Help Me Choose: Operating System

The operating system (OS) is the most important software on your PC because your PC must have an OS to run other programs. The OS allows you to give your computer commands through the graphical interface, like where to save your personal files, without you speaking the computer’s language. It recognizes input from the keyboard, sends output to the monitor, organizes files and directories on the hard disk, and controls devices like webcams and printers. In addition, it manages how your computer accesses available networks.

To choose the right OS, consider how you plan to use your PC and whether it is touch-enabled.

If you’re buying a touch-enabled PC, want to use cloud services and Windows apps in addition to the features of Windows 7, and want a faster loading time, choose a Windows 8.1 edition.

If you browse the internet, work on Word documents, make presentations, use social media, and you’re not buying a touch-enabled PC, choose a Windows 7 edition.

If you mostly use web-based applications, are not dependent on OS-specific programs, want low cost of ownership, you’re comfortable with open-source software, choose Ubuntu if it’s available.

To learn more about the features and editions of Windows 10, 8.1, Windows 7 and Ubuntu, use the tabs below.
Choose Windows 10 if you want to:…Features
Do things confidently.
  • It’s the familiar feel of Windows - only better

It all begins at start. The Start menu is back and better than ever so you can expand and customize it.

Fast and responsive. Technologies like InstantGo let you boot up and resume quickly.
Do things naturally.
  • Windows 10 is designed to fit who you are and how you do things

Touch, type, pen. Choose what works best for what you’re doing.

Start and Live Tiles. Reach your favorite things fast with customizable Start screen and Live Tiles.
Do things simply.
  • Lots of great features for keeping things easy and simple across your devices.

More ways to play. Stream and play your Xbox One games to any Windows 10 PC in your home.

Great built-in apps. Windows 10 comes with apps – Photos, Maps, Music Video and more – that work across your devices.

Free cloud storage. 15GB of free OneDrive storage: easy, anywhere access to your files and photos.
Do things easily.
  • Windows 10 gives you great ways to start fast and stay focused.

A web you can write on. Write directly on web pages and easily share the mark-ups with friends.

Get organized. Snap up to four apps on the screen and create new desktops for more space.
Choose ...If you ... Features*
New Windows 8.1 FeaturesWant more personalization optionsSet the lock screen to your favorite photo, or turn the lock screen display into a slide show of your pictures. Pin tiles to your Start screen for the people, sites, and apps that matter to you, and arrange them the way you want.
Would like Improved AppsApps that you love have been redesigned with better features :
  • Photos app allows user to open pictures from other apps – Mail, OneDrive, Camera
  • Camera App allows you to record video and take a picture at the same time. Also there is new Panorama functionality
  • xBox Music and Video app has been completely redesigned to simplify user experience
  • Mail app has a new print function in the app bar, gives notifications while in other apps
Like to SkypeNothing beats Skype when you want to catch up with your best friend, see your kids when you’re on the road, or reconnect with far-away family.
Plan to use a touch-enabled device
  • Windows UI designed for touch input
Want to take advantage of the wide range of new Windows apps designed for Windows 8.1
  • Windows Store (wireless connectivity is required to access the Store)
Want real-time updates to the information you care about
  • Live Tiles
Want assurance that you always have the latest version of your Windows app


  • Windows Store always has the latest software available (wireless connectivity is required to access the Store)
Want secure bootup
  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) BIOS that intercepts and notifies you of threats early in the boot process
Want to use cloud services to the fullestWindows Store — purchased apps are available on multiple devices.
Windows Store — pick up where you left off in a game or app; from anywhere you can access your app (wireless connectivity is required to access the Store).
OneDrive — Windows apps are more easily integrated with OneDrive. (internet connection required)

Touch, keyboard and mouse: seamless integration

Windows is hands-on and designed to eliminate the need to choose. You don’t have to “work” on your PC and “play” on your tablet. The most efficient way to get stuff done is immediately available. Whether you’re browsing apps, reading a book, typing on the go with touch, creating a project that requires the more productive horsepower of a traditional mouse and keyboard, or doing everything at once, Windows 8.1 makes it easy. You use whatever works best, whenever it works best. No trade-offs.

On new touch-enabled PCs, the things you can do with a mouse and keyboard are just as easy to do with touch. You can switch between apps, organize your start screen, and pan and zoom. With the touch keyboard, you can navigate, type and interact on the go. Because you work in different ways depending on which app you’re using, Windows makes it easy to use whichever method works best.

The touch keyboard has two modes designed to suit the way you work. You get a full-sized keyboard with large buttons or a handy thumb keyboard that splits the keys on either side of the screen, making it easy and more comfortable to use on the go. Typing feels natural whether you’re sitting down or walking around.
The Windows keyboard speaks your language. On new, touch-enabled PCs, the keyboard layout automatically adjusts to the language you choose for Windows, so your language settings apply to the whole PC rather than just certain apps. Whether you want to type and click, swipe and tap, or do a combination of both, you can navigate and work easily and efficiently in the language of your choice with Windows.

If you want to ...Choose ...
Use your PC for web surfing.Windows 7 Home Basic
Use your PC primarily for entertainment, in addition to web surfing,
gaming and productivity. (Enjoy and share your favorite TV shows, photos,
videos and music.)
Windows 7 Home Premium
Use your PC both at home and at work. (Enjoy all the multimedia and
entertainment features of Windows 7 Home Premium, plus business
relevant features, such as Location Aware Printing and Windows Mobility
Center Presentation Mode.)
Need Windows 7 Professional today but may want to use Windows 8.1 Pro in the future
— Want to enable your Downgrade Rights* as defined in the Windows 8.1 EULA*. What is it: This offering* is a License of Windows 8.1 Pro, with the installation of Windows 7 Professional. This does not have a license of Windows 7 Professional.
Windows 7 Professional
Have it all — the multimedia benefits of Windows 7 Home Premium,
plus the business features of Windows 7 Professional. (Get added
security features and the flexibility to work in multiple languages.)
Windows 7 Ultimate

Note: The system you are configuring may or may not include all of the options listed here.

Some product features may require advanced or additional hardware.
2. Downgrade Rights enable a customer who purchases a Windows 8.1 Pro license to utilize a different operating system in the place of the licensed OS. Specifically at Dell, we are enabling Windows 7 Professional in the place of Windows 8.1 Pro. The PC licensed for Windows 8.1 Pro may only have 1 Operating System installed at a time, so the customer may utilize a Windows 8.1 Pro Operating System or Windows 7 Professional. With this offering we are installing Windows 7 Professional in place of Windows 8.1, but providing the license to Windows 8.1 Pro in the BIOS so that when the customer chooses to upgrade to Windows 8.1, the customer will have a licensed and activated Operating System installed on the PC.
3. The EULA is the End User License Agreement. This is an agreement between the PC Owner and Windows that enables the PC Owner’s right to use either Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 Pro. For reference this document can be accessed from the following link:  (Instructions: Choose Pre-Installed on your computer from the computer manufacturer, Product Name: Windows, Version: 8.1 Pro, Language: your choice).
4. To enable downgrade to Windows 7 on this system the BIOS settings on this system were changed to boot into legacy BIOS mode. If the BIOS setting is not changed to native UEFI mode boot prior to installing, Windows 8.1 Pro [update] Product or Windows 8.1 Pro will install; however, the following Windows 8.1 Pro [update] Product, Windows 8.1 Pro functionalities will not work as they rely on a native UEFI mode boot:
• Secure Boot
• Seamless Boot experience
• Network unlock for Bitlocker for systems with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM)
• eDrive support
Ubuntu is an open-source operating system built for linux enthusiasts. Dell offers the Ubuntu OS on select products as an alternative to Windows or Chrome.

Which should you choose?

You might prefer Ubuntu if:

You are comfortable with open-source software.
You want to customize your operating system.
You want to save money by using one of the most popular alternative operating systems in the market and be free from licensing fees.

Features & Design

Ubuntu can have a low total cost of ownership over the life of your computer and there are thousands of free applications available through the Ubuntu Software Center.
An office productivity suite, LibreOffice, also comes bundled with Ubuntu and is compatible with Microsoft Office Suite.
Ubuntu is safe and secure. With a trusted application software repository, data encryption and built-in protection from malware and viruses, you can be protected.
Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Release) brings 5 years of free security and maintenance updates.