Windows, Mac or Chrome OS?
Windows from Microsoft is a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ – capable of doing so many varied things with an ever increasing choice of programs from Microsoft and third-parties (good or otherwise) and on wide range of available hardware – but do you really need it?
Mac OS from Apple is a clean, well-designed and implemented OS popular for both straightforward home computing as well as specialist uses such as professional media production. Programs and Apps come from Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, other hard-hitters and enthusiastic specialists and are well curated by Apple. But that all comes at a premium price and it only runs on Apple kit.
Chrome OS from Google is clean, lean, secure and has matured into a go to solution for straightforward connected computing needs. Leading manufacturers produce Chromebooks and, to a lesser extent, Chromeboxes.
So where does Chrome OS come from?
- Chrome OS is made by Google and available on Google and third-part Chromebooks.
- Google started as a way of searching the web by going to google.com or google.co.uk in any web browser – and still is. Some web browsers incorporate Google (and other search engines) searching from the web-address box.
- Google created their own web-browser program call Google Chrome which, by default, uses the Google search engine for web searches.
- Google created GoogleMail, now called Gmail, as an on-line email service. Gmail can now be used to access most popular email accounts (BT, Microsoft, Virgin, Sky, etc) as well as Gmail accounts.
- Google have made the Chrome toolkit used to make Google Chrome readily available for developers to make their own web browsers – it is rumoured that Microsoft’s next version of Edge will be re-written using the Chrome toolkit.
- Google produced and made readily available Android OS for smartphones as a competitor to Apple iPhone’s IOS – all Android phones use a version Google’s Android OS. A Gmail account is used to manage and backup your Google Play smartphone apps. Android OS is also used for many tablets. Android incorporates Google search, Gmail, Chrome and many other Google and third-party apps.
- The Gmail account has expanded to being a way of logging in to many Google products. Google has a raft of on-line applications and took over and runs YouTube as a Google product – access to all of these can be made via a Google account.
- Google produced an on-line office suite for documents, spreadsheets and cloud storage etc now called Google Drive.
- Google produced an operating system, Chrome OS, for use on a range of computer products called Chromebooks and, to a lesser extent, Chrome boxes. This uses Google Drive, Gmail and other apps.
So what are my recommendations?
Windows is a good ‘jack of all trades’ but there are so many variables, compromises and in-built complexities that these days I’d only use it if you need to – say for specific programs/apps only available on Windows, or because your work mandates it. Windows complexities and legacy leaves it open to a whole host of security issues.
Mac OS is the way to go for straightforward or specific, specialist uses. It is built on a more robust operating system base and has a lot less security issues than Windows. But the range of software available for Mac OS isn’t as wide as that for Windows – however it is better curated by Apple. If you use iPhones and iPad then you would be quite comfortable staying in the Apple bubble with a Mac as well. This comes at a price, you don’t have any third party hardware options, Apple kit is beautifully designed but expensive and they do have a habit of relentlessly making older kit obsolete. If you need specific Windows applications these can run on a Mac via Boot Camp, Parallels or VMWare Fusion.
Chrome OS – if you have straightforward needs, I recommend using a Chromebook which has a much leaner, more secure and easily recovered operating system (Chrome OS) with the benefit of all user settings, files, documents, pictures, emails etc being saved in the Google cloud. If you use an Android phone or tablet then you’ll be quite comfy in Chrome OS. Chromebooks have moved on from early days and are more rounded and capable now – here’s an independent article: www.howtogeek.com/179009/htg-explains-should-you-buy-a-chromebook/.
Here’s a couple of recent Chromebook review sites:
None of the above – if you’re not keen on owing your allegiance to the mega corps of Microsoft, Apple or Google and don’t want to spend money on all those licenses there is always the Linux alternative – see my earlier post for a free Mint.