Six Ways That Windows Will Never Catch Up To Linux

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Linux and Unix - Saturday, October 27th, 2007

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.

CustomizationThis 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.

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4 Responses to “Six Ways That Windows Will Never Catch Up To Linux”

  1. Bill Vincent Says:

    Dunno about the security rant, there, friend. I’m a holder of the widely-held opinion that the biggest target gets the most hits. Locks only keep out honest people. It doesn’t matter how “secure” MS made Windows, it would still be targeted, because there are estimated 700 million PC’s running XP right now. How many running a flavor of Linux?
    No matter how secure XP was made, there is enough talent and skill out there, that they’d find a way to break it. The Titanic was unsinkable….right?

  2. Bill Vincent Says:

    I know you can do it with WordPress and Live Writer, but having links open in a new tab/window is, by most accounts, the preferred set up. Nothing personal, I bookmarked your blog, and will be returning daily for a while.

  3. Richard Chapman Says:

    You must be an archaeologist Bill, because that argument you presented about security through obscurity (that’s what it’s known as) is so old it was dug out of King Tut’s tomb. I guess you haven’t heard that its been debunked a bazillion times. I won’t go through it again. I suspect you know it anyway.

    Posting nonsense like that only makes Linux look good. Thanks.

  4. Tom Says:

    I am also a user of both Linux and Windows, though I prefer M$ on my desktops and Linux on my servers. Just a few things I’d like to point out about your list:

    Security: Vista’s new mommy-nag-me interface is an improvement, and in terms of raw features is about at parity with the whole X-based SU login dialog. The only difference is that Windows apps are generally not coded to respect the limits of a user-level account, meaning you see that annoying popup far too often. But, when I’m configuring my linux box, I see that same dialog box way too often unless I’m logged into KDE as root. (Or, I’m just command-lining it… or webmin… or etc etc)

    Customization: Ever heard of Litestep? Or the uxtheme.dll hack? Could you believe this is a windows desktop?

    Programming: The NT flavors of windows have had VBScript support for some time now. Sure it’s not an IDE like Qbasic was, but I would say notepad has almost the same amount of features, minus the real-time syntax checking. Batch file support is still included, and while they arent as robust as shell scripts you can get pretty crazy with them if you like. And of course, no discussion of scriptability would be complete without mentioning Windows PowerShell, which I argue may actually be superior to bash due to the way it presents data.

    System tools: I agree with you on this one, but I would like to note that Vista improved several of the system tools. Paint, in particular, has gained a few nifty features.

    Peace: Maybe I’m using the wrong distro, but I still get annoying flashers and popups in my KDE taskbar, immediately after a default install.

    Trust: I am in complete agreement with you.

    I count myself as one of the few people who actually prefers Vista to XP. There’s a couple of new features, and more importantly a couple of organizational changes (c:\users, for example) that really make me not want to go back to XP. That, and it has DirectX10… :-/


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