Windows is currently the most widely used operating system worldwide, with Windows 10 boasting over 1 billion users around the globe. This is because Windows has legacy apps and unique features you can’t find anywhere else. Still, free alternative operating systems are always welcome since they feature many interesting and exclusive applications. In this post, you’ll discover the best Alternatives to Windows. This way, you can maybe select one for a dual boot configuration.
However, if you are looking for a free alternative only due to the price of a Windows license, you don’t need to go for half measures. With RoyalCDKeys, you can get legitimate and fully working Windows licenses for less than 4$.
Table of Contents:
Alternatives to Windows - [13 Free Substitute Operating Systems]
Which other operating systems exist on the market today?
Which Other Operating Systems Exist on the Market Today?
There are several alternatives to Windows NT operating system out there, some more known than others. Most famous are Linux operating system and Mac OS X, the Apple distribution for their computers. But, again, next, we’re going to describe some other options we believe are worth checking.
There is not much to say about this operating system for Apple computers. It’s famous on its own. Currently, this OS is used by around 1 million people around the world.
Strictly speaking, macOS (AKA Mac OS X) is a free operating system, as long as you buy an Apple computer. One may say it’s not exactly true since you can install macOS on a “Hackintosh,” a non-Apple machine with a macOS installed. However, this is not legal, so we recommend you not to do it.
When you buy a Mac Mini, a MacBook Air, or any other Apple machine, you receive MacOS for free, including hardware support, apps, etcetera. This, plus the excellent performance and stability, are main reasons why people prefer Mac OS over Windows.
Among all the free operating systems in this list, Linux Ubuntu is probably one of the most known due to its increasing popularity. This is not a new operating system as it was released as an alternative to Windows on October 20, 2004. Since then, it has received several improvements and provides a lot of developer support for both OS and Windows games.
Besides, this open-source operating system is really easy to use because it is considered the first alternative to Windows and a user-friendly OS.
This Linux distro, contrary to the many other Linux distros out there, has a huge history of support, then you don’t have to worry about the OS being abandoned.
Ubuntu is a great alternative for those users who want to try a new desktop environment. This full feature and a popular operating system will provide you with a fresh experience.
Just like Linux Ubuntu, Manjaro is a Linux distribution designed to be a user-friendly Windows alternative, replacing the classic OS with a familiar interface and features. This reliable operating system gains adepts daily since it can run many Windows applications and games with the same performance.
Manjaro Linux offers several officially-supported desktop environments, for instance, XFCE, KDE, and GNOME. You can also install PlayOnLinux and/or Steam Proton to access your desired Windows software.
Manjaro features a great update management system, hardware management, and driver installation. Besides, its one-click philosophy is something worth remarking on.
Chromium OS is the open-source version of Google Chrome OS and Chrome OS Flex. The source code of Chrome OS was released in November 2009, calling itself Chromium OS.
This is an alternative operating system based on Linux and designed for Google.
Chromium accepts legacy applications, such as Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365. It can also run Linux applications through virtual machines with a Debian Linux environment. This alternative OS, just like Windows, uses tabs to open web apps. A window manager controls the interaction between the user and multiple windows.
Chromium features firmware, which contributes to the fast boot time and security by verifying each step in the boot process. It also integrates a Linux core for better boot performance.
Installing Chromium OS can be a bit hard, but you can build it to your liking if you’re skilled enough. This is one of the free alternatives that are worth trying if you like the Windows user interface.
This Linux distribution is one of the most interesting modern operating systems as an alternative to Microsoft Windows OS. Fedora features the latest applications and hardware drivers; thus, it’s perfect for those who like a stonish graphical user interface and a fresh environment.
Fedora is supported and maintained by an international community of engineers, designers, graphics, and users. It is reliable, stable, and the vanguard of open-source software.
Among all the Windows alternatives in this list, Fedora is the only one that has sponsorship from Red Hat, other IT businesses, and PC manufacturers, such as Lenovo and Dell.
Fedora seeks to include open-source software and be the leader in all technology fields. Besides, the developers prefer to make all the changes directly in the original sources and not to use patches.
Furthermore, Fedora has its package of software to work in this environment. Anyway, it is easy to run third-party software since Fedora introduced Flathub.
Fedora uses the latest itineration of GNOME desktop environment, Gnome 41. This features a modern interface with a good CPU performance and power consumption balance. So, Fedora has to be one of your prime candidates among all Windows alternatives.
Among all the alternatives to Windows operating systems, Linux Mint rivals side by side with Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. Mint is based on Ubuntu and Debian, but it differs from the latter in one important aspect; Mint integrates all the features from scratch, then you can use it immediately.
Mint Linux OS offers open-source software as well as closed third-party software. Besides, Mint provides a space for programs that do not have an open-source alternative. For example, if you want to run Windows programs or play Adobe Flash content, you’ll need a special plugin. It is possible to install this plugin in Linux Mint.
This is attractive for users who want to run all the classic features on free Windows alternatives. Furthermore, Mint is famous for its collection of user-friendly Mint tools that allow you to administer your Linux platform easily and perform every task.
No doubt that Linux Mint is one of the free alternatives to Windows worth trying. We believe Mint will become the most popular operating system in a few years, not including the Windows NT family versions.
If you have always been one of these PC users who loved the Mac OS X interface but never had a Hackintosh or Apple machine, then Elementary OS is the free alternative to Windows you need to try.
Just like the most popular operating systems out there, Elementary OS stands as a powerful and ethical replacement for Windows, distributing its system through a pay-how-much-you-can model.
This alternative OS to Windows NT architecture is developed over Ubuntu. Elementary OS includes its package management environments, such as the desktop Pantheon, the window manager Gala, and some basic apps. Among these are an email client, an app store, and file management.
Elementary OS philosophy rounds the principles of “less is more” and immediate usability, where basic features are installed from scratch, providing a friendly learning curve. One of the competent and coherent alternatives to Windows PC OS, and one that stands out above many operating systems out there.
FreeBSD has several similarities with Linux, but while the latter is a Linux Kernel with several distributions contributing to building a complete OS, FreeBSD is a complete OS release.
Still, suppose you seek a free operating system for your personal computer to use as the basis for your custom operating system. In that case, FreeBSD is a good alternative to the Windows server.
FreeBSD integrates a wide range of software packages that provide several alternatives to administrator options.
While Linux requires all its modifications to be licensed as open-source, FreeBSD does not ask for this requirement. This is why Sony Entertainment used this OS as the basis for the PS4 operating system. Literally, it’s impossible to find the source code on the Internet, a thing that does not happen with open source software!
Using FreeBSD is the perfect choice for those who want to release a hardware product and need an OS for it. In these terms, this OS is the best Windows alternative out there!
Illumos is a UNIX-based OS derived from Open Solaris, an operating system abandoned in 2009. The core of Illumos is also based on FreeBSD and System V Release 4.
Unix works very similar to Linux, in which Kernel is found in every Linux distro. That said, there are several Illumos distributions available. Most users prefer OpenIndiana, one of the most popular open-source OS-related Illumos.
Illumos does not put its attention into the graphic subsystem or desktop component. It’s focused on the OS, providing good software support for developers who want to create their projects based on the core of OpenSolaris.
Among all the OS mentioned in this list, ReactOS is likely the only one that can be called “a real alternative to Windows.” It’s because ReactOS integrates a Windows-like interface. Besides, it also can run all the software written for Windows natively.
The ReactOS kernel is designed to work with the Windows family of operating systems, and it should run all the apps for Windows since 2003. In addition, ReactOS is very similar to the FreeDOS project since it’s compatible with DOS software.
ReactOS feels like Windows regarding web browsing and most basic tasks. What's more, for those who love Windows 7, this new OS will make them feel that they’re using the old itineration of Microsoft but on a modern PC. This great software compatibility turns it into a great alternative to Windows.
If you currently have dual boot Windows, you can easily replace one of these for ReactOS and try it. You can use it as a daily-driver operating system. If not, you can always use this proprietary OS on a second personal computer if you can’t pay for another Windows license.
Haiku is another open-source operating system in development. This is heavily focused on personal and multimedia applications. Contrary to most OS mentioned above, Haiku is a lightweight OS. Besides, it’s fast, efficient, and easy to learn. Currently, it’s in the beta phase, but it contains many various apps of GNU/Linux and BDS, such as video, images, sound editors, and web browsers.
Haiku also runs many features and applications from BeOS, the abandoned OS, achieving a long range of possibilities for most users who love this old OS. In a few words, an operating system with a nice desktop use and a highly complete OS when it comes to general native developments.
Zorin is another Linux distribution but very different from the ones above. The developers of Zorin heavily focus on creating a user-friendly environment that helps both macOS and Windows users transition comfortably to their OS. This way, Zorin can become the best alternative to them, turning them into new users.
To do this, Zorin integrates several desktop layout templates very similar to those you can find in Windows, macOS, or Ubuntu. Zorin is based on the latter and has a modified version of GNOME. Besides, it can use Wine or PlayOnLinux, allowing you to run games and use applications that you normally utilize on Windows.
There are different versions of Zorin, three in total, but only two versions are free. The Pro version costs money, but you can use one license on multiple devices. One advantage of this OS is that it comes with several value-added features, such as the option to add a desktop layout that looks like Windows 11.
It also includes regular security updates, third-party preinstalled software, a password manager, and more. However, if you prefer the free version, you can use third-party software without problems.
Wayne OS is a new Chrome OS for PC and free and open-source software based on Chromium OS. This project intends to offer useful binary, source code, document, video, and user support in multi-languages for non-Chromebook devices.
Since Chromium OS is designed for Chromebook, it may be a bit hard to use. Due to this, Wayne OS is a direct response to this difficulty, providing huge compatibility and additional features for the end user and developers.
Besides, Wayne OS is diverse, allowing you to port it and providing an easy installation. You can also modify the splash screen, the login process, brand identity, and the source code. Wayne OS works as removable storage in Windows/macOS.
Having two or more operating systems in your machine is always a good idea since the performance of your PC will be more versatile. Of course, not all the OS mentioned above boasts full compatibility, but most of them are free and open-source software.
Anyway, if none of these alternatives convinces you, and you’re looking for a free alternative due to the Windows key price, RoyalCDKeys offers cheap and legitimate Windows keys for less than 4$.
Come for your Windows CD Key and start with the latest version of this OS and all the applications it brings to you!