Window, Mac or Linux – how do I choose?

Which computer choice is the right one for meWhat’s your computer of choice? How do you know you are getting the best computer for you?

Looking at market share the most likely computer you are using now is a variety of Windows, or Mac or perhaps even Linux. There are lots of ways of measuring the ‘market share’ but by proportion 80-90% of us are windows users, 7% Mac Users 2% Linux, and the balance is made up of things many of us have never heard of (BSD etc).

But which is the ‘right’ operating system or computer for me?

Market share is interesting but does it tell me which computer is right for me – or just which one has the best marketing? For most of us, the answer to which one is ‘right’, boils down to personal preference and the way that you will use your computer. What is your intention for your computer? Are you a highly technical person who wants to fiddle under the hood, are you using the computer as a tool to just get a job done? What’s your budget and how much effort are you prepared to go to in order to save money? (Remembering that effort is money in some ways)

Is it important that your computer has the wow factor, or just a necessary piece of infrastructure that is always under the desk and out of site. Do you have someone around who can help you if you get stuck with some really technical problem?

Windows or “the PC”

Windows in all it's variationsWindows has the advantage of size and there are millions of developers churning out programs and utilities that allow you to do almost anything you like. With all that competition come some great deals too.

It also has the disadvantage of size where millions of hackers target it as the most likely operating system being used by their victims. The software world is a lot less controlled for Windows and you have to be careful when buying software as lots of it is low quality.

I find that Windows gives me the most balance between my need to be a techie and my need to just get on and write my documents or balance my spreadsheet. When in the corporate space I also found that many of the organisations in my sector only supported windows. So look not only at what you want but what your customers or suppliers will support.

Apple / Mac

Apple and the XOSMac is loved by Millions and while I have not used it for long periods I have found it very intuitive for the things most people want to do (and frustratingly unhelpful if you want to do something out of the ordinary). The bundled software that comes with the Mac is fantastic and most things on the Mac just work with no fuss or trouble.

Mac does tend to be higher priced but they have fantastic quality control and support services. Mac has a great way of leading you through some complex setup by filling in the most likely answers and settings – you can get into bother if you want to do something out of the ordinary.

Macs are not immune to viruses and spy ware but there are fewer hackers out there who specifically target that Mac users. Mac is inherently more secure and there are a lot fewer targets – so they aim at the Windows crowd.

Linux / Fedora / Ubuntu / OpenSuse

TLinux in all it's variationshe Super Geeky part of me loves Linux and the feeling of achievement when I get to the bottom of a particularly challenging problem with configuration. The thrifty part of me loves the ‘free’ price tag (and the business part of me knows that ‘free’ does not mean that it costs nothing – my time is money too)

If you have an old PC or laptop lying around that just won’t run the latest version of Windows then it may be perfect as a kids play machine with Linux. Most installations use a windows interface and with the basic settings can give you everything you need as a spare play machine that you don’t mind getting trashed by the kids. You can even try before you install by using a version that boots from a CD or DVD. For the really adventurous you can have a dual boot system and use two operating systems on the same machine!

The guys from ‘What You Ought To Know’ are brilliant

This inspiration for this article were two YouTube clips I found recently. These guys are fantastic and I think you will enjoy their take on this subject too. It’s funny and informative – what more could you ask for!

This first clip is on the difference between PC’s and Mac – We’re really talking about comparing Windows and Mac but the PC has become synonymous with Windows

Do you have a Linux Guru or 'Mole Man'This second clip is about Linux and the ‘mole men’ that can really make it fly. If you are using relatively up to date hardware and peripherals there is a fair chance everything will work out of the box – but you may need a mole man every now and again.

If you’re interested in where I found my statistics on market share it’s a combination of these sites with a little bit of artistic licence: Wikipedia , NetMarket Share

Whatever your choice, the wonderful thing about the internet and web resources is that they usually work regardless of what you have – unless it’s flash on the iPhone or iPad.

Enjoy your purchase!

Brian
your ‘Peoples Geek’