Even as the software giant introduces its latest operating system, there are other options too. Software giant Microsoft will formally launch its much touted operating system (OS) — Windows 7 — in India today. The company is on a good wicket in the country, say analysts, with a nearly 90 per cent market share comprising XP (primarily) and Vista users. This leaves only a small window for other OSes like Apple’s Snow Leopard or open source Linux OS variants. However, if you are not planning to switch over to Windows 7 in a hurry, you may want to consider these options.
Comparisons are odious since competing OSes, like Snow Leopard from Apple are meant for separate sets of users. Apple’s OS is better defined as a performance update with some feature tweaks, while Win 7 is a new operating system from Microsoft.
Windows 7 will work on your existing PC hardware if you are using an at least 1 GHz CPU (processor) and 1 GB of RAM (memory), but a faster processor and more RAM will definitely improve the performance. By contrast, Snow Leopard will only work on Intel-based Mac systems. That means that not only will Snow Leopard not work on the hardware vastly used, but it won’t even work on much of the hardware used by current Mac OS X users.
The most noticeable feature of Snow Leopard that enterprise users can look out for is that Apple has built a native support for Microsoft’s Exchange Server into its OS, a feat that no version of Windows has accomplished. This will enable Macs to work seamlessly in businesses run on Windows without requiring additional third party software licensing or relying on Microsoft’s Mac clients. Apple also has no intention to change the OS to something new in the future, so Mac users can breathe easy on their financial investments.
The Snow Leopard single user license will be available for a maximum retail price of Rs 1,800 and the Snow Leopard Family Pack, a single household, five-user license, will be available for a maximum retail price of Rs 2,900. Win 7 (single user license) is expected to start at little over Rs 5,000.
Ubuntu (a Linux variant)
For all those who are not Windows enthusiasts, there’s another choice of OS that will cost half of your PC. Since Ubuntu 9.10 is still in the early stages of development and is an open source product, a lot of changes can happen as features may still be added or removed by developers.
On the ease of use, we would say that Ubuntu and Win 7 came neck and neck. Ubuntu is more configurable, but an average user won’t require this level of flexibility. On the other hand, Win 7 comes with all the familiar looking tools. If you are a person to stay with the default configurations, then Win 7 is better suited than Ubuntu, but if you’re ready to do some tweaking then Ubuntu is great.
Remember, Win 7 is an OS that has a few end-user applications like Notepad and Paint but it still cannot be fully functional after installation — you need to install your productivity tools yourself like mail, word processor, spreadsheets, etc. While Ubuntu installs a lot more than just end-user applications.
Open source players are pushing hard to strengthen Ubuntu on mobile Internet devices (MIDs), netbooks, notebooks, servers and cloud systems, and with no software costs involved in Ubuntu’s purchase expect a fee that users pay for services like technical support, the hardware becomes more cost efficient.