Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

Windows, MacOS, or Chrome OS?

If you are about to buy your first desktop computer or laptop or if you want to change your old one and are wondering whether to go for the same operating system or try something new, here, we will try to help you pick the best option for you. To do this, we will go over these three major operating systems (Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS), listing their pros and cons, and explaining the options they offer and the limitations they come with. Now, without any further ado, lets get right to it!

Windows 10 – customization, user freedom, power

Windows 10 is the latest operating system developed by Microsoft and it is the one we will be focusing on in this post. As much as we like Windows 7, it is a thing of the past and, as of January the 14th this year, Windows 7 is no longer being supported by Microsoft.

Windows systems, in general, have always been a jack of all trades, offering a lot of variety both in features and options offered by the OS as well as in the sheer number of different devices and platforms that can run on Windows. This, combined with the fact that Windows machines are somewhat affordable (at least when compared to Macs), has helped solidify Windows as the most widespread and popular OS for desktops.

Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

Availability and compatibility

As we pointed out above, you can run Windows on almost anything – from conventional desktop PCs and laptops to tablets and 2-in-1s devices. This greatly widens the range of options you have when choosing a Windows 10 machine.

More to this point, the variety isnt only with regard to the different types of platforms that can run on Windows 10 but also with regard to the different price ranges of said devices. You can get ridiculously powerful Windows computers for gaming or for professional use with resource-intensive programs at a reasonable price and you can also buy a more modest machine for home/recreational use that will still offer you most of the functionality inherent to Windows 10. Of course, there are powerful Macs and even some powerful Chromebooks but to get them, youd typically have to pay a significantly higher price compared to what would cost you to buy a high-end PC.

Since Windows is sold both to computer manufacturers and also directly to individual users, you can even purchase a Windows 10 license and then install the OS on a computer that you already own (as long as said computer is compatible with the OS). This further boosts the array of options and variety available to users who choose to opt for Windows.

Security and updates

Since Windows has been the most widely used desktop OS for a very long time, it is only natural for it to also have been the most targeted one. The Windows-line of operating systems, as a whole, has a long history of getting attacked and, on many occasions, successfully breached by hackers and cyber-criminals. Although things have drastically changed with the latest Windows versions, it still needs to be said that, in spite of all the security features and system defense offered by the OS and third-party software, you can still fairly easily land a virus on a Windows computer (especially if you are not cautious on the Internet). 

Still, fortunately, gone are the days when malware would enter your computer every time you clicked on the wrong link or visited some less-than-reliable site. Sure, those are still possible scenarios but, unlike before, the built-in defenses offered by Windows are much better and more effective at stopping most of the incoming threats, making this OS a reliable choice in terms of security. The fact that Windows 10 receives a major system updates twice a year and many smaller ones in between further helps improve security and keep the OS up-to-date with the latest threats of the Internet. 

In most cases, youd have to go out of your way to get malware, after completely disregarding common sense when on the Internet.
Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

Reliability

Speaking of reliability, this is where some users may take issue with Windows 10 (and Windows systems in general), especially if we compare it to MacOS. Windows offers more features and customization options to its users but it all comes at a price. In this case, that price would be the higher tendency of Windows computers to experience different types of issues, errors, and overall instability. This is not to say that using a Windows PC means constant crashes but it is just more likely to experience such issues with Windows than it is with MacOS. A big part of the reason for this, however, is the huge variety of hardware that Windows is compatible with. Different CPUs, Graphics cards, monitors, external devices, etc. used by different computers, laptops, and other devices require different drivers and driver updates, thus resulting in a bigger opportunity for something to go awry. And whats even worse when theres a problem is that the user is oftentimes left on their own to figure out what went wrong and fix it. This particular issue has vastly been improved with Windows 10, which is the most user-friendly Windows version thus far, and yet, if you are thinking about going with Windows, you must keep in mind that problems with the system can occur and, in many occasions, you may need to do your own research in order to figure out how to fix them.

Features

This is probably the biggest selling point of the Windows OS – the sheer number of things you can do on this OS is what draws so many users to it. It certainly is the OS that has the largest variety of programs, games, apps, and other software that It can run. Even if currently theres a program that you can only use on Mac or a game that is reserved for consoles, rest assured that sooner rather than later there will be a PC port/version of said software.
Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

Windows also provides users with much more freedom of customization and a bigger array of Administrative privileges on the computer, making it particularly well-suited for more experienced and confident users. All of this variety in features and customization, however, is also one of the potential problems with Windows since this means there would be a lot more things that can go wrong. Software that you download on Windows that ends up being faulty, unwanted, or even malicious is a much more common occurrence on this OS compared to the two other systems from this article. Still, if you remember to use your common sense and to approach the unknown carefully, Windows indeed has a lot to offer.

Should you get a Windows computer?

Although Windows, even with its latest Windows 10 version, has always been a bit rough around the edges with many minor (and a few not so minor) issues, it is still a great OS that offers an impressive amount of customization and user freedom across both desktop and mobile (and at a reasonable price!). The precondition here is that youd need to approach using Windows with a certain degree of care because there fewer fail-safemechanisms in this OS compared to MacOS and Chrome OS so it is oftentimes up to the users own discretion to avoid potential problems that may arise while using a Windows computer.
Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

Summary

Pros Cons
Available for a wide range of different platforms and devices. More frequently targeted by malware.
It is the most customizable of the three and offers the most freedom of use. Greater freedom of use increases the chances of users inadvertently causing issues with the system.
Has the widest selection of different programs compatible with it. Experiences more bugs and errors compared to the other two systems.
Windows computers are generally fairly-priced and rather affordable.
Best desktop OS for gaming

 

Mac – Efficiency, reliability, security

MacOS is Windows main competitor and even though both of those operating systems are high in quality and have lots of similarities. There are also some serious differences that make either system better suited for different types of users.

Characteristic traits of MacOS is the fact that it is a way more controlled OS that doesnt provide the user with as much freedom to tinker with the system as Windows does but the benefit from that is better overall security, fewer errors and bugs, and a slightly more streamlined and user-friendly experience.

“It just worksis Macs motto and that quite well describes what it feels like using this OS. With a Mac computer, you will likely experience system problems much more rarely compared to Windows users. Also, you will have a much easier time maintaining the computer, finding, downloading, and installing software that you need, and keeping the system safe. However, there will also be different limitations that lots of users (especially ones used to working with Windows) could find frustrating.

Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

Availability and Compatibility

One such limitation, for example, is the very narrow range of devices that MacOS can be used with. Unlike Microsoft, Apple doesnt sell MacOS licenses to computer manufacturers (or to regular users for that matter). Instead, the only way to use a Mac computer is to buy it from Apple which, understandably leads to a rather limited selection of devices that run on MacOS. There is a small number of models and devices that come with this operating system and so if you want a personally customized machine with a specific CPU or graphics card model, hard-drive storage space, or number of RAM sticks, then you may be disappointed to hear that you can only choose from the currently available Mac models offered by Apple. There are some options such as choosing to add more RAM or storage to your new Mac but thats pretty much it when it comes to customization.

One other thing to be added here is that modern Mac computers only come with USB type C Thunderbolt docks, which significantly limits the variety of devices you can connect to a Mac. Furthermore, some models come with no more than two such ports adding even more limitation to compatibility.

Security and Updates

Mac computers have always been known as a safer, more reliable alternative to their Windows counterparts. While that is, for the most part, true, there are a couple of important notes to be made here: Firstly, one of the reasons Windows users get malware more often is the fact that Windows, in general, gets more targeted by hackers compared to Mac and, secondly, in recent years, Mac users have started to see a significant increase in malware specifically designed to infect MacOS computers. 

That being said, it is still generally true that using a Mac is generally less likely to get you attacked by malware compared to using a Windows PC. A big reason for this stems from the more controlled approach taken by Apple with the development of MacOS. As we mentioned, users arent allowed as much freedom compared to Windows and, for the most part, this is for their own good. To compromise a Mac system, youd really have to go out of your way to do something that you are not supposed to. An additional factor that helps with security is the large implementation of the App Store – most, if not all of the software you may need will be available there and since this is an environment controlled by Apple, the likelihood of something hazardous being distributed there is much lower. Windows, too, has an application store (Microsoft Store) but most of the software Windows users need and install on their computers comes from third-party sources which greatly increases the chance of downloading something unsafe.

Of course, MacOS also comes with a large set of safety features that keep the computer protected in different ways. Those features are frequently updated to provide even better security and further decrease the likelihood of landing malware. Oftentimes, you wont even be allowed to download something if the security tools of your Mac deem it unsafe (without being given an option to override the security measure).
Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

All in all, as far as security goes, Mac is still the safest desktop OS (albeit maybe not as safe as it used to be in the past).

Reliability

Going back to the controlled nature of Mac systems, the lack of ways to ruin your Mac experience more often than not results in a problem-free use of the computer for very long periods of time. Of course, issues could still occur but troubleshooting them is oftentimes much easier and more streamlined than it is with Windows. This is perfect for users who are not that experienced and may have difficulty delving deep into the systems settings to figure out whats wrong and how to fix it. If you are not used to troubleshooting software problems (especially on a desktop) then MacOS would probably appeal to you. Besides, most of the tools you may need to take care of a software issue are already pre-installed on a Mac computer or could very easily be downloaded from the App Store. On the other hand, on Windows, depending on what problem you are facing, you oftentimes need to search for specific software tools in different sites that could help with the specific issue.

Features

MacOS certainly comes with a satisfying variety of features that both regular users and power users could benefit from. Right from the get-go, you have access to an impressive selection of different pre-installed apps that can improve your Mac experience immensely. In addition, getting new programs and apps is made extremely easy and intuitive with the App Store so theres no need visit to different third-party sites and go through installation and updating processes to get a specific piece of software that you need. In this regard, MacOS is quite akin to mobile operating systems where you gain access to all sorts of downloads from within a single app. However, this doesnt mean you cannot download and install stuff from third-parties – its just that it wont be as safe or as quick.
Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

However, in the end, we cannot deny that Windows definitely has the wider array of options here. Theres simply not as big a variety of apps and programs for Mac as there is for Windows and so if having bigger freedom of choice is what you are interested in, maybe Mac is wont be as good of an option for you as Windows 10.

One other thing to be mentioned here is that Mac computers are simply not suited for gaming. Not that it is impossible to play computer games on Mac but this system and the computers that run on it are not optimized for this type of activity. For one, Mac computers offer less RAM and CPU power than Windows computers within the same price range. Secondly, significantly fewer games have versions for Mac than they have for Windows. So, if you are looking for a gaming machine, getting a Mac is probably not the optimal choice.

Should you get a MacOS computer?

If you are looking for a system that has very few problems and will run at top performance for most of the time and if you are willing to pay for it a bit more than usual, then Mac is a great option for you. People who benefit from Macs the most are professionals in different fields who need a highly-functional tool that doesnt require too much maintenance and simply does what is supposed to quickly and efficiently.

Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

Summary

Pros Cons
Almost never experiences errors, crashes, performance issues, and other stability problems. You dont get as much freedom of use as with other operating systems.
It offers a streamlined experience where everything is made easy to use and the user isnt required to perform any complicated tasks to maintain the computer. Limited compatibility with other devices and options to choose from in terms of devices that run on MacOS.
A tightly-controlled OS where few things can go wrong and the chances of landing malware are lower compared to other systems. Not as much software variety compared to Windows.

 

Chrome OS

Chrome OS, by Google, is the newest of the three operating systems we cover here and it is an odd one. The premise of this OS is that everything in it is centered around the Google Chrome browser and nearly anything you need to do on a Chrome OS computer (usually referred to as a Chromebook) can be done within the browser. Considering that, in recent years, our browsers have become multipurpose tools that can be used for a wide variety of tasks and not just for browsing, having a browser-based OS isnt actually such an alien idea. I, for one, tend to spend most of my in-front-of-the-computer time using my browser and I am sure many other people can say the same about themselves. This unusual premise results in a rather unique type of operating system that significantly differs from the two most conventional ones that we just covered.
Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

The most important characteristics of Chrome OS are that it is super lightweight, comes with a limited number of options, its functionality heavily depends on Android apps, and can be run on cheaper, less powerful computers.

Availability and Compatibility

Right off the bat, we need to say that, like MacOS and unlike Windows, Chrome OS only comes with special laptop computers known as Chromebooks. This means you cannot buy a license for Chrome OS and install it on whatever computer you have at hand. However, this doesnt mean it is totally impossible to run a Chrome OS version on a regular computer. Recently, we made an article about a more limited Chrome OS version called Chromium OS that can indeed be downloaded onto a bootable USB and then run on a regular PC.

However, if you want the full Chrome OS experience, youd indeed need to buy yourself a Chromebook. The good news here, and one of the main selling points of Chrome OS laptops, is that you dont need to spend too much on a Chromebook. Due to the lightweight style of the OS, even weaker machines can run it without experiencing any performance issues. This, in turn, means that you can get a pretty cheap Chromebook and still have a great experience with it.

Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

Another nice thing about Chromebooks is that theres a bigger variety of them out there compared to Mac computers. Sure, you wont get the same freedom of choice youd have if you were about to get a Windows machine but you will still have access to a satisfying range of different purchase options of varying prices and characteristics.

Security

The fact that almost everything you do on Chrome OS would be happening through the browser has its benefits in terms of security. For one, you dont get to download and install programs from unreliable sources that may potentially damage your computer. Some users may not like that as it limits their options of available software but, for them, theres always the Windows 10 OS.

However, it must be said that, since the browser is indeed the most commonly used program on a computer, a huge portion of all the malware on the Internet is targeted at our browsers. Of course, Chrome OS comes with its own built-in defenses but no form of software protection is perfect and so, if you want to go for Chrome OS, youd better make sure you know how to keep a browser safe and clean or else even the less harmful form of browser- infecting malware, such as an adware or a browser hijacker, can ruin your whole experience of using this operating system.

Reliability

The highlight of this OS is the fact you dont need a powerful machine to get good performance. In fact, you are likely to get a better performance out of your browser on a Chrome OS compared to the performance of the same browser on a Windows machine. Due to its lightweight and undemanding nature, you will likely not experience many stability issues with Chrome OS regardless of the hardware capabilities of your computer. Troubleshooting is also normally not as complicated as that of Windows computers considering that the Chrome OS itself is simplistic in design and does not require the user to delve deep into the systems settings to figure out how to fix something. It is an easy system to use, especially if you are used to Google Chrome, and it runs well without any significant hiccups for the most part.

Features

Since you are basically only using a browser (with a few exceptions) on Chrome OS, theres no escaping the number of limitations that this brings. As we already pointed out, you won’tbe able to install and use all kinds of different programs that the two other operating systems from this article get. However, Chrome OS somewhat makes up for that with its implementation Android app that you can download from Google Store. This greatly boosts the functionality of the OS and if you are used to using Android apps anyway, you should feel right at home with a Chromebook (and theres always the added enhanced performance youd get using these apps). However, if you are used to working on a PC and enjoy having many software options to choose from that you can download from anywhere you chose, then a Chromebook could certainly feel rather limiting.
Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

Also, needless to say, gaming will also be limited to mobile/Android games. If you are okay with that and enjoy mobile games, then youd be okay with Chrome OS but if you are more passionate and serious about gaming, a Chromebook may not be the best option for you.

Should you get a Chrome OS computer?

A Chromebook is an excellent choice for someone who needs a computer mostly for browsing the Internet and for performing other tasks that do not require having a powerful machine or access to any resource-intensive programs. If you dont want to spend a lot of money on a computer because you are on a tight budget or because you simply wont be performing any overly-complex tasks, then you will probably get everything you need from a Chromebook. Also, do not forget that you will still get great performance and all the Google tools you may need with a Chrome OS computer. Just remember that Chromebooks work best when connected to the Internet keep this into consideration when choosing what computer you want to get.

Choosing between Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS in 2020

Summary

Pros Cons
Super lightweight, runs very well even on weaker machines. Limited selection of software you can install on a Chromebook.
Intuitive and easy to use design. Especially susceptible to browser malware.
Full integration of Android apps. Ill-suited for gaming.

The verdict

Obviously, each of the three systems has its advantages and drawbacks so its up to you to decide what would work best for you.

In general, we can say that Windows is the best all-rounder, offering the biggest variety of both software and hardware with the added bonus that computers that run on Windows mostly come at reasonable prices. A huge advantage that Windows computers have is that, out of the three options we covered here, they are the best gaming machines. However, it is also the system with the biggest number of things that could go wrong.

With Macs, youd be a bit more limited in terms of hardware options, but youd get premium performance, almost no system instability, and the strongest security for desktop computers. However, Macs are generally significantly more expensive even with regard to models that don’t offer particularly high hardware characteristics.

Lastly, with ChromeOS, you would get great performance without having to spend a lot of money on a computer, but you will not have access to many of the programs and features that desktop computers generally offer and you’d be limited to doing everything from within your browser, using the tools that the Google Store has to offer.

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About the author

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Brandon Skies

Brandon is a researcher and content creator in the fields of cyber-security and virtual privacy. Years of experience enable him to provide readers with important information and adequate solutions for the latest software and malware problems.

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