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SupercomputerFor desktop and laptop computers, the two mainstream options are Windows and Mac. Each one has strengths and weaknesses that may influence which is a better fit for you.

Traditionally, Windows computers have had lower prices at the low end of the price scale and have had access to much more software, while Macs have stuck to the higher end and have had less software choices available, but that’s not necessarily the case any more. Low end Macs offer incredible performance for reasonable prices and the software market on Macs has expanded enormously.

For home users, the biggest difference between Windows and Macs comes down to gaming. In gaming, Windows is the clear winner as there are many more games available for that platform. Macs are catching up and there are more cross-platform titles available all the time, but if you’re a hard-core gamer, Windows is the clear choice for you.

For business, the choice may be determined by any special software for your business. A lot of industry specific software is only available on one platform or the other, so you really have little choice. If you’re in an industry where your choice isn’t determined by the software and you only need the generic word-processing/spreadsheet/business graphics programs we all need, you’ll find there’s little or no difference.

Go with that you’re comfortable with. If you’ve always used Windows, there’s no overwhelming case to be made for switching to Mac, and vice versa.

Having said all of that, if you’re not afraid of looking beyond the mainstream and want something that faster, more stable and more flexible than what the big two offer, Linux is for you. Unlike Windows or Mac, Linux isn’t the product of a single monolithic software company with a vested interest in tying you to their products. Linux is a an open source operating system, meaning it is free to use and free to modify.

There are hundreds of ‘distributions’ of Linux freely available to download and use. Once you’ve installed a Linux distro, you can modify it however you wish, adding or removing components to create an operating system that does what you want it do do, exactly as you want it to do it. Popular distributions of Linux, such as Ubuntu or Mint, are as easy to install and set up as Windows or the Mac OS, and offer access to libraries of thousands of free software packages that cover the full gamut of functions. There are still some areas where the interfaces and options available on Linux distributions are not as user-friendly and idiot-resistant as their commercial counterparts, but for most users, Linux is a viable, stable and useable choice.