Have you been having trouble lately deciding which operating system will do the work for you? Did you buy an iPhone or iPad and like it so much that you think a Mac might be your next option? Each operating system fits different demographics. Just because something sounds good doesn’t mean you’ll like it after shelling out several thousand for it.

If you just want things to work, you should probably choose Windows 7. The reasons in this case are quite simple. You’ve probably used Windows before, whether at work, home, or school, and you probably know where to find everything and what programs do what. If you keep an eye on your antivirus protection and don’t download stuff from strange websites, you won’t have to worry about malware. You have the best software option out there. Regular maintenance is required, but most of your friends and family are probably using the same system, so you’ll be able to ask them for help.

If you work in a corporate environment, chances are everyone else is using Windows too. This makes transferring work between the office and home seamless, without difficult conversions or headaches. Windows PCs usually come fully configured and can be purchased at a fairly low cost. Alternatively, if you have some computer knowledge, you can build your own machine for much less money and with less “junk” software pre-installed.

If you are an artist or musician, Mac Snow Leopard OS X has historically been and probably still is the choice for you. Other people in your industry will wear it, making it easier for you to fit in and get a job. Many relevant programs that can cost money on a Windows PC come preloaded on the Mac. Overall, the interface is fairly simple to use, so if you’re a relatively fast learner, you’ll pick up the new OS in no time, even if you have to get used to having the top menu buttons on the left.

Macs can still do everyday tasks like word processing, and if you need Windows sometimes, you can usually dual-boot a licensed version for free. Macs also get fewer viruses because they’re generally not a target, and even if they are, you have access to the free “Genius Bar” at Apple Stores for advice. You’ll have to pay a bit more to get one, but you may find it worth it.

If you are a fan of open source and you want to have your machine with only the software you need and nothing else, you can choose a Linux installation. If you already have a Windows PC, you can even install Linux as a dual boot and give it a try before committing to having it as your full-time operating system. It’s free, so it’s worth your time to try it out.

Linux is completely customizable by the user. You will be able to see all the files and install only the programs that you really need to work. You can do most of the basic and advanced tasks and you can even run some Windows programs using an emulator if you need them. Linux may not fare well in the typical workplace because, like Macs, it only supports poorer versions of the many frequently used and necessary programs that are unique to Windows PCs. However, for home use, you’ll suffer less from viruses, especially since you’ll be able to see each file and determine if it has something malicious attached to it, and your computer will be quicker to start up and shut down because it simply loads less from start to finish. Linux can do pretty much anything you want it to do, so if you want to experiment, it’s really the operating system for you.

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