Posted by: truefire | Saturday, October 6, 2007

Analyzing Microsoft’s OS by Linux Standards

microsoft-review.pdfIn the past, I’ve noticed that reviews of the various GNU/Linux OS distributions

have frequently made point of their downfalls when compared to one Microsoft

OS or another. This doesn’t make much sense in the grand scale of things,

because most-if not all-of Microsoft’s advantages come from being the long-time

market leader, not the better OS.

So, in light of that, I decided to right a few wrongs by creating a review of Windows XP

Media Center Edition 2005 (which is arguably the best Microsoft OS to date)

as if Linux were the market leader, and Microsoft, the upstart.

Obviously, certain points must be ignored in this reverse scenario,

but this will encourage an equal playing field.

The biggest factor that will be ignored is the certain proprietary

softwares that are locked into the Windows world, e.g.: Adobe Photoshop,

autoCAD, Corel, games, codecs, and the ever slimming list of device drivers.

(I will, however, mention drivers included with the OS, just not the ones that

don’t exist at all.)

These softwares should not be part of an honest Operating System review anyway,

for once an OS proves it’s worth, the market will move to support it.

(Other factors omitted are: the cost of the OS’s, which is preinstalled, and visual effects{Compiz, Aero}) I’ve obviously decided to be neutral on the proprietary v. open-source

for this article, because although open standards seem to work just as well

on the whole, some businesses require proprietary software for specialized

equipment.

Without further ado, let’s get on with the review.

 

The other day I purchased my first laptop, a shiny Gateway MX6453.

It came with a new OS manufactured by a company called Microsoft Corp.

labeled, “Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005”

Ooh, Sounds fancy. And who doesn’t like a Media Center Edition?

I decided to read up before installing.

After a page or two of research, I found that this was actually Windows XP Professional,

but with a few MCE related addons, drivers, and extra themes built-in.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a geek, and I just couldn’t resist trying out this new ‘toy’!

The initial install was painless enough, but took an hour and a half on the Gateway;

surprising only because the machine is a Turion x2 (dual-core) with 2gigs of RAM.

 

Nevertheless, after the install and basic setup, it seemed to work okay.

Due to the size of the install DVD, I was expecting a full-featured OS

complete with good burning software, an office suite, etc.

What I got was entirely sub-par.

No decent cd-burning software was provided,

and I found that to get one, (Nero) I would have to pay extra.

Wow. With Ubuntu, I could get K3b for free, with the benefit

of it being open-source too. If that wasn’t bad enough,

I noticed that all images, fonts, and the desktop itself seemed skewed.

Hmm. Must be missing the display drivers. But before I contacted Gateway to protest

that the included OS didn’t come with display drivers, I decided to browse it a bit

more(after all, display isn’t a huge deal for the moment). Now, I’ve seen XP in use before,

so I had a general idea of how it was supposed to work.

After awhile, it dawned on me that my machine wasn’t cutting it: I needed those drivers!

The sound, wifi, display, and some aspects of the MoBo and touchpad were either

not operating to their full capacity or not working at all. Now Ubuntu (my main OS)

did sometimes need drivers, especially for tv-cards and the like, but I had never

had so many necessary driver additons. Geez. And this is the OS that came with

the machine!

I used Gateway’s free IM support, and they put up the drivers on a file-sharing

site for me. Some command line work and several restarts later, I had all the hardware working,

and had opened up an included browser called Internet Explorer 6 to my Google homepage

through the WiFi network in my house.

The interface was reminiscent of some Play Skool product, instead of one denoting

even a modest profession(unless, of course, you are a Kindergarten teacher).

But besides that, it wasn’t too bad. The ability to customize seemed to be

lacking though, without some deep modification, or some extra piece of paid/trial

software.

I decided that wasn’t such a big deal though. After all, in a professional setting,

customization would only serve to distract the more savvy workers.

As I navigated Google Reader, a small yellow bubble popped up near my clock,

asking me to update. With Ubuntu’s update-manager in my mind, I didn’t expect

any hassle, just improved functionality. I clicked the bubble, and it brought me

to a website called Windows Update. I went through the motions, first

verifying that I was using a legit copy of Microsoft’s software,

then getting Microsoft’s Update upgrade, then finally choosing updates.

Whew. In Ubuntu, updating was a simple, painless, get-more-freebies thing.

Compared to this, it was like opening presents on Christmas(or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa…Chanukwanzaa!). Well, I sighed,’At least it can’t get much worse…”

Yeah, I know you were expecting me to say that.

Boy, was I wrong. It asked me to,’…restart for the changes to take effect.’

Now, after a system-wide update, this is normal for any OS you’ll use. It’s

what happened next that drove my annoyance home:

After the restart, I was prompted to update again.

Okay…I updated again. Restart. I updated again. Restart.

Finally, updates complete, (several hours later)I was then surfing happily when another bubble popped

up /ask/ing/, no, demanding that I get protective software.

After a good long time of research, I discovered that I needed

antivirus, antispyware, and a firewall, because Windows’ built-in firewall

was worth next-to-nothing, forums stated.

I decided to use the free software with the highest ratings:

 

Adaware SE/Spybod S&D,

Avast! Home Edition

and Zone Alarm Free Firewall

 

It seemed to work pretty well, but of course I could not tell by myself if I had a spying

virus or two.

Zone Alarm worked well enough, but I found it funny that the manufacturers had so many

different versions, not for different uses, but each consecutive product had more features

and a bigger price tag then the last. Why didn’t they just do their best with one

product? I wouldn’t mind paying a little for that(provided I got free updates for

that series).

Why didn’t Microsoft offer free, actually useful software for protecting it’s

own?

That aside, the multiple popups from the talkative Zone Alarm began to annoy me,

and I looked more closely at the bubble. I saw it said that the identification for

the program in question was not available for that edition.

So that was it for me. It was clear I would have to pay for decent protection.

After a bit of searching I found a temporary fix: Use the trial of Zone Alarm’s

more advanced edition.

 

I found it much better than it’s cheap predecessor, but pricey to keep it.

Oh well, enough on that.

Thus far, this OS seemed to need more expensive maintenance than what

it was worth(not to mention the EULA was the product of some nightmare plagued

drunk).

I set out to find a redeeming quality in this OS before I dropped it completely.

First, I decided to try installing a program, namely OpenOffice,

which comes with most Linux distributions.

It’s install was easy enough, but I definitely preferred Ubuntu’s check-from-list-to-install

style; but it did remind me of installing .deb’s..

That was simple enough. Then I decided to install Ubuntu side by side with Windows

(dual-boot) to see if I had any driver issues in my main OS.

No such thing. In 7.10, everything worked, and it came with everything I needed.

I was a secure, office-enabled, internet-surfing computer user out of the literal box.

True, there was a glitch with the brightness control, but it did work out of the box,

which is better than can be said for poor Windows. This not mentioning that

Ubuntu’s OS is only one CD in size, not a gigantic DVD.

Continuing to use Ubuntu as the main OS for my new laptop, I did use Windows

occasionally, to see if one big update would improve it’s performance

as was the case in the earlier versions of Ubuntu.

After only a month or two of just using the computer, Windows became slow and had

a terribly groggy feel.When two security scans later came to no avail, I went searching

for the reason. After research on Microsoft’s site,

I discovered the little known fact that Windows OS’s need to be ‘defragmented’ monthly,

and reinstalled almost annually. Realizing that I would need to understand more

about this OS to understand this cruel and unusual punishment so I did studying.

Now I know every OS has it’s curves, but this was insane-(Xp doesn’t have curves, it has razor-sharp edges) I think this endless maintenance will lead less savvy users to buy a new computer annually!

Soon enough I learned that the primary fault of Windows slow-but-sure decrease(in already sub-par)

performance rested in something called the Windows Registry.

The Windows Registry, in a nutshell, is an all-eggs-in-one-basket issue.

As it turns out, every time you install/uninstall, update, or change a setting

in Windows, you are fiddling with the Windows Registry.

If one thing goes wrong here, you could end up with system-wide freezes,

‘white-windows’ (frozen programs) and BSOD’s,(blue-screens-of-death(Cryptic error

messages that do zilch to remedy the problem)), and, as you can guess,

this happens allot in this system; since everything that changes affects it,

and there are frequent conflicts.

All things considered, no matter what securities you have one well formed virus attack could take this system down in seconds.

It is horrific to imagine the government using such buggy(no, bugs are NOT features, Bill Gates!), insecure software, no matter if Microsoft’s techs say that the government versions

are ‘special’. No matter how special they are, they aren’t changing the base:

The Windows Registry. Unfortunately, that’s not Achilles’ heel, either: There are too many

other glitches, holes, and beta(experimental) features in this OS to even grant it ‘Achilles’ status.

A note to software manufacturers: don’t bother with this OS; stay with Ubuntu.

 

Please feel free to comment, and if you would like to reproduce this, feel free. All I ask is that you  email me  where it was reproduced, and all credit be given to me for the writing.

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Responses

  1. Linux IS NOT Ubuntu for (expletive deleted) sake

    (Message edited by Moderator)

  2. Great article that states what I have been saying for some time now. If everyone had to start from scratch (Windows not pre-installed) then people would see that Windows is not some out-of-the-box gold mine that people proclaim it to be. With a basic install you have NOTHING! You will have to buy office, anti-virus, anti-spyware and anything else you need to be productive.

    And I wish people would quit with this “linux is not Ubuntu” mess. Eventually some distro is going to become synonymous with linux for the mainstream audience. No one complains about Red Hat being synonymous with “linux server” so I don’t understand the Ubuntu hate.

  3. Me: Sure, it’s not Linux all by itself; but if you want to be so technical, why not called it ,”GNU/Linux -made by…..Linus Torvalds, RMS,…..”
    Spouting nonsense against my chosen example OS is a waste of time-yours and mine.
    Honestly though, any applicable comment is appreciated; so thanks.

    Phil:Thanks for the comment! It’s good to see there are people who can see that ‘Linux’ will eventually
    relate with one OS(and Ubuntu just happens to be leading the way.)
    I don’t understand that either. Maybe they’re open-source purists?
    (If ‘purists’ is the right word)

  4. I started using Unix in 1983 and was forced to
    start using Windows NT in 1998. I had used DOS
    in a very limited way (command line only) at that
    point. The biggest shock in using NT was the
    registry (I did not know it existed before using NT).
    The main point is that I had a better opinion of NT
    before using it (from others in the group) than after.
    I turned 61 in 2004 and retired early to ge shut of
    windows completely.

  5. Linux Mint is ubuntu with media codecs dvd playback and extra bug fixes. I recommended it to new users and the unambitious.

  6. Donald K. Stone:Wow, thanks. It makes me feel better about ageing(and an awesome 1st hand history experience too)!

    matthews: Yeah, I used that for awhile,
    but then, Ubuntu served my needs fine.
    I guess I just prefer the base for faster updates,
    and less chance of conflicts.

    Thanks both of you.

  7. I have noticed a trend with the purists. There are alot more people out there who are pragmatic and a little more willing to comprimise. I recently gave my mom a laptop with UBUNTU (don’t kill me purists) on it, and she loves it. She represents 80 percent of the market out there. Web surfing , email checking users. The OS ultimately only matters to host a browser.

    Gamers can use Windows all they want (honestly that is all I use windows for at all) And no Cedega and Wine are not enough. They do a good job for apps and older games but not the newer stuff which I tend to eval and play.

    But I digress. For the average user Mac OS or Linux will do just fine. Linux is the better option on price alone. Ubuntu happens to have a pretty nice user friendly setup and options that the other distros (even PcLinux OS) do not have.

  8. TotalitarianBob: Right. I especially agree on your last paragraph. That fact is actually what two guys founded Regenerate Computing on.

    http://rcomputing.blogspot.com

  9. Sums up many of the arguments I have used.
    I have long argued that if Linux was around before Windows and Microsoft came up with this new Windows, they would be laughed at until sides crack.
    One colleague told me a tale, he would walk into the office, see someone engrossed and think some serious work was being done. As he got nearer, he could hear expressions such as “I thought I saved that”, “it’s not supposed to do that”, “reboot”, etc. from someone attempting to do serious work with Windows.

  10. I find it telling that military IT Professionals have to use Microsoft, in order to have their home systems work at work. {If you want a nightmare try to write an annual Epr or similar rept THEN have to translate to Windows.} What I find truly fascinating is these same IT professionals will discard the MS, OS on this virgin machine, so a full format, and THEN do a clean install of a seperately purchaced MS, OS. Congratulations, I’m having to spend annywhere from $100.oo to $400.oo for adware, bloatware, and crapware.

    I have to agree with TotalitarianBob, in that unless you have some specific needs, use the OS that most makes you the buyer happy. Most users need basic functionality, basic security, and a couple of specific apps. Alot of the Linux zealoitry scares the streights, and is only re-inforcing the inclinations of the converted. Stop beating your chests and scaring the people into an even more morally supine position.

  11. Sid Boyce:Funny tale. Unfortunately, ‘nix has been around for much longer than Microsoft, but apparently the wide range of distros scared off consumers(yes, Unix had distros too).
    Ubuntu is turning the scales by saying, “look at me!
    I’m cheap! I’m updated! I’m the OS to use!”
    They are the best OS, they just need proprietary app/driver support now.

    DwarfTech: I’m not quite sure I know what you mean by ,’telling…’.
    Do you mean proof that the first OS wins market share,
    MS is a lying monopoly,
    or Linux stinks?
    -
    And, I met a guy once in the military
    who just learned a basic military
    communications course before.
    These aren’t ‘IT Pros’ these are whoever
    the media can tell us about.
    -
    But yeah, people who ,’worship’ open-source
    tend to freak people out.
    Do you have a blog yourself?
    The way you use words is very interesting.

  12. I’ve really had this experience. I started using linux when I was still in school and mac os too. My only encounter with windows since is the many people who ask me to fix it.

    All I can say is that it is clearly not ready for prime time use.

    For example: I visited some friends recently who have a regular windows laptop bought a few months ago. Already the antivirus bombed out and has been giving error messages. When I came and looked at it there were 3 viruses and the only copy of their honeymoon pics were in great danger. I have of course backed up their data and fixed the antivirus however all I can say is this computer aimed at average consumers is clearly not suitable at all.

    I have so many examples like this that it isn’t funny. My job even is basically fixing bugs which arise on windows computers at a school. Almost none of these bugs would occur if we were allowed to set up all the machines as linux desktops. Still I shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds me.

  13. Hi, I’m also a big fan of Linux (and Ubuntu for that matter) but I must say the last versions of Windows XP are very good in the way of usability. However, I concur with you on the fact that this is not what makes the big difference for use in the professional world, but rather the wide software ecosystem surrounding Windows only, things such as Photoshop, AutoCAD, ArcMap… and so many others that just don’t have any linux equivalent. From a home user’s point of view, these don’t matter much.

    At least that’s what things were at before the introduction of Vista. With this large step backwards taken by Microsoft, now there’s very clear advantages for home users in switching to Linux. Here’s to hoping they do it!

  14. Windows Hater: I totally understand that!
    I fix people’s PCs all the time. More than once, it’s a PC owned by somebody who knows somebody that knows me. I’m not complaining; I personally am a bit of a geeky showoff(who’s your PC’s daddy?) but my ‘customers’ have more than enough reason to complain! MS, are you telling us that a FREE OS can do better than your richest-in-the-world bad self?
    I mean, come on, can’t America wake up and smell the daisies? There are other options out there, and Windows is un-arguably one of the worst.
    It should be a crime to allow that kind of ID theft capable tech into the hands of an innocent family of noobs(1/2 America). I met one family who’s PC had 100+ Trojans in the C:/Windows folder.
    They hadn’t the slightest. That should say something. All we need is proprietary games, and an online music store for linux, and we’re home free.

    jacques: I agree-to a point. Windows has improved-till Vista- but it is still not user-friendly enough to legalize government/home use.
    I read a comment by a government worker on another blog, saying her work laptop got a virus and her zipdrive ‘saved’ her files. Sure, she’s got
    them…. but does somebody else? Talk about irresponsible. I’d like to see the person in charge of this foolishness. Linux is the safest OS so far(A white-hat hacker told me that), though I do still use a basic firewall.
    I certainly hope they do switch, yes.

    Thanks everybody for your perspectives and comments, they are much appreciated.
    Visit again soon.

  15. Just as a little sidenote : In the article it is assumed Linux is the market-leader and not Windows. If this is the case it would probably impact the amount of malware available for the two OS’es (more for Linux, less for windows), though I can’t tell how much.

    Really, if I had just one tech-wish, it’d be to know how the malware-situation looked if the market-roles were reversed.

    Rootin’ for Ubuntu btw ;-)

  16. You have forgotten to add that all the software maintenance in Windows has to be done manually. Each program has its own installer, which can theoretically ruin the Registry. I must admit, though, that most of the installers use InstallShield nowadays. And some applications even have the automatic update facilities built-in!

    I mean, there is no such concept in Windows as package manager. And this hasn’t changed since 1995 when we were first introduced to 32-bit version of the OS. Just think how much time you have to spend updating your parents’ Windows PC after 6 months of non-maintenance. New Winamp, new Firefox/Opera, new IrfanView, new Adobe Reader, new OpenOffice, preferred codec set, new NVIDIA driver… the list just goes on. And for each program imagine a “download, uninstall old, install new” cycle, with occasional reboot. This just drives crazy the geek in me!

    I used to do this (Windows babysitting), now my parents have the easiest to use/support Linux distribution installed, that is Ubuntu, on a dual-boot machine. And you know what? They’ve learned GNOME pretty quickly and they prefer to use Ubuntu Linux for their daily internet needs. And now I have more time for converstions while I visit them. :-)

    Happy linuxing in a new year!

  17. M$ is already in the process of embracing Linux.
    They’ll exert their influence on corporations to change to Novell, thats their champion for now.
    The windows codebase and paradigm are a disgrace to the level of our civilisation.
    The people in charge of it know it, It seems they had an inside war on ethics recently.
    Linux is the only chance they have against MacOSX in the media world.
    We should expect actions of redemption and beggin from the gorilla in 2008.
    What they opened protocols already? Heh…

  18. The restarts are caused by the monolithic design of the Windows OS, which is another reason it’s less secure than Linux, which is a modular system without all of those deadly interdependencies.
    I read a comment above that said Linux would have viruses if it was more common. That’s just another facade of the “security by obscurity” myth. Linux is much more prevalent than you think. Most servers run it, including Google. If you wanted to cause the most damage, what would you attack – then end users’ machines, or the servers that allow them to communicate with each other? You could take down thousands of machines by knocking out one key server. Amazingly enough, Linux servers have the highest uptime, the smallest downtime, and the best security. Why’s that, if Linux isn’t really as obscure as you thought? It’s because of the design, from the kernel up. You simply cannot make a virus for linux that doesn’t require the victim to do something incredibly stupid and complicated to install it. The same goes for keyloggers, spyware, etc. Nearly all of the very few vulnerabilities found in linux are based on buffer-overflow, and since updates are released almost instantly (espescially for Ubuntu) once one is found and the kernal is updated very frequently, these exploits are usually of little consequence. On the other hand, Microsoft has admitted that there are certain vulnerabilities it is never going to fix; not that it makes much difference, because it takes so long for them to fix the ones they do. A recent example of that: Windows Vista, supposedly Microsoft’s latest and greatest, was found to be vulnerable to a 13 year old trojan that most experts thought had been eradicated years ago. Where’s the progress there? Are their updates and security patches really that far behind? Thirteen years is a lot longer than the few days it takes Ubuntu to release updates for for the newest 0-days. To be blunt, that’s just pathetic!
    The only reason MS is still hanging on today is because of the propriety software that hasn’t yet followed the software revolution and made the jump to linux. But it’s definitely losing ground; now even Dell installes Linux on some of the PC’s they sell!

  19. I’ve been using different Linux distros on my Gateway MX3225 laptop for not quite a year. A couple of weeks ago I tried reinstalling the Windows XP that came with it. I couldn’t believe how bare the OS was, I had to load drivers for nearly everything. I had a few difficulties with Linux – setting an odd resolution and tweaking the sound; but the difference was amazing with Linux clearly easier to get up and running.

  20. Henrik: I think S.C. answers this pretty well.

    SirYes: Perfect. That’ll be in my next article.

    wizgrav: Yeah, they technically own Xandros.

    S.C.: You rock. Yes, you do.

    countryparson: I know. :( sad, isn’t it?
    What ARE they doing with all that money?

    Thanks everybody!

  21. I have to say, great review. I like how you kept a fair opinion throughout it.
    There’s a lot of things about Ubuntu that I love. It’s ridiculously easy to use, the command line is actually very comfortable, games work fairly well on it, and media works wonderfully on it. My only complaint is that I can’t record things with my microphone, but heck, that’s probably going to be better soon anyway.

  22. About 6-8 months ago I switched to Ubuntu after my 2-years-old XP install died a slow and painful death. It had been rather pristine and virus-free, but I accidentally (because I was in a hurry) opened an .exe file while trying to find a serial code for (guess what) XP to install on someone else’s machine. That opened up a bunch of new malware that I’d managed to keep away quite easily just by being careful.

    I switched to ubuntu 7.1 and was very surprised that it *just worked*. This was on my Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop. Wow. Very impressed. A major improvement over my debian experience 2 years prior, and certainly over slackware 10 years before that!

    Then the updates started. At some point I installed the latest ATI driver and upgraded from edgy to feisty (or the other way around, I don’t remember), and suddenly it got kinda slow, and all the hibernate/sleep lid-closing stuff stopped working. I never figured out the relationship between the networking icon and the command for sudo /etc/…/networking restart. Restarting the icon seemed to allow it to reconnect to my router, but restarting it from the command line didn’t do anything. I can’t seem to figure out why my NFS mounting is sooo slow. OpenOffice spreadsheet doesn’t follow standard (yes, MS-derived probably) keyboard shortcuts and always pops up this stupid database/datasource window which I can’t quite figure out how to remove. The Synaptics package manager lists a hundred different varieties of the same thing, for example Alsa sound system, converters for one sound system to another, wrappers to trick one sound system into thinking it’s another. Not to mention the DVD-codec stuff. I still can’t play mpeg-4 encoded WMV files. Printing used to work before i upgraded, and now it’s completely dead. I don’t even know where to begin to fix it.

    I have an MS in electrical engineering, so I’m not an idiot and in general I’m well versed in computer stuff, etc., but what irks me to no end is that although the first install was painless, I always have a tension that *something* is going to break very easily which I can’t fix. Drivers? Modprobe? Ldconfig? WTF? Why are “devices” listed as a file? Why does my pci bus take a spot in the file system? I don’t have /dev/hda through hdd, so why are they there? This low level stuff is waaay too easily exposed to someone like me who is technically savvy in general, but not a linux expert. I tried installing Synergy (virtual KVM) to run automatically, and I had to edit a few .init files, which didn’t work. In windows it was literally a check box and works every time.

    Then the experience with the media pc… I tried to resurrect my 2-years old desktop to be a mythbuntu front-and-backend. This was HELL. It’s taken several months and all I wound up with now is a PC that doesn’t boot. I orderd an HD tuner card from pchdtv, and surprisingly got that working… sort of. The drivers worked, but then xine didn’t work. I recompiled many times, deinstalled, reinstalled, etc., and could never get the same functionality as it had out of the box + channel changing. People give advice basically saying “just type apt-get install bla blabla and it just works”. Well, sometimes, but when things don’t work there is basically no prayer. Mplayer sorta worked, once, but again no channel changing. Soundblaster extigy has mediocre drivers that don’t drive the spdif out and don’t seem to do ac3 pass-through. I can sometimes get either xine, totem, or mplayer to play a HD stream (.ts) or file (.avi, etc), but not with sound. There are 1000 options for codecs, demuxer, drivers, etc., some of which crash or freeze the machine, or barf with no exit code. Then people suggest I read the log file in some /var/log/blabla…. Sometimes things spit out log files, sometimes they don’t. The error messages are worse than useless. Sound? Yes even when the drivers work, the overreliance on shared libraries, links, configuration files, etc., etc., is extremely burdensome when it doesn’t “just work”.

    In summary, the ecosystem for media in linux STINKS —–(Moderated)

    At some point the machine crashed and left itself unbootable.

    On the plus side, it was relatively easy to set up an NFS share with my 500GB hardware raid 5 controller.

    In contrast, I just bought a new desktop Dell Inspiron 531s with an HD tuner card. I expected to try linux again, since the vista home that came with it was not supposed to work with the card. Turns out they sent me the version that DOES work with the card, and anyway my linux pchdtv card won’t fit in the slot. Yes, vista was preinstalled, and all my previous vista experiences also sucked, but nevertheless I was able to get a real true-to-life HD tuned home PVR with media center, within an hour or two of setting up. Yes I had to do some updates and reboot a few times, but who cares? It truly “JUST WORKED”. Even plugging in the IR receiver for the remote control just worked. No drivers to worry about, etc. I don’t plan on using this machine for anything but media, so hopefully I won’t be too bothered with all the security double-checking and crappy IE 7.0, etc., but for media this is a dream… so far.

    So in summary, linux is great when the distros work. It sucks when things break because there are a 1000 places it could have gone wrong, from mis-typed links, to bad versions of libraries, to missing config files, etc. The low level operation of linux is still too accessible (rather, more-than-casual-user *must* access it to do anything interesting), and the entire ecosystem of everything that must work together for normal user things like media, hibernation, bluetooth, re-discovering network connectivity, etc., is too brittle. When installing a new package it’s best to know exactly the name of the package you want because synaptics shows too many unused and irrelevant possible system-munging options such as multiple sound systems and related (dozens) of packages for special-case situations. It also has some funny metaphors which don’t make sense, such as device-is-a-file-in-your-filesystem and look-at-all-those-blank-entries-in-/dev/. Also too many different ways to get a terminal, eg standard terminal, xterm, etc., each with different color settings, some with crappy display of escape characters, etc. Linux has TOO MANY options, which is why it’s such a headache. Psychologists have shown that people with too many options are less happy than people who have merely a few. Yes linux works great as a server. In short, linux is a Pain(Moderated) to set up and but works great once it works.

    On the other hand Windows is great for media stuff and instant-gratification when it comes to installing new programs, but it eventually slows down and dies for various reasons. It’s easy to get things set up because everything is UI-based with a usually consistent look-and-feel, but it’s a Pain(Moderated) when it comes to *truly* customizing your setup. In short, Windows is easy to set up, but doesn’t always keep working right. Choose your poison. All computers stink(Moderated).

  23. Love your article its all true with one exception. I used winxp for many years until I discovered linux. And I never saw a blue screen in xp, plenty in win98 and dozens every day in winme. Dont get me wrong I use linux pretty exclusively and only boot into windows rarely to play a game or two. Windows really does have enough real drawbacks that no one should have to stoop to mimicing a lame mac commercial to make their point. I agree windows sucks but keep it real.

  24. you might also read some other (sometimes funny) articles on this topic :
    - “Is MS Windows ready for the desktop?” : http://lxer.com/module/newswire/view/47221/index.html
    - “Windows rapidly approaching desktop usability” :

    http://www.linux.com/feature/45031

    - “Why Windows Isn’t Quite Ready for the Desktop” :

    http://www.osnews.com/story.php/7968/Why-Windows-Isnt-Quite-Ready-for-the-Desktop/

  25. [...] have read many accounts of how Windows users were disappointed by Linux. The EasyGeek is turning the tables this time. While as a Linux fan it is quite entertaining to read it, the biggest fact to accept is [...]

  26. great article.
    well, i agree that linux DOES have it’s drawbacks that come from one thing: it’s not the mainstream os. imagine, if you will, that when buying a pc it comes preinstalled with linux. drivers wouldn’t be an issue, installing wouldn’t be an issue and the computer manufacturers would make sure the os would “just work”.
    what the pc world really needs is equal choice, making linux and windows equally available.
    people keep saying the downfall of linux is the number of distros. are you afraid of choosing between a toyota and a nissan? a toshiba and an asus? i think we should be more lax about variety, destigmatize people about that.
    as i’m also one of those techies that spend a lot of time repairing computers i can tell you that windows is such a pain. if you keep things simple it’s a decent os which on my laptop (xp) i have not had to reinstall in four years and would you know, i never updated the os once. vista on the other hand i consider malware. i think simply both windows and linux are tricky to set up, but linty is ridiculously easy to maintain and way more productive.
    on another note, i’m curious about OSX. it’s clearly a success, it’s unix. not having much access to it i would like to know how it really compares to windows and linux. do you guys think that if it were available on all computers it would kick ass or also be plagued by issues?
    that’s my 5cts.
    ps, where’s the digg button?

  27. [...] desktop: Starting with the right set of expectations“, que recoge una entrada, “Analyzing Microsoft’s OS by Linux Standards“, en la que su autor se plantea qué ocurriría si el panorama tecnológico fuese [...]

  28. just a couple of other data points – recently I had the opportunity to compare the Windows and Linux installation experiences – the Windows was the one that came with a laptop that’s been running mainly FreeBSD until I found myself needing a Windows machine and dug out the restore CDs, chronicled at [1]. Then a little later I needed to install Ubuntu on a new dell, chronicled at [2]. The verdict was fairly clear.

    And yes, that book I keep mentioning in both posts is now out and available at good bookstores.

    [1] http://bsdly.blogspot.com/2007/06/which-windows-xp-version-is-it-on-that.html
    [2] http://bsdly.blogspot.com/2007/07/linux-is-easier-than-windows-hands-down.html

  29. Good post.

    There are also several Windows’ user interface differences which would frustrate me such as :

    - Just one clipboard and no middle mouse button pasting

    - Very very poor terminal/shell and command-line utilities out of box which lack for example pasting on the prompt(or if it’s possible, it’s not quite intuitive)

    - Backslashes as separators for path names

    - GUI is not modular and server-based, so no chance of multiple GUI sessions

    - No way of using the same configuration for another computer as in copying all the hard drive contents via dd, or even the registry(although I’ve only heard that it’s impossible, I’ve never tried it)

    - Where is home directory? Documents and Settings?? Not intuitive

    - No centralized documentation system for applications(man pages, info pages, KDE help etc.)

    - During start-up, desktop environment seems to have started up but the system is still booting

    - No widely-spread programming languages, compilers or interpreters come out-of-box

    - GUI widgets(with which I mean buttons, text-boxes, scrollbars etc. and not any whirling-stuff-on-the-desktop) seem to be very small

    - And as most migrating-from-Windows bloggers seem to say about Linuxes, “Everything is so different, why”?

  30. Suppose MS created a perfect OS. No bugs, viruses, or whatever. So many businesses are based on fixing the flaws of MS software that a perfect MS OS would have drastically negative effects on the economy. MS is really doing all of us a favor by building flaws into its software because it’s not just their pocketbook at stake, it’s everyone else’s too.

    The problems with Apple’s Panther OS may be Apple’s positioning to fill in the 64-bit OS hole so that they can eventually take over MS’s position as an economic driver.

    The perpetual existence of software defects is the single most important feature of any successful software venture to date. Fixing flawed software is also a self-sustaining enterprise. New flaws are inevitably added when old flaws are fixed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Consider, nearly no one knows about the bug-free software produced by… uh… Well, they’re just not popular. They’re not popular because they’re flawless. Introduce some flaws… crash a probe, blow up a shuttle… and everyone knows about. Flaws in software leads to instant popularity.

    Linux, of course, can never succeed because it just doesn’t have the same flaws other OSes do. It has enough to make it on the radar, but they aren’t extreme enough to push Linux into the mainstream. Further, a handful of Linux techs can replace legions of Windows and Apple techs. Economic disaster.

  31. One word: Hilarious!!!

  32. What about ReactOS and PC-BSD/DesktopBSD in terms of future prospects, security, ease of installation of applications?

  33. Sean, you can record from your mic by using audacity. It’s in the repositories.

  34. Analyzing Microsoft’s OS by Linux Standards

    “In the past, I’ve noticed that reviews of the various GNU/Linux OS distributions have frequently made point of their downfalls when compared to one Microsoft OS or another. This doesn’t make much sense in the grand scale of things, because most-if …

  35. As a GNU/Linux user and a journalist, I am not much of a techie, I am just a user. And I had been using Windows ever since I touched first computer. But when I came across Linux, I find it cool. It is great at server end, but not that great at home user end. But, for those who criticize GNU/Linux we need to be a bit rational and also have a look at how things work.

    With a monopolistic player like MS which signs a lot of deals to ensure that various software are available for its platform only, GNU/Linux community try to create options.

    But owing to the penetration of Windows most companies offer solution only for MS platform or MacOS. Now, how do you expect the GNU/Linux engineers to write a driver, when cos like Brodcam don’t even give specs of its wireless chips? How do you expect the Linux warrior to write drivers for it?

    Purely non-commercial Debians are doing is just for the sake of a movement! Now, do you want to change the world or stay in the dystopian world of Windows — which actually closes windows to all options?

    Yes, right now, you need to be a bit aware of what package to be used and you might have to fumble with the huge support available to get what you need. But then there is price to everything. Linux is giving you that freedom and only investment you have to make is spend some time looking for stuff and talk to right people like those available on this blog. As Niel Peart says — even freedom is not for free.

    So, if you wanna breathe in a free world where all windows are open so that fresh air may come in from all sides, you must embrace GNU/Linux.

    It’s just matter of time that it will supersede any available OS around!

    Regards

    Swapnil

  36. I have been a complete Linux user sine an year now, and have no complaints at all. Good riddance windows!

    Good and meaningful article here.

  37. I apologize, my post was addressed to M S…and I repeat I am not a techie, so don’t mind my stupidity. Also, I would like to congratulate EasyGeek for an awesome piece he has written, it must have slashed, I guess.

    Kudos!

  38. M S: Yeah, I had a similar problem with my sound card. Again, that was the point of my article:
    would drivers REALLY be an issue to Linux, as market leader? (Other things mentioned in your comment suggesst that you were doing things the ‘Windows Way’. Ubuntu is completely different.)

    Greg: Well, most of us do get those problems.
    It depends heavily on what programs you use.

    greythanis: Yeah, I know. No, actually, it wouldn’t.
    Ubuntu has a much larger support/tech group, their programmers are more fresh, and it is based on a programming marvel: GNU/Linux.

    Heikki Naski: Excellent points.

    “…”: Funny. Very.

    Darrell: BSD is nice, but I see no differentiating redeeming qualities. Almost no programs are specifically for it either.
    Ubuntu vs Mac is how it’s going to end.
    Winner vs BSD, maybe.

    swapnil bhartiya: I agree. Thanks.

    redenex: I know! Good luck converting your friends to THE OS.

  39. [...] just read an interesting review article of Microsoft Windows. Alternatives to Windows (like Mac OSX and various builds of Linux) often get [...]

  40. Merely a smiling visitor here to share the love , btw outstanding style. Audacity, a lot more audacity and always audacity. by Georges Jacques Danton. gacdgcgdgbed


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