In the last two posts, I discussed the standard Operating System (OS) choices the typical consumer faces; in this post, I’ll talk about Windows. Windows, of course, is owned by Microsoft Corporation, once the largest company in the world. Nowadays, Apple is a larger company, but this is due to the success of its smaller devices like the iPhone; Microsoft still has approximately 84% of the OS market share in personal computing.
The reasons for Microsoft’s dominance are relatively straightforward. Microsoft made good (and sometimes illegal and ruthless) business decisions a long time ago, and moved quickly to squelch any competition. Even today, though, its position is not threatened much by either of its two rivals: Apple’s Mac line or by the Linux family. Macs tend to dominate in sales among those who are relatively well-off and somewhat creative. Basically, Macs are just too expensive for the average person. Linux is for computer geeks and the chaotic nature of its family of OS’s and associated “distros” is enough to overwhelm the average consumer. For every one else, there’s Windows. And Windows works very well nowadays.
All those computer jokes about Windows crashing so often have a good deal less truth than they once had. Microsoft’s early OS’s like Windows 3.11, Windows 95, and Windows 2000 have given way to much better OS’s like Windows XP and Windows 7. Even Windows Vista, much maligned due to lack of hardware driver support when it was released and the large amount of RAM necessary to run it, is better than most of its antecedent Microsoft OS’s. In fact, Windows 7 has ten times the market share of its predecessor, Vista: approximately 47% of the overall OS market, the largest share by far. Windows 7 has a well-earned reputation for being the safest, the fastest, the most stable, and the most aesthetically-pleasing Microsoft OS to date. It’s a solid OS; lighter and faster than Vista, with all of Vista’s beauty, including the Aeroglass interface.
In short, when you consider buying a computer, you have three basic choices: Apple’s Mac line, with the current Apple Mac OS “OS X,” Linux, with its confusing myriads of non-corporately-generated “distros” such as Mint and Ubuntu, and Windows 7, the current Microsoft OS. Since you are interested in buying a laptop, though, Linux is most likely out. Finding a laptop that comes with Linux installed on it is actually quite difficult. So you’re left with two choices: buying an expensive Mac, or paying much less and buying a Windows 7 machine with superior hardware. I recommend you choose the latter and keep its operating system; it will serve you well.