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OS 101: Suggestions for Choosing an Operating System

Written By: Josef Delinga

An operating system (abbreviated OS) is essentially the path through which a computer accesses files, games, the Internet, and all vital stored information. The OS is the most important program on a computer because it runs all of the other programs. The major operating systems are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Unix. The operating system is essential to the computer, and so extreme care should be taken when choosing an operating system.

Consider Its Use

Consider what operating system will be used for. If the OS is for a business, an operating system that can handle important business data should be selected. If the OS is for a college student, one might consider an OS that is optimal for gaming, yet still has a nice word processor. Finally, if the operating system were for a new computer user, then a user-friendly, simple OS would be best. Knowing this, one must also consider what software is available for the operating system. Some software is only available on certain computers. This often leaves Macintosh OS X, Linux, and Unix in the dark because most of the computer market runs on Microsoft operating systems. Most computers come standard with a certain operating system (Apple computers have Mac OS X and most PCs have Windows XP). Therefore, it is sometimes important to consider the OS even when selecting a computer.

Security

Security is the biggest priority for many computer users, especially businesses. Some OS have stronger security than others. Macintosh has been called the iron man of operating systems because of its ability to keep hackers out, while Windows has been criticized for being easy to hack. Do not let security completely deter you, however. Most operating systems can be hardened and with constant security updates, made safer from hackers.

Pros and Cons of The Big Four

Every operating system has its positive and negative elements. There is no perfect operating system. Keeping this in mind, consider the most common operating systems (Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, and Unix). Mac OS X is great for keeping out hackers and for graphic design. However some problems are the fact that certain software is not available for Macs. If the OS is for a college student who would rather play Half-Life 2 than study, then Mac OS X is not the best choice. Windows is very good for compatibility, since most consumers use Windows. Windows also comes with applications like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, Windows is weak against viruses and can get bogged down easily. Unix is good for networks, especially if for businesses. Unix has also been around for almost 30 years, so it is quite dependable. One drawback of Unix is the cost, which can sometimes be a bit expensive. Unix is also complicated, which can confuse beginners. The final OS, Linux, is free and completely customizable. However, one major drawback is the extreme scarcity of applications for Linux. Microsoft and other software developers are often very reluctant to release their products for Linux.

Conclusion

Whatever operating system one chooses, it needs to be the system that will best fit the needs of the consumer. All operating systems have good and bad elements. Understanding how each system works, and the systems pros and cons is a must for anyone deciding on a computer and OS. An OS selection based on research and understanding will certainly yield the highest satisfaction.

About the Author

Josef Delinga loves writing about computers and CEOs, especially Steve Jobs and Apple Computers.

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