you get some pretty great additional software to boot. Ever heard of Garageband? It’s a pretty brilliant music editing software that comes as standard with the MacOS software.
And that’s the main take away from the MacOS system – that professional-grade software runs better and is more readily available on MacOS than it is on Windows. In fact, there is a reason that most professionals in creative fields choose to use iMacs and Macbooks for their work – its because they have a reputation for being the go-to machines for photo, video, and audio editing.
You won’t just be linked to Apple only software though. MacOS is famous for supporting all kinds of different software, with programs like Adobe running brilliantly on their systems. In fact, you can even pick yourself up copies of Microsoft Word and Excel if you need to for MacOS – so you don’t need to worry about compatibility when it comes to software.
However, what you should understand before you settle on MacOS as your operating system is that whilst it is very flexible when it comes to software, the hardware attached to many Apple devices is not as easily customizable as it is with Windows – in fact, Apple have specifically designed their products to be used as they are sold, no modifications allowed.
I know that this is an article talking about operating systems, but I feel like this is worth mentioning, as choosing MacOS as an operating system means choosing an Apple product, and whilst some of their products are great, they are ultimately costly, and locked to their original specifications.
You might want to also know that whilst there are some games available to play on MacOS, there is nowhere near the catalog of games available for Windows as there is on MacOS. Just a side note, but it should affect your decision if you are wanting gaming to be a part of your everyday computing life.
This caps off the second of the ‘major players’ when it comes to running an operating system – but is there another option?
What is Linux? You might be asking yourself, and the simple answer is that its an operating system that you control, program, and use within the parameters you define. Let me explain a little further, but the fair word of warning – it’s not for computing novices. If you’re looking for a simple entry into home computing, then skip to the conclusion, because Linux is probably not for you.
Linux is an open-source operating system that is used to build out custom operating systems that function differently than Windows or MacOS – the two most popular operating systems out there. A great example would be that all Android devices have an operating system built on Linux – its that simple.
Things like games consoles, smart televisions, even in-car entertainment systems all rely on Linux as its base operating system, just to that the user interface that you come into contact with is fir for purpose.
So why might you want this in your PC? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Firstly, Linux is completely free to run, and you can even save and distribute whatever finished version of Linux you use to your friends for free as well – which is a pretty appealing cost considering the price tag attached to Windows and Apple devices.
Secondly, with Linux you are totally capable of running everything you would expect to run with a traditional operating system; Bootloader, Applications, Desktop Environments, Graphical Servers, and much more – all tempered by you for personal use, rather than being stuck in a configuration set by someone else.
And that leads me to the third advantage of Linux: That you are totally in control. Some might find this off-putting, and that’s totally understandable; not everybody wants to be designing their own operating system.
But, if that does sound interesting to you, and you want to take your coding or script development to the next level, or if you want to make a customized gaming machine, or if you want to develop an OS for something that isn’t even PC based, then Linux is for you. There are plenty of how-to guides out there if you are only starting off and looking to investigate, and for veterans of software development, Linux won’t pose any real difficulty in its use. In fact, total amateurs could employ the help of Google and internet forums to install a pre-made version of Linux, rather than developing a version themselves.
Plus, with the OS being totally customized, you don’t need to worry about hackers nearly as much considering that plenty of Malware relies upon known exploits in popular software rather than being a custom piece of script that is capable of diving through any written code.
That’s pretty much Linux – a sandbox for you to design your own operating system in that’s fit for your own purposes. Pretty cool when you think about it – and completely free.
To most people, Chrome is just the internet browser you download the first chance that you get in order to avoid the stresses of other browsers. Bet you didn’t know that there is a whole operating system built around the Google engine?
Remember in the last section when I mentioned that Linux is responsible for a whole bunch of different operating systems? Chrome OS is an example of just that. You primarily find the Chrome OS on Chromebook devices, which use the Google-based software to make a simple, intuitive operating system that uses its namesake internet browser as its default setting. That alone has to be worth something.
In terms of UI though, Chrome OS is really simple. Minimalist desktop and design functions mean that it’s easy to use, and thanks to the overarching prevalence of Google within the software and other devices, you can count on things like browser history, app purchases, and Gmail integration across your devices with little to no fuss whatsoever.
You can also expect a high level of application support as well, with Chrome OS supporting all the different apps you might find in the Play store, along with some lighter versions of apps like Photoshop designed for the lightweight OS.
Much like Apple’s macOS, the chances are that you are going to find this operating system tethered to Google-specific devices, namely the Chromebook – and what that means is no real opportunity for gaming or hardware customization. Still, the Chromebook works well with multi-monitor support, it can also run basic peripherals like mice and keyboards and seems to have no issue connecting with printers either. Bundle that in with its ability to tether to Android mobile devices, and you have a pretty great lightweight OS for someone who needs to stay connected for light browsing and laptop duties.
Well, that’s up to you. I’ve lain out the basics surrounding four of the major players in the operating systems world, and its for you to decide which suits your needs the best.
Windows for example is the industry standard, the operating system we are all familiar with, and it gives a great level of support to both hardware and software. A real workhorse, this should definitely be the OS you choose if you are new to computers, looking to do a lot with one machine or if you are just totally focussed on gaming.
MacOS though is for those who are looking to get a little bit more out of professional and creative software, with no regard for gaming or customization to your system in the long run. You don’t have to worry about viruses as much, and you can rely on a pretty high level of software support on a very reliable system.
Linux is for those who are comfortable creating their very own operating system, whether it be for home PC use or for use in something entirely different, at the expense of technical support and general online troubleshooting. It’s free, open source and very secure, but you do have to use a certain level of technical knowledge to make sure that your Linux OS is up to scratch for use.
And, if you are looking for a Linux system that offers everything you might need for a lightweight, easy use operating system then look no further than the Chrome OS – a simple operating system grander in scope than a tablet, but less complicated and encompassing than a full Windows OS.
So, which one seems right for you? Still confused? Drop us a comment, and we will do our best to help you come up with an answer.