Poll: In a fight between Vista, OS X, Linux, XP...

... which OS is top dog for silicon.com readers?

... which OS is top dog for silicon.com readers?

In a fight between a penguin and a leopard which one wins? The leopard of course - but when it comes to choosing an operating system, Windows XP is top dog for silicon.com readers.

Asked which operating system they would use if they had a choice, Windows XP was named by almost half (42 per cent) of respondents as their numero uno.

And while that may sound like good news for Microsoft, there is a sting in the tail for the folks in Redmond. Among silicon.com readers at least, the most recent iteration of Windows - aka Vista - garnered just 14 per cent of the vote, making it less popular than both Mac OS X and Linux.

Only an option for 'other Unix' gained fewer votes, being first choice for a marginal one per cent of readers.

Mac OS X came second, with the backing of close to a third (27 per cent) of readers, followed by Linux which was first choice for 16 per cent of those polled - just pushing Vista off the podium to squeeze into third place.

Earlier this year, PC maker Dell back-pedalled on its position of offering almost all its systems as Vista-based - giving consumers the chance to opt for XP instead. The company has also bowed to customer pressure to offer PCs with Ubuntu installed, for Linux lovers.

Vista is unpopular with many silicon.com readers as they believe it doesn't offer substantial benefits over and above XP - and yet in their view it does come with clear disadvantages, from the 'hassle factor' of upgrading from something that already works, to it being a bit of a beast when it comes to system resources.

Describing his experience with Vista in a recent Reader Comment, silicon.com reader Anthony Hunt, a software developer from Maidstone, Kent, said: "After using Vista Ultimate for four months, I got fed up with the slow and unstable OS, plus the dusty scanner and webcam staring accusingly at me, unused because of no driver support. Even the 8800 card (DX10) runs faster in XP. Vista just doesn't offer anything positive."

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An anonymous IT manager from Scotland echoed this sentiment: "Of the nine new PCs I've dealt with in the past few months, I've been asked to remove Vista from eight of them. Vista came along more RAM hungry, more CPU hungry and more disk hungry but doesn't really offer enough to justify it over XP for the average computer user."

While Rob Taylor, an IT director from West Yorkshire, said: "Vista - Very Glossy - but not user friendly and incredibly buggy, every PC/laptop we purchase now comes with Vista and is instantly downgraded to XP."

Another reader - going by the name Richard A - said he was "shocked" at how slow the OS ran on a new Intel core duo Sony Vaio laptop. "Why anybody would willingly trade a stable and established XP environment for the wading though treacle experience of driverless Vista is quite utterly beyond me," he said, adding: "Granted, it has borrowed a few nice flourishes from the Apple Mac user interface but it really has little else to recommend it above XP. Apart from security, of course."

Neil Thatcher, an IT manager from the South East, summed up many readers' views with his Reader Comment: "The changes to Vista over XP are simply gloss and change for change's sake which translate as nothing more than annoyances."

Microsoft was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

The poll was taken by more than 1,600 silicon.com readers.