There has always been heated discussion when it comes to determining the best OS (operating system). People support their choice of operating system, sometimes blindly, without any real analysis or research. Just because something is liked it does not mean that it is great however, it simply means that it is popular. Even more so one can like something that it is in fact unpopular. The simple fact of liking something does not make it exceptional. It used to be that the battle was between Apple and Microsoft. Both have strong supporters and also strong opponents. Apple however blurred this line when it introduced intel processors in 2006. Since then the unthinkable is possible: one can run Windows on a Macintosh computer!
Is it then a clear cut comparison of operating systems or does hardware has a significant influence? What if Windows was to run best on Apple’s hardware? How would people differentiate between Windows and Apple (love or hate) if the two are combined? The simple answer is that there is no superior operating system. A different operating system can be identified as the leading OS when we look at different attributes.
The problem is that for different functions different operating systems perform better. Additionally when we look at market share we would see that windows still dominates, however if we look at marketshare within a specific sector (lets say architecture) then Apple’s OS X dominates. How about technical supremacy is one better than the other? The simple answer is no. When we are looking at technical supremacy we must understand what the operating system was designed to do before we can declare it as effective or ineffective.
For example one of the newests operating systems, chrome OS, is very simple very lightweight and performs very well. It occupies very little space in your hard drive and is very efficient. Is it the best operating system however? That is not as easy to say. It is an excellent choice for light computing on the go, however it cannot run many complex applications that would be a requirement for most business or individuals today. So purpose is the key here, what one wants the operating system to do? Without asking this question first we can not determine which operating system is best.
What about the mainstream operating systems such android, windows, and OS X? Even for these OS’s the compassion can be difficult to do. For example windows is not coded very well, it is very large and it requires extensive hardware to run. On the other hand windows is the king when it comes to the number of programs and applications that can be found to run on it and there are still many sites that do not perform well unless one is using the Windows operating system.
Apple has dominated the education and creative market. While a very distant second to windows when it comes to market share, if one was to look at these subspaces one will find almost exclusively Macintosh computers. Additionally in the tablet space where Apple’s ipad dominates the Apple portable operating system reigns supreme over both android and windows.
To make the discussion even harder the future of the operating system as we know it might be very different than what we experience today. Most every software company is moving away from the traditional desktop paradigm to cloud computing. That in fact includes Microsoft making their own flagship product (their operating system) by necessity obsolete in the future. Google with their chrome operating system might be the company in the forefront of what the future might hold when it comes to operating systems.
Evaluating operating systems has always been difficult in the past, in the future it might be a mute point. All software companies that distribute operating systems have created light versions of their OS for tablets and phones. This is another indication that they have accepted the fact that complex and bloated operating systems are not needed anymore. There will always be a need for powerful desktop systems for specific applications, for example architectural design and animation. However the future appears to be less focused on operating systems and more focused on application development for cloud computing.
Windows 8 for example signaled that Microsoft is adopting the idea that has been embrace by Apple and android of utilizing applications rather than standalone programs. Applications that are smaller, more flexible, substantially cheaper and very focused on one or two specific tasks. The need for operating systems to be cross platform (communicate between tablets, computers, and telephones) also points in the development of operating systems that are lighter more flexible and not central to our computing needs.
There will always be operating systems and we will always have the discussion of which one is best. However personal device operating systems will become more ambiguous than they are today. They will no longer be the central theme of discussion, but rather focused on portability and intra platform integration. All computing devices utilize operating systems but for many of them we are simply not even aware of who made the operating system, we are much more concerned about how it functions. For example does anyone what operating system is running their car's computers?