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Updated by Ben Stegner on 04/26/2017

Buying a new computer? You have more operating system choices than ever. Windows is still popular 8 In 10 Desktop Computers Runs Windows And So Should You 8 In 10 Desktop Computers Runs Windows And So Should You Getting a new computer? One devil urges you to buy a Mac or Chromebook, while the other insists you try Linux. And here's me explaining why you should stick with a Windows device. Read More , but some Macs are now surprisingly affordable. Google offers Chromebooks that are simple and cheap, and Linux laptops are an option, too. You could even use an Android tablet or iPad with a keyboard as a laptop replacement.

But which should you choose when it’s time to buy a new computer? We’ll give you an overview of all your choices, along with their advantages and disadvantages. Minor spoiler: There’s no one best option for everyone.

Windows

You probably know all about Windows. It’s the most popular desktop and laptop operating system in the world and offers the widest compatibility with existing software and hardware. Windows PCs range from laptops that cost only a few hundred dollars — often with questionable build quality — all the way up to expensive high-end gaming PCs How to Buy a Cheap Gaming PC With an Nvidia Graphics Card How to Buy a Cheap Gaming PC With an Nvidia Graphics Card Looking to build a cheap gaming PC? Dann Albright built an Nvidia-based gaming machine on-the-cheap. And he's going to show you how it's done for under $600. Read More .

 

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If you’re comfortable with Windows, it’s an obvious option. Windows 10 is far better than the maligned Windows 8, complete with lots of awesome features 6 Underrated Windows 10 Features You Must Try 6 Underrated Windows 10 Features You Must Try Windows 10 is different and constantly changing. You'll never be done exploring new features and tools. This article will help you discover tricks you might have missed so far. Read More . And since Windows 10 is always evolving, new versions like the Creators Update How to Get the Windows 10 Creators Update Now How to Get the Windows 10 Creators Update Now The Windows 10 Creators Update will roll out in April. Are you eager to try it? Or would you rather avoid it? We'll show you how to get Windows 10 1703 on your own schedule. Read More add fresh tools and enhance the OS at no cost. If you hate Windows 10 Many People Refuse the Free Windows 10 Upgrade, Here's Why Many People Refuse the Free Windows 10 Upgrade, Here's Why People like free stuff. Yet many refuse to upgrade to Windows 10. We have asked them why. Read More , you can still use Windows 8.1 How to Downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 How to Downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 Windows 10 is here and maybe it's not what you expected. If you already upgraded, you can perform a rollback. And if you haven't yet, create a system backup first. We show you how. Read More or find a copy of Windows 7, but that might take some work Microsoft Retires Windows 7: This Is How You Can Still Get A Copy Microsoft Retires Windows 7: This Is How You Can Still Get A Copy Windows 7 Home and Ultimate editions have been retired. If you want to get a computer without Windows 8.1, your options are limited. We have compiled them for you. Read More .

Windows PCs have excellent compatibility with all the software you want to run. Consumer desktop software, internal business apps, and PC games are all standard and supported on Windows. They’re available at a wide variety of price ranges to suit all budgets. You’re probably already familiar with the Windows desktop environment, which is a plus.

On the other hand, Windows 10 is packed with bloatware Tired of Bloatware? How to Purge Windows 10 Store Apps Tired of Bloatware? How to Purge Windows 10 Store Apps For Microsoft, Windows 10 is a cash machine. With future updates, more apps will be pre-installed and promoted on the Start Menu. Let us show you how to easily remove pre-installed Windows Store apps. Read More and many laptops don’t have the attention to detail you find on a MacBook. The trackpads on Windows laptops — even expensive ones — are generally still inferior to the ones you’d find on a Mac. Most malware is written for Windows systems, so they’re the most vulnerable in the real world. Windows 10 also collects and sends lots of information Privacy and Windows 10: Your Guide to Windows Telemetry Privacy and Windows 10: Your Guide to Windows Telemetry With the advent of the Windows 10 Creator's Update, Microsoft seems to have decided to be more transparent about their data gathering activities. Find out how much is gathered, and what you can do. Read More about your usage to Microsoft, which may concern you.

If you’re comfortable with Windows, need to run Windows software, or want a decent yet inexpensive PC, Windows is a great option.

macOS

Macs are still a great choice today. Whether you like Macs or Apple’s design philosophies in general Your Apple/Android/Windows Hatred Is Irrelevant, Give It Up Your Apple/Android/Windows Hatred Is Irrelevant, Give It Up Getting upset because someone is buying something you're not interested in benefits no one – so why do we get mad anyway? Read More , you can’t deny that Apple makes amazing hardware. Combined with the macOS (formerly Mac OS X) operating system, many folks choose Macs Drinking the Kool Aid: 8 Reasons People Love Their Macs Drinking the Kool Aid: 8 Reasons People Love Their Macs When you can buy a laptop for under $500, and a Chromebook will satisfy most people's computing needs, why do people insist on spending well over $1000 on a Mac? Read More for their sleek design and lack of Windows quirks.

 

If you have no problem spending $1,000 or more on a laptop, you should certainly consider a Mac. Apple’s MacBooks offer excellent battery life, an amazing touchpad with lots of shortcuts, and all-around great hardware. In many cases, MacBooks are a better value than high-end ultrabooks like Microsoft’s Surface line Which Should You Buy: Apple Macbook Pro 2016 or Microsoft Surface Pro 4? Which Should You Buy: Apple Macbook Pro 2016 or Microsoft Surface Pro 4? Don't know whether to go with the MacBook Pro 2016 or the Surface Pro 4? We've covered all the reasons why you might -- or might not want -- one of the two laptops. Read More .

Of course, you must be willing to spend more to get a Mac, as they aren’t available for low or mid-range prices. You won’t find Mac laptops for $300-$700 — you can find a variety of Windows laptops at that budget that perhaps aren’t as nice, but are much more affordable.

Apple offers several options if you’re considering a Mac. The refreshed MacBook offers a beautiful keyboard and stunning screen inside a tiny chassis Should the New MacBook's Single Port Scare You Away? Should the New MacBook's Single Port Scare You Away? Apple recently revealed the new MacBook, and it's a jaw-dropper — but it also has only a single port. Was this a blunder, or a sign of the future? Read More , while the MacBook Pro is a power machine designed for heavy use. If you don’t mind buying an older laptop with an inferior screen, you could even pick up a MacBook Air Want A Great Value Laptop? Buy A MacBook Air Want A Great Value Laptop? Buy A MacBook Air Unlike many of Apple's other products, the MacBook Air is different. It's actually better value for money than any Windows laptop at that price. Read More .

The proliferation of web-based software means Macs have fewer software compatibility issues. Macs also have a variety of standard software available, including official versions of Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and other professional creative applications. On the other hand, Macs don’t have as much great free software as Windows does, and macOS isn’t suitable for a primary gaming machine How to Keep Playing Games When You Have a Mac How to Keep Playing Games When You Have a Mac You don't have to give up on gaming if you have a Mac. You just have to go about it differently. Read More .

If you’re willing to learn something new, are looking for a higher-end computer, and the programs you need to use run on a Mac, a Mac can be a great option. Check out the best places to buy a refurbished Mac The Top 6 Places To Buy Refurbished Mac Laptops The Top 6 Places To Buy Refurbished Mac Laptops Apple computers tend to last a long time, so you might want to consider purchasing a refurbished model to save some money. Read More and how to save money when shopping for one 5 Ways To Save Money When Buying a MacBook 5 Ways To Save Money When Buying a MacBook Apple’s MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, or “the new MacBook”, are some of the best notebook computers you can buy. But they’re also pretty expensive. Read More  so you get the best deal.

Chrome OS

Google’s Chrome OS is a lightweight competitor that’s capturing more of the market. Chromebooks run a simplified operating system that’s basically just the Chrome web browser with some desktop bits. You have access to Chrome, Chrome apps, and Android apps All New Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps All New Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps Any new Chromebooks launched in 2017 and beyond will ship with access to the Google Play Store included as standard without the need for an update. Read More — that’s it. You can’t run Windows desktop software, and even Linux desktop software only works if you put your Chromebook into developer mode and “hack” it to install Ubuntu. How to Install Linux on a Chromebook How to Install Linux on a Chromebook Do you need Skype on your Chromebook? Do you miss not having access to games through Steam? Are you pining to use VLC Media Player? Then start using Linux on your Chromebook. Read More

 

Chromebooks are great because they’re simple 5 Reasons Chromebooks are the Perfect Computer For an Elderly Person 5 Reasons Chromebooks are the Perfect Computer For an Elderly Person It's your granddad's birthday — but what should you buy him? You could get him socks (again), some gardening equipment, or perhaps a large bottle of whisky… Or you could buy him a Chromebook. Read More . They update automatically, sync with Google Drive for file storage, and don’t require antivirus software. Most Chromebooks cost between $200-$300, and don’t include bloatware, unlike Windows.

If you only ever use Chrome and want a simple PC with a full keyboard and powerful desktop web browser for not much money, a Chromebook is a good option. On the other hand, there’s still a lot a Chromebook can’t do — if you use Photoshop daily, look elsewhere.

Google doesn’t make the fancy Pixel anymore, so you won’t find high-end Chromebooks these days. There’s no Chromebook as good as a Mac. Most Chromebooks feature poor displays and lackluster keyboards, making them a better backup machine than primary for most people. Check our guide to find out if a Chromebook is right for you How to Decide If a Chromebook Is Right For You How to Decide If a Chromebook Is Right For You Is a Chromebook for everyone? In a word: No. There is a time and a place for a Chromebook. If you are contemplating this laptop replacement, there are a few things you should consider first. Read More  and make sure you consider key points 7 Things to Consider Before Buying a Chromebook 7 Things to Consider Before Buying a Chromebook How do you know if a Chromebook is right for you? In this article, I'm going to explain seven things you need to consider before making a purchase. Read More  about these machines.

Linux

Traditional desktop Linux also benefitted by the shift to web-based applications. Linux has easy-to-install versions of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, so it can do much of what an average computer user needs 5 Tips That Make Switching to Linux From Windows Easy 5 Tips That Make Switching to Linux From Windows Easy There are many reasons to migrate from Windows to Linux. For instance, Linux might offer a lightweight environment. If you're tired of Windows and want a change, switching to Linux should be easy. Read More out of their computer.

 

You can buy Linux laptops from a variety sources What Type of Linux Desktop or Laptop Should You Buy? What Type of Linux Desktop or Laptop Should You Buy? What kind of Linux desktop or laptop should you buy? Many powerful machines exist that come designed specifically with Linux in mind. We've covered all bases, ranging in price from $650 to $2,700! Read More , or install a popular Linux distribution The Best Linux Distros for First Time Switchers from Windows and Mac The Best Linux Distros for First Time Switchers from Windows and Mac Linux has an intimidating image, making it seem like it would be difficult to start using it. But the switch from Windows and Mac is actually pretty easy, if you can ease yourself into it. Read More  on an existing computer. However, if you do this, there’s no guarantee the hardware will work properly, so you should do some research first.

Linux systems are often used by geeks and developers who find a UNIX-based operating system 3 UNIX-Like Operating Systems That Aren't Linux 3 UNIX-Like Operating Systems That Aren't Linux Recently, people started to confuse "UNIX" with "Linux." Linux was influenced by UNIX, but UNIX systems have no relation to Linux. Here are some important UNIX-based systems worth knowing about. Read More more convenient than Windows, but don’t want to buy a Mac. On the other hand, it’s hard to recommend a Ubuntu laptop to someone who isn’t seeking out Linux for a particular reason 5 Reasons Linux Can Help You Become a Better Student 5 Reasons Linux Can Help You Become a Better Student You might be thinking about purchasing some new software for heading back to school, but have you thought about trying a new operating system? Linux might be perfect for you — here's why. Read More . If all you need is a web browser, you can get by with Linux — but you could also work on a Chromebook, and it’s cheaper to purchase those. Chromebooks have better support than Linux too.

Android Tablet Convertibles?

Android tablets have always trailed behind iPads, and they’re slowly dying as time goes on. While many Android tablets have keyboard docks that transform them into a small laptop, not many people are rocking an Android tablet anymore, and we wouldn’t recommend that you buy one 7 Reasons Why You Don't Need a Tablet Anymore 7 Reasons Why You Don't Need a Tablet Anymore Has the era of tablets come to an end? Now that smartphones, laptops, and e-readers are sufficiently advanced, the tablet is on the verge of being obsolete. Read More .

A 7 or 8-inch screen is hardly bigger than 6-inch phablets like the Galaxy S8 Plus and Pixel XL, so it’s pointless to buy another device that’s so similar. In addition, there aren’t a lot of dedicated Android tablet apps like there are on iOS. Combined with the presence of Android apps on Chrome OS 12 Android Apps You Need to Install on Chromebook 12 Android Apps You Need to Install on Chromebook With the Google Play store about to come to our fingertips, the power of an incredible number of apps is about to reach Chrome OS. So what will we install first? Let's see. Read More , you’re better off buying a touch-screen Chromebook to get the best of both worlds. If you like having the tablet in your hand, try buying a 2-in-1 laptop What Are 2-In-1 Laptops and How to Pick the Best One? What Are 2-In-1 Laptops and How to Pick the Best One? 2-in-1 laptops combine the portability of tablets with the ergonomics of a laptop, but are they any good? Is it better to get a tablet and a laptop separately? We explore. Read More where the screen can break off and be used on its own.

You can also get geeky and turn your smartphone into a laptop replacement Ditch Your Desktop! Turn Your Smartphone Into a Desktop Replacement Ditch Your Desktop! Turn Your Smartphone Into a Desktop Replacement Want to ditch the desktop and just use your smartphone? You can do that! Read More .

iPads with Keyboards

Some people opt to buy an iPad and a keyboard case Here's Why Your iPad Needs a Bluetooth Keyboard Here's Why Your iPad Needs a Bluetooth Keyboard For productivity to be really achievable on an iPad, a physical keyboard is needed. Read More , attempting to turn an iPad into a laptop replacement Can the iPad Pro Replace Your Laptop? Can the iPad Pro Replace Your Laptop? The iPad Pro can do a lot, but can it do enough to completely replace the humble laptop? That depends. Read More . Apple has pushed its bigger iPad Pro (our review iPad Pro, Smart Keyboard & Apple Pencil Review iPad Pro, Smart Keyboard & Apple Pencil Review The iPad Pro isn't just a larger and faster tablet — it represents an entirely new way of using iOS. The real question is: does it work, and more importantly — do you really need one? Read More ) as a laptop replacement, due to the Apple Pencil and larger screen. However, this isn’t necessarily ideal — you’re stuck with tablet apps instead of desktop software, and don’t have access to more powerful window management.

If you just want to carry an iPad around with you and you’d like a keyboard to make typing easier, this is a decent solution. But you shouldn’t expect an iPad with a keyboard to replace a PC.

 

Which One Should You Choose?

We’ve covered six different options here, but no single one is the winner. Each operating system has its own strengths and different choices will work out for different people. Hopefully, we’ve given you a place to start your research and helped you eliminate a few choices.

Comparing all these operating systems is a tough task. If you’re unsure which OS you want, you should probably go play with these operating systems in person 6 Quick Ways To Get Familiar With A New Operating System 6 Quick Ways To Get Familiar With A New Operating System In the past, the only consumer operating systems that mattered were Windows and maybe Mac OS X and Linux. Now, we also have Chrome OS, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone to worry about. And new... Read More . Try using a friend’s PC, working with a display laptop at a store, or dual-booting Linux on your current machine.

Now we want to know — which operating system are you considering for your next PC? More importantly, why did you choose that operating system? Leave a comment below and share your experiences!

Image Credit: Living in Monrovia via Flickr

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  1. jon nunya
    November 18, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    " it’s hard to recommend a Ubuntu laptop to someone who isn’t seeking out Linux for a particular reason. If all you need is a web browser, you can get by with Linux"

    is this just a gut feeling or do you have some info to back these statements. not very helpful.

  2. Johnnythegeek
    September 27, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Most people will most likely use Windows. It's the most obvious choice and when you buy a computer your most likely to get Windows installed. Some switch to Mac's that run Mac OS but they tend to be a tad bit snobbish and want a more refined experience. They are PC users who don't want a Chevy but rather a Benz. The Linux folks are just geeks and hobbyists, which reject commercialism and believe all operating systems should have open code and have software that can be customized to your needs. They however have always been a rather limited bunch in desktop OS statistics which never really grows significantly. Even though they constantly believe this year is the year of Linux. The eternal hope of a Linux enthusiast. However they never gain traction because the splintered internals of Linux and it doesn't run naively much of the software many computer users are familiar with. Being open and noncommercial has its drawbacks.
    Of course then you have Chrome OS a Google OS comprised of a bare Ubuntu core with a Google user interface. Call it Linux lite and many Linux purists won't even say it's Linux. Mainly because it couldn't be further from open if it tried. It's all controlled by Google and one could say it's no more open then Android. But then again, many really don't care and find a Chromebook perfectly fine. There really is no question Windows still controls the PC market and Mac's a distant second. Chromebook's make up a small percent mostly in educational markets and Linux is registering on the scale but isn't really gaining anything.

  3. Michael Haddad
    February 21, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    windows 10 is the best! It is the dominant operating system, and the best for gaming. Why get linux if you can max out to ultra hd in star wars battlefront on windows without lagging?(NOT JUST STAR WARS)

    • Valentin
      April 4, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Windows 7 is the dominant OS and windows 10 is a bit above windows XP . However, linux is not ment for games and it just started to get into games for real.

  4. Michael Weldon
    August 2, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    GNU/Linux rules.....and 'Puppy Linux' rocks!!! Amazing O/S, and unbelivably friendly (and competent) community support.

    'Nuff said.

  5. jagmint
    April 19, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    This is a very biased review on Linux operating system. You have proved that anything that is given free has no value. If GNU/Linux OS are charged 599$ licensing fee then people will start respecting it.

    GNU/Linux OS are made by community for the people and this is the spirit that is to be respected not any silly updates a commercial OS manufacturer does for his own benefits.

    Please respect this spirit of the community, the spirit of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the freedom to use the software without any restrictions by the corporates.

    I think you haven't used many GNU/ Linux distributions. GNU/Linux is not just a favorite of geeks and developers, it has become a very good consumer operating system. People don't use it and then say its tough!

    Chromebook is a joke and a over hyped product. I have used it and its like personally you want to become poor! This crappy chromebook does only onething good, that is browsing, which any good entry level laptop will do with a GNU/Linux OS installed.

    As for me GNU/Linux supports hardware way better than any windows counterpart. I have installed it in various hardwares both at home, work and many friends computers. It installs like a breeze and ready to use within 20 min.

    Please do some research on how GNU/Linux OS have grown so far.....and please respect the spirit of community. Wish you well!

  6. Anonymous
    April 12, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    That would be me tearing my hair out ... It kicks me out of an app or out of the Internet , wth. I can't even print off a simple paper :( I'm sad

  7. JCS
    January 22, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Well you say you are a Linux user but your writing reveals a series of decades-old stereotypes. Not only "geeks" use Linux: many people concerned about their personal information (not to mention the business ethics of megacorps like Apple and MS) have switched to GNU/Linux because it is a fully functional alternative that respects you as an individual. Nowadays you can even play most games natively, so except for a few lock-in technologies (DirectX 11+) and specific third-party software, there isn't much difference. Specially for the average end user, who will get used to whatever you put in front of them.

  8. Emily Dicson
    December 16, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Microsoft Provides many Operating systems , But Windows 7 is perfect OS for gaming with its all versions like; Starter, Home premium, Professional and Ultimate, Which has been used both for home as well as business purpose.
    I suggest you to use only a full version of any OS to avoid lost of your backup and precious time. Last time, I was need a license for Windows 8.1 pro, Which installed at my cousin's PC, So one of my friend recommend me to buy it from: products.odosta.com ODosta Store
    So I bought it, working well.

  9. Preston
    May 22, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    As a programmer I will always choose Windows(Preferably not Windows 8) or a Linux based OS like Ubuntu. Apple has a tendency to impose limitations on the user who chooses to overpay for their products. I believe Apple has a great design with the iPhone but it has been childproofed so that even the dullest user can mosey around the device without a challenge. I like to make my own boundaries concerning any computer.

  10. thomas
    February 21, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I would use Crunchbang Linux for my new computer . I am keeping Windows 7 for now only because I need itunes for my iPad.I do run Crunchbang in Virtualbox.

    Crunchbang is fast and minimalistic which I love.It does come with all the codecs and vlc installed out of the box so media is taken care of right from the start.I hate Wine btw which is why I am still using Windows.I don't even know if itunes works with Wine. Probably not.

  11. DavidG
    February 20, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    I can happily say I don't need Windows for anything anymore- I run an Antergos, an Arch Linux distro on my laptop and have Ubuntu Server installed on an old xp machine in the basement. Linux is great for me as a developer and it takes care of all the basic music, video, and web browsing requirements as well.

  12. TK
    February 20, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    I was a windows user for over 20 years until last year. I bought a new windows 8 laptop and was ready to throw it out the door in just 3 hours. I thought Oh God Micorsoft is going to do the VISTA TWIST again..... I went and bought 2 mac airs, A time capsule, iPad, and 2 iPhones. Its been 6 months and I am comfortable with IOS now. The only disappointment I had was the of all things QUICKEN does not work worth a dang on IOS.... Intuit never did QUICKEN right for MAC just for windows (idiots in mkt i guess). I love the MAC AIR's they are fast and (if ever needed) boot up , reboot , power on always in less than 30 seconds.

  13. Mwiinga S. H.
    February 20, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    I have discovered that what best works for me as an IT Sys Admin is to incorporate Virtual Machines. I run Linux Zorin 7 (based on Ubuntu 13) on my laptop as a primary and since I hate dual-booting, I run my Windows 7 pro "inside linux", using VirtualBox. My windows 7 virtual machine is even part of the windows domain. So I can test things out in different environments. You can even test Mac OSes/Windows 8/8.1 in VirtualBox. Please try it and you may also enjoy the best of all worlds!

  14. BeyondtheSidewalks
    February 18, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I found this article and the comments very helpful. Thanks to all of you for your input. I have an OLD HP computer that dates back to Windows98. I have installed XP and some large drives in it and it has become my dataserver to the entire family. We have four laptops and two desktops in the house that all run XP or 7. We have five Android tablets that also use the dataserver along with a few Android smartphones. With the demise of XP support I need to switch to something else that will run on old hardware that currently serves its purpose very well. Looks like one of the flavors of Linux is the best option for us. Right now, I'm leaning towards Mint for the dataserver as well as the older computers that run XP.

  15. instantfeed
    February 15, 2014 at 10:32 am

    After months of research i found out why Microsoft went for no Start Menu and fullscreen apps with plain UI in windowed mode and yes Microsoft is now making its UI flexible to 3rd party UI developers so that they can implement whatever UI they want even a Mac OSX clone in which windows 7 does not fit well whereas windows 8 is highly compatible. i unstalled W8 earlier without knowing MS intentions but after finding this yes i want W8 back with full Mac UI being developed.

  16. Naoman
    February 13, 2014 at 2:02 am

    I am a .NET Developer so I have to stick with windows. I cant move to Linux Even if i wanted to.

  17. Josh
    February 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Linux. Mint or PC Linux for noobs.

  18. Damion
    February 11, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Linux Mint 16 is the best. I hated windows 8 and mac os and the chromebook. Windows 7 was alright if I needed photoshop so I duel booted my PC with Linux Mint 16 everyone should duel boot their windows 7 with linux Best set up ever.

  19. ASJackson
    February 9, 2014 at 6:22 am

    1.Windows
    2.Linux
    3.OSX
    4.Chrome OS

    I like customizability, speed,stability, & app support, & a Windows/Debian(Linux) dual boot is best for me. Windows for Games & Apps that aren't supported by Linux, & Debian for everything else. I'm not a geek or dev, I just think Linux is very good for personal use.

    Pros//Con's
    Windows-Great hardware, app,& accessory support,good for gaming and enterprise//requires more maintenance,more viruses

    Linux-Faster than the rest,extremely customizable, less viruses,less maintenance,good for programing,multiple options,cheap//not as much app,hardware,accessory support as Win|Mac but is growing, DIY

    OSX-Simple,less viruses,less maintenance, good app support & multimedia production//too restricted, pricey

    Chromebook-Simple,less viruses,less maintenance,cheap//little app support, too restricted, mostly cloud based

  20. tpeticolas
    February 8, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    I've used; AmigaDOS, Windows, MacOS and now I use Linux SolusOS.

    An aspect of Linux that was not mentioned in your article, that is really great, is that if you put your existing hard drive or SSD from old hardware into a new machine, it detects and initializes the new hardware on startup and often works without any reconfiguration or reinstallation of the OS.

    I went from an 2001 era Athlon XP2700 to a new A10-7850k with a new motherboard with a different chipset, went from NVidia to AMD video, and it all booted up fine on my original Linux SSD with no reconfiguration or reinstall.

  21. Abhishek Jha
    February 8, 2014 at 7:25 am

    For those who want all by spending less money... its possible to have all - mac, windows, ubuntu, chromiumos(opensource version of google chrome os) and android on a "mac mini" or "macbook air" itself as you can have all 5 bootable os on startup or alternatively you can use the rest 4 os except mac os to run on VMWare on top of mac os, thus you will spend less money and get the best of all os in a genuine way too.

    Also, For those wanting iPad's iOS , I would recommend that since you already got a "mac air laptop or mac mini pc" above, so you should rather buy an iPhone which has the iOS, touchscreen and attachable keyboard like in iPad and you additionally use it make a call and can carry it in your trouser pockets too which you can't do with your iPads yet.

    Tell me if you like this recommendation!

  22. John
    February 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Using FreeBSD.

  23. Josh Waggstaff
    February 5, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Fuck Winders...and all that other shit too.

    Linux baby!! It's the best!

  24. Will
    February 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Linux is absolutely great, but it can't play specialist software, unless you have a Windows computer or spare Windows cd lying around. However its still a very good option if you mostly use your computer for browsing the web. Because Windows is slow and bloated though, I would ideally dual-boot Zorin Linux (a speedier version of Ubuntu) and Windows 8.

    Chrome OS is good if you have a spare Windows PC because it's so fast. The Android and Ipad solutions miss out on a whole load of programs, so again it would only be a viable solution for me if i had a spare PC to go with it.

  25. Richard N
    February 5, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Ubuntu all the way, with Steam for Ubuntu and Nvidia picking up their Linux game, gaming on Linux is rising fast! It's still not as vast as windows but it is a much better OS, a lot of hardware is supported now but not all of it. I literally plugged my Epson printer in and it was ready to print within seconds, I had to do nothing at all what so ever! In windows I would have to search through the internet to find the latest drivers or use the disc with the old drivers which I had lost. With Steam OS for Linux in beta now, they're bringing a lot of hardware attention over to Linux.

    Ubuntu boots faster than Windows 8.1, doesn't need to defragement, is bloatware free, all the programs that are available for it are growing and are as easy to install as installing an android app, it even updates everything in one place and doesn't force you to restart, shutting down when you're in the middle of your work because you didn't notice the warning pop up, Windows is so far behind here! My parents aren't very familiar with computers but they both grasped Ubuntu pretty fast and now they can do more with it than with Windows and their computers after over a year still boot as fast as when it was first installed, unlike windows which just slows down over time.

  26. Terry
    February 4, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    I was disappointed by the lack of an explanation of open source = transparency (especially with recent revelations).

    Also a mention of license agreements as they relate to both restrictions and rights would have been nice. Some EULAs comes with potential deal breakers "Binding arbitration clause" combined with "Class action waiver" for example.

  27. Anonymous
    January 31, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    All of the major OSs (Win, OS X, Linux) are good in their own way. If you do not mind the quality of the hardware, want an OS that does most things or perhaps work with a particular specialist application, and you're happy to live with some issues, like virus subscriptions, non-standardisation of interfaces, non-intuitivenes and a bloated system then Windows is a good choice.

    If you are particular about the quality of your hardware, a smooth and powerful OS that is also easy and seamless to use, then I bet you would be looking to OS X.

    Linux is free and gives you the same power you would find on a mac and extends this by allowing you to dabble into the guts of the system. This is usually a priority for power users, but if you do not require this ability, you may find it a lot less intuitive and straight forward for everyday use.

  28. andy03
    January 30, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Only Linux. Possibly FreeBSD.
    In any case no window

  29. Albert
    January 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Meanwhile a number of people around me changed to Linux (mostly Ubuntu and Linux Mint). No virus threats, free, and it does everything normal users need and it can do what geeks want, if they want. After having used Windows 95/98, and all follow ups I changed to Linux a few years ago and never regretted it. And the same for those around me who did the same.

  30. dragonmouth
    January 27, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    " it’s hard to recommend a Ubuntu laptop to someone who isn’t seeking out Linux for a particular reason."
    It's just as hard to recommend a Windows or Apple laptop to someone who isn't seeking them for a particular reason.

    "Traditional desktop Linux has also been helped by the shift to web-based applications."
    Will you already stop with the FUD! There are dozens of user-friendly distributions, besides *buntu and Mint, that, for years, have come with all the local desktop applications anyone would want or need. When you install OS/X or Windows 7/8, that is ALL you get, an operating system, no appliucations of any kind. OTOH, when you install a Linux distribution, you get a complete turnkey system with all the apps you have to pay for with the other O/Ss.

    "If all you need is a web browser, you can get by with Linux"
    If all you need is a web browser, you can get by with Windows or OS/X-based PC but it would be a waste of money. I would strongly recommend a Chromebook. The only problem then is that you become a slave to the Google empire.

  31. jay hooly
    January 27, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    I was a Windows guy for many years but I hated the versions that followed XP so I simply stayed with XP until it became more hassle than it was worth. My machine dated back to 2001 and I wasn't prepared to ditch it just because XP was fading into oblivion. So .. what would run well on 10 year old tech so that I could march on until I was ready to invest in new gear? There was one workable answer to that question: Linux. So I made the jump, first to Ubuntu then to Mint, and I've been pretty happy ever since.

    We tried a Netbook with Win7 and immediately wiped it and installed Linux on it. Then we bought a beefy octo-core i7 "laptop" with Win8 on it but that sucked so bad that we'd again wiped the machine and installed Mint before the sun had set. So it's been two years and I guess I'm a Linux guy now.

    Sure Linux has its issues, chief among them (for us) being quirky hardware compatibility, but considering the alternatives I think that for today at least it's the best place to be. The breadth of choice is staggering, the accomplishments of the community are epic, and if you accept that nothing is ever perfect you can (probably) live with its foibles.

  32. Ling Min Hao
    January 27, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I would like to choose MAC if I have sufficient money . If I need an alternative , Linux would be my choice ( Even I never use Linux deeply before , but I knew it's insanely great ! )

    Windows is great too , but it's Windows 8 user interface and the ideas of combining tablet and laptop making me stay away from it .

    I wouldn't use Chromebook as my main machine . What if I don't have internet access ? What if I need a desktop application ? Besides , tablet OS also wouldn't my first choice as I think it's pretty weird . I can't say why , but it's WEIRD

    • ASJackson
      February 9, 2014 at 6:44 am

      Classic Start is an application for Windows that will give you a Start button. You can use it on Windows 8 to replace the Metro UI. A distinguishing feature of Classic Shell is that it is customizable and restores the familiarity of past Microsoft Windows versions.

  33. AdamD
    January 24, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Desktop - Windows 7
    Touchscreen laptop - Windows 8
    Phone - Windows

    Skydrive links them all beautifully, cheap additional storage and synchronisation is seamless.

    Macs would have to be nuclear powered to even make me consider changing!

    • Kingkong
      January 27, 2014 at 8:59 am

      well said

  34. Didier
    January 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Why choose ?
    My desktop is a homemade Windows 8.1 machine, with 3 screens, used mostly for RAW photography treatment with DxO optic Pro 9 and video montage.
    One laptop is under Windows 8.1 for the kids homework and schoolwork.
    The 2 older laptops are under Linux Mint or Lubuntu for the oldest (Atom with 2MB Ram)
    In my basement there is a Linux server with 4 2TB hard disks. It stores and distributes data across the whole house, in SAMBA for Windows machines, NFS for linux, UPNP Server for the music and films.
    There are also 3 Raspberry PI, one used with XBMC and connected to the TV screen, its the media viewer, for films, photos and music, an other one with Linux and used only for music connected the Hifi with SqueezeBox, the third one is mostly for testing.
    3 of the 4 family smartphones are under Android, the last one in under IOS (kids ...).

    For me it is more a question of using the best OS for the job.
    And don't forget that except Windows all the other OS (IOS, Android, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome, Solaris, ...) are all derived from Unix.
    So in fact *nix is the great winner.

  35. Ion P
    January 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I use Windows XP since 2004 and the next would be Windows 7 (April 2014 - you know what I mean). Why? Well, I must confess I'm to lazy to learn Linux or any other OS...

  36. Charles N.
    January 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Hello Chris,
    For the best operating system is ElementaryOS (eOS) : Free-Libre-Open-Source-Software.
    Why?
    Simply because it starts in less than 30 seconds.
    It takes no virus.
    It shut down less than 5 seconds.
    Design It's simple and clean.
    I don't worry about updates (Long Time Support: 5 years !). Upadates aren't require rebooting.
    I'm not a gamer. So for me, eOS is the best choice. It's got a Lot of software waiting to be downloaded. What else?

  37. Yousef Weasel
    January 24, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Ubuntu is great but there are a lot of verry user friendly distro's out there to.
    One does not have to learn how to use a desktop with Linux Mint Cinnamon windows installed. All, well the most, applications are free unlike Windows or Apple software. In general all what Windows can, can Linux, but better!

    • Laure S
      January 27, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      Yousef, I share your opinion.I'm also a linux user!:)

  38. Bud
    January 23, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    For reliability and stability and ZERO bloatware, I'm more than happy I went from MicroSUCKS PC's to an Apple iMac. Don't have to contend with monthly security updates and NEVER, "knock-on-wood" bothered by viruses, trojans, malware, etc. !!!

  39. Almost a Geek
    January 23, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    You forgot to mention that an Intel Mac can install and run Windows OS and PC applications in a separate partition under Boot Camp, the least expensive way to go with the best performance. Purchase a package of Windows software with a license to install on one computer, preferably with a DVD in the event you need to reinstall. I installed Windows 7, rather than 8 effortlessly on a MacBook Pro. Follow the directions on the Apple site for Boot Camp to take you through the process. Rather than run Mac OS and Windows OS using emulation software, simply restart your Mac to exclusively run Windows at that time. You have all the high-end features of the MBP: fast processor, keyboard, touchpad, and great screen for less than a cheap Windows computer.

  40. Yosua Wisnu
    January 23, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Chris you put too much weight on Windows in this article.

  41. Keith S
    January 23, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    windows is the easy option and there is a very good reason why manufacturers are shipping more Win7s that 8s, so desktop for me is Win7. However for a portable option, the case is not so clear, for example is there any reason to have a laptop these days when Asus convertibles running Win8 give you full apps and tablet portability?

  42. Chris H
    January 23, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Valve and Steam are hopefully changing that. SteamOS/Steam Machines are based on Linux, so all games that support Steam OS will support desktop Linux. More games support Linux than ever, so we could see big improvements in the next few years.

    Gaming was the main reason I switched back to Windows after using Linux as my main operating system for years. Got sick of dual booting or messing with Wine.

  43. Shawn
    January 23, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I agree there are some things you just can't install on Linux; however, the opposite is also true. If you have two machines, Linux should be on one of them.

  44. John C
    January 23, 2014 at 5:25 am

    I'd love to be able to switch to Linux for good, sadly though, I'm a gamer and for certain games I play, there is no support. Not even with Wine or any other options. So Windows 7 it is, unless Windows 9 ends up being better.

  45. hiteckee
    January 23, 2014 at 1:27 am

    What if your budget requires stretching the life out of PCs you already own -- but their Windows XP operating systems are approaching end-of-life in April? Would you consider installing (free) Linux as an alternative to worrying Microsoft will never update the OS?

    • Pinner Blinn
      January 23, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      This is probably the best use of Linux. Obviously this article is about buying a new PC. But so many of us out there can't drop $400+ every three or four years. I'm using a 5 year old Toshiba laptop that I got when a buddy of mine upgraded. Ubuntu runs on it like new. Granted, I'm not a gamer, but I am a sysadmin that watches a lot of online movies and TV and does graphic design on the side. Honestly, my computer needs haven't changed a lot in the last five years. And if I happen to drop my laptop in a lake, I'm no worse off than when I started. I'll just pull another one out of the trash.

  46. Manuth C
    January 23, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Those 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets cost just around $300, why would anyone choose a Chromebook if they're on a budget?

    • dragonmouth
      January 27, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Because Chromebooks are laptops, are cheaper and come with a real keyboard. A keyboard for Win 8.1 tablets is a $100+ accessory.

    • Manuth C
      January 29, 2014 at 5:10 am

      You can just plug any USB keyboard (or maybe along with an OTG cable if it lacks a full size USB port) and both cost <$10

  47. Rick
    January 22, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    The Linux operating system is obviously the best- free OS, free software that is compatible with Windoze, and no virus threats. The many flavors of Linux Ubuntu are very user friendly. Download a version, save to disk or flash drive, then try it for yourself. You don't need to install it on your hard drive if you don't want to, it will run right from the disk. If you do decide to install it, it'll take less than 25 minutes. I've been using Linux since 1998. Try it, you'll LOVE it!

    • Chris H
      January 23, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Someone pointed out to me that I was a little harsh on Linux. I actually used Linux as my main desktop PC system for many years, and I like it. That said, I'm not really an evangelist -- if you know you want Linux, that's awesome. If you're interested, take a look! But I'm not really going to try to sell it to someone who's not interested, especially when officially-supported Linux hardware is so rare.

    • dragonmouth
      January 27, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      "But I’m not really going to try to sell it to someone who’s not interested,"
      But you are trying to sell a Windows or OS/X PC to someone who is not interested.

      "especially when officially-supported Linux hardware is so rare."
      I will take unofficial, user-group support any day over the official Windows and OS/X support. Linux support, official and unofficial is quicker to respond to any problems, and is more accurate. You communicate either with the developers or with the users, not with some Trouble Center in Pakistan, India or Bangladesh.

  48. Bruce E
    January 22, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    For a gaming system, Windows is the only real option (after it has been stripped to the bare essentials). For anything else, it will be anything EXCEPT Windows because of the inane games they like to play. Their support overall sucks more than ever, their design decisions with the OS are pretty stupid (hard drive read or write errors are not reported to the user and it doesn't appear to use SMART data at all both of which could be used to let the user know that a drive is failing, shuts down functioning applications it thinks have stopped working even when they haven't, starts background processes at seemingly random intervals which interfere with foreground processes etc.), they do not provide an effective means of communicating with them about problems with their products and websites and when you do find their hidden links for bug reporting the only thing you will ever see from them is an automated response that they received it - they don't actually fix the problem in most cases. I really doubt they even read those submissions. There is also the cost of their bloatware to consider as well. And that's just for starters.

    For my primary systems at this time, it will be a Linux distro riding on the hardware. Even though there are still hardware vendors that prefer to only provide drivers for Windows and Macs there are enough to make a reliable Linux box with everything most people need for daily computing and then some: Office suites, audio/video recording, editing, and playback, photo manipulation, email, web browsing, video conferencing, and much more. In most cases, the software is free of charge and while some packages may not have as many features as commercial products for Windows or Mac, they are generally complete enough feature-wise that most people won't miss anything. Add to this the difference in the number of viruses written every year to target each platform and the better overall security model of Linux over Windows and it becomes a no-brainer.

  49. Andrew Brian A
    January 22, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Man you definitely should have made mention of Windows 7. It's still got more users than Windows 8 and certainly does a better job. Personally choosing an OS is very tricky now. Would always go with Windows 7 but with 8 out there it's still getting outdated. Nevertheless in my opinion Windows gives the user much more control of the system, something which Mac OS seems determined to eliminate.
    Windows 8 is just a very very confused attempt. It's actually a very good OS!(For a tablet that is). I appreciate your likes and comments.

  50. Rick
    January 22, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Linux is free, has no viruses, and has comparable and compatible software to Windoze. The various Ubuntu flavors are VERY user friendly. You can install it and have it up and running in less than 20 minutes. You don't even need to install it to your hard drive, most versions run right from the disk or flash drive. Then you can decide whether you might like it. Try it, you'll like it!

    • zoomer296
      February 8, 2014 at 3:53 am

      Anything can get a virus, it's just a simple fact that Linux has very few viruses. (Linux is on around 2-3% of desktops while Windows is on about 87.5%. People have to code a virus, and if they were to do that; why not do so for a larger group of people?)

    • jagmint
      April 19, 2015 at 11:50 am

      yes GNU/Linux is the best!

  51. Kylee K
    January 22, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    I can definitely tell you I will be staying away from Mac and Chrome OS's.

  52. Jimmy
    January 22, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    I moved to a macbookpro to escape the bloatware and drivers issues I always had with Windows 7. It was one of the first machines to come stock with SSD's and still had firewire800 + thunderbolt. I don't mind paying a premium to escape the day to day pain of antivirus scans, driver updates and poor stock backup solutions.

  53. Kundan Raj Bhattarai
    January 22, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Well for me since windows desktop are cheaper than Mac computers so I would buy a Windows computer and of course I would install windows 7 if I don't have a touch screen computer. But I would love to try the improved advanced version of Windows 8. I love Window 8. I feel that the booting time of Windows 8 is faster than other version of Windows.

  54. Jorden
    January 22, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Windows of course. Nothing will come close.

    • Mike M.
      February 12, 2014 at 3:20 am

      That's one opinion I guess. I've never needed windows, last one i paid for was xp, still use it now and then, but Linux will do anything you need it to do and then some and it doesn't cost you an arm and a leg. I know so many people that use windows because they had to and always had to have help with problems. You have problems with ANY OS, that's a fact that can't be denied. At least with Linux I didn't have to pay for the privilege to have problems. And I actually have the same amount or less with Linux. I think anyone should do their homework in life and not base your decision on any one person's opinions. They need to actually try different things and have an open mind about it. You'll be surprised how easy the newer distros of Linux really are to use. Too many people live in fear of trying anything new, windows was forced on the public illegally and gained a solid foothold on the business, that's for sure. That doesn't mean they should keep people in fear of getting out from under the corporate thumb of microsoft, or any other corporation. If one feels they prefer windows over other OS's then that's fine, if they prefer Mac OS that's fine, if they prefer Linux over other OS's then that's fine too. That's what life should be about, freedom to choose. Too many people are giving up their freedoms out of fear of trying to learn something new or experiment and learn for themselves how things truly are. Once enough people are using other OS's then more software and hardware will follow geared towards that OS, thereby taking away the unfair monopoly microsoft has enjoyed for so long. Always try and keep an open mind, no matter which one you decide to use.

    • jagmint
      April 19, 2015 at 11:49 am

      GNU/Linux is extremely better than any windows OS. The last windows i used was windows 7 and i liked it. But I have been using GNU/Linux OS for a long time and i can tell how greatly improved it has become. GNU/Linux is very easy to use than any windows and mac counterpart. Macs have great hardware and software because both ar made by single company. But imagine hundreds of hardwares are manufactured and the manufacturers themselves write the drivers and codes needed to run them on windows.

      But in GNU/Linux majority of the code and drivers are written by community of people whom the corporations and hardware manufacturers don't pay....This is the spirit of community! I will prefer always GNU/Linux over any commercial OS, not because it is better (well, it is better!) but because i feel part of the community, feel cared about....

      I request you to try out some GNU/Linux OS. you can run without installing it. recommend you GNU/Linux Mint, if you are a newbie!

  55. John
    January 22, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Great article. In addition to iPads With Keyboards, I'd suggest a Windows Tablet with Keyboards section too. Windows 8 tablets (available from various vendors) offer the portability of an iPad but also have the ability to run desktop applications and multiple windows just as a Windows desktop does.

    Windows tablets generally do not have the processing power of a laptop, so they may not be a direct laptop replacement for some people, but for most folks a Windows tablet is a viable solution at a very reasonable price.

    • Chris H
      January 23, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Thanks, I tried to be fair here. Many new Windows laptops are indeed convertibles and can be used as tablets, so that's interesting.

  56. Henk van Setten
    January 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Well... I would at least have mentioned the option here of going for Windows 7, which at the moment still is the most efficient Windows OS for laptops and desktop PCs, and one that in all probability will remain available (if you are prepared to do just a little searching) until a better Windows 9 arrives. It's not for nothing that HP, "by popular demand", last week re-introduced laptops with Windows 7!

    • Chris H
      January 23, 2014 at 11:39 am

      True enough. Windows 8 and 7 are pretty similar, though -- and most people are familiar with Windows 7 now!

    • Benny
      February 3, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Windows 8 is brilliant, they way the metro overlay works incredibly useful.
      Yes the propaganda want to hate it.
      But really nobody needs to buy Win 7.
      Before you say anything one should try to work with Win 8.
      Every smart company moved to Win 8 because its useful.
      In the end, there isn't even much of change from normal Windows.
      And in my experience Win 8 will most of the time outperform Win 7 even on
      the worst Laptop.

    • John
      February 16, 2014 at 10:54 am

      This is just incorrect. Windows 7 is far far far more limiting to productivity than 8 or 8.1

    • Henk van Setten
      February 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Oh really, John? Gee... I beg you, do tell me why the Win8 UI (where novice users tear the hairs from their head just figuring out how to close an app, or how to shutdown) is better for productivity than Win7...

    • johnny
      February 28, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      I am still using Windows 95.