When it comes to PC usage, Microsoft dominates the operating system market with its Windows platform. For most PC users, it’s still the only operating system they’re going to use and for most of us, it’s a great choice there are many alternative operating systems.
The problem is that Windows is not free – in fact, it is quite expensive.
Anyone who has tried to buy a budget laptop online would have realized that you can save a decent amount of money by getting a laptop that comes without Windows.
The question is, how do you get all the software you need to run on this machine now?
It turns out that there are a number of free alternative operating systems that you can also use, ranging from Windows clones, to fully featured alternatives, which are best suited for single purpose use.
Having tested many of the different operating system options that have been available over the years, these five were the ones we liked the most. They all have different pros and cons, so you can see which one fits you best. Here are five free Windows alternatives to consider.
Ubuntu is like the blue jeans of Linux distros. The most common and characteristic alternative of payment operating systems. The Ubuntu interface is similar to MacOS, so if you’ve used an Apple computer, you’ll feel right at home with Ubuntu.
More importantly, Ubuntu comes with free essential software like Libre Office, Firefox browser, and Thunderbird email client. For image editing, you can take Gimp, and all media is handled by VLC player. Ubuntu also receives updates more frequently than most Linux distributions. All this makes for a good, well-rounded operating system.
- Raspbian PIXEL
If you are planning to revive an old system with modest specs, there is no better choice than the Raspbian PIXEL OS. This platform was built for Raspberry Pi and will work on the most basic hardware as a result. Raspbian has always been light on resources, but most users would avoid it because of its messy interface.
With the release of PIXEL OS, the operating system is also easy on the eyes now, although not as polished as Windows. In terms of specifications, the Raspbian PIXEL can even work on a machine with a 700MHz CPU and 256MB of RAM. It is a great choice if you have an old laptop that they lie that can not be used for even more basic tasks.
You can download Raspbian PIXEL from the official site – if you are new to all this, click on the NOOBS link to get started.
- Linux Mint
Of all Linux distros, the easiest version to use is Mint. Going through its user interface, you can say that Linux Mint lives for its motto: “Freedom came elegance.” In addition to eye-candy, this distro also boasts of power and stability. It comes with a lot of useful software like Firefox browser, Thunderbird email client, Gimp photo editing suite, and LibreOffice.
Built in Mint are MATE, XFCE, and Cinamon desktop environments. The latter is a favorite in terms of design and usability, but all this can be customized to your liking and is easy to learn to use. If you are new to the world of Linux, Mint is the ideal distribution of the operating system for you.
- Zorin OS
If you prefer not to experiment with something that feels very new, you should check out Zorin OS which is a lot like Windows. Based on Linux, this OS has a lot of “inspiration” from Windows 7. If you are a Windows user who wants to save some money, then Zorin OS will feel comfortable and familiar.
It comes with features like the Start menu, the taskbar and a similar window mode for applications. It comes pre-loaded with applications such as Journal, Spotify, VLC, and MyPaint, and of course, you can install other Linux applications as well.
You can download the free Zorin Core operating system by following this link.
- Cloud Ready
Chrome OS based on Google Cloud is another good alternative to the Windows platform if you spend all your time on the Web. However, it only comes with Chromebooks, and Google has no plans to release it as stand-alone software. Fortunately, the good ones at Neverware built the Cloud Ready operating system, which is built on the Chromium operating system. As many of you already know, the operating system is little more than a glorified web browser.
However, it’s not such a big problem since you can use Google Docs to write or work on presentations and spreadsheets, and mail and social networks make up for most of the rest of the time people spend on PCs in these days. There’s little difference between CloudReady and Chrome OS, so you could even give CloudReady a spin on an old laptop before deciding whether to dive in and buy a Chromebook or not.
These are our five picks for free operating systems that meet different needs – have you used any of these before? What Windows alternatives do you like and why? Tell us in the comments.