First, you have to decide what you want to do with it. Are you going to use it for all your daily computing needs or are you going to install it on a second computer to play with it? Is there branded software that you absolutely need or can you settle for lesser-known alternatives?
The reason we ask these questions is simple. Not all software can be found in all alternatives. Take, for example, Dreamweaver. If you are in web development and require Dreamweaver (for whatever reason) you will soon realize that it doesn’t work in anything other than Windows. On the other hand, if you can manage with an alternative to Dreamweaver, chances are you can find one for almost any operating system.
Since we’re in the software business, we should be honest. There are many operating systems that will run on almost any hardware, but if you really want an alternative to Windows but need the same level of functionality, you probably want to use Linux. Linux has a much larger software base than most Windows alternatives and probably has better support. I’m not going to get into Linux here because there are too many flavors and variations.
Last but not least. What are you willing to put up with? When you use alternatives, you should be patient. There are very nice people out there who work a lot on these operating systems without any kind of payment. Sometimes it takes a while to get a new version of a piece of software transferred to your operating system. Take for example eComStation. New versions of Firefox and Thunderbird are usually ported, but it can often take a while after the Windows and Linux versions are released.
While this may sound scary, using an alternative operating system can be a lot of fun and rewarding. Many people spend many hours creating these operating systems as a hobby or some as a full-time job. If you find an operating system that you like, don’t hesitate to send an email to the official website telling them how much you like it.
Computer operating systems are very similar to food in which the flavors vary greatly. They are also similar to food in that not everyone needs the same types of food, nor does they want the same thing. Most personal computers belonging to the average Joe and Jane are likely to have a version of Microsoft’s Windows, while companies can support either Windows or some version of Linux. Everyone and every company uses computers for different reasons, and since the operating system is the backbone of every computer, it is important to make sure that you use the operating system that you can use the most.
For most users Windows will be the logical or even default choice. Windows has been the dominant operating system for about 20 years and is compatible with more than 98% of the software. Many Windows users do not choose Windows as their system, but since it is attached to the vast majority of new computers, these users are not aware that there are alternatives. For those who are aware of alternative operating systems, they often choose Windows as their primary operating system for compatibility reasons. Some even go so far that they install Windows next to each other another operating system, such as Linux. Windows users are happy to be part of a group that has very few compatibility problems, lots of regular updates, as well as regular major releases every few years. Windows is a great operating system for those individuals and companies who want to use their computers for everyday business, such as doing business, building websites, compiling reports, surfing the Internet and much more. Windows users also have the easiest time to find Orange County computer support when they encounter problems with their PCs.
The most popular alternative to Microsoft Windows is Linux. Although regular updates are provided free of charge to Windows users, Windows upgrades are released on average every few years and in order to maintain the ability to run the latest hardware and software, users will be asked to pay quite a steep price for new versions of Windows, which often contain nothing more than an improved/upgraded GUI and sometimes becomes more complicated for the average user. Depending on the version, Linux is generally free of charge. There is still a stigma that only technical geeks will understand and be able to use one of many versions of Linux, but with the release of Linux systems such as Ubuntu, Xubuntu, and even Kubuntu, the learning curve for Linux has been brought down. Most modern versions of Linux now not only resemble Windows, making it easier for people with little technical knowledge, but also Linux is now much more compatible with programs that used to work only under Windows. Many people who have become frustrated by the price of Windows, a vulnerability of the operating system, its ownership tendencies, and closed system have turned to Linux.
A few Windows-based programs, which do not have an alternative to Linux, can be run by Wine, a program specifically designed to run Windows applications on the Linux operating system. Although some companies can run a Linux server operating system, it remains mainly an alternative for users who want a richer and safer experience on the computer. Once, in order to get support or technical support for the Linux operating system one had to know someone who has a high level of technical skills, but nowadays even many PC repair companies in Orange County started to offer support services with many different versions of Linux.
With Windows with the highest penetration rate among individual and business users and Linux quickly gaining ground in compatibility and popularity departments, you may think there is no other operating system to consider. Apple Macintosh, however, is what some in the computer world call a sleeping giant. A Mac uses Unix, which is based on Linux and is as robust and reliable as Linux. In the past, compatibility problems have kept many people choosing a Mac over a PC, although in recent times Wine for Mac, like the version found in Linux, has become a powerful tool with which to run Windows-based programs.