Technology Explained

Which Operating System Should You Choose for Your Next PC?

Georgina Torbet Updated 20-12-2019

Buying a new computer? You have more operating system choices than ever. Windows is still popular, but Macs are a great choice for creative professionals. Google offers Chromebooks that are simple and cheap, and Linux laptops are an option, too.


But what is the best operating system for your 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.

Should You Use Windows?

Is Windows the best operating system for your PC?

Windows is the most familiar operating system to most users. Microsoft released latest version, Windows 10 4 Best Ways to Upgrade From Windows 7 to 10 Before 2020 Windows 7's end of life is fast approaching. Upgrade from Windows 7 to 10 before January 2020, we show you how. Read More , in 2015, and it is a considerable improvement over previous versions such as Windows 8. The advantage of Windows is that is has a very broad range of software available. All kinds of software is available for Windows, from business software to home computing apps.

The disadvantage of Windows is that it does have security issues, as it is the target of a large amount of malware. If you’re going to use Windows, it’s important that you keep your operating system up to date.

One group of people for whom Windows is the best OS is gamers. If you like to play games, especially AAA titles, then the best operating system for your PC will be Windows. The selection of games available on Linux and macOS is getting better, especially since the launch of Apple Arcade and Steam bringing support platforms beyond Windows.


Should You Use macOS?

macOS on an Apple MacBook

A preferred operating system among creative professionals is macOS. Unlike Windows, which you can install on most PC hardware, macOS is generally only available on Mac hardware. (You can install macOS on non-Apple hardware to create what’s called a Hackintosh, but this is complex.) For most users who want to use macOS, they’ll need to buy a Mac machine.

The advantage of macOS is its exceptional support for creative software such as Adobe Photoshop or Premier. While this kind of software is available on Windows too, it generally functions better and has more options on macOS. Another plus point for macOS is that Apple updates it regularly, and that upgrading to the latest version of the OS is usually free. It is also less frequently targeted by malware.

The disadvantage of macOS is that Apple hardware can be expensive, with laptops and desktops costing thousands of dollars. There’s also much less free software available for macOS than other operating systems, so be prepared to spend more on software too.


Should You Use Linux?

Purism Librem 13 Linux OS

One option you might not have considered in your search for the best operating system for a laptop or desktop is Linux The 5 Best Cheap Linux Laptops to Buy in 2019 High-quality, affordable Linux laptops can be hard to find. Here are the best cheap Linux laptops available right now. Read More . Linux has a reputation for being hard to use, although in recent years more user-friendly distributions have become available.

Linux’s greatest strength is its flexibility. You can change just about anything you want in a Linux system, as long as you have the required knowledge. This is why the operating system is so popular among power users who want to perform complex tasks in an efficient way.

However, for the average user the learning curve for Linux is rather steep. Some people are intimidated by the command line. And it can take a long time before you learn the commands you need to use the operating system efficiently. For this reason, Linux isn’t well suited to less techy-savvy users.


There’s one area where Linux does absolutely shine, though—resurrecting old hardware. If you have an ancient computer which is too slow to run Windows, try installing a lightweight Linux distribution on it and you may be able to keep using it for simple tasks like web browsing and email.

Should You Use Chrome OS?

Should you use Chrome OS?

One interesting contender for the best laptop operating system is 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—that’s it. You can’t run Windows desktop software.

Chrome OS can be the best OS for laptops because Chromebooks are simple. They update automatically, sync with Google Drive for file storage, and don’t require antivirus software. Most Chromebooks cost between $200 and $300, and don’t include bloatware.


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.

Should You Use BSD?

Could BSD be the best operating system for your laptop?

An interesting and lesser-known alternative to Linux is BSD, which stands for Berkeley Software Distribution. This Unix-based system was developed for researchers, and it is open source. Nowadays, you’ll most often see descendants of BSD like FreeBSD or OpenBSD in use.

BSD systems are most useful for advanced users who prioritize functions like complex networking or a high level of security. In some ways, BSD is even more flexible than Linux and can be installed on an even larger range of hardware. The big limitation with BSD is that there’s not a lot of support for it from third-party developers. So much familiar software you use every day won’t run on a BSD system.

Dual Booting OSes and Virtual Machines

One option to consider if you can’t decide on an OS or if you like features of more than one OS is a dual boot. This is where you install two (or more) operating systems onto one machine. When your computer boots up, you can choose which operating system you’d like to use for that session. This gives you the opportunity for the best of both worlds.

For example, you could install Linux for your primary productivity tasks, then also have Windows available for gaming. However, there are risks associated with dual booting Linux and Windows 7 Risks of Dual Booting Windows and Linux Operating Systems Dual booting Windows and Linux is a productivity boost, but isn't always plain sailing. Here are seven dangers of dual booting that you should be aware of before installing a second operating system. Read More that you should be aware of.

Another option if you only need a few functions from a different operating system is to run a virtual machine. This is where you run a different operating system virtually, inside your main operating system. To learn more about these options, see our guide to dual booting versus virtual machines Dual Boot vs. Virtual Machine: Which One Is Right for You? If you want to run multiple operating systems on one machine, you can either dual boot or use a virtual machine. But which option is better for your case? Read More .

Which OS Should You Choose?

We’ve covered a number of different options for the best computer operating system 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 on which operating system you should use and helped you eliminate a few choices.

Comparing all these operating systems is a tough task. If you’re unsure whether you should opt for Windows or go with one of the many Windows alternatives 11 Free Alternatives to Windows Operating Systems Does Windows cost too much? Here are several alternative operating systems. Linux is just the beginning! Read More available, you should probably go play with these operating systems in person. Try using a friend’s PC, working with a display laptop at a store, or dual booting Linux on your current machine.

Related topics: Buying Tips, Chrome OS, Linux, Mac, macOS, Operating Systems, Windows 10.

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  1. Davin Peterson
    December 20, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    The problem with MacOS is that Apple doesn't allow it to be installed on any computer the way you can with Windows. They limit it to just their Macintosh computer and Apple does not allow clones they way PCs are.

  2. dragonmouth
    December 20, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    "Dual Booting OSes and Virtual Machines"
    There is a third option which you have not mentioned and that is using a caddy with removable trays. Each tray contains an HDD with a different O/S. Each time you plug in a tray, The O/S has the entire system all to itself. It does not have to share any of the resources (as in a VM). You also do not have to worry about the order in which you install the O/S or that an O/S might selfishly overwrite the boot sector.

    • Janna Grant
      April 6, 2020 at 2:27 am

      thanks for adding that.... its very interesting. If you notice anything else or have any help for someone like me, please let me know. My name is Janna, I grew up with computers but didnt keep up with them. I can type fast worked at banks sand mortgage companies, i know spome things but not about my personal pc. its the lenova idea pad s340 idea pad 15.6 inch display its touchscreen. its pretty cool. i plan on putting together my oun tower soon too. so if you have a recommendationof any kind. thanks!


    • Julisa
      April 11, 2020 at 6:50 pm

      So interesting!! Thank you for sharing that!!

  3. Inga Jenkins
    September 23, 2018 at 2:32 am

    I am still not sure which I will choose. I am interested in Linux, but need to make sure I do well with learning how to operate the system.
    I think I would like to have more than one system. I have used Windows for so long it is a must.

  4. Jacob Fields
    May 16, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Maybe a bit behind the game, but here's my experience:
    If you want to play games, this is pretty much the way to go. Yeah, the market for Mac and Linux gaming is a lot bigger than it was ten years ago, but most big titles make it to Windows first and might be released to Mac OS later on. Linux is almost always an afterthought.
    Windows is also pretty easy to work with and flexible enough for most uses. It comes preinstalled with bloatware, so you have to go and remove that manually, which is a bit of a drag. Despite what the Linux people will scream (as I will discuss below), Windows has far better hardware compatibility for modern hardware. If privacy is a concern, you probably shouldn't be using Windows, though. Microsoft collects a lot of information, and you do stand the biggest risk of getting a virus (although I've only seen it once personally). Avoid sketchy sites and install a reliable antivirus and you'll be fine.

    Mac OS:
    My experience with Mac OS is pretty limited. Software compatibility isn't nearly as big of an issue today as it used to be (the journey to x86 is largely responsible for that), and the UI is sleek and refined, but I've never found it to be any more intuitive or user-friendly than Windows, just different.
    You'll have to shell out a pretty penny for a machine that runs Mac OS. You can build a comparable machine for appreciably less than an iMac costs, and there are plenty of reliable laptop vendors that provide better hardware for a similar price. I've found Dell's XPS line to be pretty good competitors.
    Mac OS's best qualities are actually its most ignored by Apple: it's based off of Unix (OpenBSD) and can be set up to play quite nicely with Linux libraries with relative ease. I've known a lot of scientists in particular that use Macs because they can be used somewhat like a Linux machine without the headaches of actually using a Linux machine.
    In terms of usability, I've never seen a Mac do anything that a Windows machine couldn't except write apps for iOS. Some things might be easier on a Mac, and some might be easier on Windows. Your mileage may vary.

    Most of my computing experience outside of Windows is with Linux, usually variants of Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise. While there are versions of Linux (Ubuntu and its variants, particularly Mint and Elementary OS, come to mind) that are as user friendly as Windows or Mac OS, most Linux operating systems are not designed to be easy email machines and word processors. If you use Linux, it's usually for a reason. Servers, high-end workstations, and supercomputers almost universally run some flavor of Linux because they are easier to customize and develop for. A lot of programmers and scientists use Linux because it's extremely flexible and easier to manipulate than a Windows or Mac OS system, but that flexibility usually comes at the price of user-friendliness. Some packages need to be compiled specifically for the machine, which means they usually work quite well, but it's often a little more involved than just running an installer.
    Hardware compatibility is sketchy at best, so if you're intent on using Linux, it's best to design your system around Linux's capabilities rather than the other way around. Legacy support is usually better than Window (limited) or Mac OS (nearly non-existent), but drivers for newer hardware are often unreliable, and drivers for obscure hardware usually don't exist. To install Ubuntu as a dual-boot on one of my machines, I was forced to disconnect my DVD drive, install an extremely slow wrapper to use the Windows driver for my wireless card (which had no Linux driver), and choose between an open source driver for my graphics card (a GTX 970) that crashed the computer on shutdown or the official NVIDIA driver that made it impossible to boot up. On a new laptop, I could install any flavor of Linux on it, but I would be forced to disable the Intel Rapid Storage feature that speeds up the hard drive by using a small solid state as a cache. As a final example, I saw it take a week for a computational physics PhD student and his adviser to get RHEL 7 running on a workstation that originally ran RHEL 5.
    That being said, I've had friends install Linux on their machines with absolutely zero problems. It really just depends on your hardware.

    • dragonmouth
      December 20, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      "most Linux operating systems are not designed to be easy email machines and word processors"
      Even in 2018, when you wrote your post, out of the almost 300 active distributions in the DistroWatch database, only about 10 are not designed to be easy email machines and word processors. Those are the DIY distros such as Linux from Scratch, Arch or Gentoo. Even distros not based on Ubuntu are so easy to install and easy to use for email , word processing and many other tasks that you could let your grandmother use them.

      "but that flexibility usually comes at the price of user-friendliness"
      Again, HORSE MANURE!
      I have used many distros and can count on the fingers of one hand the ones that were not user friendly. They were the DIY distros.

      "Some packages need to be compiled specifically for the machine"
      Yes, there are some but they are for a very specific use, as in science labs or specific industry use. General use packages need no compiling; their executables are available from the distro repositories for easy GUI install.

      "Hardware compatibility is sketchy at best"
      You do believe in shoveling a lot of manure, don't you?
      That MAY have been true at the turn of the century/millennium. I remember have more problems installing hardware on W2K and XP than I had on contemporary Linux distros. Less problems with hardware drivers is one of the reasons I switched to Linux.

  5. mark munneke
    January 22, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    If over 70 % of people were using chromebooks running chrome OS then we would have herd immunity from all the crackpots using viral software to terrorize computer users. If you learn to use the cloud this is the way to go. No viruses, no backups, no need for updates, and super cheap.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • David Michaels
      June 22, 2018 at 7:52 am

      Have you heard the myth that Macs don’t get viruses? And how about that myth that Macs are more secure than Windows? Basically, adhering or believing any of these two myths would be akin to exposing yourself to security breaches quite easily.

      These myths ride of the fact that Mac OS is targeted less frequently by malware and adware than Windows OS. Why? The answer is a no Brainer!

      Windows is by far, the most popular OS on the planet with a mind-boggling 89% share of the OS market. Mac OSs shouldn’t even be considered at second place as they are installed in just a paltry 8% of the systems globally. And this difference in popularity fuels the aforementioned misconceptions like wild fire.


  8. 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.

  9. Anonymous
    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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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: ODosta Store
    So I bought it, working well.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

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

    Linux. Mint or PC Linux for noobs.

  23. 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.

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

    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.

    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

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

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

    Using FreeBSD.

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

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

    Linux baby!! It's the best!

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

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

    Only Linux. Possibly FreeBSD.
    In any case no window

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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

  39. 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.

  40. 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...

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

    Hello Chris,
    For the best operating system is ElementaryOS (eOS) : Free-Libre-Open-Source-Software.
    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?

  42. 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!:)

  43. 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. !!!

  44. 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.

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

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

  46. 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?

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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!

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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!

  60. 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.

  61. 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.