There has been a long debate on Windows versus Linux, Mac versus Windows, Apples versus Oranges, etc… I’m going to add my two cents to the fray, but in a way that looks at how each OS plays its role.
Windows: This is the dominant OS, it may not follow industry standards, but regardless is the norm. It has a horrid reputation for security as it is still trying to support legacy applications. It is also buggy, and a pain to develop on, however, the .NET framework is a step in the right direction. Windows made a rise when it was able to make computing both affordable, and simple, it wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough for its users.
Mac: Apple started out lost, using the shotgun approach to selling computers, many different models with very slight differences. However, once Steve Jobs trimmed down the breadth of choices and OS X came out, they had finally hit the sweet spot, selling powerful, easy to use software on high quality hardware. They are in the best position to take the lead, if they can lower their price points, as they will never be able to compete with a $200 computer from Dell. I’d suggest they release some very low end netbooks and cheap desktops to gain market share in both the education sector and as a computer for the ‘basic user’, those who only checks their email and surfs the web.
Linux: An oddball to say the least, it has been mostly community developed since its inception. Very popular with servers and more computer literate users, it still has very little market share. While there may be evidence to support it being the ‘best’ operating system, best is inherently subjective, Linux is made by technically savvy users for themselves, it is just now being looked at from a average user standpoint. While I prefer Linux, I also would consider myself a pretty technically skilled user, therefore enjoy the challenges of getting my system running perfectly, and the customizations it exposes. Linux has a long way to go before it will be considered viable for the average user, as most of the development is to make it better for the current userbase, not the one that doesn’t use it.
Well, now that I’m sure I’ve angered a number of people (please comment, I do like reading responses), I will end this post having put in my two cents, but very eager to see how the next few years change the playing field.
Peace and chow,