With the release of Windows 8 on Friday, October 26, 2012, many people are thinking about upgrading from their existing Operating System. However, radical changes in the new Windows 8 user interface may prompt some users to consider alternative operating systems. I chose the Precise Pangolin, Ubuntu 12.04 Long Term Support (LTS) release, over an upgrade to Windows 8. This article outlines some of the reasons why I changed operating systems.
Cost. Windows 8 offers new multi-touch capabilities and a completely new look for the user interface. The upgrade price will be $39.99 online and $69.99 in stores for a promotional period ending January 31, 2013, and possibly more when a computer doesn’t have an existing version of Windows. Plus, there will be additional costs for new software. For example, to take advantage of all that Windows 8 offers, there is a new version of office. At a minimum, that’s about $130 for a home and school edition. In contrast, Ubuntu is free. Since I wanted media with a minimum of fuss, I got a copy with Ubuntu User magazine which cost $15.99. In addition, Linux comes with a ton of free open source software like Firefox and the venerable LibreOffice suite. I got the most important office functions in a totally free and open source software package.
Security. To defend against new threats, there may well be new anti-virus and security software to buy. With full featured anti-virus and firewall software running between $50 and $100, the cost of Microsoft Windows continues to mount. In contrast, Linux is much more secure from the start. While there are a few things I’ll need to do to ensure the total security of my Linux machine, none of them will involve expensive security software and constant updates.
Multi-Touch. Windows 8 is designed for a new computing paradigm called multi-touch. If you have the right equipment, a Windows 8 user can use the keyboard, mouse, or touch icons on the monitor to interact with the computer. It’s completely ready for the tablets, convertibles, laptops, and netbooks of the future. However, my three-year old Acer Aspire 5515 laptop is not ready for that multi-touch future. I want my old laptop to soldier on until I am ready to buy a more futuristic device that fits my modest budget.
Revenge. My Acer Aspire worked well with Windows Vista until a McAfee Total Security update went awry. The automated rollback to the patch damaged something probably the system registry. To protect both of our Windows machines, we had to pay the money to get Norton 365. I spent almost $170 for security software in a three month time. With Linux, I’m leaving that racket behind and retaking control. I put up with Vista and McAfee for a long time. Linux has a reputation for stability.
When confronted by the costs of new software and the lack of multi-touch capabilities in their existing hardware, many Windows users may want to consider a totally new operating system instead of Windows 8. Learning a new operating system won’t be easy. I expect setbacks and challenges in my conversion to Linux instead of Windows 8, but I’m glad I chose an alternate path.
Microsoft Release 8 Preview
“Windows 8 Release Date and Price,” Dan Graham. Techradar.com. October 19, 2012