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Group test: what's the best PC operating system?

The best operating system for your laptop or PC

PC Advisor reviews the best operating systems you can install on your PC or laptop. Mac, Windows or Linux - which is best for you?

5. CrunchBang Linux

If you want a not-too-resource-intensive Linux distro for a netbook or running on an older PC, CrunchBang Linux is definitely worth a look. It's probably better for people that like to tinker with their operating system's look and feel and get things Just Right, rather than someone looking for an out-of-the-box desktop system bedecked with widgets and fancy graphics from the get-go. You should also take note of the website's disclaimer: "CrunchBang Linux is not recommended for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. CrunchBang Linux could possibly make your computer go CRUNCH! BANG!" All up, if you're the kind of user who is after a Linux distro that isn't bloated and will give you a great base for customising your system then you should think about checking it out. And we love the name.

4. Google Chrome OS

Google Chrome OS is ready for the prime-time, with additional features that make it more of a fully fledged OS, it offers a valid cut-price option for laptops.

3. Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

We're glad Apple put the brakes on marketing-driven feature bloat. Going in and overhauling the foundations and frameworks is a great idea - and something Microsoft is partly doing with Windows 7 in an attempt to woo disgruntled Vista and satisfied XP users. We're also glad that Apple is charging a relatively nominal price. Buyers might feel stung if they had to pay £100 or so for what a lot of users would see as nothing more than a lot of plumbing fixes. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, of course. If Apple's goal with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is to lay a foundation for future growth, a lot will depend on adoption, both by users and developers. The more of each, it seems, the more benefits to all. But the early signs are good.
The price of upgrading is so low that we’ve really got to recommend it for all but the most casual, low-impact Mac users. If you’ve got a 32-bit Intel Mac (that is, one powered by a Core Solo or Core Duo processor), the benefit of this upgrade will be a little less. But for most Mac users the assorted benefits of Snow Leopard outweigh the price tag. Snow Leopard is a great value, and any serious Mac user should upgrade now.

2. Microsoft Windows 7

Should you get Windows 7? Waiting a bit before making the leap makes sense; waiting forever does not. Microsoft took far too long to come up with a satisfactory replacement for Windows XP. But whether you choose to install Windows 7 on your current systems or get it on the next new PC you buy, you'll find that it's the unassuming, thoroughly practical upgrade you've been waiting for - flaws and all.

1. Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal

While it’s still largely a work in progress, the Unity interface has its attractions, and provides a more animated way to work with your computer. And even if you find the changes to drastic or the interface too buggy, the classic Ubuntu is readily accessible and more polished than ever.



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