Windows vs. Linux. Much has been written on both sides of the spectrum concerning these operating systems. Comparing the two operating systems is like comparing apples and oranges-both are too different to be reliably compared, yet they are still fruit. While there are similarities between the two, the differences tend to stand out to the average user.
Source: Windows is designed, developed and marketed by one company: Microsoft.Linux is created, packaged and distributed worldwide by several companies and independent developers.
Mascots: Microsoft has for their mascot a piece of wood and glass. Linux has a penguin named Tux.
Market Share: As of December 2009,Net Applications reported that Microsoft Windows had 92.21% of the operating system market share. Linux had 1.05% of the operating system market share at that time.
Hardware Requirements: You can run a version of Linux on almost anything, while Microsoft keeps raising the hardware bar with each new operating system release. I have ran DSL Linux(a version of Linux designed for older machines) on a 133 Mhz Pentium laptop with a meager 32 MB of Ram and a 3 GB hard drive. It had a graphical interface and we were able to not only use that machine to surf the Internet and do other basic tasks but my daughter had a large number of games she loved playing on that ancient machine. We were all saddened when that beloved laptop finally died in 2008, nine years after I purchased the machine used in a flea market sporting Windows 95.
Cost: Linux is free to all comers who wish to use it. Windows users must pay a license fee for every single computer the operating system appears on. This price can range from $99 to several hundred dollars.
Customizations: Customizations and modifications for Windows violate Microsoft’s End User License Agreement (EULA). Microsoft does not freely allow users to look into the heart of Microsoft Windows source code. Linux users are free to dig through the source code to their heart’s content, changing whatever they desire with one caveat: Whatever changes they make must be given back to the linux community instead of being sold.
Commercial Software availability: Windows wins hands-down in the commercial software availability department. Walk into any store selling software and most if not all of it will be for Windows-based computers. Linux users have to research to locate commercial applications, because most applications for linux are free and available for download on the Internet.
Viruses: Dr. Nic Peeling and Dr Julian Satchell state in their Analysis of the Impact of Open Source Software (note: this links to a PDF file): “There are about 60,000 viruses known for Windows […] and perhaps 40 for Linux.”
Stability: To quote Scott Granneman, “To mess up a Linux box, you need to work at it; to mess up your Windows box, you just need to work on it.” Real life example: As a toddler my daughter was fascinated with computers and would regularly slip into my office to play with the machines. That child had the uncanny ability to crash a Windows system by just touching a few keys-fortunately a reboot fixed most of the crashes-but she never managed to crash a single Linux box during that same time period! To protect the Windows machines I ended up placing a Linux box loaded with preschool games at eye level for a distraction!
Support: The quality of free technical support for Linux greatly outweighs that available for Windows. Test this theory for yourself: Visit a Windows forum and ask for help on a Windows issue, then visit a Linux forum and ask for help about anything… Your thread may get moved to another section if posted in the wrong area, but someone will be happy to help you for free or point you to someone who can. Call Microsoft (1-800-MICROSOFT) and ask for help accessing the Internet, then call your local LUG (Linux user group) for the same issue, different operating system. If you are really having an issue you may end up getting a free visit from your very own Linux geek, happy to help a new user!