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Linux, Mac OS X, Vista and XP: head-to-head

Operating systems at war - but who wins?

When it comes to an OS, what should you choose? Each of the four biggest players; Linux, Mac OS X, Windows Vista and Windows XP all have their merits. So we've taken four experts and asked them to defend their chosen operating systems in an opinionated free-for-all.

Why Vista beats the competition

Why is Vista better than the Mac OS X, Linux and XP? Let's start with the Mac. There's no doubt that Mac OS X is a very pretty operating system. But it also runs only on expensive, proprietary hardware, and it can't run much common software, including enterprise applications and games.

Some people claim virtualisation software such as Parallels Desktop for Mac solves that problem, but it's not true. Virtualisation software creates big problems for organisations with regard to volume licensing, technical support, creating standard enterprisewide images and so on.

And as for games, consider this: Parallels Desktop can't run even the most basic Vista games such as FreeCell, Hearts, Pinball, Solitaire and Minesweeper, because it doesn't support DirectX 9.

So if you want to pay through the nose for a computer that can run only a limited number of apps and games, go ahead and throw away your money. Do you really want to join the club of users who get a big dose of their sense of self-worth from the type of computer they use?

As for Linux, if you're a fan, feel free to fly your uber-geek badge every time you boot up, but don't expect to run your company's enterprise software, much less mainstream software and games. And do expect to become very familiar with the confusing vagaries of the specific version of Linux you've installed.

Windows XP? It's cartoonish and gauche compared with Vista, plus it lacks Vista's security, fit and polish, and extras. It's also looking backward, rather than forward. I have a dual-boot Vista/XP laptop, and every time I boot into XP instead of Vista, I cringe at what faces me.

Vista: bottom line

If you want a safe, modern operating system that will run the software you want on reasonably priced hardware without requiring an advanced degree in geekology, Windows Vista is the only way to go.

NEXT PAGE: XP's security features

  1. We put Linux, Mac OS X, Windows Vista and Windows XP: head-to-head
  2. Why Linux is best
  3. Linux: clean, friendly and powerful interfaces
  4. Apple's attention to detail
  5. The security features of Mac OS X
  6. Vista's tweakability and extras
  7. Why Vista beats other operating systems hands down
  8. XP's security features
  9. The bottom line when it comes to XP


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