As of December 2020, 76.56% of computer users used Microsoft Windows, and 17.1% were using Apple Mac OS^. These figures are remarkable when you think about it, as it shows that two global tech giants have the market share of more than 4.5 billion users worldwide.^

Many people, however, are looking for alternatives to these global tech companies due to concerns over data privacy and multi-billion-dollar tax avoidance.

And there are other options when choosing an operating system if you are prepared to do research on what would be suited for your specific computer needs.

The primary alternatives to Microsoft and Apple are Linux and Chrome OS but neither has the same functionality meaning there may need to be compromises.


In December 2020 1.93% of the world’s computer users were favouring Linux. The best feature about Linux is that it will run on almost any PC, even old ones. One of the most popular Linux based distributions or products is Ubuntu.However, the downside is that Linux systems will not run Windows products, meaning if you use the applications regularly you will need to find an alternative application which has similar functionality.

Google Chrome OS

Just marginally less popular than Linux with 1.72% of users is Google Chrome OS. However, Chrome OS only works on Chromebooks, so this could be an expensive alternative to Microsoft or Apple as it would necessitate new hardware. This operating system does not run Windows products but  as it works with Android applications there are Windows applications available through this route. They are however reduced versions and may not have all the functions available on a desktop.

Alternative systems

Whilst Linux and Chrome OS are the most popular of the alternative operating systems there are other, more independent and experimental options available.

  • ArcaOS – This is for older PCs and is based on the last IBM release for OS/2. It is compatible with some Linux applications and drivers and includes a Unix compatibility subsystem. There is both the option for a home license or a commercial licence.
  • FreeDOS – This is an alternative to MSDOS and boasts that it is a completely free compatible product that can do pretty much the same as MSDOS, upon which it is based. It is constantly being developed and updated.
  • Wayne OS – This is a Korean OS which used the Chromium OS platform to create an OS which works on all 64-bit hardware, rather than only on Chromebooks. It is installed from USB drives and is available as a free or a paid version.
  • Fury BSD – This system is based on the FreeBSD system which was developed along the Unix/Linux trajectory. This has a number of applications which some users will be familiar with as well as a graphic desktop environment.
  • KolibriOS – This OS is ideal for retro gamers and has drivers compatible with popular audio, video and Ethernet hardware.

Many of these operating systems have a free version which means you can try them out to see if they suit your requirements. These are, however, just a small indication of the operating systems which are available for download.

Pros and cons of alternative systems

Depending on your computer usage habits, using an alternative system to Apple or Microsoft could be perfect for you. For example, if as a home user you only use the internet and send email then Google Chrome OS would be ideal, but if you are trying to run a complex business and regularly use the Windows application package, finding alternative applications, with the same functions could have varied results.

One of the reasons users are looking to move away from Microsoft and Apple is for security and data control concerns, but whilst Linux may be a ‘safer’ alternative there are almost daily updates to the OS which can be a frustration if you are used to weekly updates.

Another of the frustrations with an alternative to the big two, is that hardware and general customer support is generally poor and ‘quick fixes’ to problems may not be as readily available. This could result in more downtime.

It is almost impossible to say which alternative operating system would be ideal for you, as this really does depend on what you expect to be able to do with the hardware, as well as what applications you need and whether there are alternatives available with similar functionality on the OS of choice. However, if you are hoping to move away from Microsoft and Apple, either for home use or for your business but don’t really know where to start contact the team at SupportWise for some no-nonsense advice on what could be the best options for you or your business.

What’s next

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