Windows vs Linux: Performance and User-Friendliness

Can the open source upstart really stand up to Microsoft's enterprise juggernaut?

Windows vs Linux: Performance

Microsoft's ubiquitous OS can be called many things, but lightweight and speedy' is not one of them. Windows has an unfortunate tendency towards bloating and sluggishness, and can very quickly feel outdated if not properly maintained.

Generally speaking, Linux is a far quicker operating system. Even before adding the various efficiency gains that some distros provide, the core of Linux is less demanding than Windows. Some distros take this further by eliminating many of the UI bells and whistles, creating a fairly ugly, but incredibly streamlined experience for power users. This means Linux can be the perfect option if you're looking to revive an older, ailing laptop.

You can strip back Windows to some of its more basic building blocks to help keep your laptop running smoothly, but Linux, generally, does a far better job of this.

Windows vs Linux: User-friendliness

The very thing that makes Windows slower than Linux is also the thing that makes for a better user experience.

Windows is a product of 30 years of refinement and many of its design elements have become cultural touchstones. Accordingly, certain elements of the layout and navigation have been absorbed through osmosis, and a lot of users can essentially operate the system instinctively.

Linux doesn't have the luxury of falling back on an enormous user base for its design cues and, even today, the OS will seem over-complicated and off-putting to new users.

However, Linux is an operating system that gets simpler to use the more you understand about it, while Windows can sometimes be the opposite. Digging down past the basic tasks into more complicated functions can leave some people baffled.

Microsoft, to its credit, has spent the past few years simplifying the more confusing and labyrinthine elements of its software, and generally making it much more accessible for entry-level users that aren't necessarily computer literate.

This is especially evident in Windows 10's settings menu, which boils down some of the most common and crucial control panel tasks and lays them out under clear and concise headings. It's a lot more straightforward for the layperson, and the control panel's still available for power users to tinker with.

Windows vs Linux: Verdict

Given their different strengths and use cases, it's difficult to definitively state whether Linux or Windows is the better OS. Whether or not each one will be a good fit for your business depends a lot on how your company operates, and what applications it uses.

If you're a small firm that works primarily in software, Linux is likely to be a good fit, as the free availability will reduce overheads, and set-up won't be too complicated to manage. It also has a reputation as a tool for coding, and a large, active community of developers.

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However, larger deployments will be much more complicated. Replacing the computers of hundreds of employees is likely to cause chaos, particularly if they're not familiar with Linux. It's possible this can be avoided with a Windows-style distro but, without a very capable and well-integrated IT department, many companies will struggle.

Given the flexibility of multiple distros, the non-existent asking price and the heightened security, Linux is our overall favourite - assuming you've got the patience to adapt to a new system.

Windows, however, remains the winner in terms of pure convenience. It's simple, familiar, and guaranteed to be compatible with virtually all software; for busy companies, that could well be more valuable in the long run.

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