Choosing the perfect PC platform has never been easier. There have been significant advances in the Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac and Linux operating systems, so let PC Advisor show you how to enjoy the benefits of all four.

Once, you were either a Windows user, a Mac devotee or a Unix geek. Whatever your poison, you had one OS (operating system) and little or no intention of changing allegiance to another.

Those days are over, however, thanks to the ubiquity of the Intel processor and the hard work of legions of software developers. Now, Apple's systems can run Windows XP and Vista as well as the Mac OS. Meanwhile, Vista is available on new PCs, but you can boot the same system with a Ubuntu Linux disc you downloaded and burned for free. And if you like Ubuntu, you can install it alongside Windows in just a few clicks.

Drastic improvements in virtualisation software, along with hardware advances and standardisation on x86 CPUs, allow any OS to play host to virtual versions of others. Every computer needs a primary OS, but mixing-and-matching them is now far easier.

It's not uncommon for a hobbyist to own a mix of Apple Macs running OS X, PCs running XP and Vista and a couple of computers with Linux distributions. But mainstream users are getting in on the multi-OS act too.

Here, we'll look at whether you should stick with Windows XP, make the move to Vista or perhaps try something entirely different. Whatever you regard as the most important aspect of your day-to-day computing experience – security, usability, software support or appearance – we've got the right system for your needs.

Over the next five pages we outline the key benefits of each OS to take the hassle out of deciding whether XP, Vista, Mac OS or Linux is most suitable for you. And the prescient facts are presented here, in this feature comparison table:

icon Download: OS comparison table

Quick links:
Mac, PC or Linux?

Extolling Windows XP

Vista sightings

Mac attack

Lots to like in Linux

The full version of this article appears in the June 07 issue of PC Advisor, on sale now