The operating system choice you make is important. This article explains what an operating system is and lists types of operating system. We also look at the best operating systems.
Some operating systems are well known, some are free, and others are fast. Jump in to find out more:
An example of an operating system is Windows XP (see below image).
It's the software that loads when you switch your computer on and it allows you to run programs, such as a web browser to surf the Internet, or an office suite to write letters.
The main operating systems you'll come across are:
Windows is the most widely used operating system. These days, you'll most likely come across the following versions: XP, Vista and Windows 7. Older versions include Windows 95, 98, ME and 2000 and NT.
There are hundreds of different types and versions of Linux available. The most popular version used today is probably Ubuntu Linux, which looks like this:
MacOS and iOS
MacOS is the operating system you'll find in use on Apple's Mac computers.
iOS is the variety of Apple's operating system that you will see running on iPhones, and on their tablet computer, the iPad.
Operating System Choice: MacOS is often regarded as the easiest operating system to use.
Android is an operating system made by Google. It began life on smart phones but it can also now be seen powering a number of tablet PCs.
Google Chrome OS
Chrome is another operating system made by Google. You'll find it on a new type of computer known as a Chromebook. The operating system consists only of the web browser Chrome.
The point of a Chromebook, and of Chrome OS, is to enable a user to switch on their computer and get onto the web and connect to their cloud, as quickly as possible.
There's no such thing as "best operating system", only which you prefer most. Apple Mac computers have long been considered the easiest computers to use, due to the simplicity of the Mac operating system (which cannot run on a PC, at least not officially).
So for PC users, the operating system choice is essentially between Linux and Windows. Linux is often viewed as a techy system used only by geeks. That's simply not true, or at least it certainly isn't true any longer.
With each new release, both Windows and Linux get more powerful, they can do more, and they become easier to use. And if you're a complete newcomer to using a computer, then arguably Linux is just as easy to learn as Windows.
So the "best operating system" is a personal choice. It's whichever you like the most.
Having said that, if you have a fairly old computer (pre-2008), or you're going to buy an old PC, the best operating system for such hardware is Windows XP or a Linux operating system, such as Ubuntu. These systems will give the best performance on older hardware. Operating systems advice for newer computers follows.
Operating System Choice: Ubuntu Linux 11.04
If you're buying a new computer and you want it to be fully usable and ready to go from the moment you first switch it on, you should look for computers that come pre-loaded with an operating system. But if you don't mind getting stuck in and installing a system onto the PC yourself, there are big savings to be had.
It's important to know that new PCs that come with Microsoft Windows pre-installed on them cost more than computers that come without it.
So if you want to save money, pick a computer that comes with either Linux or No operating system. Once you've made the saving, you can always install Windows onto it yourself if you want to.
Follow this link to learn why Linux and "No operating system" computers are cheaper - and find out how you can use this to your advantage: Computers Without Windows.
This means that, when you're buying a new computer, you have TWO main operating system choice decisions:
Computers that come with Windows pre-installed cost more. But if money isn't a major factor and you've used the system before and like it, look for computers that come with Windows pre-installed.
Computers with Linux pre-installed cost less. And if you don't care what system your computer runs, so long as you can do everything you want fuss free (e.g. surf the web) you'll be happy with a Linux computer. This is a good option if money is a factor but you don't want to install an operating system yourself.
The final option is to make good savings by opting for a computer that comes without Windows pre-installed (so either one that comes with Linux or "No operating system") and then install whichever system you want. You can learn how to install Windows and how to install Linux by following the links.