Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux: What Should a Webmaster Use?

People who spend a significant amount of time online might eventually find themselves in an operating system debate. Each operating system has its supporters and dissenters, so it’s important for a person to have the facts before they make a decision.

windows vs mac vs linux

This article is not a debate on whether Windows, Mac, or Linux is best. This is an overview of the pros and cons of each system based on the needs of web designers, developers, and publishers.

Microsoft Windows

According to PC Magazine, Windows own about 90% of the market share, which of course, makes it the most popular operating system.

Pros of Windows

  • Windows is the system that most people use so there are a wider range of programs and software available.
  • Sticking with Windows means there is no new software or operations to learn.
  • Web publishers and designers using Windows will have insight as to what the majority of their users are seeing on the screen. Websites look different depending on which browser is used and it can also vary by operating system.

Cons of Windows

  • Windows has a significant amount of security issues that constantly need addressing.
  • Adding the Windows system or updates to a computer can be expensive.

Apple Mac

PC Magazine states that Mac’s have about 10% of the market share, this includes mobile products like the iPhone.

Pros of Macs

  • Macs do not get PC viruses. There are still security precautions to be taken such as downloading patches, but the burden is much less on a Mac user.
  • Macs can run Windows, which can be helpful for those who feel they need both systems. However, this can be a con if a user is worried about security. Macs with Windows installed may need the same antivirus, spyware, and malware protection on their Windows installation as straight Windows based systems.
  • Macs come with software that’s great for audio and video editing. As web publishers move more towards multimedia publishing, this can be a great advantage.
  • Macs come with a web cam attached. This can cut down on needing to lug around external hardware.

Cons of Macs

  • Macs are more expensive than PC’s and some may find the cost to be prohibitive.
  • There is a slight learning curve for users who are used to Windows.

Linux

Linux has less than 1% of the market share according to PC magazine. However, it still seems to be a popular option among the technology savvy.

Pros of Linux

  • Linux is free and open source.
  • Linux is light and doesn’t take up as many resources as Windows or Mac OSX. This is helpful for those who have a lot of files or programs but who can’t afford to keep upgrading their memory.
  • There are many different flavors, or distributions of Linux so users have choices on which versions they like best. This may also be a con if users need to seek support on how to use the system.
  • Linux is not free of security issues, but it is much more secure than the other two operation systems. The first reason is because of the small amount of users on this system doesn’t make it as prone to virus attacks, and the second reason is because it’s open source there are always people looking for exploits and creating patches. Windows and Mac OS X have a much smaller team to work on issues.
  • Many inexpensive netbooks come with a Linux distribution. This saves money for people who need a light computer to travel with in order to update their websites. Linux based netbooks can be found for under $200 whereas Windows based netbook can be $400 or more. Apple has not developed a netbook yet, but their Macbook Air is $1800 and significantly larger than a netbook.

Cons of Linux

  • Linux has a somewhat high learning curve. It is not as intuitive as Windows or Mac OS X. Users who are very busy with their web publishing endeavors may find it to be a hassle to have to learn a new system.
  • Installing new programs on Linux does not follow the same process as installing programs on Windows or Mac OS X. This can be a major turn off for new users.
  • Some external hardware may not be compatible with Linux.
  • Photoshop is not compatible with Linux, however there is an open source alternative called GIMP. Users may find that other software cannot be easily run on Linux.
    What operating system should a web publisher or developer use? Each system has its pros and cons so the answer is whichever system will get the job done.

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