Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (2023)

Are you sick of Windows operating system? Do you want to use a free open source system to replace it? If so, you can read this post, in which MiniTool recommends top 6 free operating systems to you.

Why Need Windows Alternatives?

Since its introduction in 1985, Windows has been the most popular operating system on PCs. Many PCs have Windows OS installed before they are sold because Windows OS has the widest compatibility. Most of time, you will get a Windows PC when you buy a personal computer.

However, after a long time use of Windows PC, you may want to switch to another OS for the following reasons:

  1. You are just sick of Windows OS and want to try something new.
  2. Your Windows OS is slightly old and you don't want to pay for the OS upgrade.
  3. The Windows OS has a poor performance in some aspects and therefore you want to use another OS.
  4. Other reasons.

Based on the above reasons, I will recommend some free Windows alternatives to you.

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Free Alternative Operating Systems to Windows

Free Alternative Operating Systems to Windows

  1. Ubuntu
  2. Chrome OS
  3. Debian
  4. OpenSUSE UI
  5. Free BSD
  6. ReactOS

1. Ubuntu

Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (2)

Ubuntu is a Linux operating system mainly for desktop applications, which is suitable for laptops, desktops and servers. Wherever you use it—at home, school or work—it contains all the applications you need.

Based on Debian and GNOME, Ubuntu is one of the older distributions. So far, it is still one of the most popular Linux versions.

Starting from version 11.04, the Ubuntu distribution abandoned the Gnome desktop environment and changed to Unity. But it shifted back to GNOME again since Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

Ubuntu desktop has a dock on the left that includes basic application icons, Firefox for browsing, and Libre Office for productivity. To its right, there are other icons along the top of the screen. But most of these icons are settings-based features and provide basic functions like network, language, sound, time, date, etc.

If you want to access other functions and contents, you need to go to Ubuntu's Dash menu and select the Dash icon you find on the Dock. Anyway, Ubuntu is more familiar to Mac OS X users.

There are other variants of Ubuntu like the followings:

  1. Lubuntu: Lubuntu is a fast, lightweight, and energy-efficient variant of Ubuntu. It uses LXDE desktop environment and is designed for low-resource configuration systems and older personal computers.
  2. Xubuntu: It uses Xfce desktop environment, which is also a relatively lightweight desktop environment. It consumes lower resource usage than the standard version. But, compared with Lubuntu, its desktop environment is more complete and usable.
  3. Kubuntu: It uses KDE desktop environment, which is famous for its powerful functions, multi-functions, and gorgeous configuration. However, its resource occupancy rate is relatively high.
  4. Linux Mint: It is a Linux operating system based on Ubuntu or Debian. It has multiple editions based on Ubuntu, with various available desktop environments including Cinnamon, MATE, KDE, and Xfce. The Cinnamon desktop is the trademark of Linux Mint and is famous for its simplicity, ease of use, and powerful features.
  5. Chalet OS: It is based on Xubuntu and uses Xfce desktop environment. This system is not too different from Xubuntu, but it features appealing simplicity and impressive speed. It will revive some old machines, because of its small hardware requirements.
  6. Zorin OS: It is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu, which is designed for Linux novices. It has a Windows-like GUI and a lot of Windows-like applications. It even comes with programs that allow you to run many Windows programs. It aims to provide a Linux alternative to Windows and let Windows users enjoy all the features of Linux while avoiding the hassle.

Of course, some versions are not listed here, but the above are some of the relatively famous versions and enough for you to choose.

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2. Chrome OS

Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (4)

Google Chrome OS is a Linux-based open source (free) operating system. It is preinstalled on a number of low-cost and some high-end laptops, known as Chromebooks. But, you can also install it manually and freely, because it's an open source OS.

This alternative operating system is targeted at netbooks, compact and low-cost computers. Most applications in Chrome OS will be done on the web. Speed, simplicity, and security are key features of Chrome OS. Chrome OS users don't have to worry about viruses, malware, Trojans, security updates, and other annoying things.

This free operating system is lightweight and suitable for installing on aging hardware. It's also great for web browsing, social networking, and word processing. But it’s less impressive at media playback, and media editing and gaming are beyond its capabilities.

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3. Debian

Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (6)

As I mentioned above, Ubuntu is based on Debian, and some versions of Linux Mint are also based on Debian, which is a UNIX-like operating system composed entirely of free software.

Debian systems currently use the Linux kernel, FreeBSD kernel, or GNU Hurd kernel, but most of them mainly use the Linux kernel. In addition, most of the basic tools in the operating system come from the GNU project. Therefore, "Debian" often refers to Debian GNU/Linux system.

Debian supports a wide range of desktop environments, including GNOME, KDE, Cinnamon, MATE, and more. What's more, most Ubuntu software packages work fine in Debian. In addition, many Linux purists prefer Debian to either of its popular offshoots because of the low disk and RAM occupancy, and the high stability.

On the other hand, Debian has a much slower release cycle, and users may also encounter some hardware compatibility issues. But you can use an installation package, which includes proprietary software designed to improve this situation.

If you want a Windows alternative or Windows 10 alternative, this free operating system is one of the good choices. Please note that Debian is more suited to experienced Linux users.

4. OpenSUSE

Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (7)

OpenSUSE, formerly known as SUSE Linux and SUSE Linux Professional, is a stand-alone release based on Linux kernel. It provides both KDE and GNOME as desktop environments and is widely used worldwide, especially in Germany.

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This OS currently has two versions: Tumbleweed and Leap. The Tumbleweed version is suitable for developers who like new technologies, while the Leap version is more suitable for use in production environments.

Tumbleweed features a rolling release cycle, which means packages are updated on a daily basis. Users, therefore, benefit from a bleeding-edge OS, but possibly at the cost of stability. As for Leap, it has a regular 8-month update schedule and is generally regarded as the more stable OpenSUSE version.

No matter which version you choose, you can change to another version at any time after installation.

In addition, it features an easy-to-use YaST control center, which provides an intuitive graphic user interface for tinkering with just about every aspect of the OS, including hard disk partitioning, system setup, online updates, network and firewall configuration, user administration, package management, etc.

If you want to switch Windows to Linux, this OS can be one of your choices.

5. Free BSD

Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (8)

FreeBSD is the first open source system, and it is derived from BSD Unix-based source code. It can be said that FreeBSD is a continuation of UNIX. The only reason why it's not called BSD Unix is that the "UNIX" trademark belongs to the TOG (The Open Group).

This is a highly complete and very reliable operating system. It runs on its own kernel, and all of its key components have been developed as part of a single whole. Therefore, it is perfect for server applications and desktop use.

It doesn't come with a GUI by default, but the X-window system is straightforward to install, and there are ports of Linux window managers like Gnome and KDE available. If you want a stable OS, you can choose this one.

6. ReactOS

Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (9)

ReactOS is an open source operating system based on the Windows NT architecture, maintaining system-level compatibility with Windows.

It incorporates partial functions of Windows emulator Wine, and therefore it can run software like LibreOffice, Firefox, Opera, etc. and can even manage earlier commercial applications like Adobe Photoshop.

At present, ReactOS is aiming at full compatibility with Windows Server 2003 and isn't quite up to the Windows 10 level yet. But if you are not accustomed to the above alternative operating systems to Windows, you can choose this one.

Tips on Switching to Another OS

Before you completely remove Windows and install another system, it is recommended to operate the new system on Windows to learn and adapt to the new operation habits. After you are accustomed to the new system, then you can delete Windows.

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To do that, here are two solutions for you:

  1. Use Wmware, VirtualBox, or other virtual machine software to create a virtual system you want.
  2. Dual-boot Windows and the new system.

No matter which method you choose, you should make a partition for the new system. To do that, you may need the help of MiniTool Partition Wizard. With this software, you can make a partition more easily. Please refer to the following steps to make a partition:

Free Download

Step 1: Click the above button to download MiniTool Partition Wizard. Launch this software and go to its main interface. Then, right-click the partition you want to shrink and choose Move/Resize from the context menu.

Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (10)

Step 2: In the popup window, drag the slider to choose how much size you want to shrink and click OK to continue.

Tip: Please pay attention to the number in the box following Unallocated Space After, which is the space size you reserve for the new partition. If possible, the partition should be not less than 20 GB, which is enough for use.

Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (11)

Step 3: Right-click the gray unallocated space and choose Create from the context menu.

Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (12)

Step 4: In the popup window, choose partition properties like file system, partition label, drive letter and so on. Then, click OK to continue.

Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (13)

Step 5: Preview the changes and click Apply to confirm the changes.

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Top 6 Free Windows Alternatives – Have a Try! (14)

After that, you can make a virtual system or dual-boot Windows and another system. If you don't know how to do that, please refer to the following two posts:

  1. To make a virtual system, please read: How to Use Windows 10 as a Virtual Machine - A Step-by-Step.
  2. To dual-boot Windows and another system, please read this post: Guide to Dual-Boot Win 7 and 8 no Matter Which Is Pre-installed.

If you want to know which open source operating system can be a Windows alternative, you can read this post. The systems in this post are good, reliable and usable. You can try them. Hope you can find the one that suits you.Click to Tweet

Bottom Line

Does this post help you? Do you have other recommendations on Windows alternatives? Please leave a comment below and we will appreciate that. If you decide to replace Windows but have difficulties in making partition, you can contact us via [emailprotected]. We will reply to you as soon as possible.

Windows Alternative FAQ

What is the best alternative to Windows 10?

Free operating systems like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Chalet OS, Zorin OS, Chrome OS, Debian, openSUSE, Free BSD, ReactOS, and so on can be your choice. Or, you can use macOS, Windows 8, etc.

What is the best free operating system?

There are many free operating systems. However, in terms of reliability and usability, I recommend Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Chalet OS, Zorin OS, Chrome OS, Debian, openSUSE, Free BSD, ReactOS to you.

What is the best replacement for Windows 7?

Many operating systems can replace Windows 7, for example, Windows 8, Windows 10, macOS, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Chalet OS, Zorin OS, Chrome OS, Debian, openSUSE, Free BSD, ReactOS, etc.


Why is Microsoft giving away Windows for free? ›

Why is Microsoft giving Windows 10 for free? The company wants to get the new software on as many devices as possible. Microsoft needs a large pool of users to convince independent programmers that it's worth their time to build useful or entertaining apps for Windows 10 devices.

Which Windows operating system is free? ›

Microsoft allows anyone to download Windows 10 for free and install it without a product key. It'll keep working for the foreseeable future, with only a few small cosmetic restrictions.

Is Windows 11 still free? ›

Upgrades to Windows 11 from Windows 10 will be free. Due to the size of the download, however, ISP fees may apply for downloads that occur over metered connections.

What are the 5 operating system? ›

For the most part, the IT industry largely focuses on the top five OSs, including Apple macOS, Microsoft Windows, Google's Android OS, Linux Operating System, and Apple iOS.

Is there another operating system besides Windows? ›

Like Linux, macOS is a Unix-like operating system, but they could not be more different to use, especially when it comes to the macOS desktop environment. If you're coming from Windows and considering buying a Mac, rest assured that virtually all non-gaming software has a macOS version.

Can you use Windows free forever? ›

If you wish to not activate Windows on your personal computer at all, you can still access it for as long as you want. In other words, you will not be stopped from using Windows even if you choose to never activate the software. But there will be limitations if you don't activate Windows!

What are the disadvantages of free Windows? ›

Microsoft regularly releases updates to add new features to the operating system and make it safer. While Microsoft does make updates available to non-activated Windows, free users often don't receive security updates. This means unlicensed users will always be at risk of viruses or hackers infiltrating their systems.

How long does the free version of Windows last? ›

For those PCs, Windows 10 remains a viable option until at least October 2025. In this post, I'll cover the basics of how to install Windows 10 as an upgrade on older hardware.

Is Windows 7 free? ›

If you've purchased a new PC with a Pro version of Windows installed, often referred to as business versions, then there is a good chance you can downgrade to Windows 7 Pro for free.

Can I still get Windows 10 for free 2022? ›

As you can guess, it is very much possible to still upgrade and get Windows 10 for free in 2022. You just need to follow our methods covered above -- from using your existing Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product key or even getting a license through work or school at no cost.

Is Windows 11 free for Windows 7? ›

Owners of Windows 7 and Windows 8 do not get free upgrades to Windows 11. Windows 11 system requirements are controversially high.

How much Windows 11 license cost? ›

Buy Windows from Microsoft: $139 - $199

You can get Windows 10 Home (opens in new tab) or Windows 11 Home for $139 (opens in new tab). And you can get Windows 10 Pro (opens in new tab) or Windows 11 Pro for $199 (opens in new tab). You can get these either as downloads or on USB drives.

How can I get Windows 11 for free Legally? ›

Browse to the Download Windows 11 page(Opens in a new window) and click the Download now button under the Windows 11 Installation Assistant section, then Run the Windows11InstallationAssistant.exe file. Click the Accept and install button and your Windows 10 PC will be upgraded to Windows 11.

Will I lose anything if I upgrade to Windows 11? ›

Upgrading your system from Windows 10 to Windows 11 will not erase all your files. After the update is completed, you should have access to all user files that were previously available in Windows 10.

What are the 7 types of operating system? ›

Given below are the different types of Operating System along with brief information about each of them:
  • Batch Operating System. ...
  • Real-Time Operating System. ...
  • Time-Sharing Operating System. ...
  • Distributed Operating System. ...
  • Embedded Operating System. ...
  • Network Operating System. ...
  • Mobile Operating System.

What are the 6 types of operating system? ›

Types of Operating System
  • Batch OS.
  • Distributed OS.
  • Multitasking OS.
  • Network OS.
  • Real-OS.
  • Mobile OS.

What are the 3 popular OS? ›

The three most common operating systems for personal computers are Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux. Modern operating systems use a graphical user interface, or GUI (pronounced gooey).

Are there free operating systems? ›

ReactOS When it comes to free operating systems, you're probably thinking 'but it's not Windows'! ReactOS is a free and opensource OS that is based on Windows NT design architecture (like XP and Win 7). This means that most Windows applications and drivers will work seamlessly.

What is the top 5 operating system? ›

As of November 2022, Android, an operating system using the Linux kernel, is the world's most-used operating system when judged by web use. It has 42% of the global market, followed by Windows with 30%, Apple iOS with 18%, macOS with 6%, then (desktop) Linux at 1.0% also using the Linux kernel.

Is it illegal to use Windows 10 without activation? ›

Microsoft allows for the use of Microsoft 10 without activation. However, users will be required to activate the OS once the trial period expires. While failure to activate won't affect the PC or laptop running, it will limit some features. You can continue to use Windows 10 without activation.

How can I make my window 10 permanently genuine for free? ›

After you enter into Windows 10 Command Prompt, you can copy and paste this command line: slmgr. vbs /upk, in the Command Prompt window. Hit Enter to execute the command.

Is there a lifetime Windows license? ›

Microsoft Office Professional 2021 lifetime license: $30

This wildly popular offer for a Microsoft Office lifetime license is live once again for just $30. It's available for both Mac and Windows, so be sure to grab the right one for the computer that you use regularly.

How long can you use Windows 10 without activation? ›

Thus, Windows 10 can run indefinitely without activation. So, users can utilize the unactivated platform for as long as they wish at the moment. Note, however, that Microsoft's retail agreement only authorizes users to utilize Win 10 with a valid product key.

What happens if you never activate Windows? ›

When it comes to functionality, you won't be able to personalize the desktop background, window title bar, taskbar, and Start color, change the theme, customize Start, taskbar, and lock screen etc.. when not activating Windows. Additionally, you might periodically get messages asking to activate your copy of Windows.

How much does a Windows 10 activation key cost? ›

You can get a Windows 10 key from Microsoft at around $200 which is generally called a retail license. A retail license can be used to activate Windows on one system to another as you upgrade your hardware over time.

Which version of Windows lasted the longest? ›

Windows 3.1, 117 months: April 6, 1992 to December 31, 2001. Windows 95, 76 months: August 24, 1995 to December 31, 2001. Windows 98, 98 months: May 15, 1998 to July 11, 2006. Windows 2000, 127 months: December 15, 1999 to July 13, 2010.

Can I keep using Windows 10 after 2025? ›

During its announcements of the Windows 11 rollout, Microsoft reiterated that Windows 10 would remain supported until October 14, 2025. The company put it in writing, too, in a blog post(Opens in a new window) that confirms the date. This applies to both Home and Pro versions of Windows 10.

What happens if you use Windows 10 without a key? ›

If you install Windows 10 without a product key and Microsoft doesn't activate it, you will be able to use it indefinitely, but with a couple of limitations. The most important ones are as follows: Windows 10 will show an “Activate Windows” watermark in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

Is Windows 7 dead now? ›

Windows 7 is dead — for good

Windows 7 first launched in late 2009, and extended support for the operating system ended on January 14th, 2020.

Is Windows 7 free now 2022? ›

7 Still does not come for free.

Does Windows XP still work? ›

If you continue to use Windows XP now that support has ended, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.

Can I upgrade my Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 for free 2022? ›

To upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, open Media Creation Tool, select “Upgrade this PC now,” and click Install. Yes, you can still upgrade for free since the Windows 8.1 product key will activate Windows 10. Although files and apps will be preserved, you still want to create a backup of your computer.

Can I upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 11 for free? ›

(Windows 11 is free for Windows 8 users.) After downloading and installing Windows 10, search and select Windows Update Setting and select Windows Updates. When a Windows 11 update is found, download the Windows 11 file and follow the prompts to install the new operating system.

How much does it cost to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 11? ›

You can also upgrade directly from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 11 by buying a retail license, again assuming you have the required hardware. A new retail license costs anywhere between $139 and $309.

Which is better Windows 10 or 11? ›

Better virtual desktop support

You'll find it easier to create and toggle between different virtual desktops in Windows 11 than in Windows 10. Windows 11 lets you set up virtual desktops in a way that's similar to on a Mac. It allows you to toggle between multiple desktops at once for personal, work, school or gaming.

Will Windows 11 be subscription only? ›

No longer will Windows be a one-and-done purchase. It will be forever a subscription service with only one foot in your PC and the other ever more firmly in the cloud.

What is the difference between Windows 11 Home and Pro? ›

Both editions provide the same performance and apps, including Xbox Game Bar and Game Mode. Windows 11 Pro does offer increased hardware capabilities – up to 2 CPUs (128 cores) and 2 TB RAM compared to 1 CPU (64 cores) and 128 GB RAM in the Home edition.

Is Windows the only operating system? ›

Types of operating systems

Most people use the operating system that comes with their computer, but it's possible to upgrade or even change operating systems. The three most common operating systems for personal computers are Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Why Linux is better than Windows? ›

Linux is an open-source operating system, whereas Microsoft is a commercial operating system. Linux facilitates the users to have access to the source code of the operating system and authorizes them to make amendments as per their choices. On the other hand, Windows users don't have such privileges.

What is better than Windows 10? ›

Windows 11 is worth the update for most people. It comes with a wide range of new features, performance improvements, and design changes. As the latest Windows OS, it usually gets more attention than Windows 10, too. There's not too much risk in upgrading to Windows 11, either.

Is Windows 7 better than Windows 10? ›

Security and privacy

In terms of security, however, Windows 10 is a lot, lot better, hands down. Since Windows 7 is no longer receiving support, if you want to stay safe from all sorts of viruses and malware, you should upgrade to Win 10 rather than stick to Win 7. It's supported by facts.

What are the 3 main operating systems available? ›

There are many operating systems that are available however the three most common operating systems are Microsoft's Windows, Apple's macOS and Linux.

What are the 4 types of operating system? ›

Types of Operating System
  • Batch OS.
  • Distributed OS.
  • Multitasking OS.
  • Network OS.
  • Real-OS.
  • Mobile OS.

Should I get Linux or Windows? ›

The main differences between Linux and Windows are that Linux is more secure, private, and reliable. Windows is more intuitive and has support for more apps and hardware.


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