Head to Head: Windows 7 vs Ubuntu 9.10

Windows 7 turns to face its latest challenger in the form of Ubuntu 9.10, the latest and greatest flavour of Linux to be released.

One of the key selling points of Ubuntu is that it gives you a great deal of what you need right there in the installation. Top of the list is a fully working Office Suite, in the form of Sun's Open Office, and it immediately impressed by being able to open a Word 2007 docx file, when we feared it would casue an issue.

You also get Firefox 3.5 for the web, Empathy for instant messaging, Evolution, a client for handling mail and a calendar, Gimp, for image editing and F-Spot for photo management. You get a functional media player built-in, a disc burning tool, a music player and even a bit-torrent client.

Of course, you can download Open Office and Gimp on your Windows PC too, but brownie points are awarded for them being ready and waiting in Ubuntu.

Conversely, Microsoft has decided to remove many applications from Windows 7 by default, so you have to download Messenger, Windows Mail, Photo Live Galley and Movie Maker as part of the Live Essential pack. Either this is to keep anti-trust suits off its back, or to keep that installation process light. Or probably a bit of both, but there you go.

Ubuntu also has superior connectivity with the cloud built-in thanks to its Ubuntu One service that offers up to 2GB of free storage. Microsoft meanwhile has Live Mesh for download and SkyDrive, which will give you 25GB for free but many users will not know about this.

Multimedia support is better in Windows. It will install DVDs straight out of the box and there's nothing in Ubuntu to compete with Windows Media Centre for a 10-foot media interface for use when sitting on the sofa.

Overall though, the built-in feature count is stacked in Ubuntu's favour.

Winner: Ubuntu 9.10

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