What is the Best Operating System?

I am often asked which operating system is the best in my opinion. This is a tough question to answer. There is no definitive answer for all users.  All your choices have technical merits but, you really shouldn’t’t select an operating system based solely on its technical merits. You should instead select one that best suits your intended use. This list is geared toward the home user vs. the business user. Some points are valid in both environments.

Below is a list of some pros and cons of 3 of the mainstream Operating Systems in common use.  Windows Vista isn’t it the list.  Although it is the latest and greatest from Microsoft there are a couple of reasons that it was not included:

1. Corporate America has pretty much passed on this operating systems due to software incompatibilities, cost, and performance concerns.  When it was introduced, the hardware recommended, and usually bundled with it, was not really powerful enough to support it.  Windows 7, its replacement, attempts to correct this with improved core software functions.  Windows 7 has a Vista-like user interface.  If you are still an XP fan, it can run in XP compatibility mode through using a hardware virtualization system.  You need to verify that your computer supports this mode.  Not all brands and models do.

2. A legacy hardware support issues. What business wants to buy a new computer for everyone just for a fancier user interface and find out that they may have to replace printers, digital cameras, scanners, to make it all work together again?

In order to be objective I have listed the OS’s in order of market share. This list is by no means comprehensive, but will give you a good start on making the right choice.  Don’t forget to always check the system requirements of your application/hardware to make sure it will run with your choice of Operating System.

Windows XP  (Most Common, Medium Complexity, General Purpose)


  • More then 80% of the desktop computers in the world run some sort of Windows operating system.

  • You won’t have any trouble finding hardware and drivers.

  • You won’t have any problems finding support.

  • Most widely supported operating system for games.

  • Large shareware and freeware application library.


  • The most prone operating system for spyware and virus applications.

  • You are going to need support.

  • General instability due to the shear number of possible configurations.

  • Poor security.

  • Limited access to the library of free open source software.

  • Has been developed from revisions to preceding versions.  Needs a rewrite.  Microsoft has acknowledged this.

Mac OSX (Least Common, Minimal Complexity, Favored for Graphics Artisits)


  • Easier to use for the non technical.

  • Content creation is its strength.

  • More secure than Windows due to its UNIX base

  • More stable than Windows due to Apple’s tighter control over the configuration options and its UNIX base.

  • Almost no spyware or virus applications.

  • More powerful than Windows due to its UNIX base.

  • You have almost complete access to the enormous library of free open source applications.


  • More expensive upfront than other choices. Some would say this is offset by less maintenance required over the life of the system.

  • Less support. You have to go to Apple for all your hardware problems.

  • Less hardware choices than Windows. For your average user this isn’t much of a problem. All the common hardware types will work.

  • More complex than Windows due to its UNIX base. This really isn’t a major con because OSX does a great job of hiding this complexity from the end

  • Depending on your experience with other operating systems, you may have a longer learning curve.  Windows users sometimes experience this.

Linux (Common, Most Complex, Favored for Servers)


  • Runs on just about any hardware. It is a misnomer that Linux lacks the driver support of Windows and OSX. Linux actually has the broadest driver support of any system. For example it can run on your TomTom.  Since the latest and greatest hardware doesn’t usually come to Linux first, Linux drivers may not be available as quickly as Windows.  For most things this isn’t a problem. Just be aware of the issue before running out to buy the latest add on device.

  • More options than any other system. This is a pro and a con. If you want to change anything in Linux you can. The limiting factor is your need to determine the details.

  • Way more secure than Windows XP and even OSX. Fewest malware threats.

  • The Software is free. Although please donate a little something to your favorite projects.

  • If you choose to, you can always be on the cutting edge of computer science. Most new ideas in development, on college campuses across the world, are tried on Linux first. The best of those filter down to Apple and Windows.  Since what is best is subjective, Linux leaves you with a choice. Apple and Windows limit you since they are proprietary.

  • Full access to the free open source library of software. Great, full-featured, compatible, and free replacements for most your proprietary software.

  • Linux patch (service pack) management is much easier. Typical one command, or wizard, is invoked in order to update everything. In Windows you may have to get OS patches from Microsoft and third party patches from each individual vendor.  These sometimes come in bundled (service pack) form to help a bit.


  • The latest and greatest hardware is typically slower to reach Linux.

  • The shear number of options can be daunting to a non-technical user. Although, like OSX, the distribution you select will determine the level of complexity presented to you. For instance, my mom would have no problem using Ubuntu but, only the uber techies among us would opt for the Gentoo Linux distribution.

  • Limited support for proprietary applications. Although you can use Microsoft Office for Windows on Linux by using an open source version of the Windows application programing interface called WINE, I wouldn’t recommend it for the non-technical user. Instead use Open Office, which comes with the Ubuntu distribution, for creating documents compatible with Microsoft Office.

  • Limited vendor support. This is getting better. Dell now offers systems with Ubuntu pre-installed. Those sub $300 Walmart PC’s that they couldn’t keep in the stores (were from Everex) also had Ubuntu pre-installed. Although software support is under cons, I can’t really say this is a bad thing.  Linux has a massive community of people willing to help. A quick search of the Ubuntu forums will generally reveal an answer, A quick post to the forum normally gets a response.

In summary there really is not a BEST Operating System for all applications.  It really depends on what you want to do with your computer. With all the options available, choosing the one that best fits your needs can be tough.  The CCS Retail Systems Support Department can help you choose the platform(s) best suited for the purpose. Call or email us to get the details.

Hope everyone had a safe and fun Fourth Of July Weekend

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