Comparison of the Microsoft Windows and Linux computer operating systems is a common topic of discussion among their users. Windows is the most prominent closed source operating system, while Linux is the most prominent operating system that is free software (note that many Linux distributions also have a small amount of proprietary components, such as compiled binary blob drivers provided by hardware manufacturers, for their default installation.) The two operating systems compete for user-base in the personal computer market as well as the server market, and are used in government offices, schools, business offices, homes, intranet and internet servers, supercomputers, and embedded systems.
Windows dominates in the desktop and personal computer markets with about 90% of the desktop market share, and accounted for about 66% of all servers sold (not used) in the year 2007. In server revenue market share (2007Q4) Windows achieved 36.3% and Linux achieved 12.7%. As of November 2007, Linux powered 85% of the world's most powerful supercomputers, compared to Windows' 1.4%. In February 2008, Linux powered five of the ten most reliable internet hosting companies, compared to Windows' two. In the same month, Windows powered one of the ten least reliable internet hosting companies, compared to Linux's five.
Linux and Windows differ in philosophy, cost, ease of use, versatility, and stability, with each seeking to improve in their perceived weak areas. Comparisons of the two tend to reflect the origins, historic user base and distribution model of each. Typically, some major areas of perceived weaknesses regularly cited have included the poor “out-of-box” usability of the Linux desktop for the mass-market and susceptibility to malware for Windows. Both are areas of rapid development in both fields.
Proponents of free software argue that the key strength of Linux is that it respects what they consider to be the users' essential freedoms: the freedom to run it, to study and change it, and to redistribute copies with or without changes.
A GUI Decision
Linux is a kernel, an operating system—not a complete operating environment in the sense that Windows is a complete operating environment. The tradeoff is one of choice. Windows has a single interface (true, there are variations between versions, but those are largely transparent to users). In contrast, Linux has no built-in GUI interface. Users are free to choose among many commercially available or free GUI X-Window interfaces, such as Gnome, KDE, and Motif, each of which provides a different look and feel.
Unfortunately, to some degree differences in GUI X-Window interfaces extend to the programming interfaces as well, meaning that software developers must either support multiple GUIs or choose which GUI(s) they plan to support. Because the interfaces are slightly different, application developers generally target one or two primary GUI programming models. Supporting many GUIs isn't just a simple process of including one set of libraries or another; it's often a frustrating and error-prone exercise in writing GUI-specific code. While these applications may run on non-targeted GUI interfaces, vendors often guarantee support for only one or two.
The multiple-GUI problem illustrates a basic difference in Windows and Linux. Windows has one general GUI interface which has served many millions of people and works for many millions of different applications. The Mac (another successful consumer OS) is similar; one general GUI works across all Mac applications. Why is Linux different?
Freedom to Choose—Or Not to Choose
According to most open-source advocates, having multiple available GUIs translates into a desirable user choice. For example, http://www.uselinuxathome.com/ENgui.htm says that the "choice of GUI has been made possible by the open source nature of Linux," and that "The idea is...to find the one that's right for you..."
That's all well and good in a hobbyist world, where users are enthusiasts who are more than happy to handle manual configurations and endure inconveniences in order to maintain an open system where application developers target the GUI(s) of their choice. It's also fine in a locked-down, IT-mandated business situation where administrators and business needs dictate UI and application choices for users. But that approach isn't going to work for the general public.
The average user doesn't know—or care—about the underlying operating system, the idea of GUI interfaces, the various types of file systems, or about any other "technical" aspect of using a computer. (Jono Bacon tells an interesting story about how users perceive GUIs.) Many—perhaps most—home and small business users never alter their Windows system defaults, other than to perhaps download a different screen saver, add a peripheral, or install their preferred applications. Giving them choices isn't going to make them happy—they want something that works out of the box! And they want that single setup to work for all their programs.
Most of the major distributions aren't addressing this problem directly. For example, Mandrake ships with three different X-Window GUIs: KDE, Gnome, and IceWM. How much time should users spend exploring these different GUIs before they find the one that's "right"—and works with all their applications? One month? Five months? Are there more productive ways for users to spend their time than trying different GUIs? Developers, hobbyists, and large IT shops gain value from the ability to try and test a multiplicity of interface choices, but the average home or business user will not.
In fact, I suspect that many users wouldn't even know what a path is. If you tell them, they may not understand why it's important, and they won't know how to edit it. The fact is that average users don't know and don't want to know how to solve problems with their computers—that's why businesses hire IT and support staff, so that average users can concentrate on their work, not on their computers.
If the problem were limited to setting up just one specific GUI, it would be relatively easy to solve it by creating a robust installation, but it isn't. There are many GUIs, each with its own FAQ, its own procedure, and its own quirks.
One advantage of Linux over windows where it comes to the multie choice of GUI’s it that it can help provide a nice easy starting ground for either windows or Mac users. incidentally Mac and Windows both have totally different GUI’s where as Linux has many GUIs to choose from, including ones that represent the Mac GUI being gnome and ones representing the windows GUI being KDE. This makes it far easier for new, and starting off Linux users, aturly use linux as effectively as they would have been able to use there windows or Mac computers.
Windows and Linux both allow hardware to effectively communicate with Software in much the same way. However the compatibility problems of Linux can cause havoc when trying to install hardware drivers. Whereas with windows being one of the leading operating systems in the world, finding hard ware drives is a push over.
Windows is more likely to be infected by a viruses due to it being the most attacked operating system in the world unlike Linux. Also the majority of viruses aren't compatible with Linux making Linux inherently safer.
Linux is less of a megalif of an operating system then windows is meaning that performance is greatly reduced in windows simply because there is less extra performance windows can utilize because the windows OS is taking up so much power unlike with Linux which doesn't use much power to run, Meaning there is much power available to be implemented by the user if needed.
Stability: due to the work all over the world by the millions users of Linux users which have full and free access to the source code in trying to make Linux more stable unlike the few 100,000 windows tec’s with a license to modify the windows source code. And also due to the fact that the Linux operating system has a more logical fileing system and that linux doesn't use much processor power to run inherently makes linux a more of a stable OS
For windows you have to pay for limited access to the OS and all software available for windows. Unlike with linux where for free you get full access to the entire operating system along with full access to all of the linux GNU software available which can be downloaded if it doesn't come with the distribution (for example debian linux comes with over 17,000 software packages which are optional and totally free, and SUSE linux gives u accesses to over 7,000 software packages freely, unlike windows where most software is optional and costs…)
Windows is one of the easiest operating systems to use due to the lack of things you can do with it along with the legal constraints. Windows is also the most widely spread operating system then linux and has the upper hand when it comes to personal computing. Linux is just as easy but due to the lack of confidence of computer users there's days not many people are willing to delve in the happy free world of linux.
After many years of my own personal experience with the two operating systems along with the factors I have made above I believe linux is the best operating system with more pros then windows. One downside to linux is its compatibility however it is possible to emulate everything software on both operating systems making software compatibility not an issue, however as far as hardware computability is consend windows doesn't have the ability to work on the Power PC processors unlike linux. Although some people are skeptical about linux I have seen that the only resion for this is the lack of recherché they have done into the operating system to back up there skepticism.. The linux system is being implemented more and more by country's and organizations all over the world at a growing pace day by day and one day will be the biggest rival to windows if it isn't already in the server & business market.
|Price||The majority of Linux variants are available for free or at a much lower price than Microsoft Windows.||Microsoft Windows can run between $50.00 - $150.00 US dollars per each license copy.|
|Ease||Although the majority Linux variants have improved dramatically in ease of use, Windows is still much easier to use for new computer users.||Microsoft has made several advancements and changes that have made it a much easier to use operating system, and although arguably it may not be the easiest operating system, it is still Easier than Linux.|
|Reliability||The majority of Linux variants and versions are notoriously reliable and can often run for months and years without needing to be rebooted.||Although Microsoft Windows has made great improvements in reliability over the last few versions of Windows, it still cannot match the reliability of Linux.|
|Software||Linux has a large variety of available software programs, utilities, and games. However, Windows has a much larger selection of available software.||Because of the large amount of Microsoft Windows users, there is a much larger selection of available software programs, utilities, and games for Windows.|
|Software Cost||Many of the available software programs, utilities, and games available on Linux are freeware and/or open source. Even such complex programs such as Gimp, OpenOffice, StarOffice, and wine are available for free or at a low cost.||Although Windows does have software programs, utilities, and games for free, the majority of the programs will cost anywhere between $20.00 - $200.00+ US dollars per copy.|
|Hardware||Linux companies and hardware manufacturers have made great advancements in hardware support for Linux and today Linux will support most hardware devices. However, many companies still do not offer drivers or support for their hardware in Linux.||Because of the amount of Microsoft Windows users and the broader driver support, Windows has a much larger support for hardware devices and a good majority of hardware manufacturers will support their products in Microsoft Windows.|
|Security||Linux is and has always been a very secure operating system. Although it still can be attacked when compared to Windows, it much more secure.||Although Microsoft has made great improvements over the years with security on their operating system, their operating system continues to be the most vulnerable to viruses and other attacks.|
|Open Source||Many of the Linux variants and many Linux programs are open source and enable users to customize or modify the code however they wish to.||Microsoft Windows is not open source and the majority of Windows programs are not open source.|
|Support||Although it may be more difficult to find users familiar with all Linux variants, there are vast amounts of available online documentation and help, available books, and support available for Linux.||Microsoft Windows includes its own help section, has vast amount of available online documentation and help, as well as books on each of the versions of Windows.|