Okay, I'm a Linux guy you already know I'm going to come down in favor of Ubuntu. But, I actually like Microsoft Windows as well. Which lead me to the question, why do I still prefer Linux?

1) Security
The latest version of Microsoft Windows is no more secure than Windows has ever been. Is it better than Microsoft Windows 7? Sure. Is it faster than XP? Not so much. Does it run a ton of popular applications? You betcha. But is Windows 8.1 still prone to an endless array of malware programs and stuck with a pre-Internet security model? Yes yes, it is.

I'm able to keep a Windows PC safe. I run my own Windows PCs and servers and help with friends. While I'm good at computers, I'm sure anyone who's reasonably smart can manage it as well. But I'm lazy: I don't want to always be keeping my eye on Windows threats; I don't want to worry about being hacked while shopping online; and I don't want to be careful about avoiding clicking on a crooked link in yet another malicious e-mail letter.

With Linux, I can be lazy and safe.

2) Cheap
I'm also cheap. I use older computers until they fall apart. I have Ubuntu working on one of my desktops an AMD 1.2GHz machine with 512MB of RAM a machine I got back in 2000. I could no more get a decent version of Windows 7 (Home Premium or above) to run on that box than I could get my old Toyota Lexcen (Holden) 1994 to break 100 MPH on the highway.

But forget about the hardware: let's talk upgrade prices. You can get Windows 8.1 now quite cheaply. For example, the latest version of Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro lists for AU$259 and you will pay AU$149 to upgrade from Microsoft Windows 7. Compare that to Ubuntu, where the price is... uh... zero.

3) Easy upgrade
This is how I upgraded Ubuntu: I downloaded and burned a CD, booted up my Ubuntu system with it, and installed the new version. I was done. Total time using a bittorrent, was just short of 30 minutes.

Upgrading one of my Intel 2.6GHz Quad Core PC's with 4GB of RAM installed with XP to Windows 7. It took me eight hours. I had to use two additional programs Windows Easy Transfer and LapLink's PCmover besides my installation DVD.

It isn't easy. Unless you love playing with technology for its own sake, don't do it. If you really want Windows 8.1, and you're currently using XP or Windows 7, buy a new PC with Micrsoft Windows 8.1 installed. It's not only easier, but when you consider how much time the process takes, it's also cheaper.

4) Hardware compatibility
There is a persistent delusion that Linux only supports a limited set of peripherals. Wrong. Ubuntu Linux supports pretty much every piece of hardware out there. Yes, there are some items, especially graphic cards and chipsets, for which you may need to download a driver to get the most out of your graphics.

What does this have to do with comparing Microsoft Windows and Ubuntu? A lot. Even though Microsoft did a much better job of supporting hardware with Windows 8.1 there is still gaps in supporting commonplace devices.

5) Applications
Conventional wisdom is that Windows has the software advantage because it has more polished applications than Linux does. Wrong there is every bit of quality software available that you can download for free such as the VLC Media Player. If you are looking for something like Adobe Photoshop, just look at GIMP an Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. Of course, my question to you then is why aren't you running Apple's O/S (seen as the world's most advanced Unix-based Operating System). There is a free applet available for Ubuntu making it possible to have the same Apple O/S look and feel.

But, with the exception of games, I don't see any reason to favor Windows. Ubuntu Linux comes with a free office suite, OpenOffice. If you want an office suite for Windows 8.1, you're going to be paying extra for it. Want an e-mail program? Outlook Express doesn't come with Windows anymore. Ubuntu has Evolution and Mozilla Thunderbird the same people that created the Firefox Browser, the best e-mail and groupware clients on the planet as far as I'm concerned. Need to back up your system? Both can do that, but only Ubuntu has its own online back-up service, Ubuntu One, with 2GB of storage.

Want a program that doesn't come with the operating system? Easy. Use the Ubuntu Software Center, Ubuntu's new one stop application "store." I put store in quotes because it's all free. With Windows, you know the drill. Go to your local store, poke around what's available on citysoftware.com.au and mailordersoftware.com.au etc. etc. Just be sure to have your credit card ready since a good deal of Windows software isn't open source or free.

I don't expect really to convince any Windows fans out there to switch. What I do hope for though is to give you some food for thought. Give Ubuntu a try; there are many easy ways to try Linux without changing anything on your Windows PC. You may just find that Ubuntu or another desktop Linux will do everything you want to do on a computer with a lot less trouble and money.

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