Mac OS X – Mountain Lion (1) (2)
Quite simply: It. Just. Works. The system is fast and stable, based on a rock solid UNIX core and mixes time saving features with gorgeous aesthetics. Typical technologies such as unloading processor demand onto the GPU are used copiously where necessary and included apps such as Messages or Safari are responsive, fully designed and useful. Plus, if you have any other Mac appliance, you’re in for a nice surprise As PC Magazine said, “Once again, OS X takes the prize as the world’s best consumer operating system.”
Ubuntu Linux 12.04 (1) (2)
Linux has blossomed! At least, that is what you would say if you came across Ubuntu. It’s distinctive user interface feels pleasant and easy to use and, if you are a Mac or User user, familiar too in the use of the launch bar. Happily, it goes beyond that and customises this technology to it’s own designs and, in my opinion, works spectacularly well. The OSX style dock in the screen grab at the bottom is brought to you by Docky which further brings comfort to the two “big” operating systems. Bear in mind that by it’s very nature Ubuntu is VERY fast and VERY stable and will boot in a number of seconds. It is true that Linux doesn’t have a large brand name software database such as Word or Excel, but those that it misses it makes up for in third party software so you needn’t miss out.
Deepin 12.12 (1) (2)
What Windows 8 should have been! Deepin 12 combines great features from the three great platforms of all time: transparencies from Windows 7, window shadows and redrawing from Mac OS X and the rock solid, powerful base of *NIX. Pretty, useful and powerful.
SUSE Enterprise Linux
Not exactly bearing the freedom torch, SUSE is however remarkably intuitive and easy to use. It also sports what the Start menu in Microsoft Windows should have looked like!
Fedora Linux 17 (1) (2)
Easily a contender for the “Easiest Operating System to Use” accolade out there, take two clicks and you are straight away in the installed application database you see in the screen grab. Adding apps is dead easy too. Launch the App Store and you can access thousands of free apps that will download to the appropriate place in the computer, displaying in the app display in turn. The only downside is that it’s not the easiest system to meddle with so what you see is what you get. Probably most ideal for people not too “up” with computers.
Windows Longhorn – XP Preview
Also known as “Plex”, I always thought that this particular mockup of the new user interface was far more sophisticated and pretty than the lego construction that came out as Windows XP. The blue theme and polished interactives were a pleasure to behold; I just wish I had a copy!
Salix 14 (1) (2)
This is exactly what Windows XP SHOULD have looked like if Microsoft designers had been listening as opposed to creating Lego OS. Lightweight and efficient, Salix is easy on the eyes and well polished.
An upside down piece of eye candy, the iconic dock, a figure of our times, actually hangs down from the top of the screen. Aside from some minor redrawing glitches I encountered, this is a quirky and stable install.
Pear Linux 5 (1) (2)
Sporting an attractive interface, Pear Linux 5 is FAR faster and more reactive than it’s predecessor, version 4. It more than borrows from Mac OS X, of course, with a near identical dock, Launchpad interface, App Store and Windows controls. Not that that is a bad thing!
Pinguy Linux 12.04
Pinguy is slightly more elaborate than most systems on this page. As you can see in the screenshot, there are two docks – one on the left and one on the right – a statistics summary on the right and a single instant messaging application running to the left of that. The statistics summary is EXTREMELY flexible – that is, if you’re proficient in the field in question in question. Out of the box, like this screengrab, things are actually quite pretty, so it’s not all bad, but really, to unlock the true secrets Pinguy has to offer, you need to meddle.
As you can probably tell from the name of the system, Cinnarch is based shockingly on the Arch Linux setup and as such is very low on the system demands yet high on performance. Couple that with a refreshing take on a tried and tested interface and you are on to a winner!
Another contendor to the throne of “Easiest Operating System to Use”, SuperX comes with all you need to enjoy that “internet thing” easily with a bit of eye candy. DEFINITELY one for the novices out there.
A clean, functional Linux distribution, Arios is a pleasure to use on a daily basis and is definitely a system to consider when pondering over which OS to use on a daily basis. Running on the same backing as Ubuntu, the system has a diverse software library that is easy as 1-2-3 to find and install thanks to the Software Installer and sports a tried and tested backing code.
The most popular system out the there and not without cause. Whilst it is not my personal favourite, I must admit that Windows has come along along in leaps and bounds recently. The last version to tickle me pink was the 2000 release; then came XP (looked like logo), Vista (more sluggish than a snail with no shell) and finally, redeeming themselves, Microsoft has launched 7. It’s pleasingly responsive, has some nice touches in the interface and looks pretty too. I certainly would be happy to run this on my computer.
Extremely pretty but sadly, very hard to master. I’ve just about figured out how to install widgets and icons on the desktop but that’s about it. One for the pros. Figure it out, though, and you are rewarded with the most beautiful system out there.
Linux Mint 13
Heralded as the best Linux installation out there, I don’t think it is the final word. Don’t get me wrong, it is very good indeed, it just isn’t the best out there. Best think of it as a new, beautiful version of Windows XP – fast, stable, lightweight, yet far, far prettier and more modern. Actually, I can see why people love Linux Mint
Elementary OS Luna
A breathe of fresh air, this operating keeps things simple. As long as you don’t try to meddle, it should suite you down to the ground!
Unity Dark 12.04
A real hands on operating system, Unity Dark has an attractive heads-up display (HUD) as well as copious amounts of 3D animations and many fundamental system applications keeping you informed and active. Based on the Ubuntu design, the aesthetics are pleasant and advanced – easily enough to take the place as your primary system.
Windows Vista Preview
Purists will hate me for saying this, but I thought that Vista was a pretty attractive system, especially the preview versions. True, it was more sluggish than a snail without a snail and was full of holes, but at least it was a step away from lego land-Windows XP and the out of date Windows ME.
The final “Easiest Operating System to Use” contender, this Operating System is fast, dead easy to use and universally novel. True, out of the box you can’t do much with it but as with the others, if you’re not a computer nerd, this could be worth a second look.
Yellow Tab Zeta
A controversial one here as people conjectured that Zeta were illegally using code base written by the ill fated Be corporation, who designed the original BeOS. It’s a pity as the system itself was pretty, fast, novel and VERY stable, relying on the BeFS filing system. Before choosing to acquire Next OpenStep as the foundation for MacOS X, Apple seriously considered BeFS, but sadly the technology was not ready.
Haiku is an open source, third party system designed at continuing the BeOS operating system that died after the system in question. Development is slow but a lot of progress has been made so I guess it evens out! Out of the three BeOS clones out there, this is the most true to it’s roots.
RISC OS 6
We couldn’t make a list of the top 15 systems out there without mentioning the RISC OS! In the most up to date version of this system, little has changed aesthetically since RISC OS 5, but enough has to warrant a separate mention. A wastepaper basket makes it’s first appearance, long overdue, and the simplistic, purist interface is kept true. A fantastic legacy!
RISC OS 5
RISC OS is perhaps the fastest, most stable, immune to viruses and efficient platforms out there. Curiously, the base of the RISC OS runs on ROMs (Read Only Memory chips) which cannot be written to. This system means that the base install boots in seconds and can keep the core afloat no matter what happens. The RISC OS is also considered to have the best interface out there with the original dock bar at the bottom of the screen and the utilisation of all three mouse buttons seamlessly. The only two drawbacks are expensive ROM upgrades and slow development due to a small development base. Still, legendary.
A more run-of-the-mill Linux distribution, Trisquel was perhaps the most polished variation of it’s type out there and is pretty enough to make the grade. Add that to the fact that it is fast, solid and pretty much devoid of viruses and you have a winner!
Mac OS 9.2 Classic
Again, a tasty classic. Many people consider Apple being at it’s peak when it was still in the “Classic” phase. Admittedly, whilst inferior technologically, it had a certain something to it that people were drawn to, yours truly included. Ah, well.
QNX RTOS 2
I used this system for a while and was reasonably impressed with it. It’s not the best system out there but it is one of the more unique ones with a wall mounted dock-slash-tray. Did I mention it was extremely nimble?
A Linux take on the classic BeOS and a competitor to the parallel independent Haiku OS, ZevenOS aims to recreate the fabled interface that BeOS sported along with the power of Linux. Sadly, development as of 4/10/12 had all but stopped, but not without leaving behind a fantastic legacy.
A daring turn for Microsoft, Windows 8 is primarily widget based and as such is geared towards mobile interfaces such as tablets. It sort of works on normal computers without touch screens, but can feel a little cumbersome. The desktop remains as a widget for when needed.
Although not exactly pretty, XP was heralded as an extremely stable distribution of the Windows franchise. Interestingly, the newly called “lego” interface can be overridden with the more classic platinum Windows interface sported by Windows ’95 onwards.
A rather unique operating system, SkyOS had stopped development as of February 2009 and sadly is not available for download. I include this daring venture here as a form of accolade for daring to take on the masses and meeting them head on.
MacOS 7 Classic
Advanced for it’s time, the classic Mac OS interface lasted a spectacularly long time, all the way to MacOS 8, where the following interface was dubbed “Platinum”. Efforts to update the interface with a project known as “Copland” sadly fell short, making the system lapse into the past, behind the advances made by the rival Windows franchise.
What, you thought I’d forgotten the good old Amiga? Progress wise, the system is far more advanced than you would have dared to hope with a daring interface and high resolution display.
By far the oldest operating system on this page, you may be wondering why it was here. Well, that is simple. Over the years Windows has become more and more generic, borrowing more and more from other systems. The task bar in Windows ’95? That’s the icon bar from RISC OS. The windows setup? From Mac OS. But for a brief shining moment, Windows was unique. The system layout was special, polished and inspired. One to treasure.
The final hurrah for the standard Windows interface as standard, Windows 2000 was also the most powerful and stable distribution for quite a while. It worked where Windows ME failed sadly and retained a veneer of professionalism that XP abandoned. A shining star, almost.
RISC OS 3.7
The oldest version of RISC OS, this was where Acorn Computers lost control of the system and closed shop. Bear in mind that this system is far older than you think and would typically run a copy of Windows along side it for compatibility reasons. Powerful, secure and revolutionary for the time, I have fond memories of using this system in schools when Acorns were all that you would find in the labs!
As old as Windows 3.1, Atari’s GUI, known as the Gem OS, followed the standard MacOS formulae in terms of windows widgets and setups. Interestingly, it was particularly useful in music classes in schools as it interfaced easily with MIDI interfaces.