Linux vs Windows 7

Linux

It's something of a tradition that we pit the latest version of Windows against our trusty old operating system. This isn't because we want to raise the profile of Windows, or ignite further flamewars on which is better or worse. It's about understanding the market and understanding the competition. Microsoft Windows is by far the most dominant operating system on the planet, and as Linux users, we need to keep on top of new developments, new technologies and new ideas. This gives Linux the best possible chance to grow and remain relevant.

So, if you read our benchmarks comparing Windows 7, Vista and Ubuntu and are looking to find out more on what separates Windows 7 and Linux on the features front, read on...

Linux vs Windows 7

Both operating systems now occupy a distinctly different part of the market. Microsoft has taken Windows down a purely proprietary route, forging relationships with content providers and hardware vendors that keep full control from the user. Linux is completely open. Out of the box, Linux even boasts better media format support than Windows, and it can be the only way to run older hardware at its fullest potential, especially if there isn't a new driver for Windows 7.

Forewarned is forarmed

Over the life span of Windows 7, public concern for privacy, digital rights management and locked-in upgrades should help Linux to grow as an alternative when users want to keep complete control over their own hardware and software. Microsoft is now operating in a considerably different, and more technologically aware, environment than nine years ago when Windows XP was released.

The European Commission has spent a lot of time, effort and money hounding Microsoft for its alleged anti-competitive behaviour and this is going to have an impact on Windows 7 in Europe, as well as the user's awareness of the issues surrounding choice and bundling. Many average Windows users, for instance, were unaware that Internet Explorer was only one option for browsing the world wide web. Thanks to the European Commission, When Windows 7 is released in Europe it won't feature any browser at all, and for the first time, Windows users will have to make a choice about what they want to install. And making choices can get addictive.

Round 1: Performance

Much has been said about the various performance improvements in Microsoft's next operating system. After the apparent gluttony of Vista hardware requirements, Microsoft has tried to make sure that as many people as possible could attend the upgrade party. Many benchmarks have put Windows 7 performance ahead of both XP and Vista, and we saw some improvements over Vista when we initially benchmarked the open beta earlier in the year.

But when we compared the 64-bit version of Windows 7 against its equivalent Ubuntu release, Linux was faster on most of the tests we ran, including boot time, shutdown time and most of the filesystem tests. The only test where Windows 7 was significantly faster than everything else was the Richards benchmark of overall system performance.

Amount of time taken to execute the Python Richards benchmark. Measured in milliseconds; less is better.

Four months later we performed some of the same tests again, this time pitting the most recent 64-bit Linux distribution (Fedora 11) against the Windows 7 release candidate (build 7100). The most dramatic results for Linux were seen on boot speed, which for the final release of Ubuntu Jaunty measured around 35 seconds, with Fedora 11 close on its heels taking 39 seconds from power-on to desktop. Windows 7, by comparison, took almost twice as long, leaving us waiting 69 seconds from power to desktop.

We also found that a default installation of Fedora 11 running the Gnome desktop uses significantly less memory than Windows 7, at only 233MB. Windows uses 458MB, which is nearly twice as much memory.

Compatibility

But benchmarks and system monitoring is only a small part of the story. Every fresh Windows install feels fast and responsive, and it's only after several months' constant use that any weaknesses will begin to show. In the several weeks we've been using Windows 7 alongside our Linux boxes, we found it to be much more stable than XP, and snappier than Vista. We did have one problem with a corrupted filesystem while crash testing the machine with a reset, but as this is pre-release software it wouldn't be fair to criticise Windows 7 until the final version is available.

There's little doubt that Windows 7 is a solid improvement over its predecessor, and we would guess that most Windows users who were previously reluctant to upgrade XP will be happy with Windows 7 running on a new machine. Windows' greatest asset is the variety of software available, and Microsoft is going to offer an XP compatibility mode as an add-on to Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate.

This solution bundles Microsoft's Virtual PC virtualisation software along with a copy and a licence to run XP. It's not native, so it's unlikely to run your favourite games, but it will enable you to run essential XP-only software in a window on your desktop. This stands in stark contrast to the cavalier attitude to backward compatibility that Microsoft took with Vista, and it's a step that's likely to make Windows 7 an essential upgrade for many XP users.

The same isn't quite so true of hardware, which still suffers from Vista's over-zealous attitude towards hardware signing and backwards compatibility. Even if your hardware is capable of running Windows 7 it's unlikely you'll be able to exploit its capabilities unless the officially signed drivers are available for your device. With no DirectX 10 drivers for your graphics card, for example, you won't be able to enable the Aero Glass effects on the desktop, which is one of Windows 7's best features.

Worst of all, you're locked into the resolution data provided by your screen. Our test system uses two 191D cheap screens from Hanns-G. They're perfectly capable devices that work well with Linux, but we wasted days trying every trick we could think of to get them working with Windows 7, and in the end we gave up. If you found Vista's hardware installation frustrating, you're likely to have the same problems with Windows 7.

Performance

Windows 7

  • Better at synthetic benchmarks.
  • Faster transfer of large files.
  • Final version likely to improve.
  • Suspend/resume works!

Linux

  • Faster booting.
  • Less memory usage.
  • Smaller install size.
  • Broader hardware compatibility.

Round 2: Desktop warfare

Despite the hyperbole surrounding performance tuning and increased efficiency, the battleground for success is going to be the desktop. This is where we spend the most time, and it's where small changes can make a massive difference in productivity.

Windows 7 promises big improvements, but at first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that very little has changed since the release of Windows XP, which never seems too far beneath the surface. The old device manager, for instance, is identical to the now discontinued version and there are many aspects of the desktop that feel the same. But to give the new desktop a fair crack of the whip, we'll take Microsoft's own list of what's good, and compare that with what Linux has to offer.

New features, according to Microsoft

Top of the list of usability improvements is the new task bar and full-screen previews. It's now easier to add your own applications to the task bar, using a process called 'pinning', and while this has always been possible through the use of the Quick Launch tool, Microsoft is making a big deal out its new easiness, as well as another major addition - larger icons. No, really. Another much-touted usability improvement is the window thumbnail that appears when you hover your mouse cursor over a minimised application.

Each one of these features has been part of the modern Linux desktop for some time. And while features such as the thumbnail preview of an application were initially a cutting-edge part of Compiz, we now take their inclusion on a modern desktop for granted. In KDE 4.2, for example, you get exactly the same task bar functionality, and if you use a cutting-edge distribution such as Fedora 11, you'll get all the latest enhancements.

With the panel in edit mode, right-click on any menu option and you can choose to either add an icon to the desktop or to the desktop panel, and once there you can drag it into a location that most suits you. Adding full-screen preview to your Linux box is also is easy. Either use Compiz on Gnome or enable the desktop effects in KDE to get exactly the same feature, and either panel is far more configurable than the Windows equivalent. The KDE one in particular can be resized, repositioned, re-aligned, set vertical or horizontal and augmented with any number of plasmoid additions.

Both KDE and Gnome users have been able to 'pin' applications and media to the task bar for years.

Both KDE and Gnome users have been able to 'pin' applications and media to the task bar for years.

Jump Lists

Let's see if Windows 7 can catch up in its next new feature - Jump Lists. These are a way to expose certain parts of an application to a menu revealed when you right-click on its launch icon. The most common example is right-clicking on an application to bring up a list of recent files, any of which can be loaded by simply selecting them. There's even an extension for Firefox.

This trick requires some communication between the applications themselves and the window manager, and the non-standard nature of the Linux desktop makes it a difficult feature to emulate. We can't honestly say Jump Lists are a paradigm shift in desktop use, but they're a nice addition, and it can't be long until either the Gnome or KDE developers come up with something similar.

Sticking with desktop usability, Microsoft is keen to show off the new window comparison feature, something it calls 'Snaps'. This is a semi-intelligent window snapping routine that can divide the screen into two and maximises two application windows into each half. Drag a window into one of these snap points, either the top border to maximise the window, or the left and right borders for a 50% view, and the window resizes.

While the average Linux desktop doesn't have this exact feature, both Gnome and KDE offer more comprehensive snapping options. From KDE's Window Behaviour panel, for instance, you can set separate snap borders for the edge of the screen, the edge of a window or even the centre of the display. And there are many more options for fine-tuning your window management and geometry, even down to selecting the types of window the options apply to.

Window snapping? We think KDE got there first.

Window snapping? We think KDE got there first.

Search tools

Another feature that Linux desktops have been threatening for a couple of years, but have as-yet failed to deliver, is pervasive searching. Despite being a killer feature on the OS X desktop and the iPhone, and despite several highly efficient implementations, a simple search that can read documents, your email, and online communication with a degree of intelligence is still some way off.

Windows embeds its search icon search in the bottom-left corner, just above the launch menu icon. It feels very similar to KDE's launch menu, and will quickly find the content you're interested in. Microsoft's version expects the user to define libraries of content, and these are locations on your computer where you're happy to have the search engine provide pervasive results, or not.

Windows 7 also promises to move file search away from local storage and on to the internet. Searching for a photo, for instance, might take you from your local photo collection and on to those you're interested in online, such as an associated Flickr account or Picasa. The capabilities of this online search are dependent on an appropriate extension for the media and the online resource that you're interested in, but it clearly has a lot of potential.

The average Linux desktop needs to get its act together if it's going to to compete with Windows 7 for search functionality. And whether you use it or not, it's a great feature for newcomers. New releases of distributions like Fedora still package search tools like Beagle, but that's a long way from being a single solution for the Linux desktop, and this is what we're going to need. Developers are aware of these problems, but the KDE 4 team, for example, have put off discussions on integrating search until the 4.4 release, which is likely to come long after Windows 7.

How Linux will look when Windows 7 is released

At the time of writing, we've still got a short while to go until Windows 7 is released. This means there are several major Linux releases between now and then that could add some significant updates to the Linux desktop. Most recently released is KDE 4.3, and it seems the KDE team are finally getting on top of things. Rather than being a release purely full of bug- and usability fixes, 4.3 added some cool new features and some nice eye candy.

The whole KDE desktop and associated applications will now have general access to geolocation data, which could be useful for laptop users. The task bar panel should be able to distance itself even further from Windows 7 with the addition of spacers. These will let you group a collection of icons together, rather than as a single glut, and the system tray should also get better management functions. There are plenty more Plasmoid desktop widgets too.

More Plasmoids are being added to KDE with every release, bringing fast feature turnaround for all.

More Plasmoids are being added to KDE with every release, bringing fast feature turnaround for all.

Most importantly, considering the emphasis in Windows 7 on merging local and remote data, the new KDE release resurrects the Nepomuk desktop idea - the so-called 'social desktop'. This means creating a connection between local and remote data, and making the desktop a seamless integration of the two. A lot of work has been done on the Akonadi PIM framework, for example - Nepomuk can analyse and annotate the body of an email automatically.

This means adding information like your location, people you're with and maybe events you're attending - the kind of information currently found on sites like Facebook and Twitter. There's also a new menu system, called Raptor, that attempts to guess what options you're most likely to want based on what you're currently doing. It's a cross between KLauncher and Gnome Do, and is a massive improvement on the current 'Lancelot' system.

Desktop innovation

Windows 7

  • Desktop search is well implemented and can go online.
  • Media libraries can be pinned to the start menu and task bar.
  • Jump lists can genuinely help improve efficiency.

Linux

  • Nepomuk blurs the border between local and online.
  • Gnome Do replaces the task bar entirely.
  • Google's Desktop widgets now on Gnome and KDE.

Round 3: Essential apps

The best example of a core application associated with an operating system is the web browser. But thanks to the legal wrangling that has surrounded Microsoft's browser bundling, Internet Explorer 8 isn't going to be as fatally intertwined in the operating system as its forebears were. The European release isn't even going to include a browser by default, which leaves users with the bizarre difficulty of not having a browser available to download an alternative.

This may also be why Microsoft chooses not to create more powerful applications for these core tasks, perhaps not wanting to risk the wrath of competing vendors or the European Monopolies Commission. And while these restrictions may seem harsh in today's online environment, it's a great opportunity for Linux to push integrated desktop applications as a serious bonus.

In Windows 7, these essential tools need to be downloaded separately under the Windows Live branding. Eight applications are selectable, and these include the latest generation of Microsoft's Messenger, Outlook Express, Word Pad, a content filter and Silverlight - Microsoft's competitor to Adobe's Flash. In Linux terms you might liken them to Pidgin or Kopete, Evolution, Kate and Gedit, DansGuardian and Moonlight. But the difference with the Microsoft offerings is that they feel very much cut-down, as the company would rather have you pay more for the fully functional versions.

Instant messaging

Despite Windows ports of Pidgin, Windows Messenger is still the instant messaging client of choice for most people on the Windows desktop. This is probably because it offers Windows users a seamless way of communicating with other Windows users, and as long as your contacts are using the same client, video and voice chat is usually just a click or two away.

Over the years, there has been steady progress, but nothing revolutionary, and the same is true of the version currently shipping with the Windows 7 release candidate. It's the same version that was shipped as Windows Live Messenger 2009 at the beginning of the year, and the first thing the average Linux user will notice is the embedded advertising. You can't open the main window or a chat window without a small banner or text fighting for your attention.

If you're chatting to other Windows Live users you do get the advantage of seamless voice and video chat, but that's the only advantage that Microsoft's Messenger has over multi-protocol clients like Pidgin and Kopete. Kopete in particular is a brilliant application that can send messages to almost anyone and anything willing to accept them. AIM, Jabber, Google Talk, Windows Live and even Facebook are all catered for through a series of plugins.

The best thing about instant messaging with Kopete is that (unlike with Windows) there's no advertising.

The best thing about instant messaging with Kopete is that (unlike with Windows) there's no advertising.

Photo management

Whether you choose Digikam or F-Spot, there's no doubt that Linux desktop users are well catered for when it comes to photo management. Both apps can both talk to the vast majority of digital cameras, enable you to organise your collection using tags, comments and geographical data, and then upload sections of your library to a variety of online photo repositories.

Microsoft's offering, by comparison, is far more modest, and a little creepy, as you have to sign into your Windows Live account when you first launch the application. This is because your library is closely tied to your online presence. They can be published on to Windows Live with a single click, and Flickr, Facebook and SmugMug are supported through third-party plugins. Google's Picasa photo hosting is a conspicuous absentee, but that's perhaps because it's associated photo management tool is a better application.

But Windows Live Photo Gallery is very fast, and it's an efficient way of getting photos from your camera on to an online repository with the least number of mouse clicks and CPU cycles. Like iPhoto, Digikam and F-Spot, it offers only bread and butter editing tools such as colour, contrast, crop and redeye reduction, but there are some weird usability errors. You can't drag tags on to photos, for instance, and photos that are part of your Pictures library aren't imported into the application unless they happen to be located under the My Pictures directory, which is confusing.

Online

Another aspect of Microsoft's new operating system that isn't quite so obvious is the default installation of Silverlight. Silverlight is web browser plugin, and it's Microsoft's attempt to unseat the dominance of Adobe's Flash, and it performs much the same function. It helps web developers create accelerated and interactive online applications for their users that plain old HTML just isn't capable of, such as YouTube or BBC iPlayer, and represents the pinnacle of Microsoft's .NET framework, using it to both develop Silverlight and as a method for creators to add program logic within its online applications. Windows 7 is going to be the first Windows operating system to install it by default, with version 3 currently going through a period of beta testing before its planned release in July.

The interesting thing about Silverlight is that there's a Linux version being developed by the same team porting .NET to Linux, and it's called Moonlight. Moonlight offers only a subset of the functionality currently in Silverlight, but it represents an incredible effort by the programmers. Since January 2009, it's been fully compatible with Silverlight version 1.0, and a beta version released at the beginning of May implements some features from 2.0, as well as a few from the planned 3.0 release.

There's no doubt that Moonlight is a considerable way behind the Microsoft implementation, but there's a bigger problem. For some users, Moonlight represents a big chunk of Microsoft's intellectual property sitting at the heart of the Linux desktop. This is why the inclusion of Mono on distributions like Fedora and now Debian has proved such a contentious issue, and if Silverlight becomes as dominant on the Windows platform as Microsoft hopes, it's going to become increasingly difficult to ignore either its potential on the internet, or its potential as a patent time-bomb.

Touch me

One of the most touted features in Microsoft's new operating system is its new-found ability to be controlled using a touchscreen interface. Microsoft has been experimenting with touch technology for years and its implementation has been overhauled for Windows 7, adding better hardware support and the ability to detect more than one finger press. Touch also seems to be the primary motivation behind the overhaul of the toolbar.

In its old incarnation, icons could be too small and their placement too unpredictable for fingers. In Windows 7, buttons have been resized, and custom spacing options should make it easier to hit the right target. This is also the first time multi-touch has been included, which must have been quite a task for an operating system than usually has difficulty if you connect more than one mouse, let alone 10 fingers. But Microsoft has also put hardware behind the rhetoric, demoing a hefty piece of multi-touch hardware called 'Surface'.

Until recently, multi-touch ability hasn't been a priority on the Linux desktop, despite various announcements on the subject in 2007. The ability to keep track of more than one controller on a standard desktop has been implemented by a project called Multi-Pointer X (MPX), and this is due to be rolled into the main X.org server code for the 7.5 release, due in August 2009.

But there is one important difference between MPX and Microsoft's Surface, and that's that multi-touch provides only a co-ordinate reference for each point. It can't interpret the shape and the size of the touch, which could be a problem if Microsoft pushes its advantage in this area. The most promising signs of progress comes from the netbook sector, where touch capabilities look like becoming the next big thing.

Windows 7 makes it easy to resize all the GUI elements to accomodate touch devices.

Windows 7 makes it easy to resize all the GUI elements to accomodate touch devices.

Version comparison

Windows 7

  • Starter: No Aero and no 64-bit.
  • Home Basic: Developed for emerging markets.
  • Home Premium: Standard edition including Aero and touch.
  • Professional: Adds remote desktop and encrypted filesystem.
  • Enterprise: Unix application support and volume licensing.
  • Ultimate: As with enterprise, but for individual users.

Linux

  • Starter: No Linux is this restrictive.
  • Home Basic: Crunchbang or Ubuntu.
  • Home Premium: For eye candy, try Mint or Kubuntu.
  • Professional: Fedora offers encryption as an installation option.
  • Enterprise: OpenSUSE should work well with Windows.
  • Ultimate: No matter which Linux you choose, there's no restrictions.

Round 4: Power users

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Windows over the years has been its lack of proper user access control. Despite the last few versions featuring user accounts with different levels of authority and control, nearly everyone simply created an administrator's account and neatly side-stepped any attempt to rein in what the average user could and couldn't do. Windows 7 attempts to do things differently, upgrading Vista's User Access Control to finally achieve what Microsoft must hope is a major feature in an age where thousands of Windows machines run as zombies on the internet.

The idea behind UAC will be familiar to users of Ubuntu and OS X. When a user's application requires a higher set of privileges, a password requester asks for authentication. In Windows Vista, this password requester could be a little overzealous, appearing every other minute if you weren't careful, especially if you were configuring hardware. This annoyance was even seen as an advantage by some, as it forced software developers to avoid asking the user to elevate their privileges though UAC if they wanted to remain usable.

By default, a standard user will have no administrative control over their system, and neither will any viruses or trojans may have been inadvertently run by that user. Of course, this is nothing new for Linux users, as this feature is embedded within Linux thanks to its use of groups and permissions to restrict users and processes. It's our main defence against wayward applications wreaking havoc on our systems.

Even if a user's account is compromised and a virus is able to run on that user's desktop, a utility with limited privileges can do very little system-wide and network facing damage, although your personal data isn't likely to be so safe. This is part of the reason why there are so few Linux viruses, and why so few of us consider it any kind of threat.

User Access Control can limit what a user sees on the internet as well as the configuration options they have access to.

User Access Control can limit what a user sees on the internet as well as the configuration options they have access to.

PolicyKit

But the truth is that there's plenty of potential on the average desktop for any malevolent coder with enough motivation. How many of us install third-party binary packages on our desktops? And how many of us could check the source code if we had to? Even riskier is the number of times we resort to typing sudo or launching a shell with administrator privileges, effectively bypassing the security inherent in the normal/root user system.

Many distributions and developers think there needs to be an extra level of security, and the closest we can get to the technology behind Microsoft's UAC is PolicyKit, originally developed by Red Hat but now shipped as standard in Fedora, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu. PolicyKit gives application developers (and distribution builders) a finer degree of control over what an application can and can't do while it's running. It could enable a user to mount portable storage, for instance, but not allow the same user to mount a local filesystem, avoiding the potential hazard of sudo completely.

The impending KDE 4.3 includes PolicyKit integration, which means that many system administration applications for the KDE desktop will be able to take advantage of PolicyKit's finer-grained privilege control in much the same way that certain applications request authentication on the OS X desktop. Gnome has had this functionality since the beginning of last year, and its inclusion in KDE brings us a step closer to a unified desktop on the Linux platform and a unified system for accessing administrative tasks.

Online security

Despite all these improvements to User Access Control, Windows is still going to be the main target for hackers, and as such, a virus checker is always going to be necessary. For the first time, Microsoft is going to bundle a virus checker and spyware detector with the operating system. This is likely to raise considerable protest from manufacturers who sell competing products, such as Symantec and McAfee, as they're making a tidy living from plugging this lucrative hole in current Windows security.

But bundling a free virus checker with the operating system is a great step forward for the rest of us who have to endure a constant stream of attacks from compromised Windows systems. Microsoft's checker is going to be part of the 'Security Essentials' download package, and it replaces Windows Live OneCare, a similar package that Microsoft previously charged for on XP and Vista.

Microsoft's Security Essentials covers only the basics of online security: real-time virus checking, system monitoring and download scanning. This should leave plenty of room for the commercial solutions to fight over more advanced features and neurotic Windows users. As Linux users, we don't need to run a virus-checker unless you're receiving files from, and sending them to, Windows users. It avoids the extra CPU and memory load of constantly running a checker and keeping it up to date. But there are several checkers that are up to the task if you need them, including tools from BitDefender and AVG, as well as the excellent ClamAV.

The Windows System Monitor app has been redesigned to show more information and show it more clearly - it's actually very nice to use.

The Windows System Monitor app has been redesigned to show more information and show it more clearly - it's actually very nice to use.

PowerShell vs Bash

Windows 7

  • Integrated scripting.
  • You can type ls to get a directory listing!
  • Syntax highlighting.
  • Remote execution.

Linux

  • 30 years of refinement.
  • Used by almost every Linux distribution ever.
  • Plenty of online help and documentation.
  • Can be used to administer the entire system.

Who wins?

As you should be able to tell from the scope of the features we've discussed, Windows 7 marks a significant point of maturity in the development of Windows, and is what the much-maligned Vista should have been three years ago. There's still a distinct lack of innovation, but the improvements to system stability and performance are what's going to matter to most users. And most users of Windows are businesses. They're not interested in eye candy, Twitter integration and hardware acceleration. They just need Windows to be a sober working environment that doesn't get in the way of helping people work.

And this is where Linux can make a big difference. There's nothing in Windows 7 that Linux can't do, and in most cases, do it better. Our machines are quicker and more efficient. Our desktops are more innovative and less static. Our apps are more powerful, cheaper and less partisan, and Linux security has never been better. But best of all, we have complete control over the future of Linux, and it's success or failure at the hands of Windows 7 is in our hands.

First published in Linux Format

First published in Linux Format magazine

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Your comments

Story

Windows 7 is a nice, well-rounded operating system; not a major step up from Vista, but it works well. It has excellent program compatibility. I prefer Linux, but both function and do their jobs in ways I appreciate.

While I dislike stories that attempt to "objectively" figure out which one is best, I feel that for a fair and balanced OS market, more attention should be leveraged toward Linux. Even Microsoft fans will realize that competition leads to innovation.

Let the games begin.

Re: Silverlight - on Linux there is HTML5, SVG & fast ECMAscript

Using the W3C standards conforming with acid3 tests, in conjunction with HTML5, and including a fast ECMAscript JIT compiler, browsers such as Opera, Chrome and Firefox already come with as much functionality as Silverlight can provide, without any pligins.

Given the costs in preparing and serving Silverlight content, compared with zero cost for open standards content, it would seem unlikely that Silverlight content would increase much beyond its current level of being almost non-existant.

Just about the only thing

Just about the only thing that keeps me from using Linux is the fact that it was overall poor game support. A few games I play support Linux but the rest do not.

Great comparison

I would have never thought I would read something like this in a Linux publication but you did a great job of comparing Windows 7 to Linux. For me I am sticking to XP and Ubuntu, Fedora 11 and AntiX. These run my older hardware the best.

No love for Arch?

Why not throw a different distro in there like Arch? There are plenty more out there than just Ubuntu, openSUSE and Fedora! Seeing at least SOME performed on an Arch machine would have been really nice

all well and good, but...

hi there

i am an average computer user - i have a work laptop and a Dell PC at home. nothing fancy, not a high end user or anything...

i recently decided to try Ubuntu for my home PC, since the Windows XP install was getting clunky and i thought it would be a good idea to run it more efficiently - the big thing i had heard about linux systems.

the problem is, for your average user like me, it's just too much hassle. i don't know how to run command line stuff in the terminal to fix this or that, and it's a little frustrating trying to get stuff working with your PC... a lot of patience and time trying to get the web cam and my scanner to work! and even when you get them to work, it just doesn't work as it's meant to.

i know i will probably get shouted down for this, but if you know what you're doing with linux and have some of the programming skills, it would be a fun, challenging way to 'stick it to the man'... but if you're just an average everyday user like me, i'd prefer things to work the way they are supposed to, even if it's a little slower and costs more.

1 word... GAMES. Until

1 word... GAMES. Until Linux (and Mac) start supporting windows games (emulator?) Linux will remain a business only OS.

Re: all well and good

Please don't think you'll be "shouted at" for saying you had problems with Linux. It's a big community, and most of us are really nice people - trying to pretend users don't have any problems with Linux is really just denial!

It's great that you took the time to try Linux yourself, and it sucks the hardware compatibility for your scanner and web cam just wasn't up to scratch. Hopefully that's something that will get fixed soon so you can try it again and have more luck!

"Operating System"

It's GNU/Linux to be politically correct, but since you aren't...

"... help Linux to grow as an alternative when users want to keep complete control over their own hardware and software."

Yeah, except Linux, the kernel, has binary blobs that restrict you, just as the entire Windows operating system does. While GNU is fully free.

"Linux was faster on most of the tests we ran"

Actually, Linux, the kernel, doesn't perform all that well when you take away GNU Bash, powerful scripting made to the kernel, GCC, Linus' compiler of choice, gLibc, responsible for the kernel being able to run all that Free Software you call Open Source.

You are another person ignoring freedom, ignoring politics, and ignoring good will and faith in the operating system, so much that you even had to try out Windows 7. Sad, as always.

I invite you to read GNU.org, maybe, just maybe, if you read it slow enough, you'll understand the importance of advocating freedom.

Finally something

Windows 7 has to be the best thing thats happened to us users in a while. Speed, connectivity, and extremely good on laptops with 3 year old configs. Am all for leting companies have control over software. As long as I can get the job done why would I even want to know the back end. Let them do what they do best and I want to be able to do what I do best:-)

Re:Anonymous GNU

@ANON GNU
Well.. to be more technically correct.. it should be
GNU/X11/[KDE,GNOME]/.../Linux.. come on!.. give it a rest already

Finally something

Windows 7 has to be the best thing thats happened to us users in a while. Speed, connectivity, and extremely good on laptops with even 3 year old configs. Am all for letting companies have control over software. As long as I can get the job done why would I even want to know the back end. Let them do what they do best and I want to be able to do what I do best:-)

Meat ball stew

It's articles like this cause some of the scorn that gets thrown at the linux community. About as balanced as a 1 legged zebra.

Apologies...

I regularly use Win7, Linux (fc10), and mac osx (10.5.7) and found this article to be fairly biased in both tone and content. I have titled this comment as an apology because I feel sorry for speaking harshly of any article or blog post that has obviously had a lot of time poured into it. There are many good points here, but this is far from an equal and unbiased comparison.

In my opinion, the most common attitude in the community with respect to Win7 is that it "has come a long way since the train-wreck of Vista, but is still a far cry from the latest linux distro" which is a bit misleading as Win7, Linux, and Mac OSX are all fairly distinct in their offerings (beyond the most basic of word processing and browsing). In fact, I would argue that the current balance of operating systems is rather nice, and would prefer that Windows continue to cater to the mainstream (and consequently retain most of the market share), while linux remains in the power user, embedded, distributed, research, and highly customizable space.

Anyone agree? :-)

This article really reads

This article really reads more like it's designed to stop Linux users switching to Windows 7. There's talk about average users near the beginning then by the end of the article it's comparing Powershell to Bash.

And if control was such a big issue to consumers then I really doubt Mac OS X would have gotten it's feet off the ground.

Ever used office apps on linux? They suck

Ever used office apps on linux? They suck compared to MS Office. I've used OpenOffice and Google Docs & Spreadsheets for over a year, and can tell you that they simply don't compare in functionality, usefulness, and productivity versus MS Office.

A better title for this article would have been:

"Reasons I feel Linux is better than Windows 7"

Nice try, but you're hella biased.

Linux with multiple screens is useless

"There's nothing in Windows 7 that Linux can't do"

Anybody who's tried to use linux with multiple desktop knows its a pain in the arse to do. And when you do get it working, the OS and the apps can't cope with it. Windows will appear randomly on either screen.

I can plug my Win7 laptop into any screen in the world and it will work first time , and work well.

Unfortunately linux doesn't do multimedia well. I use Linux when im developing and Windows 7 at home. Allthough linux can play many different video formats.

Applications just don't cut it for me

I work in IT and unfortunately a windows environment. On my personal systems I would dearly love to run Linux. I have tried and tried over the years with most of the major distros and always come back yo the same problems. I use dreamweaver for work and while I can run it in wine it is slow and crashes I have tried some of the alternatives like blufish but they just don't cut it for me. Too much of my work is based in windows apps and ie compatibility, I have run xp in virtualbox which is excellent but I find myself wondering why I am just not running native. Of all the window managers I have tried I have not found anything as usable as mac os, I am not focussed on eye candy but it is nice when you are using a system all day. Most recently i was doing some work on coldfusion and installed the server along with mysql running on apache and edited using bluefish. It ran much slower than my xp version taking ages to display pages in ff. I am very much a Linux newbie but feel it should be much easier to set up properly without the need to investigate speed issues. But I do like Linux and admire the work done and will continue to try new versions and distros as they are released.

Re: all well and good

Well, actually my webcam worked out of the box w/ Linux. I didn't have to install any extra drivers.

Comparison breakdown

I think a problem with this article is you refer to two different desktops when you refer to Gnome and KDE. For example, listing KDE window snapping and Gnome Do. They're not available together really.

Equally, the article uses Ubuntu for speed comparisons, and then KDE for many of the counter-points.

Essentially the article takes two desktop managers to compare to Windows.

While I enjoyed the article and thought it did well to compare Win7 features to available Linux equivalents, it wasn't really a fair fight.

Of course that's not to suggest I'm going to run out and buy Win7 - I'll stick with Ubuntu... I just wanted to flag it.

A proper list

Ubuntu (and general linux) Flaws:
Poor compatibility with graphics cards particularly ATi
Poor compatibility with iPods
Poor performance adobe flash playback
Ugly including KDE, gnome, custom themes, compiz
Duplicated effort eg KDE vs gnome

Windows XP (and general windows) Flaws:
Poor file system - constantly needing to defrag
Requires a lot of nurturing to maintain performance
Over priced
Too many versions such as ultimate, home, professional etc
Having to find the right anti-virus software - free or purchased
Feels locked in

I spent 2 years running linux and have returned to windows xp simply because the hardware I own is more functional under it. My iPod, DVD/flash playback, and graphics card just work better under windows xp.

whoops

I've tried making the switch several times, and have gone back to windows every time. This article is pure propaganda because it skims over the serious showstopping issues that keeps linux from actually being ready for prime time. the lack of proper games support, the well-documented inability to handle more than a single monitor for extended periods of time, and the ridiculously fractured nature of the linux environment which said community doesn't understand is not nearly as beneficial as they think it is.

directory listings

what they added 'ls' to the windows command line.

Genius. I'm switching. Wow, I've been waiting for this feature for years. The amount of times in the past I've entered 'ls' instead of 'dir' on the windows command line has frankly been quite embarrassing.

Games? Get a console

People use the excuse that Linux/Mac don't have the games that Windows does. That's why there are PS3's and Xbox's.

maybe nitpicking, but this

maybe nitpicking, but this statement is not accurate:

"With no DirectX 10 drivers for your graphics card, for example, you won't be able to enable the Aero Glass effects on the desktop, which is one of Windows 7's best features."

I have an old P4 with an ATI Radeon 9600 with DirectX 9 drivers and it runs Aero. There are even very few games today that require DirectX 10 given that DirectX 9 has the largest installed user base.

baloney!

"My iPod, DVD/flash playback, and graphics card just work better under windows xp."

Those all work just fine under Linux.

You want a fair

You want a fair comparison?

Windows Pros: Runs all drivers, programs, and games.

Linux and Mac OS X Pros: Better than Windows in every conceivable way other than the above listed.

And...that's it.

Does Linux have steps to make? Sure. Audio's a pain, drivers are slow coming, extra monitor support is poor, and package management between multiple distros is a joke. But what we have now is so much better than anything Redmond has plugged out, so I can't say I'd bother using anything else.

Once I purchased a PlayStation 2 back in May, I stopped booting Windows entirely. Other than gaming, I just never have a reason to.

I like the potential of Linux

As someone who has dabbled with Linux many times over the last decade, it has always been a frustrating affair. I really want to like it and use it but it is just so much harder than using Windows. Until Linux is easier to use, it will forever be the OS of the minority regardless of what it is capable of doing. Simply installing a new program in Linux is a challenge in itself for the average computer user. You can see why Apple has done so well in recent years - simplicity!

Money vs Windows

Most Windows home users don't buy windows... they copy it. They don't buy Office... they copy. They don't buy games... they copy. No money!

Less assemblers buy windows, and many now charge it on PC purchase. No money!

The more successfull PDAs don't run Windows. No money.

M$ hardware sucks (except mouses). No money.

M$ Game console games... are "copied". No money.

Most companies are dropping windows to linux due to cut on costs. They are now using web apps, cloning PC's, LOW BUDGET COMPUTERS, remote terminals and User control. User doesn't know Linux... means less mess in OS. No money.

Most successfull ISP's on the planet run on Linux distro's. No money!

Most Cloud Computing Farms are made with Linux. No money!

Most T500 SuperComputers on Earth run on Linux. No money!

M$ gets money from braindead companies that pay for drivers certification, compatibilities, and such, that pay for software development kits. M$ offers OS to children and lobbies to make the children of the future M$ fans, like they did with many of us.

Brainwash marketing is all they spend money on. Marketing, marketing, marketing...
And that, my friends, each one eats what it likes!

Let's be fair please

Saying that linux is better than linux is a careless and frankly rather stupid thing to say.
It all comes down to expectations and what one requires from one's pc.
If office work and general mucking about is what you need then windows wins, no doubt about it.
If you're a gamer, windows wins hands down.
The only real place of dominance by linux is for servers.

In my view linux has some fundamental problems which until they are resolved/changed, linux will forever remain the "other os for geeks".

These include:

1) Pathetic package managers.
2) Pathetic file system.
3) Really bad monitor,scanner,printer,camera,support.
4) Crazy situation with dependencies/libraries.
5) No standard executable format.
6) Really bad help.

And so on.

M$ may not have a very dependable or safe os but it's
overcome all the bad features of linux I've mentioned above and most people couldn't give a rats a%#$ about free software, open standards etc etc.
They want an easy to use package to get the job done.
This is exactly one of the short comings of a lot of open source, they concentrate on the technology and not on the user experience.
Who wants to mess about with make, grof, lib this that and the next thing.
Just download the executable with perhaps a lib or two and presto it's running.

No wonder M$ charges so much for it's software, it can as the man in the street is concerned there ain't an altervative. (please don't mention apple, cause that is real rubbish.Infact if it wasn't for the iphone and ipod I doubt very much if apple would be trading today).

Flame me all you want, but at the end of the day I and billions of others will turn to M$ to get the job done.

The only way forward for linux is to make a fresh start and leave all the luggage behind and get some sanity.

a little change

....perhaps that change is coming in the form of Gobolinux.
Never tried it but it certainly looks like it's heading in the right direction.

Where is the Developer story????

This article is just BS, the whole time it tries to give the impressions that it's fair but it is VERY VERY biased to Linux, for example no one mentioned the developers story on Linux vs Windows, with Microsoft great tools & technologies which make developers' life much easier this whole thing makes a huge difference over the Linux story.
With Microsoft.net technologies performance on Windows and also the other non Microsoft technologies such as Python & Ruby, PHP, ... are running way better on Windows Client & Server than on Linux with better monitoring and manageablibity options out of the box.

Linux is just a stage in the life time of a superuser, it is like being a teenager, you have to go through it, but once you grow up and start working for money, Windows is no brainer

Nuts and Bolts

These include:

1) Pathetic package managers.
WRONG! Good package managers... I ask this... which files doesn't a windows install place on filesystem? I care about garbage on the FS. I care about trojans and that crap.
Apt is an AWESOME package manager, not considering the millions of packages and files it indexes. In windows all installs comes with the dlls of MFC, ... that install on a CRUCIAL part of the OS, with Admin permissions.

2) Pathetic file system.
WRONG AGAIN! Windows ONLY has FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS. Besides NTFS all other are crap. Like NTFS Open Source FS's there are about 10 EXCELENT ones. NTFS has very bad performance, is very prune to errors, has no cache engine, no optimization method, no snapshot support, ...
Linux has ext3, ext4, Reiser (prison), BRTFS, Cachefs, LVM, ...
Either one of these surpasses NTFS by performance and features. I'm sure NetApp would laugh reading your comments.

3) Really bad monitor,scanner,printer,camera,support.
Monitor WRONG, the rest you're almost correct... But Why is that? Because vendors try to put those "gadgets" CPU inside your CPU, instead of developing good chips, they try to pass that processing part to what they like to call the firm-crap-ware, that does not work, makes a LOT of interrupts spending more power consumption. I understand firmware... and that reads... LOUSY TESTS, HURRY TO SELL.

Printers... your lost on that... most what we call REAL printers are now supported even better than windows... with transmission compression capabilities, client side notification of requirement of toners, ...

4) Crazy situation with dependencies/libraries.
You must have had a bad experience with a distro... or you tried it more than 2 years ago.

5) No standard executable format.
Why would you need one? This is called FREEDOM! The funny thing is that even with LOADS of compilers, interpreters, executables, and crappy programs... the OS still WORKS, without crapping all the other 35 users that use the same Server as a Desktop.

6) Really bad help.
WTF? There is more help... than your brain can cope with!
If you tried Linux 13 years ago... You would be closing that mouth of yours.

And so on.
Another nice description of a "I have a problem!" and I can't make my brain understand it, so "And so on." is a nice problem that everyone understands.

Mate... You should really try and learn something before coming here and posting giberish about something you seam not to understand.

Besides... Linux has some good things that windows WILL NEVER had... for example:
- My Laptop automatically backups when I get to my home network, using a script with NetworkManager, arp requests and a few lines of bash script.
- My Ipod automatically syncs when connected to my "Media" Server.
- My External USB Disk copies all content in a specific dir into itself on connection
All these features are used using the factory SERIAL number so that no "joker" can "hack" the system. All this using HAL.
Besides HAL, you have DBus and its notification "system", full STATEFULL Firewall, Soft RAID, and many many more systems that make Linux the Next OS.

Microsoft/Windows used to invent features... now they copy them. Linux is on the fast lane... and Windows is on the same lane.

Optimizing and Performance

In windows you never hear about optimization of the OS.

In Linux you have the freedom to do it. Either by
- changing/tweaking filesystem mount options,
- making your disk pre-read blocks,
- using those 2 network interfaces has a "trunk"(bonding),
- having different routing tables according to firewall rules,
- using Jumbo Frames (MTU 9000),
- placing the SWAP (pagefile) on the faster outside of the disk platters,
- using better SWAP FS's, or tweaking the one you use,
- reducing power consumption by disabling USB devices on specific ports,
- tweaking the FS so that it doesn't write the last access time to a file
- optimizing your network IP settings,
- changing keyboard keys as you need them to be,
- using multiple workspaces,
- limiting (ulimit/apparmor/selinux) the user capabilities inside the system
- locking of a program/process to a given CPU
- disk, partition, directory or file realtime encryption
- support for User Space Filesystems (FUSE)
- using multiple remote Filesystems
- virtualization of other OS's

Most of THESE can be made with just the LINUX KERNEL. Without commercial products, and without much trouble or time spent.

In Windows the solution to most performance problems is
"BUY BETTER HARDWARE!"

Thank you

Thank you for a great comparison. I don't agree with every point but it could just be my user experience.
I wish MS users would realise MS doesn't contribute a single line of code for the drivers of all it's supposedly "compatible" hardware. It merely provides the "secret keys" to access it(funny how only the good guys pay for this. The bad guys have no problems breaking in). The manufacturers deserve all the credit and some of them are getting tired of having to fit inside such a tortuous OS. They have started to provide code for Linux, or approve code allready written by the linux community. Geeks may not pay for code, but they have to get their hardware somewhere...

No file fragmentation (and risky defrag) and security should be top of the list for any computer user. Always being able to access your data, no matter when, being it five years down the road, using whatever tools are at your disposition, rather than being locked-out of your work by the "lastest, greatest upgrade", should be as important. Linux (and Open Source) provides all that. Those who prefer games and utter simplicity are just lazy children (or sheep. Love those lamb chops, I bet Bill eats plenty of those). I think sheep shouldn't be allowed to drive cars.

Oh, and anyone calls Linux "ugly" can't change a backgroud image, or has poor personal tastes.

I didn't mean to get nasty but it seems MS just brings out the worst in people.

Developer we are... NOT!

"... no one mentioned the developers story on Linux vs Windows, with Microsoft great tools & technologies which make developers' life much easier this whole thing makes a huge difference over the Linux story...."

Windows = Great Developing Tools... Agreed!
Do they tweak your code? Nope!
Do they teach you the inside of a TCP optimization? Nope!
Do they teach you how a browser renders a page? Nope!
Do they compress images to the "Web size"? Nope!
Do they compress your CSS's, Javascript and stuff? Nope!

Do they allow you not to care about previous points? YES!

They allow developers not to know what really makes your code rock! And I mean Rock like "Velocity 2009" conference rock. Not like those ten billion same crappy sites. I mean those guys running sites using S3 backends, using 256Mb servers and serving 1k pages/sec.

It's always up to the developer to self teach more and more each day... but knowing the "How things Work" makes you the best.

"With Microsoft.net technologies performance on Windows and also the other non Microsoft technologies such as Python & Ruby, PHP, ... are running way better on Windows Client & Server than on Linux with better monitoring and manageablibity options out of the box."
Besides compiler architecture optimization, and interpreters support for +4Gb mem... YE... I kinda agree!

But today its not the language that should make the code run faster... it's the developers brain! The use of Memory caching (Memcache, ...), FS distributed cache (MogileFS, GoogleFS, ...), Distributed BD engines (Hadoop, BigTable, ...) and the tweaking of the all the parts from the webserver to the DB server, passing by the reverse proxies, webcaching engines, ...
All these require knowledge that most Developing "GUI" don't teach. If you can attack a script with a bastard web benching tool... you will know. Off course must websites don't really care, they don't have enough requests... and when they do, they are willing to loose an amount of money on selling, advertising, ...

Todays Servers are over powered, but that doesn't mean you can develop badly.
This is like having an F1 car!
Would you leave it for you private mechanic to tweak it?

Microsoft and browser

Microsoft went back on their decision and they will YES include a browser and that is Internet Explorer, but seems like once you install windows it will pop out a windows under internet explorer for you to download other browsers if you. My point of view is that most users will probably ignore that window and continue with Internet Explorer.

Gobolinux and $HOME

(Can you please stop making the coffee so strong) ;)

I agree that Linux $HOME is a mess, full of "Application" configs, user options and lots of things we don't really need.
But that doesn't make the Windows/Gobolinux way... The right Way!

Teaching time:
Most of you never read "XDG Base Directory Specification" or "Linux Standard Base" or used autodir or FUSE customized $HOME.
These allow you to customize most of your HOME and get you into an "arranged" home.
(Go Read)

Most distros respect them, and there are papers written about the "directory" structure of Linux, and WAYS of the future.
There are some really nice ideas around, and most of them go by the "XDG Base Directory Specification" as a "salvation" to your Home.

On the other side of things... Wouldn't you want to take your home and all your browsers cache with you when you move it to another PC or Server? Why would the PC have to take your browser cache in his TMP dir? It's your crap... deal with it. Save it on your home.

Now lets see the Windows "Way"...
Windows roaming profiles is the WORST CRAP ever invented to this day. Especially, if you don't use it in a centrallized way... that obvious goes against the Roaming "Way".
Why?
Because Windows users save TONS of Gigabytes on the Desktops, that get Sync'd via Roaming Profile... that take a lot of time and BANDWIDTH to sync from the Roaming Server to the new logged in "PC".
This is not a Windows fault... it's a lack of GOOD policies regarding Desktops. But why should the SysAdmin care about how and where does the user saves its things... He SHOULDN'T. He should only backup the HOME. But the server SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO DEAL with users cache. NEVER.

When you discuss technology... be carefull about pointing fingers, cause if you point a finger at someone... 3 are pointing at you... and 1 at "God"!

So I point 3 at Linux:
- We get lost in all the dirs... "which", "find" are your friends
- Being ALMOST all dirs Mountable from another place or partition... You just mount the HOME central server. This does not work good with roaming "not always on" laptops
- When moving to a new PC... copying HOME is a charm. Excepth when you install a new distro with different versions of software.

RE: Developer we are... NOT

Seriously you don't know what you are talking about, so just shut the fuck up, Windows Applications run faster period, even FireFox which is built with no Microsoft technology run faster on Windows.

slow down

Wow, what a reaction!
Stange how linux fanboys always get their nickers in a knot at the smallest of "attacks" on their pet OS.

I never said that M$ is perfect, infact it does have a lot of crap in it and yes a lot of peripheral manufactures pass on the processing onto the main CPU (winmodems and latest generation of DVD-rom being two examples).
But overall for ease of use it still can't be beat.

Now before you start foaming at the mouth let me be the first to say that I wish linux was better.
I don't like M$'s new business model and I have to admit that of late they have only come up with rubbish like .net, office, asp and my absolute worst....Vista!

Gone are the days when they actually provided anything of value like MASM and support for good old fashioned programming.

That is exactly why I want to change but the current state of linux is simply not conducive to an easy switch over.
Now before you attack me over my brain/stupidity/laziness, consider the following:
There are only a certain amount of hours in a day, and when dead lines have to be met, it's bad enough trying to iron out any bugs one has in their software without the extra hassle of having to wrestle with the OS to do even the simplest of tasks.

RE: Developer we are... NOT

"Windows Applications run faster period"
Yup they do! I never put that in question. But I never talked about SPECIFIC OS applications.

But who cares about Windows Applications?
A smart company would use Web Apps and shit on Locked Servers, Maintenance, SysAdmin and Management teams.
There are TONS of companies offering Application and Server Hosting...

I understand that for many Windows users... an Excel Sheet is a Database, I understand, and M$ too, that most small companies, turning their Windows Apps into Web Apps is not a solution.

Firefox is faster on Windows!
Quite Very unfortunately True! You should ask Mozilla is why? It should be the same when run'd with a Native Nvidia drivers on "both" environments. Many people pose that question, but I guess Mozilla doesn't. I honestly... recompile Mozilla to my arch... so I don't care.

And I do understand your "crappy" point because I was a Windows developer, then became a Web Developer and I'm now, and been for many years, a Linux SysAdmin turning fucking rotting Windows Desktops into Fast Running Linux Desktops in a procces of migrating an Insurance Company desktops to Linux.

I KNOW what I'm talking... when I talk about BAD, LAZY AND CRAPPY PROGRAMMING. But I guess the hat fitted you nicely.

I was about to buy what you say but

I was just about to buy your words but once I read that
"I don't like M$'s new business model and I have to admit that of late they have only come up with rubbish like .net, office, asp and my absolute worst....Vista!"
I completely knew you are no where near a professional, just another kid of Linux fanboy culture.

If .net & office & asp (or asp.net) are crap why do linux devs are screaming to support Mono & Wine to run them, or you want Developers in 2009 write their apps in MASM :)

What a BS

RE: Developer we are... NOT

I am both Windows & Web Application developer and I use C# and .net in both of them, and I also use Windows Server which is still better, because whenever I need to run a php or even a crappy old CGI stuff I can run them side by side with my AWESOME ASP.NET applications, I can even extend the PHP applications with ASP.net modules that runs on IIS level, Good luck trying to do something similar on apache"

go figure

If linux is so good and free and M$ so crappy and expensive, then why is linux not on 95% of the world's PC's?

RE: go figure

Can't agree more

Linux is for free if your time is for free, otherwise go with Mac OSX or Windows

Windows Rocks!

After my posts on how good Linux is.
I think, that Windows deserves a chance in a Linux "Website".
This time I will defend Windows to my best.

Major Windows OS advantages are the drivers support, UI usability and stability when used with standard Microsoft distributed drivers.

But this is where it ends. We are comparing the OS itself, not the applications, not the distros, and specially not commercial applications. Its the kernel and drivers that make the System work.

When compared in pair, both OS's are good in usability, f.e. when comparing an Ubuntu 9.04 to a Windows Vista. These are the OS's I have installed on this laptop.
I prefer Linux, for the previous stated reasons. And I honestly only use Vista to play games.

I'm not an average Windows Desktop User, and have not been for many years. But my work forces me to know the core of both OS's. And to that I say... Linux is absolutely faster, better and more stable, has more drivers supported in the kernel than Windows. Comparing Natively!

With external drivers put on the mess, well, like windows supports webcam's, etc ... Linux supports other ISPs like features. But these are the features a Desktop User doesn't want or need.

When we start putting applications to the comparison:
This is not an "even" comparison, either because Windows has a major codebase of developers, more years spent on windows application development, either that Linux has more development tools inside the distro than Windows has of Help's.
But Windows is definitely the winner on applications! Most of them just work, most of them don't even exist on Linux, and when they do exist it is as a "low level one".

If you compare the GUI, it's no even fair when placing Compiz, Emerald, KDE 4 on the stand. Windows as a distro... looses gravelly, either because its dumb and dull, either because it offers almost no "native" freedom of exchanging of f.e. Window Manager. But it sure works, and that is what most users want... a working, stable, and long lasting UI.

Basically and honestly... Linux is used on FULL LOCKED, old hardware and working "Enterprise" desktops. Windows is more "Home" having a possibility of use in Enterprise when you add products like AntiVirus, AntiSpyware, a good Firewall, Encryption Technology and another tumble of things that Linux doesn't need or it supports for many years.

The article brings nothing but the obvious to "glare" and focus not on the main benefits of both... or this wouldn't be a "TuxRadar" but an "OS News".

Bare no dreams... I'm defending Microsoft... or I wouldn't now have this job of converting Windows Desktops to Linux.

Thanks Microsoft! Windows Rocks.... bottom!

consider this analogy

30 kids get onto a school bus and the teacher says "right kids we have the whole day to go places, please tell me where you would like to go first".

The result, chaos, mayhem and bedlam.

Now another 30 kids get onto a diffirent school bus and the teacher says "right kids first we going to the museum then to the library then lunch and after that for a nice run in the park".

Now that itenary might not be the most efficient but hey 3 hours later the second bus full of kids have actually gone places and had some fun, discovered and learnt new things whilst the first lot are still parked on the side of the road deciding where to go first.

Get my point? the first bus is linux.
Too much freedom ain't always a good or productive thing!

It's high time a group of people sat down, set some guide lines stick to them and actually produce a good distro and leave out all the extra garbage and luggage.
And of course you would still have your freedom of choice, don't like that distro? no problem get another one.

Les Benchmarks, More Meeting needs

I've been a long time Linux fan and advocate. However, most distros have seemed to actually get worse for me over the past 18 months. I'm literally at the point where installation of fglrx on any distro newer than 12 months works but doesn't display anything viable.

Windows 7 enables 3D acceleration by default.

Also, depending on the kernel, wifi has been extremely retarded for me. If it can connect, it's got weak signal strength. If it's got decent strength, it can't stay connected long.

Windows 7 includes working drivers for my chipset on a default install.

Unless the various distros can pull a working spin out of their butts in the next few months, Microsoft might well get a Home Premium license of out me until my hardware needs replacement in a few years.

benchmark

linux does'nt even feature as a contender to Win7.
The real comparison most people will make will be with XP.

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