All over the internet and blogshpere there are varying opinions, bordering on religious fanaticism, of which OS is the best. I obviously have my opinion too. There has been a lot of work done around trying to quantify what constitutes the best way to measure an OS to label it the best.
Since everyone else has done a good job of spouting statistics (skewed or otherwise), what I put to you here is that there is only one metric that really counts: How many people chose to use the OS.
So if we look at that, obviously Windows is a clear winner. Some of you will say ‘Yeah but that’s because Microsoft pays OEMs to package it with their computers’, or those of you that tend toward more conspiracy will say that Microsoft secretly undermines other OSes etc etc. You know what, even if that was true (which it isn’t, sorry conspiracy freaks) it still wouldn’t matter because that is not the primary way to measure it.
I think if we just look at how often people try to obtain Windows to run on their machines, voluntarily and at risk of legal peril, we can see that it is obviously the OS of choice. Let’s take China as an example. It is estimated that the number of legitimate copies of Windows in China is somewhere around 2%. yes, 2 out of a hundred copies are legit. The other 98% of those copies are obtained illegally. Obviously China is an extreme example, but people trying to obtain pirated copies of Windows around the world is a well established phenomenon.
Why is it the most pirated software on the planet if people don’t think it was the best one to use? Why use pirated software, when you can get Ubuntu, or any other Linux distros for free? Why isn’t OS X pirated as much? Well, probably because it only works on Macs with any level of stability and in the grand scheme of things Macs aren’t exactly widespread in the global market (around 5% according to Market Share).
In most cases it will be a matter of perspective and the right tool for the right job. If you are a hacker at heart, like to know how things work and aren’t afraid of recompiling the kernel and destabilising your machine then Linux is probably for you. But if you need ease of use, the largest available catalogue of software, the widest and most cost effective support options then you need something like Windows.
I admit that determining if something is the best or not is a matter of opinion and usage environment, but if look at the demand for the operating system, Windows is a clear winner.