An operating system (OS) is the software that enables computer hardware to be utilised effectively by a human. Choosing the right one can be a complicated and confusing experience: this article weighs up some of the most popular options.
Perhaps the most widely recognised commercial operating system, Windows is used by millions on desktops, laptops, and notebooks. Versatility of the system is a key factor in its success – Windows is made to work with a spectrum of computer builds, brands, and budgets. Software by various third-party developers can easily be installed and utilised on the system by any user, and documents and data can easily be shared to other computers and platforms. Of course, catering to so many softwares can inherently lead to errors and flaws – no doubt most readers will have heard of or experienced a blue screen, crash, or virus. Those considering a Windows OS should remain vigilant on software and data being added to the system to prevent such issues.
Mac OS X
Apple Macintosh attacks the other side of the market, pandering to exclusivity: its operating system is designed solely for Apple hardware. Mac’s OS X is a sleek graphical environment, providing an aesthetically pleasing user experience. Originally geared towards graphic design, Apple packages have slowly permeated the typical family home over the last few years – thanks in part to the unwavering success of the iPod and iPhone. Having custom parts and hardware for an operating system means that it is far less likely to suffer from impaired functionality, though this does mean users are restricted to which hardware platform to use – and of course Apple can name their price. Those keen on the aesthetic side of Apple technology, and willing to spend a little extra, should consider this OS.
Linux runs through an open source community, meaning that anyone can freely contribute to the builds and features of its software. Ubuntu is fast becoming a formidable force in the OS world, with users being able to mix and match software features and functionality to create their ideal environment – all for free. The system can even be installed alongside other platforms – including Windows and Mac. The software behind Google’s Android smartphone technology is a Linux derivative – as is the recent Chromebook release – making Linux an increasingly user-friendly and cost-effective option.