Long-term readers of this site will know that I use both Windows and Linux regularly. I appreciate the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. And I admit that there are places where Linux is simply left behind (games, some graphics applications). But one thing I rarely see is a discussion of where Windows is failing on the desktop. There are some things that Microsoft just doesn’t get. It’s like Gates and Balmer have stone heads. They fail in release after release, until I’m just ready to give up hope that they will ever get it right.
Security – For pity’s sake, it’s been a new virus/ trojan/ backdoor/ exploit every day since Windows 95 came out! I can install something like a dozen anti-virus programs, and something nasty will get past all twelve anyway. With Vista (which I still haven’t taken up), I hear it isn’t getting any better. I’m just resigning myself to the idea that you never, ever let your guard down for a minute when you’re using Windows. Every tick of the hard drive or unexpected program termination or one-second lag in Internet performance makes me worry.
Customization – This is a Linux desktop. And so is this. And so is this. And so is this. Oh, yeah, and there’s KDE and Gnome besides, who need no introduction here. And don’t forget desktops like RatPoison and Sawfish. Linux has a thousand faces, and where is Windows? Taskbar, Start button, Icons. Yaw-w-w-wn!
Programming – I remember the good old days, when Windows came with a full DOS shell you could really script, and the QBasic editor. Now, you practically have to be rich to afford just the basic edition Visual Whatever. Even a tiny Linux distro comes with about 20 little languages, all ready to go, with libraries and documentation. What is programming to Microsoft, anyway? Are they afraid that my little 12-line Python hack is going to bring their empire crumbling down? Even a simple Bash environment would double the system’s usefulness.
System tools – I won’t bring up Gimp vs Photoshop here again. I’m talking about the editor that comes free with each system, so it’s really Gimp vs. Windows Paint. Gimp won that contest! Microsoft has had a whole bunch of utilities with their system, like Paint, Notepad, Wordpad, and the desktop properties dialog, where they basically haven’t done a single thing in twelve years. Hey, do something, will you? Add a feature, put a new toy in Paint, give me more card designs in Solitaire… something!
Peace – Say what you will about Linux, but you have to admit that it will shut up and let you think. A Windows desktop is flashing and blinking at you like Times Square – “Cancel or Allow? Your system may be at risk! Are you sure you want to overwrite this file? Hey! You got another email! Wait a minute, what’s this? This site’s certificate blah blah blah!” Sometimes I just walk away from Windows and leave it to go on talking to itself. No matter how many notifications and alerts and blinking icons you turn off and check “no”, you can never get a Windows system to just SHUT UP!
Trust – Oh, I’m sorry I’m such a dirty rotten criminal. Here, let me try to type in this sixteen digit authentication code again. No, really Microsoft, this is my real genuine disk! Here’s my receipt from the store I bought you from. Can I just tape the receipt to the monitor where you can see it? What if I let Microsoft weld an ankle bracelet on me and they can track me by satellite so they know I’m not whispering Media Player secrets to the folks at Red Hat? Would that be enough? If Microsoft treated cyber-criminals the way they treated their own customers, there wouldn’t be any viruses at all. Oppose this to Linux: free. Period. Do whatever you want. Never answer a suspicious question again.
- Has Microsoft Gone Linux-Crazy?
- The Windows 7 Wishlist – I Wish It Were Linux
- Other People With An Axe To Grind Against Linux
- Things We’re Tired of Hearing from Windows Users
- Google vs Microsoft – the Search Battle