I was talking to someone at work recently, and the topic of whether to choose MiKTeX or TeX Live on Windows came up. With MiKTeX 2.8 released and TeX Live 2009 due out any day, I thought I’d make a few comments.

First, both systems are very capable, so there is not really a ‘wrong’ decision. However, when installing you do have to pick one. In the past, MiKTeX was the best choice for Windows by a distance, but recent work on TeX Live has altered this. So I’d say there are some factors to balance against each other.

  • If you work on Windows and on Unix, then TeX Live is the system to favour. It preforms essentially in the same way across platforms, whereas you’ll get some minor differences if you use MiKTeX on Windows and TeX Live on Unix.
  • If you want to only install what you use, go for MiKTeX. TeX Live doesn’t have anything to match the auto-installation system in MiKTeX.
  • On the other hand, if your happiest installing everything in one go, go for TeX Live. It does this by default, and includes any new packages when you do an update. For MiKTeX, a full installation is something you have to do deliberately.

As you’ll see, there is not much in it! I’m mainly using TeX Live, but still have MiKTeX around as well.