Columbia Southern University
Brains vs Bronze: Windows vs Linux
The operating system (OS) is the software which performs all the basic tasks asked by the user such as recognizing key strokes from the keyboard, sending images to the monitor, keeping track of files and directories on the disk, security, and controlling external devices such as printers or external hard drives. A computers Operating System is the interface the user and the computer’s hardware. For a computer to run application software or any programs, it must have some type of operating system. There are many different types of operating systems and depending on a user’s level of expertise, some offer more than the other. This essay will briefly discuss two different types of operating systems, Windows and Linux, and how they differ.
Windows and Linux
Where both operating systems ultimately perform the same task, the two are very different. When someone mentions the word “operating system,” for most people the first thing that comes to mind is Windows. In a 2013 survey, it was stated, “On traditional PCs and Macs, Microsoft still owns an overwhelming market share, with 91.8 percent of all traffic coming from Windows-based machines” (Bott 2013). Whereas Windows is more popular, the Linux fan base is very strong. The ones that use Linux and are fluent, can change almost every aspect of the operating system, from the boot up, to the layout of the desktop and icons. With Linux, the user has the ability to change how the operating system and application software works by changing the source code, this is known as an “Open-Source” operating system.
With most of the big companies’ servers running a Linux based operating system, one would think that they paid a lot for the service; however, Linux is a completely free download as well as its applications. Once installed and running, Linux sometimes will send a notification asking for donations like No-Script (Online script blocker). When Windows 10 was launched, it was offered as a free upgrade to anyone running Windows 7 or 8. Now the software cost anywhere from $60.00 – $80.00 for Windows 10 PRO. With the many different user created versions of Linux, called “Distros,” one high point is that if the user is unsatisfied with the version, it can simply be rebooted a different disto and start over for free.
Ease of Use
With over 90% of operating systems being Windows, it is most likely that your first computer experience was with a Windows based operating system (Bott 2013). Linux is an “Open source OS,” which means that anyone can download the base operating system, and manipulate almost every aspect to suit ones’ taste. Microsoft Windows does not give users that access. Apart from some personalization, maneuvering through any Windows OS is the same. “The idea of Microsoft open-sourcing all of Windows is clearly a lot of hot air today, and even if it will happen someday, that day is far in the future,” (Hoffman 2015). With the use of Windows being the same, it has made it widely accepted as the “Norm” in businesses because of its ease of use and its familiarity.
With $99.6 billion in revenues being made in 2016 (Newzoo 2016), the operating system that runs entertainment software better is sure to grab attention. With Microsoft leading the way in ownership, gaming and entertainment companies follow suit and produce software that is compatible with any Windows OS. “As of September 2015, only 1,500 Steam games were compatible natively with the entire range of Linux distributions. Meanwhile, Windows thrives on a 6,464 title count, more than four times as much as Linux,” (Larabel 2015).
One of the biggest benefits of using an open source type operating system, is that the user is the one that installs most of the applications and is more familiar with where and how the applications were installed. When a virus or malware gets into the system, it is easier to hunt it down as it doesn’t have all the pre-installed software, like in Windows, to hide in. It is explained best in a 2010 PCWorld article where it states “In Windows, users are generally given administrator access by default, which means they pretty much have access to everything on the system, even its most crucial parts. So, then, do viruses. It’s like giving terrorists high-level government positions,” (PCWorld 2010).
In conclusion, when it comes to choosing an operating system, one should ask, what is it that the computer is needed for and what will its purpose be. For someone that is wanting to run a small business and keep sensitive materials store on the drives, then with a little training, Linux would be a good choice. On the other hand, if someone wants to build a gaming machine where its primary purpose is entertainment, then the compatibility and ease of use might point you toward running a Windows operating system. Microsoft can run a few Linux based applications; However, there has been talk of Microsoft making an open-source Windows Operating system in the future, which would combine the best of both systems, and one that I would be very interested in tinkering with.