Best Operating System for Small Businesses

    Products classified in the overall Operating System category are similar in many regards and help companies of all sizes solve their business problems. However, small business features, pricing, setup, and installation differ from businesses of other sizes, which is why we match buyers to the right Small Business Operating System to fit their needs. Compare product ratings based on reviews from enterprise users or connect with one of G2's buying advisors to find the right solutions within the Small Business Operating System category.

    In addition to qualifying for inclusion in the Operating System category, to qualify for inclusion in the Small Business Operating System category, a product must have at least 10 reviews left by a reviewer from a small business.

    Top 10 Operating System for Small Businesses

    • Windows 10
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Ubuntu
    • Windows 7
    • CentOS
    • macOS Sierra
    • OS X El Capitan
    • Red Hat Linux
    • Fedora

    Compare Small Business Operating System

    G2 takes pride in showing unbiased reviews on user satisfaction in our ratings and reports. We do not allow paid placements in any of our ratings, rankings, or reports. Learn about our scoring methodologies.
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    (1,177)4.4 out of 5

    Windows 10 is familiar and easy to use, with lots of similarities to Windows 7 including the Start menu. It starts up and resumes fast, has more built-in security to help keep you safe, and is designed to work with software and hardware you already have.

    (502)4.5 out of 5

    An advanced mobile operating system. With its easy-to-use interface, amazing features, and rock solid stability, iOS is the foundation of iPhone. And even as others try to catch up, the technologies and features built into iOS keep iPhone years ahead.

    (533)4.6 out of 5

    Android is the a globally popular mobile platform. With Android you can use all Google apps, plus thousands of apps and games are available on Google Play.

    (874)4.5 out of 5

    Super-fast, easy to use and free, the Ubuntu operating system powers millions of desktops, netbooks and servers around the world.

    (438)4.3 out of 5

    Windows 7 is your PC simplified. Enjoy your media wherever you want, stay productive with the smart new desktop, get creative with Windows Live Photo Gallery.

    (238)4.5 out of 5

    CentOS is an Enterprise-class Linux Distribution derived from sources freely provided to the public by a prominent North American Enterprise Linux vendor.

    (108)4.5 out of 5

    macOS Sierra helps you rediscover your best photos, shop fast and conveniently online, and work between devices. It can also help free up storage space.

    (158)4.4 out of 5

    OS X El Capitan gives you simpler, smarter ways to do the things you do most with your Mac. Like working in multiple apps at the same time using Split View.

    (264)4.5 out of 5

    Open source platform for mission-critical computing

    (104)4.4 out of 5

    Fedora is a Linux-based operating system, a collection of software that makes your computer run.

    (49)4.7 out of 5

    Debian is an operating system is the set of basic programs and utilities that make your computer run , at the core of an operating system is the kernel.

    (212)3.5 out of 5

    Windows reimagined and reinvented from a solid core of Windows 7 speed and reliability. It's an all-new touch interface. It's a new Windows 8 for new devices.

    (25)4.2 out of 5

    The DVD/USB Stick is typically recommended as it contains most of the packages available in the distribution and does not require a network connection during the installation.

    (25)4.5 out of 5

    (22)4.3 out of 5

    (49)4.5 out of 5

    Linux Mint produces a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use.

    (35)3.9 out of 5

    Chomium is an open-source project that aims to build an operating system that provides a fast, simple, and more secure computing experience for people who spend most of their time on the web.

    (19)4.4 out of 5

    Manjaro is a user-friendly Linux distribution based on the independently developed Arch operating system.

    (19)4.4 out of 5

    Kubuntu is designed to be a friendly Linux distro for laptops and desktops.

    (97)4.2 out of 5
    Entry Level Price:Free Unlimited

    Oracle Linux brings the latest Linux innovations to market, delivering extreme performance, advanced scalability, and reliability for enterprise applications and systems along with worldwide, enterprise-class, low-cost support. Optimized for enterprise workloads, Oracle Linux is the only operating system to offer zero-downtime updates.

    (13)4.2 out of 5

    Xfce is a desktop environment for UNIX like operating systems that embodies modularity and re-usability with components to provide functionality of a modern desktop environment.

    (22)4.7 out of 5

    Raspbian is a free operating system based on Debian optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware.

    (82)4.2 out of 5

    OS X Mountain Lion is Apple's best OS yet. Because all these new features add up to one amazing experience on your Mac. And every device you use.

    (25)4.4 out of 5

    Lubuntu is a fast and lightweight operating system. The core of the system is based on Linux and Ubuntu that uses the minimal desktop LXDE, and a selection of light applications.

    (16)4.3 out of 5

    Arch Linux is a lightweight and flexible Linux distribution that tries to keep it simple.Currently It has official packages optimized for the x86-64 architecture

    (23)4.3 out of 5

    Slackware Linux is an advanced Linux operating system, designed with the twin goals of ease of use and stability as top priorities,including the latest popular software while retaining a sense of tradition, providing simplicity and ease of use alongside flexibility and power,

    (31)3.7 out of 5

    Tizen is an open and flexible operating system built from the ground up to address the needs of all stakeholders of the mobile andæconnected device ecosystem, including device manufacturers, mobile operators, application developers and independent software vendors(ISVs)

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    Check out the G2 Grid® for the top Operating System products. G2 scores products and sellers based on reviews gathered from our user community, as well as data aggregated from online sources and social networks. Together, these scores are mapped on our proprietary G2 Grid®, which you can use to compare products, streamline the buying process, and quickly identify the best products based on the experiences of your peers.
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    Learn More About Operating System

    What are Operating Systems?

    An operating system, or OS, is system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs. Your computer applications, from document creation software and browser software to the most specialized applications, rely on your OS as a foundation for their storage and execution. Your desktop is like your mission control, in short. So investing in an interface you can trust and thrive on is as critical a choice as any in the software realm.

    The majority of store-bought personal computers come with modern operating systems already installed. Mobile devices also have their own form of OS (for example, an iPhone comes with Apple iOS). In many cases, you can install a different OS on top of the embedded systems that come with your computer. The operating system market has grown by leaps and bounds in the past two decades, and each offering has a unique user interface and set of features and specifications. If your job demands a certain level of performance or particular tools and strengths in your hardware, there is likely an OS that is perfect for you.

    Key Benefits of Operating System Software

    • Help your computer or smartphone operate
    • Store your diverse set of applications and allow them to run as needed
    • Provide a smooth, customizable, graphical user interface (GUI) to manage your applications

    Why Use Operating Systems?

    Complexity — Outside of the most popular, consumer-minded operating systems, the other products in this category can involve a degree of difficulty in relation to their programming, installation, and general use. Even the most user-friendly platforms can present hurdles for the average user throughout the lifecycle of usage. If you are considering a new operating system, read some verified reviews to get a sense of the usability and what the expectations are for new users.

    Integrations and Application Support — In a perfect world, every piece of software would play nice with the myriad hardware systems on the market. But due to the wide range of performance needs and specifications, your preferred OS may not integrate smoothly with your current hardware setup or applications. This can also pose an issue longer after setup, if you deal with new applications or files that conflict with your desktop’s abilities. Fortunately, cloud computing allows you to manage certain files or applications without bothering your hard drive. But integrations or lack thereof are crucial to be aware of from the get-go.

    Performance — Putting a strain on your car can cause the engine to overheat, no matter how flashy it may seem when you buy it. The same goes for your OS. As you stack programs onto your devices, juggle various tasks at once, and your hardware ages in general, it can translate to performance issues such as lagging and overall diminishing speed. This can also lead to programs randomly being dropped or the operating system crashing entirely. Just like your car, the better you take care of your computer, the longer it will remain healthy. This should entail regular cleanings, such as deleting old files, and only running one or two programs at a time. Web activity can also be a drain on your operating system, so keep an eye on how many tabs you have open, downloads you perform, and how much content you stream at a given time. You should also be vigilant in your security efforts, block pop-ups, and not download files you don’t trust to minimize the risk of performance problems.

    OS performance overall has a lot to do with hardware quality. Some devices are more customizable than others, and this is important to keep in mind when planning a hardware upgrade for yourself or your organization. You should not try to install and run certain operating systems before looking into your hardware’s specifications and capabilities in relation to what the OS requires. Even if your hardware has the right specifications, issues can still arise if your computer is struggling with memory or processing issues. So be sure to thoroughly vet your devices before upgrading to a new OS.

    Who Uses Operating Systems?

    As mentioned above, operating systems are perhaps the most commonly used type of software—because other software won’t run without it! If you use modern computers for any reason, you use operating systems in the process. (This also includes smartphone operating systems.)

    With that being said, there are certain departments or groups of people who may benefit from certain products over others in this category or put more thought into the decision based on the tasks they need to perform.

    Developers — The choice between operating systems can be a point of contention in the development community, almost like rival gangs or schools. The number of coding languages increases every year, and with it, so does the number of careers built around development. Anyone who claims coding as a hobby or a part of their job will not only put extensive care into choosing a primary OS, they may switch between several interfaces in the course of their day. These programs are the foundation off which they might just develop the next million-dollar software solution or mobile app. So finding the system that caters to their coding specializations and gives them the tools they need is paramount.

    Designers — Graphic designers and other design-minded individuals have a similar relationship to their OS as that of developers. These users run and work with the most modern applications available and require a platform that is not only reliable but can handle the immense amount of activity they will perform in an average day. It all begins with the right choice of hardware—with extensive speed, power, and memory—but this would mean nothing without the right operating system to tie it all together.

    Gamers — At the intersection of development and design is the desktop gaming community, which has swelled into a worldwide phenomenon in tandem with the technology and the offerings. It has become a multi-billion dollar industry and a respected sport in its own right, with competitive gaming now being a big draw on streaming platforms and certain television stations around the world. For serious gamers, investing in the right operating system can go hand-in-hand with their games of choice. Just like other large applications, games often demand the right specifications to run. Gamers may also run multiple games at once, stream their gaming activity, or leave games running while they do other things. Features like preemptive multitasking on certain systems can help balance this activity so the hardware does not get overworked and run the risk of crashing.


    Kinds of Operating Systems

    When searching for any type of operating system, there are a few things that are important to keep in mind. First, you should assess your needs as a user prior to making any decision. If you are primarily going to be using an operating system for business as opposed to personal use, it can narrow your selection options. Certain operating systems are more ideal for their gaming or development capabilities, which could impact your decision depending on these needs. Proprietary operating systems almost always come preinstalled on particular hardware devices, so if you have an affinity for a particular brand of hardware, it could dictate your choice. Open-source operating systems are often highly customizable, where proprietary platforms are more rigid and controlled, at the liberty of the vendors regarding changes and updates. Due to the customization options, open-source operating systems may require a higher level of technical knowledge.

    No matter the operating system, stability should always be at the forefront of your judgment because of the immense repercussions that can come from a crashed operating system. Keeping your data safe and accessible is invaluable. You should also take into account what system you are already running, if you are debating a change in operating systems, because files or software programs can be incompatible if you are attempting to transfer them from one to another. Therefore, it can be advantageous to maintain the same brand of operating system if you are deciding on an upgrade.

    Oftentimes the decision-making process of selecting an operating system will boil down to personal preference. The selection can be intimidating and the volume of options grows each year, but below we’ll explore some of the more popular operating systems and factors to consider with each.

    macOS — macOS is proprietary, comes preinstalled on Apple computers, and is not highly customizable. You should be accustomed to, or prepared to learn, the general layout of Mac computers if you are interested in macOS. The operating system integrates with other Apple products, including the mobile operating system, iOS, and the Apple iCloud for storage purposes. It also provides access to Apple’s App Store, which is proprietary to Apple products as well. macOS is very popular for personal users but can also be used for business purposes.

    Microsoft Windows — Microsoft’s Windows operating system is available for use on a variety of PC brands, tablets, and even video game consoles, but because of its proprietary nature, it is not very flexible. There have been a number of releases over the years in the Windows NT family of operating systems that have helped define the evolution of PC computers, including Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 10. Windows is compatible with a number of programs but is convenient if you are used to using other Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Office. The integration with Microsoft Office also makes it a popular choice if you are searching for an operating system for your business. That being said, it is also a viable option if you are looking for an operating system for personal use.

    Linux — Linux distributions, or distros, are open-source operating systems that run on the Linux kernel, meaning they are flexible operating systems and often free, which is beneficial if you are on a budget. However, Linux can be challenging if you are less tech-savvy, due to the focus on the command line to control all functions of the system. If you are an experienced user, the command line can become a very easy-to-use and resourceful tool. Because the Linux kernel is open source, it is highly customizable, and there are a variety of user interfaces available that you can choose from on any device. If you are a developer, Linux distros are worth looking into because of the flexibility, but for business purposes, or even just the common personal user, it can be complicated and oftentimes it does not allow access to proprietary software, which can be inefficient for businesses requiring that functionality. Linux is based on Unix, an operating system dating back to the 1970s.

    Mobile Operating Systems — While there are some open-source mobile operating systems, oftentimes they are proprietary and offered on specific pieces of hardware. For example, Apple’s iOS is preinstalled and unique to Apple’s iPhones and iPad tablets. Android is an open-source option and runs on a range of mobile devices but also comes preinstalled on some hardware. If you are comfortable with specific devices, that will most likely dictate which operating system you choose. These operating systems are also attached to specific application stores. If you are interested in certain applications, they may not be available or contain the same level of functionality due to proprietary restrictions. You can use mobile OS interfaces for both business and personal adoption.


    Operating System Features

    There are countless configurations of hardware, peripheral devices, and operating systems that will empower the user with the functionality that is best for them. As we previously discussed, the operating system market has options along the spectrum of features and user-friendliness, depending on your specialization and personal preferences. But there are some primary features you should keep in mind when researching your operating system decision that can greatly impact your experience.

    Software Updates — Technology moves quickly. Not only are advancements made faster than we can keep up with, but developers work overtime on improvements based on trends, user feedback, emerging threats, and other factors. Once a new OS is released, it will typically see dozens if not hundreds of small tweaks before the next official release. You will see alerts or notifications about these software updates over the course of using your current version. System updates will be offered in the form of patches or automatic installations. Overall, these are a significant indicator of care and commitment from the developers. These robust, complicated platforms are released as fully formed as they can be, but it’s important to understand that they are works in progress based on the speed at which technology grows and feedback is received. Updates can touch on everything from minor aesthetic improvements to critical security holes that are exposed in conjunction with new viruses.

    Vendor Support — Similar to system updates, the ability to connect with your OS’ developers with feedback or performance issues is a central feature of the overall experience. While this might still be doable with phone calls in certain cases, modern operating systems have streamlined the process with built-in vendor support through online communication channels. This is in addition to thorough tutorials and help articles that should come included on your hard drive or are accessible on the developer’s website. When your OS suffers a crash or an application fails, this information will be sent to the support team. With certain platforms, the support team will be able to communicate with you directly, walk you through a fix, or take control of your device entirely to investigate the situation. Depending on your line of work—and how much strain you put on your devices—this seamless support experience can be invaluable.

    Applications — Operating systems are not just homes for your third-party apps and tools. In many cases, they offer proprietary programs that can be just as useful (if not more so) in your daily routine. Windows and Mac operating systems are famous for their built-in application programs, which range from note-taking management software to media players, in addition to games and tools like calculators. As you research operating systems for yourself or your business, take note of the included applications and if you prefer some over others. These various programs are a calling card of the biggest operating systems and can add up to a make-or-break feature for certain buyers.

    Permissions — You may desire multiple accounts on the same computer or the ability to share devices across your business depending on the situation. The permissions feature allows you to manage this in great detail. You can delegate user access for however many people you need, which allows users to save and access their own files and programs and wall off their account with a unique password. This is especially handy if you have confidential information on your primary account but want others to be able to use the device at certain times.

    Security — We unfortunately live in a time when cyberthreats run rampant, endangering personal information, finances, and the overall integrity and health of expensive computers. As the gatekeeper of your files, data, and critical applications, your operating system is also the most at-risk software you use, with the widest range of dangers presented against it. You can, and should, fortify your system with various kinds of security software to protect it at every level. With that said, your OS should come with its own security offerings that are designed to identify, block, and fight against threats, in addition to some form of recovery tool that helps save critical information and restore it in the event of hacks, viruses, or system failures. This is a feature that was once a luxury but is now one of the most important considerations when it comes to operating systems, including network operating systems for network devices such as firewalls, switches, and routers.


    Potential Issues with Operating Systems

    Complexity — Outside of the most popular, consumer-minded operating systems, the other products in this category can involve a degree of difficulty in relation to their programming, installation, and general use. Even the most user-friendly platforms can present hurdles for the average user throughout the lifecycle of usage. If you are considering a new operating system, read some verified reviews to get a sense of the usability and what the expectations are for new users.

    Integrations and Application Support — In a perfect world, every piece of software would play nice with the myriad hardware systems on the market. But due to the wide range of performance needs and specifications, your preferred OS may not integrate smoothly with your current hardware setup or applications. This can also pose an issue longer after setup, if you deal with new applications or files that conflict with your desktop’s abilities. Fortunately, cloud computing allows you to manage certain files or applications without bothering your hard drive. But integrations or lack thereof are crucial to be aware of from the get-go.

    Performance — Putting a strain on your car can cause the engine to overheat, no matter how flashy it may seem when you buy it. The same goes for your OS. As you stack programs onto your devices, juggle various tasks at once, and your hardware ages in general, it can translate to performance issues such as lagging and overall diminishing speed. This can also lead to programs randomly being dropped or the operating system crashing entirely. Just like your car, the better you take care of your computer, the longer it will remain healthy. This should entail regular cleanings, such as deleting old files, and only running one or two programs at a time. Web activity can also be a drain on your operating system, so keep an eye on how many tabs you have open, downloads you perform, and how much content you stream at a given time. You should also be vigilant in your security efforts, block pop-ups, and not download files you don’t trust to minimize the risk of performance problems.

    OS performance overall has a lot to do with hardware quality. Some devices are more customizable than others, and this is important to keep in mind when planning a hardware upgrade for yourself or your organization. You should not try to install and run certain operating systems before looking into your hardware’s specifications and capabilities in relation to what the OS requires. Even if your hardware has the right specifications, issues can still arise if your computer is struggling with memory or processing issues. So be sure to thoroughly vet your devices before upgrading to a new OS.

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