Which Operating System should I choose for my laptop?

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In the previous discussion we focussed exclusively on hardware and very little on software. Especially we left out the operating system software which make all the hardware work together. Given its importance it deserves a separate page for discussion.

As of April 2011, as per Market Share data 88.91% of the users prefer some version of Windows Operating System, followed by 5.4% of users who prefer Mac OS while 5.69% of the users make prefer rest of the operating systems which include Linux.

So what this means to you, the potential laptop buyer?

It means, it is safe to choose Windows OS as your preferred operating system for your notebook. If you see the following reasons you will agree with me.

  1. There is a very vast pool of Windows users all over the world, Microsoft is getting a constant feedback from its users about possible improvements, the inherent problems of the Windows OS and the threats to their system experienced by the users through the Internet. Hence it is constantly bringing upgrades and updates to their products to maintain its market leadership. With constant updateds, you can be reasonably sure that your laptop runs stable over the course of its life.
  2. Also as the majority of your applications are written for Windows OS, you can be rest assured that all your appllications are well supported.
  3. In all likelihood all your peripherals have drivers written for Windows, so hassle free you can connect your peripherals to your new laptop and extend its functionality.
  4. Finally Windows OS is easy to use.

If you are now inclined to go with Windows OS for your laptop / notebook, it is good to know that Windows OS comes in two versions: 64 Bit and 32 Bit. Given a choice between the two, it is better to go with 64 Bit version. The primary benefit of going the 64-Bit route is that the OS can address memory greater than 4GB. What this means to you, as a user, is that it can result in some performance improvements.

One concern that some users have is whether their existing 32 Bit applications will run well in a 64 Bit environment. The answer is that they should. Only in rare occasions, where you have legacy external hardware devices for which the driver software is 32-Bit compatible, will you have problem connecting them to 64 Bit laptop. In such cases you may have to look for 64-Bit drivers for such devices, download, install and then connect them.

If you are with me so far, the next question is which version of Windows should you choose?

I am sure many of you have heard or experienced the relative stability and reliability of Windows XP Home or Professional and the many annoying features of the supposedly “improved” Windows Vista versions.

Now that they have become history and we are ready to move on to the current Windows 7 Operating System. Some version of Windows 7 comes standard with most of today’s PCs and notebooks. A few models offer a downgrade option to Windows XP Professional (i.e.for those of you still loyal to Windows XP).

If you are too familiar with Windows XP Home or Windows XP Professional, either at home in your existing PC or at your work place and would not like to try anything new, then you may want look for those models by by making a search here.

Compared to Windows XP, you may find the newer Windows 7 to be very different. For a start, the taskbar and the user interface in Windows 7 look different. But Windows 7 also comes loaded with a good measure of security features not found in XP.

So if you are ready for the newer Windows 7 operating system you can make a choice from one of the following three options:

  1. Windows 7 Home Premium: If you use your laptop almost all the time for entertainment and home use like watching movies, listening to music, surfing the Internet, sending / receiving emails, budgeting for home etc, then choose this.
  2. Windows 7 Professional: This will be your choice if you run a home office, or would like to connect to your office network securely from your home or anywhere away from your office to do some office work (from this remote location) or would like the convenience of backing up your data or even make complete hard drive images just so you would not loose your applications and related data then this is your choice.
  3. Windows 7 Ultimate: You want the best of both viz. Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional. i.e. you are a ‘work hard and play hard’ kind of person and would not have any kind of limitation in the way you use your notebook, then Windows 7 Ultimate is the way to go.

It should be noted that while Windows OS software is popular, it is proprietary from Microsoft and hence comes with a pay per use basis. Depending on which version of Windows 7 you choose(Windows 7 Home Premium being the least expensive,Windows 7 Ultimate being the most and Windows 7 Professional lies somewhere in between), the final price of your notebook will change accordingly.

If you are on a tight budget and can’t afford to spend on an OS, then you may want to consider those laptops that come with Linux (Open Source) Operating System. Being open source software, it is free and your whole package becomes a lot cheaper. However you may want to be informed about which version of Linux comes preinstalled on the laptop, whether it is user friendly etc. before making a decision.

Some models of laptops from Samsung and Acer that are due to appear this summer (year 2011), come preinstalled with Google’s free Chrome Operating System. They are expected to be very cheap, yet reliable and efficient. While you don’t have to pay for the Chrome OS, it it too early to assess the other cost/benefits of using this system.

A word caution here: it is better to confirm if the OS (proprietary/open source) would support all the applications/ all the hardware that you are currently using or intend to use in the near future, before committing yourself.

I believe with this little introduction we are now ready to move on to the next page.

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