I’ve been using Linux for a little over three years now. I love it. From it’s endless customisation, to the community support — I cannot get enough of Linux in my life. But I know that, while market shares for Linux machines have gone up recently, Linux users and enthusiasts are still in the minority. While we may enjoy all the trappings that make Linux what it is, there are more people out there representing a different user experience and a different use case. For them, a Windows machine meets those requirements, where a Linux machine might fall flat.
Easier to Find
Installing Linux today is a breeze compared to installations of yesteryear. While I am not the most savvy user on the internet, I can install and have my Linux machines up and running in under an hour. Thanks to companies like System76 and StarLabs, Linux ready machines are easier to find today than ever, with customer support that’s far superior to larger companies like Microsoft. They ship high quality computers that are ready to go with Linux from the moment you press the power button. Additionally, community support — via a quick web search — has solutions to most if not all issues you might run into.
Windows is still being crammed down our throats. You can get a Windows machine at ever retailer. Often they cover budgets that Linux machines might not. Rarely will you find a Linux ready and new machine for sub $400 USD. And while a budget machine will not offer a great user experience, it might be all that some can afford. Not many companies offering Linux are able to meet that kind of low bar. And, for most in the Windows use case, these super low cost machines are more than enough for basic tasks like writing papers or checking email.
There is something to be said about an Ecosystem. Between OneDrive, Office365, and a MS Account Windows setup is a relatively comprehensive experience. There is no hunting for your desired software, or seeking out cloud services. It is all waiting for you from Microsoft.
While Linux does have at least one cloud service that I am aware of — Mega — there can be compatibility issues, even on Linux systems. When the 20.04 version of Ubuntu LTS first launched, I was unable to add Mega to my system, forcing me to find another Linux-based OS. Thankfully, it was only Ubuntu that had the issue. I was able to use Mega on Mint and Pop without issue. Not a big deal for me, but for someone who doesn’t want to spend anytime on setup this can be a real deal-breaker.
All of the convenience has a cost, and it’s more than just money.
Linux is free to use. From the OS to the software, it costs nothing to download. Of course you can always donate. It isn’t free to develop this tools after all. But there is no shelling out $99USD for an office suite like you do with Office365.
When it comes to privacy, Microsoft has nothing on Linux. After all, selling your data is part of Microsoft’s business model — i.e. it’s how they make money. Linux, is free to use, and does a much better job of keeping your data safe, especially where Linux Mint is concerned. Ubuntu has had issues in the past, but it is still overwhelmingly less intrusive that Microsoft.
There is also the issue with Lock-In. This is not unique to Microsoft. Any Ecosystem will make getting out almost impossible. Oftentimes the transition can lead to a lot of confusion. When I first tried bringing my Mega cloud service to a Windows machine, OneDrive tried to force my Mega folder inside itself, leading to a cloud service within a cloud service. Add to the mix the fact that the OneDrive Off button is buried in settings, I was in a real quagmire. In the end, I decided to uninstall OneDrive and manually download any files I deemed important for the web version. Again, not a big deal to me, but I’m sure someone with less patience and computer fluency would have lost it.
It’s in its ability to be modified that Linux really outshines Windows. At the end of the day, a Windows machine is just like the next Windows machine. Outside of color options and dark mode, there is very little to be done to make Windows like the way you want it. Linux can look like just about anything from:
What it really comes down to is: What do you value? For some, they just want it to work, and do not care about privacy or tweaking things. And, while Linux today is closer to this use case than ever, Windows is still sitting at the top, and showing no signs of losing that spot any time soon.