Linux vs. Windows

Linux vs. WindowsUsers who are considering making a change from Windows to Linux or Linux to Windows commonly want to know the advantages and disadvantages of each of the operating systems. Below is a chart to help illustrate the major advantages and disadvantages of each of these operating systems.

Topic Linux Windows
Price The majority of Linux variants are available for free or at a much lower price than Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Windows can run between $99.00 - $199.00 US dollars for each licensed copy. However, Microsoft is planning to make Windows 10 available for free to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, for one year after release.
Ease Although the majority of Linux variants have improved dramatically in ease of use, Windows is still considered to be easier to use for non-technical computer users. Windows-based PCs are much more likely to be found in a school or workplace setting, as well. Microsoft has implemented many changes throughout its versions of Windows to facilitate ease of use. While it may arguably not be the easiest operating system, it is still less difficult to use than Linux.
Reliability The majority of Linux variants and versions are notoriously reliable and can often run for months and years without needing to be rebooted. Although Microsoft Windows has made great improvements in reliability over the last few versions of Windows, it still cannot match the reliability of Linux.
Software Linux has a large variety of available software programs, utilities, and games, but Windows still has a larger selection of available software. However, software is available for Linux that mimics some Windows-based software or supports files created in Windows-based software, like Word and Excel. Because of the large amount of Microsoft Windows users, there is a much larger selection of available software programs, utilities, and games for Windows.
Software Cost Many of the available software programs, utilities, and games available on Linux are freeware or open source. Even such complex programs such as GIMP, OpenOffice, StarOffice, and Wine are available for free or at a low cost. Although Windows does have software programs, utilities, and games for free, the majority of the programs will cost anywhere between $20.00 - $200.00+ US dollars per copy.
Hardware Although hardware manufacturers have made great advancements in supporting Linux, some hardware devices still are not supported by Linux. However, for the hardware devices that have driver support, they usually work in all versions of Linux. Microsoft Windows has a very large user base, so most hardware manufacturer support Windows drivers for their products.
Security Linux is and has always been a very secure operating system. Although it still can be attacked, when compared to Windows, it much more secure. Microsoft has made great security improvements to their operating system over the years. In spite of this, Windows continues to be the most vulnerable to viruses, malware, and other attacks.
Open Source Many of the Linux variants and many Linux programs are open source and enable users to customize or modify the code as they choose. Microsoft Windows is not open source and the majority of Windows programs are not open source.
Support Although it may be more difficult to find users familiar with all Linux variants, there is a huge amount of online support available for Linux, including here on Computer Hope. Microsoft Windows includes its own help section, has a vast amount of available online documentation and help, and there are books on each of the version of Windows.
Use Cases Linux is often used as the operating system for servers at companies and sometimes even at schools. It is also used for home computers, but often by users with more technical knowledge and background. Microsoft Windows is a common operating system for home computer users. It is also commonly found on workplace and school computers. However, some versions of Windows are used on servers at companies and schools as well.

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