The Windows operating system has almost 80 percent of the worldwide market share. macOS comes in a distant second with a little over 17 percent. And Linux hardly makes a blip at less than 2 percent.
Market share isn't everything though. Let's look at what you should consider when comparing Linux vs Windows vs Mac operating systems.
The internet has brought many changes to the world over the last couple of decades. One of those changes is leveling the playing field for different operating systems (OS) in a lot of ways.
It used to be that you had to choose the OS that let you run whatever software you needed to use in your business. For a lot of companies, that meant they had to choose Windows whether they liked it or not because that's where most business software ran.
A lot of those applications have moved online and are offered through web services now. Things like accounting software, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and even office applications like word processing and spreadsheets are available on the web.
This narrows the difference between Mac and PC systems since they can all access the web equally well. There are still plenty of things that can affect your choice though.
Windows is the most widely-used operating system in the world. The current version is Windows 10 but even previous versions like Windows 7 have plenty of users.
Windows has more applications available than either macOS or Linux, especially business-related software. Most industry-specific applications are written for Windows so if you're in an industry like healthcare or finance, you'll more than likely need to choose Windows.
In some cases, there will be regulatory requirements as well. For example, HIPAA regulations in the healthcare industry have very specific requirements and Windows has the best support for those requirements. But even then, it varies from one version to another.
For example, Microsoft has discontinued support for Windows 7, which has a bearing on its HIPAA compliance. You can learn more about this in the article at https://www.charlotteitsolutions.com/.
Using Windows as your operating system also has an impact on the computers you can choose from. Windows-based PCs cover a wide range of price and quality. You can get inexpensive PCs with the quality and reliability to match the price or you can find high-end PCs with exceptional fit and finish.
This gives you a lot more options to choose from than with either macOS or Linux. You can also get more specialized hardware in the Windows world, such as rugged laptops and convertible PCs that work as tablets or notebooks.
Apple's Mac computers have a reputation for being easy to use. In fact, one of the slogans Apple has used over the years is "They just work". They are also sustainable, and many green stores provide apple recycling services. This is still true but Windows has come a long way in narrowing the gap between the two.
In fact, they borrow from one another all the time. When Apple adds a useful new feature to macOS, it often shows up in Windows shortly after. The same happens in the other direction as well.
Software support for macOS has improved over the last decade but there's still less software available for Macs than there is for Windows. This is especially true for business software although most of the major applications, like Microsoft Office, are available on the Mac.
One of the strongest advantages of macOS compared to Windows and Linux is how closely it's tied to the hardware. Because Apple makes the computer and the operating system, they can ensure everything works well together. Many different companies make Windows PCs so there can be more problems because of the range of hardware compatibility.
From a hardware perspective, choosing macOS as your operating system means you'll be using Mac computers, which tend to need less maintenance than most Windows-based brands. Apple consistently gets the highest marks for customer service of all the major computer brands.
Mac hardware is also more of a status symbol than most PC brands. This doesn't necessarily affect how you use your computer but it has a bearing on how your customers see your business. If you're in an industry where perception is important, this may be an important factor to consider.
The biggest disadvantage of Mac hardware is the cost. Macs are more expensive than comparable Windows systems and because you have to buy them from Apple, there's no competition to drive the prices down.
Linux is a bit of an outlier for most computer users. Many people may not even know it exists.
The Linux operating system was designed to work like Unix but without the high cost-of-entry that most Unix operating systems carry. It has been around for over 25 years but has never gained a significant share of the PC market.
There are some industries where Linux has been widely adopted though, particularly for web hosting and other internet services. The internet was built on Unix and Linux was a natural fit.
Linux is also the foundation for the Android OS on mobile devices and Google's ChromeOS that powers Chromebook laptops. Google has added many layers on top of the Linux core, so it's hardly recognizable as Linux.
Linux has one big advantage over Windows and macOS - its cost. Linux is free, both in terms of the cost and in terms of its licensing model. You can download and install it on any supported PC without any charges and because it's open-source, you can make any changes to it that you want.
This flexibility is a bit of a double-edged sword though. The freedom you get with Linux also leads to it being more complex and needing more maintenance to keep it running well. Things like security updates and new features aren't as easy to install as they are with Windows or macOS.
If you have a skilled IT team or are technically inclined yourself, Linux can be a great choice but if you want to be able to rely on the company behind your operating system to keep it updated and secure, Windows and macOS are better choices.
The debate over Linux vs Window vs Mac has been ongoing for decades and likely won't end anytime soon. Much like Coke and Pepsi or Ford and Chevy, they each have their champions and their detractors.
They're all-powerful, well established operating systems so it's not about which one is the best computer for small business owners, it's about which one suits your needs. Figure out what you need to do with your computers and what software you need to run in your business and choose the OS that best meets your needs.
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