There are several options when it comes to choosing an operating system for your computer. Of course Windows is the overwhelming heavyweight in the market place and it is not a bad choice in some ways, especially for those not interested in the nuts and bolts of things. Also looking for users are Linux, BSD and Leopard.
The good side of Windows is that it is made to operate programs. The rich variety of software that works here is a huge selling point. You do not have to be a programmer or even a techie to be a user. Everything comes from a disc or a download. Click the install button and away you go. Word processors, Spreadsheets, Games, Synthesizers, Photo Editors, Art Creators, Email Handlers, Bookkeepers and Website Makers are some of the most common. Then there are the not so popular yet also intriguing out of the mainstream volumes such as File Converters, Iso File Makers, Virus Hunters, Adware Killers and endless utilities you may discover once you start looking. There is a small utility that saves clips (as many as you want) that can be pasted so you do not have to retype all the time.
That's the good side of Windows. Just so you know it's not all roses and candlelight you should know there are some drawbacks too. Everything you do on Windows should be backed up regularly. Why? Because just about the time your five week project is within a few paragraphs of completion, Windows will have a hiccup and lose the whole thing or some virus will erase your hard drive, or you'll press the delete button accidentally. Boom, it's all toast. Another thing about Windows is that it's already programmed, you have to accept it as it is. If it does not have a feature you need, you're out of luck. If the button arrangement is not convenient (although there is some flexibility), you must adapt. Do not need all the bells and whistles? Your stuck with them. Then there are the slow days when it all just seems to sit there and mock you taking it's sweet time. It's no wonder someone sometimes tosses one out the 10th story window.
So, what are the other options? Well, first is Leopard which is the Macintosh operating system. Macintosh is made by Apple Computers. If you do not know who Steve Jobs is, you must live in a dark and deprived world. Macs, as they are known, cost a little more than others systems (about twice the price of a Windows machine). I will tell you right here that I have yet to meet a Mac user that has a bad word to say about his or her machine. If you get one, you are actually guaranteed to love it. They are the choice of graphic artists almost universally. The local ad sheet for the city is made on them, so they make commercially viable tools.
The negative side. Not a lot really. There is not much software made for them, but the ones you get are extremely well made. A lot of the less popular stuff does not exist for Macs. That along with the higher price are the main hits.
Another option is Linux. The Linux operating system is actually free at this time so the price is right. There are many flavors (versions) of Linux, so you do not have to use the same thing everyone else has. Some that I know of are:
* Red Hat
* Damn Small
Each one has advantages and limitations because they are geared towards a certain area such as games or internet or servers. They have a ways to go to become popular, yet are making great strides in market share. Also, if you can do the programming, Linux offers wonderful access to the code. In the last year or so, it has become quite easy to obtain and install Linux on any computer. In fact it will coexist right alongside Windows, so now there is little excuse for not trying it out. They offer a GUI similar to Windows and Leopard which is quite intuitive. Some software is quite comparable to the larger fish. OpenOffice will take Office on and come through looking pretty good. Gimp has a learning curve, but can do much of what Photoshop does for free.
The downside is that Linux is just not as developed. It is a terrific platform for geeks that love to swim through code and troubleshoot glitches. The creative potential is unlimited which is the main drawback at the same time. Most people want something ready to go, not something they have to create before they can operate. The number of programs (though growing) is quite limited.
The last of our operating systems to consider is BSD. Just like Linux, it is free (though there is a commercial version). The major selling point is that it is the most modern system. It does not have the backward compatibility issues of Windows. So many advances in hardware have been made since windows was introduced that you would not believe some of it. BSD was created to take advantage of these advances. It has the most potential of all these systems because of it's modern design. It is quite compatible with and similar to Linux, just more modern.
That at the same time is it's biggest problem. Most of the accessories that go with an operating system (software and interface) are lacking at this time. It's like having a Ferrari engine and framework without the rest of the drive train.