Laptop Operating Systems: Windows, MacOS, and Linux

Do you find that choosing a laptop Operating System can be overwhelming?

Windows, MacOS, and Linux are the major laptop OS choices – each with their own pros and cons. Learn which is best for your needs in this comprehensive guide.

When shopping for a laptop computer, you may be wondering which operating system is best for your needs. Deciding which OS is right for you can be confusing, as there are three popular choices: Windows, MacOS (Mac Operating System), and Linux.

In this guide, we will explain the key differences between these operating systems and outline the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision.

Explanation of operating systems

An operating system (OS) is the underlying software that controls the hardware of a computer, allowing users to interact with it and execute commands. It provides a graphical user interface (GUI) where tasks can be performed by clicking on icons or menus and performing other simple actions with a mouse.

Windows, MacOS, and Linux are all examples of operating systems that are used on personal laptop computers. Windows is developed by Microsoft and used mainly on laptops running Intel or AMD processors, while MacOS is exclusively used on Apple’s Mac laptops. Linux has been around since 1991 and is very popular in the open source community; it is also customizable for any type of computer.

Each OS has its own set of features that make it more suitable to different types of users. For example, Windows-powered laptops tend to be more affordable than their Mac counterparts due to its wider availability across a variety of devices, making them an ideal choice for cost-conscious shoppers. However, some people prefer the elegant design and intuitive interface offered by Apple’s MacBooks which can be tailored specifically for creative professionals looking for powerful performance from their machines. Similarly, Linux comes with an abundance of customization options so users can tailor the experience based on their specific computing needs; this ensures that each device is optimized for different types of workflows.


Microsoft Windows is the most widely-used operating system in the world by far, thanks to its widespread compatibility with software and hardware for PCs and laptops. Windows uses a graphical user interface (GUI) where files, programs, and data are stored on a computer hard drive. Windows 10 is the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, but previous versions such as 8.1, 7.1, XP, and others are still popular on older machines.

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The main advantages of Windows are that it can be found preinstalled on most hardware devices and its high level of compatibility with software applications not found on other OS platforms. If you’re looking to set up a regular workstation or gaming machine that won’t require frequent updating or reformatting, then opting for Windows 10 is an ideal choice.

History of Windows operating system

The Windows operating system was developed by Microsoft and first released in 1985. It was one of the first commercially successful operating systems and has since become the most widely used operating system worldwide, with an estimated 89% market share as of February 2018.

Windows is designed to make it easier for users to manage their electronic devices and take advantage of all the features those devices have to offer. The design of the Windows operating system is based on a graphical user interface, which allows you to use a mouse or other pointing device to select items from menus instead of typing text commands. This makes using your computer much easier than using command-line interfaces found in earlier versions of UNIX-based operating systems.

Windows has evolved over time, introducing newer versions with advanced graphic user interfaces such as Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1, and now Windows 10. Each version introduces more advanced features and better security than its predecessors, though there have been issues with some versions that were quickly fixed in future releases.

Advantages of Windows operating system

Windows is the most popular operating system for laptops, and it offers some benefits that make it appealing.

First, Windows has been around for more than a decade, so it is the most tried and true of the three operating systems. It is also easy to use and you have access to a wide range of applications and programs that are compatible with Windows.

As well, many home users are familiar with how to use the Microsoft Office Suite of products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access—all of which are part of the Windows platform.

Lastly, Windows offers multiple ways to back up your data as part of its default settings—making it easier to protect against data loss or corruption than other operating systems.


MacOS (formerly OS X) is the operating system that powers every Mac computer, from the iMac to the Mac Pro. It was developed by Apple Inc. to be used exclusively on their own devices. As such, many of its features and apps are tailor-made for Macs; however, the basic structure of the system is based off of a Unix-like kernel.

With recent updates and versions, MacOS has kept step-by-step with advancements in technology to bring its users graphical user interfaces, support for mobile devices and touch screens, an improved version of Safari (its built-in web browser), native social media integration with popular networks such Apple’s own iCloud Drive service as well as other cloud storage options like Dropbox and Google Drive; integration with other Apple products like iPhones/iPads via AirDrop, etc.

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For its newest version, Mojave 10.14 boasts improved security measures such as permission requests before any external app uses the camera or microphone on a user’s device plus additional password management programs which can store banking information stored upon a secure digital vault on each computer running it.

History of MacOS operating system

Apple released its first Macintosh computer in 1984, with the MacOS operating system pre-installed. Bearing the same name as its predecessor, the Apple Lisa, MacOS was designed to be intuitive and user friendly in contrast to the MS-DOS system of that era. It featured a graphical user interface (GUI) instead of lines of codes, allowing for easy navigation and instructions for users instead of having extensive knowledge in coding. It also introduced features such as a built-in window management system so users could easily switch between open applications and folders, drag and drop objects to locations quickly, as well as creating onscreen desktops filled with icons that served as shortcuts to applications or programs.

In 1985, Apple released MacOS 1.0 followed by System 2-7 which added new features such as QuickDraw 2D graphics API and virtual memory support.

Throughout the decades since its release, Apple Inc has added many significant changes to their MacOS – now typically referred to as macOS – each time incorporating newly developed programming languages while still working within their XNU kernel architecture base structure. These upgrades included: Aqua UI design elements & Blue Box desktop appearance (Mac OS X 10.0); Spotlight search & Dashboard Widgets (Mac OS X 10 .4); Spaces virtual desktop system & Time Machine automatic backups (Mac OS X 10 .5); iCloud sync services & System Integrity Protection native security tool (Mac OS x 10 .12). They are expected to continue these feature updates for macOS 11 Big Sur slated for late 2020 release.

Advantages of MacOS operating system

MacOS is the preferred operating system of Apple devices and has some key advantages that make it especially attractive to digital creatives, media editors, and educational or business power users. These advantages include:

-Intuitive and user-friendly interface: MacOS is designed for simplicity and ease-of-use. It has a straightforward yet visually engaging graphic user interface that enables you to quickly learn how to use your device.

-Built for speed: Mac devices are faster than Windows systems in many tasks, including manipulation of video and 3D content, animation rendering, web browsing, and startup times.

-Industry standard: For artists, videographers and media editors in particular, Macs are often the industry standard because they commonly feature high quality displays with accurate color reproduction, as well as faster processors that can handle intensive tasks more reliably.

-Wide range of software support: Macs come preloaded with most applications you need for optimal performance like music creation software (GarageBand) as well as specialized graphics software (Final Cut Pro X). There is also a wide range of additional third party apps available to meet almost every requirement.

-Excellent security features: Macs have powerful built–in protections from malware and viruses with Gatekeeper technology and Software update features that ensure your machine stays safe while you get to enjoy the latest version of apps at all times.


Linux is an open-source, free operating system that has become popular as an alternative to Windows and Mac OS X. Linux is considered to be a more secure operating system than either Windows or Mac OS X, and its popularity has grown in recent years with the emergence of “netbooks” — low-cost laptop computers that come pre-installed with Linux instead of Windows.

Unlike Windows or MacOS, there is not one version of Linux; rather, it comprises hundreds of different distributions (or “distros”). Some popular distros include Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), openSUSE, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

The primary benefit for most users when opting for a Linux distribution over other available options revolves around cost: you won’t have to pay for a license fee as you would do with Windows or pay an annual subscription fee like you would do with macOS. Installing a new version of your operating system also tends to be easier and faster than with other types of systems. The user interface may also feel more familiar to experienced computer users because there is usually only one desktop environment instead of various “skins” like in the case of Windows. Additionally, most distributions provide access to thousands more applications than their proprietary counterparts.

History of Linux operating system

Linux is an open source operating system that traces its roots back to directives from the Free Software Foundation. In 1991, a Finnish computer science student, Linus Torvalds, released a version of UNIX as the “Linux” kernel and started a revolution in software development. By 1997, Linux had become the most popular form of server-side operating system on the internet.

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Over time, many different versions of Linux – or “distributions” – emerged from the developer community. Some distributions are more general purpose and others are specialized for use with specific hardware or applications. Debian, RedHat, Ubuntu, openSuse and Fedora comprise the most widely used and easily accessible distributions for desktop users.

Advantages of Linux operating system

Linux is an open-source operating system and is widely regarded as being one of the most secure operating systems currently available. Linux is widely considered to be a more secure platform than both Windows and MacOS due to its low profile and ability to remain invisible from external threats or viruses.

Linux systems offer a range of customization options that allows users to create a unique experience, with support for many popular applications like LibreOffice, GIMP, and digiKam ⁠— all helping increase productivity.

Linux provides multiple levels of security within its overall design, making it easier for users to protect their data from external threats. It also offers a range of access control mechanisms such as user segmentation, access control lists (ACLs), mandatory access controls (MACs) and encrypted file systems which make it more difficult for attackers to break into user accounts even if they know the account passwords. Additionally, Linux-based systems have an excellent record among third party penetration testing companies ⁠— showing that these systems have been successful in defending against common attacks in public networks.

In conclusion, while there are several advantages of using Windows or MacOS based systems over Linux based computers, such as better graphical interfaces or hardware support respectively; ultimately there are numerous advantages of using Linux over both these other operating systems when it comes to security and user experience — making it a great choice particularly for those who need added protection against malicious attacks or cyber criminals.

Comparison of Operating Systems

When deciding which operating system to use on your laptop, there are a few crucial things to consider. Although Windows, MacOS and Linux constitute the three major operating systems available today, they each have characteristics that make them unique. It is important to research features and evaluate compatibility when selecting an OS for your laptop.

Windows: Windows is the most popular operating system used today and can be found on laptops from most computer manufacturers. With Windows, users can access programs from Microsoft such as Office 365 and Teams, as well as the option to purchase applications from the Windows Store. Windows comes with its own personal assistant Cortana that aids in tasks such as scheduling reminders and searching for information online. Additionally, a number of software suites are available specifically designed for managing multiple devices in a single home or business environment. While it is not always compatible with other operating systems, Windows provides good compatibility with other Microsoft products such as Skype or Excel.

MacOS: Developed by Apple Inc., MacOS is an exclusive platform found only on Apple laptop devices; this often appeals to Apple fans who prefer all of their technology purchases to be consolidated under one company. Mac computers come preloaded with programs created exclusively by Apple such as Messages and Pages (a word processing program) but may also include third-party software through the Mac App Store. Security is typically very good in MacOS laptops due to their advanced encryption technology, making them popular among businesses looking for robust security measures for their data storage and usage processes.

Linux: An open-source program typically found on desktops rather than laptops (although some manufacturers offer it), Linux offers little in terms of extra features such as gaming capabilities; however it does provide exceptional security, enhanced customization options via command lines and code generators depending on the particular version of Linux you choose. The vast majority of all server functions run on Linux due to its reliability, allowing remote users access to numerous applications securely hosted through a server client over a virtual private network (VPN). Additionally, many “flavor” versions exist that enhance user experience by specialized interface design or providing additional functionality tailored towards specific needs or tasks – making this OS perfect for those seeking extreme personalization options beyond simple themes or wallpapers.

User interface

A user interface is a vital aspect of any laptop operating system because it provides a way for users to interact with the computer through applications and features. Windows, MacOS and Linux all have their own unique user interfaces that allow users to access the features they need quickly and efficiently.

In terms of overall design, Windows offers an intuitive interface with plenty of customization options to suit the needs of any user. The Start menu is at the center of the experience and provides access to all settings, programs, and other areas throughout the system. MacOS also contains a Start menu-like feature called Launchpad that allows easy access to commonly used tools and items on Apple laptops. Linux is more customizable than either Windows or MacOS but lacks a user friendly interface for first-time users.

Operating System (OS) Definition & Examples

Each operating system features custom graphical user interfaces which can provide different ways to launch applications, shutdown or restart your laptop, adjust settings, or manage files. Depending on your needs or personal preference there are options available in each operating system that may suit you better than another.

Compatibility with software

Software compatibility is a major factor to consider when selecting a laptop operating system. Windows and MacOS are the most commonly used operating systems, so they offer the most robust software compatibility. Most software applications are designed for Windows or MacOS, so if you need access to those applications you should choose either Windows or MacOS.

In contrast, Linux offers limited software compatibility and may not be compatible with some of the more popular applications such as Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and Quicken. If you depend on any of these programs for your work or hobbies then a Windows/MacOS laptop would be preferable to one with Linux.

On the flip side, there’s plenty of free open source software available for Linux users, meaning you can get similar functionality to some of these popular programs at no cost. You can also often find similar Office-style applications in mobile app stores even on laptops with other operating systems.


In conclusion, the choice of laptop operating system largely comes down to personal preference. Windows, MacOS, and Linux all have their own advantages and disadvantages, and which one you choose will depend on your needs. Windows is more user-friendly and familiar to many people, while MacOS offers better design and graphics performance with a few great extras. Linux is an excellent cost-effective option that offers advanced customization options.

Whichever operating system you choose, the important thing is to become familiar with its features and functionality so that you can make your laptop work best for you.

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