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Which Operating System Reigns Supreme? -


You don’t have many choices when it comes to operating
systems, but the choice you make can have far-ranging effects on your computing
experience. The four OSes included here are the most viable options. Though that’s not a huge number, they definitely are options, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Three
of them come from gargantuan commercial tech giants, while one, the Linux-based Ubuntu,
is a free, open-source option. Windows and macOS are generally the most
powerful in terms of hardware and software options as well as interface
conveniences and utilities, while Chrome OS is more lightweight and runs on
inexpensive hardware.

Of course, if you need to run software that only runs on a
particular operating system (usually Windows or macOS), then you’re somewhat
limited, though there are ways around those obstacles with multi-boot setups
and virtualization software. For example, you can run Windows on a Mac inside
a virtual machine (VM) or dual-boot using Boot Camp. You can also create a Linux
partition on a Windows PC and boot to that when the need arises.

In this mini-roundup, we’re just talking about consumer operating
systems. We’ll leave IBM i, Suse Linux, server OSes, and the rest for another day. Even further from the scope of this article are some bizarre and obscure
operating systems
most have never heard of.

For a blow-by-blow comparison of the two leading choices,
Windows and macOS, read macOS
vs. Windows: Which OS Really Is the Best?

An operating system is the software that makes your computer
work at all. It talks to all system and external hardware, loads programs into
memory, connects to the internet, and manages storage on disks. Today’s modern
operating system includes slick user interfaces and loads of utilities, tools,
and included apps that let you do a lot without even installing third-party application
software. Those apps include things like photo editors, video viewers and video editors, web
browsers
, email clients, calendars, text editors, and music players.

An operating system also includes tools to keep your
computer running smoothly, safely, and malware-free. Most even include built-in
security features and support for VPNs.
Much of an operating system’s security and stability is maintained by an
automated update process that makes sure the system receives timely fixes to
hardware and software compatibility and vulnerability issues.

With smartphones such a prevalent part of modern life, a
good desktop operating system needs to work in concert with those devices. The cloud
(aka online storage and syncing) is another prevalent theme in today’s technology
domain, and most operating systems integrate with their own cloud services,
with varying degrees of functionality.

While Ubuntu is what’s known as Free and open-source
software (FOSS). Chrome OS is based on the company’s open-source Chromium
project, meaning volunteer coders can contribute to the code and third parties
can put out their own versions, but Chrome OS is Google’s proprietary version
of that codebase. In fact, you can’t even install Chrome OS proper on computer
hardware that’s not sanctioned by Google, something you can do with Windows
and Linux.

In our linked reviews of the four operating systems discussed
below, we take into account the following criteria, and they can help inform
your choice of OS:

As mentioned above, if you need to run software that’s only supported
by one of these operating systems, your choice is already made for you. For
example, if you want use Final Cut Pro as your video editor and Adobe Premiere
Pro just won’t do, your only option is macOS. If you want to run AAA video
games
, you’ll want to stick with Windows 10. The same holds for peripherals. You
may have a VR headset or 3D printer that only provides drivers for one type of
system.

Without further ado, read on for a summary of each of
today’s top four desktop operating system choices, in order of usage share. For
far more detail, click the links in each to read our full reviews.

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