When it comes to choosing an Operating System it’s not an easy question to answer, especially if you’re not familiar with both Macs and PCs. But this quick blog of each platform’s strengths and weaknesses should help.

Chrome OS

Found on relatively cheap, lightweight laptops such as the HP Chromebook 14, Google’s Chrome OS is the simplest and most secure platform around, but can also feel a bit limited. The user interface looks a lot like traditional Windows with an application menu, a desktop and the ability to drag windows around. The main type window you’ll be using is the Chrome browser and most “applications” are simply shortcuts to web tools.

Because it’s mainly a browser, Chrome OS is unlikely to get infected with a trojan or virus and, if you’ve ever surfed the web on another computer, you’ll be right at home with the platform’s look and feel. The downside is that there are few offline apps and those that exist don’t always work well. However, if you need a device for surfing the web, checking email, social networking and doing online chats, Chromebooks are quite cheap, highly-portable and last a long time on a charge.

Windows 8.1

Windows notebooks are generally more affordable than Macs (starting under £200) and offer a much wider range of design choices from more than a dozen major vendors. Unlike Apple, Microsoft and its partners allow users to buy notebooks with touch screens, as well as convertible designs that let you easily transform from notebook to tablet mode.

If you’re used to the Windows interface, but haven’t tried Windows 8.1, you may be in for a jarring surprise. The new OS has replaced the Start menu with a tile-based start screen and a raft of new full-screen, touch-friendly apps. However, Windows 8.1 still has a desktop mode for running all your existing apps and you can boot directly to it. It’s also not hard, with a few utilities and settings tweaks, to add a Start Menu fro Stardock and make the UI look a lot like Windows 7.

Apple OS X Yosemite

Apple’s MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros offer an easy-to-use operating system in OS X Yosemite. In fact, some may find OS X easier to navigate than the newer and bolder Windows 8.1. MacBooks offer iOS-like features such as Launch Pad for your apps, superior multitouch gestures, and the ability to take calls from your iPhone.

MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros also tend to outclass most Windows machines when it comes to industrial design and the touchpad. While Windows PCs offer more software choices, Apple makes it easier to find and install programs with the Mac App Store. However, Apple’s notebooks start at £600.