Ubuntu vs. Windows 7 on the business desktop

Microsoft Windows may be the de facto standard desktop operating system in business environments, but high costs, restrictive licences and constant security issues are leading an increasing number of companies to consider open source alternatives — as Kat Orphanides explains.

Even if an operating system doesn't cost anything, there are always costs involved with its use, usually in the form of support.

In practice, even if an operating system and software don't cost anything to acquire, there are always costs involved with their use, usually in the form of support. Linux is no more expensive than Windows in this regard though, and Canonical offers its own 24/7 support service for businesses, starting from $105 (around 66) per desktop, per year.

Similarly, London-based support firm Help4IT quoted an initial cost of 650 and a basic monthly fee of 273 (both ex VAT) for both 10 clients and one server, for both Windows 7 and Ubuntu.

Conclusions

Verdict

After years of all-too-valid complaints that Linux isn’t ready for the desktop, Ubuntu 11.10 genuinely is. It’s not a perfect feature-for-feature match for Windows 7 or Mac OS X any more than either of those major desktop operating systems is for the other, but Ubuntu has proved to be stable, secure, widely compatible and surprisingly easy to use.

The ease with which the desktop environment can be locked down without removing key functionality is of particular benefit within a corporate environment and, as long as there’s a support team on hand to manage the transition, there’s nothing to prevent end-users more used to Windows from switching seamlessly.

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