Microsoft Windows is undeniably one of the most popular operating systems in the world. First launched by Microsoft in 1985, it currently remains the most used desktop operating system with about 76 percent market share. Note that macOS from Apple has a market share of around 16 percent while Chrome OS has less than 2 percent.
The established popularity of Windows stems from the fact that it comes pre-loaded in most desktop and laptop personal computers designed and produced by notable manufacturers such as Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, Lenovo Group Limited, AsusTek Computer, Acer Inc., and Toshiba Corporation, among others.
Furthermore, this operating system emerged early in the market to allow businesses to adopt its utilization, thereby giving it preference by most manufacturers and allowing it to build a competitive advantage over other operating systems over the years. It is also compatible with most software programs or applications. Most software developers prefer deploying their products for Windows because of its established market presence.
The Pros: Advantages of Windows as a Desktop Operating System
Huge Selection of Software Programs or Apps
One of the advantages of Windows over other operating systems is that it remains unparalleled when it comes to the selection and availability of software programs. Even macOS from Apple struggles from competing against the vast selection of apps available for Windows.
There is an expansive variety of software programs for different users and use case scenarios. Examples include office productivity apps such as MS Word and MS Excel, as well as Microsoft office alternatives such as LibreOffice. There are apps for video editing, photo editing, graphic design, and music production. Windows also has a large library of game titles.
Note that software developers prioritize writing for this operating system to gain access to a large market base of existing users. In addition, although Windows is a proprietary operating system, Microsoft has less rigid terms and conditions. It is also more cost-effective to develop apps for this operating system due to market, competency, and hardware factors.
Consistent Support through Updates
Windows is one of the flagship products of Microsoft. Hence, it receives regular support through patches and version iterations. Updates are important to address security issues and vulnerabilities, add new features and remove outdated ones, and improve software stability. Additional support through liabilities and warranties also provides users with assurance.
It is important to emphasize the importance of security updates. Hackers regularly find software vulnerabilities to exploit. Both technical user support and updates help maintain system integrity and keep cybercriminals from taking advantage of security flaws.
Free and open-source desktop operating systems might lack timely upgrades during critical scenarios because developers are not paid and obligated to do so. Users who do not have the technical-know-how to troubleshoot their systems would need to depend on the involved open-source community or pay for external support service.
Standard Operating System for High-End Gaming
Another advantage of Windows over macOS and other operating systems is that it remains the standard system not only for casual PC gaming but also for serious and competitive gaming. There are three reasons for this. The first is the extensive library of game titles. Remember that developers prefer developing for this OS because of its dominance.
Second, Microsoft made conscious efforts to make this OS a first-class gaming platform. The introduction of Microsoft DirectX in 1995 is a testament to this. As a collection of application programming interfaces, it provides developers with low-level access to hardware components such as memory, video cards, and sound cards, among others, thus allowing them to fine-tune and optimize the performance of resource-intensive applications such as games.
The third reason is hardware availability and customization. There is a huge selection of Windows desktop and laptop devices built for gaming. Furthermore, unlike Mac devices, enthusiast-level users are free to customize and modify their PC build by purchasing different hardware components based on their budget and usage requirements.
Available at Different Configurations and Price Points
Remember that PC manufacturers prefer Windows because of its existing user-base, the established community of third-party software developers and hardware manufacturers, and the fact that the market for this operating system remains promising. Windows devices essentially come in different configurations and price points.
There are devices built and marketed for budget-conscious and entry-level users, such as netbooks and small desktops, while devices such as ultrabooks are positioned for business users. Furthermore, there are desktops and laptops designed and categorized for high-performance gaming and content creation.
Furthermore, the presence of third-party hardware manufacturers grants users the flexibility to customize their existing computers or built their own ones according to their requirements. They can even repurpose existing devices by replacing their hardware components. In short, there are hundreds of hardware combinations users can pick to fit their needs.
Other Advantages of Windows Operating System
Windows have other strengths and edge. For example, it natively supports touch and pen-based inputs to allow the development and utilization of tablet devices and computers built for graphic design and photo editing. It also has native support for 3D and virtual reality. Most people are also accustomed to multitasking using the Taskbar.
It also allows greater flexibility in customizing and managing the desktop environment. Users can reorient how the desktop looks or how a window fits. There are also desktop themes and skins to change the overall aesthetics of the user interface. Windows is considerably more open, and users can make it look and work a certain way depending on their preference.
The operating system also runs in several virtual environments. For example, Windows can run on a Mac computer using free-to-use virtualization software such as VirtualBox or paid apps such as VMWare and Parallels without the need to configure a dual-boot setup. Note that this OS also runs virtualized versions of other operating systems.
The Cons: Disadvantages of Windows as a Desktop Operating System
Greater Susceptibility to Security Issues
All operating systems are susceptible to malware and other security exploits. Even macOS also has a sizeable number of security issues and incidents since its inception. However, Windows is particularly a popular target among cybercriminals because of the simplest fact that it has a larger user-base compared to Linux-based operating systems such as Debian and Ubuntu.
Users need to ensure that their system is up-to-date to address security exploits. For an added protection against different types of malware and unauthorized access, they also need to install anti-malware applications and firewall programming. Of course, these workarounds consume additional CPU and memory resources.
The massive selection of apps and the preferential treatment from software developers have a downside as well. Similar to the Android mobile operating system, unsuspecting users can readily or unknowingly download useless and dubious programs that can either bloat the computer or open security vulnerabilities.
Consumes a Good Amount of System Resources
Another disadvantage of Windows is that it consumes a considerable amount of system resources compared to other operating systems. Windows 7 is compatible with low-resource computers. However, Windows 8 requires at least 1GB of RAM. Windows 10 may not run optimally on machines built 5 years ago because of its high system requirements.
The overall Windows 10 system consumes 25 to 40 GB of storage space depending on the specific edition. As a comparison, Linux is lighter and less demanding on system resources. Ubuntu only requires 4GB of system memory. Chrome OS is also lightweight because it is largely based on a thin client setup.
On the other hand, macOS take around 15 GB of space. Although it is considerably resource-intensive, it runs on an Apple-optimized hardware design. Note that this is a key advantage of macOS. The programing of new macOS versions enables the system to run in RISC architecture, particularly the ARM architecture, thus demonstrating its resource efficiency.
Both the System and Apps are Relatively Expensive
Most desktop and laptop computers sold in the market come pre-installed with this operating system. However, purchasing a new license for a new device can be expensive. The Home edition costs around USD 200.00 while the Pro edition is at USD 300.00 and the Workstations edition is at around USD 450.00.
Other essential Microsoft apps and services are also expensive. Subscription to the Microsoft 365 services has a cost ranging between USD 90.00 to USD 220.00 per year while purchasing the offline version of the MS Office 2019 software pack costs around USD 390.00
Mac computers are considerably expensive than the average Windows computers. However, macOS comes with several free and useful applications such as iMovie for video editing, GarageBand for music production, and office productivity apps, including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, among others. Chrome OS takes advantage of the cloud-based apps of Google.
Other Disadvantages and Criticisms of Windows
Some users complain about the poor overall support. Although Microsoft regularly updates the operating system, it fails to provide dedicated technical support for specific troubleshooting issues. In addition, updates are almost automatic since Windows 10 and users have minimal control over allowing an update to transpire and the system to reboot.
There is also an issue with the longevity of several Windows devices. Some desktops and laptops have a maximum optimal lifespan of two to three years. Most devices also lack to intimate software-hardware compatibility of Mac computers. Of course, this problem stems from manufacturers with low-quality standards.
Other criticisms include minimal control over data and privacy settings, a complicated system for installing and uninstalling programs, and the close-source and limited usability. Some people prefer the straightforward user experience of macOS and Chrome OS, while others enjoy the high degree of freedom that comes from using open-source systems based on Linux and Unix.