Choosing your first operating system is a daunting task. With big brands dominating the market and integrating many of your devices so seamlessly, the choice often turns out to be for life, so it’s one you want to make sure you get right. So we’ve highlighted three main players who have some significant feature differences to hopefully give you a broad overview.
Widely viewed as the most practical, affordable, and robust operating system, Microsoft Windows is still the most popular globally. From its launch in the ’80s to now, Windows has dominated the market share in providing great hardware options and an enormous range in software and compatibility.
Firstly, Windows is complex and feature-rich with great customisation options on its interface. They favor the Start Menu and Taskbar, which is arguably more functional and far more streamlined from earlier versions. They also have excellent alternate input technology, such as touch screen support, tablet modes, pen inputs, and voice for text inputs. The Windows voice AI, Cortana, is also a strong feature.
The Windows operating system interface has also come a long way since 2015 when they introduced the Fluent Design System. It brought with more animations, blurring elements, and transparency, which seeks to make Windows design elements seem like they’re behaving like real-world items. The Windows interface has now begun to match that of Apple’s Mac OS (see below) for its sleek look and feel.
Such design innovation has also paved Windows’ way with their VR and 3D support. Windows 10, their latest updated operating system comes with two apps that allow you to enter a 3D or VR world, and they have a dedicated augmented reality device, HoloLens.
As for flexibility, Windows operating systems allow for significant choice in internal systems configuration, with it being possible to replace components such as CPUs, graphics cards, and storage upgrades. This makes Windows a popular and perhaps the highest-rated option for gaming. It also well-positions Windows as an ideal system for high-powered media software, video editing tools, and computer-aided design tools.
The flexible operating system also extends to external hardware, with Windows having a huge range of optional add-ons. Dwarfing the range of most other systems, Windows is also compatible with most non-Windows hardware, proudly making it even more accessible and user friendly.
Gone are the days that Apple produced operating systems for designers, publishers, or educators. Now one of the world’s largest brands, Apple’s first-ever Macintosh took the world by storm also in the 80s and was the first successfully mass-produced personal computer. It is now an extremely popular choice for all types of users for its sleek and simple design, robust security features, and user-friendly interface.
First and foremost, Apple hardware is generally famed for its design, which is simply beautiful. While, over the years, some people argued this was at the expense of its operating system and software, it is simply not true.
The most noticeable features of the Mac operating system is the interface. Notably Apple’s preference for Dock access to common shortcuts and apps, and brand consistency on their soft corners, it is also more accessible and easy to use. It comes with its built-in software features where all day-to-day tasks can be managed.
Even in the world of gaming, for which Windows has, as described above, been superior, MacOS is quickly catching up with its powerful processors, high-quality display, and cable graphics cards. They also has a growing number of games running natively on Mac.
Apple’s consistency with its Mac hardware and interface has also been a strength in their brand. The simple mobile integration makes it particularly appealing to casual users, depending on taste.
Lastly, the Mac operating system is widely seen to have much more robust built-in security features. Apple has full control of both hardware and software and easily implements new security features with each update. While, of course, they are still susceptible to viruses, features such as FileVault add a layer of encryption to protect user data. Their System Integration Protection protects the core operating system.
Now the Ubuntu operating system is something a little bit different. Backed by Linux, Ubuntu is the open-source project made primarily by the community for the community and benefits from global contributions. It is also not hardware specific and can be installed on almost any device, even Windows and MacOS.
Open-source means source code, which is freely available for all to use, modify, and distribute as they wish. This concept is in direct comparison to proprietary software such as Windows and Mac, which is licensed and, therefore, must be paid for and cannot be modified.
As open-source gains popularity, widely viewed as a better way for innovation, Ubuntu is becoming somewhat of a political choice for developers and professionals alike. Ubuntu’s robust security features, rapid speed, stability, and generally praised user interface is all as a result of open-source and is always free to use.
Now security and privacy are where an open-source operating system can really shine. Firstly Linux does not track users’ digital footprints. Another primary benefit of open-source is that security flaws are highlighted, amended, and patched quickly through the Linux vetting process. The Ubuntu operating system enjoys almost zero security issues and is factored along with MacOS as one of the most secure operating systems.
As for the Ubuntu interface, it could be likened to that of MacOS. Like with most Linux distributions, Ubuntu allows you to shunt items easily between multiple screens. The design is sleek, functional, and highly customisable – so much so that new users are able to customise their interface to that of Windows or Mac, according to what they prefer.
The Ubuntu operating system is also very efficient. By using a small number of resources on your hardware with a high degree of stability and performance, it can run nicely even on old hardware – Ubuntu is not only free but all the more accessible to the wider community using older or lower performing devices.