Despite being the world's most popular operating system, Windows gets a lot of flak from Mac users, Linux users and even self-hating Windows users. It may not be perfect (after all, what is?), but Windows has a lot going for it — enough to win a spot as my main OS after years using both Mac OS X and Linux. Here's why.
I'm far from a Windows fanboy. I've used all three major OSes extensively, and I love things about all of them. I'm not here to argue that Windows is "the best" operating system, and my goal isn't to bait non-Windows users. But Windows isn't deserving of much of the hate levelled at it these days. Rather than put down everyone else, here are some of the things that make Windows really great. Photo remixed from an original by Straight 8 Photography.
It Has a Huge Selection of Programs
Windows' biggest advantage is that it's ubiquitous. As the most popular operating system, you have a much bigger selection of apps to choose from, both free and paid — and often they're very good, too. While Mac users have an unusually high quality selection of apps, it's pretty small compared to Windows — for example, when it comes to music players, you're mostly stuck with iTunes, while Windows users can choose between great apps like Winamp, MediaMonkey, foobar2000 and many more. Linux users, unfortunately have some good apps, but are stuck with a lot of sub-par apps in certain categories, not to mention slow development (in some, not all, cases). If you're on Windows, chances are you'll always be able to find at least one program that suits your tastes in any category, and that's a comforting feeling.
There's also something to be said for Windows-only apps you can't find anywhere else, but I won't get into that too deeply, since you can easily say the reverse about other OSes. But, for what it's worth, Windows does have some great apps that don't have cross-platform alternatives, and again—the sheer volume of apps on Windows gives it the edge.
It Has Support for Nearly Any Hardware
Another advantage of Windows' popularity is that almost all computer hardware is designed, first and foremost, to work with Windows. While Mac and Linux users have to pay a bit more attention to compatibility, Windows drivers exist for almost every piece of hardware out there (ironically, it "just works"). Certain drivers are certainly better than others, but again, it's nice to know that the world is pretty much your oyster when it comes to choosing hardware, since you know almost everything is specifically designed for your system.
It Performs Better in Many Scenarios
This argument can't really be made against Linux (which, depending on your setup, can be one of the fastest desktop OSes ever), but Windows is significantly less resource-hungry than OS X, especially in the graphics department. As long as you take care of your system and don't get viruses and litter your computer with junk programs, Windows is delightfully smooth, all the while using less RAM than OS X. Plus, when it comes to games, Windows always gives a slight performance boost, even if your game is natively available on another platform. Graphics performance is especially better compared to Linux, too, though the severity can depend on your particular graphics card and driver.
It's Not Shy About Innovating
Microsoft gets a lot of hate for "not being innovative", but like any sweeping generalisation, it's far from true. Users commonly seem to ignore some of the great additions Windows has made to the desktop. Most recently, Windows 7 introduced great innovations like Aero Snap, Libraries, and the new and improved Taskbar (which is still the best taskbar or dock on any platform, in this editor's opinion). Windows is certainly behind in some places, but let's not ignore some of the really cool things it's brought to the table.
Windows is hardly without fault — it's costly, its popularity also makes it a bigger target for virus authors, it takes a bit more maintenance to keep up performance, and getting support is a nightmare when compared to Apple. Again, I'm not here to argue that Windows is the best thing to happen to the desktop, but to point out that it isn't the leper that people treat it as today. If you haven't used it recently, I suggest you take another look — you might be surprised at some of the advantages it has to offer.
Got a favourite Windows feature that keeps you hooked on the OS from Redmond? We welcome discussion in the comments — but please keep it on topic, civil and troll-free.