Sick and Tired of Windows?

Category: Windows

Windows 8 is attempting to be a better alternative to old-school Windows. But it’s scaring off a lot of consumers who see a trusted, familiar face now radically transformed into something alien and confusing. One may as well consider other operating systems if there's going to be a learning curve anyway. Here are several alternatives to running Windows on your desktop, laptop or mobile device...

Alternatives to Windows

You may have known no other personal computer operating system besides Windows, if you are a typical consumer/home user. But other alternatives are becoming well-established in consumer computing devices such as smartphones and tablets. People are becoming accustomed to the ways of non-Windows operating systems, and with ease-of-use of alternatives may come the realization that something is actually better than Windows. Or that it just doesn't matter.

Of course, you can always cling to your current version of Windows as long as possible. Microsoft support for Windows XP will end completely on April 18, 2014; that means not even security and vulnerability patches will be provided. Support for Windows 7 will start to be scaled back on January 13, 2015. For complete details on the end-of-support schedules for all Windows versions, see my article, Still Holding On To Windows XP?

Operating Systems: Windows, Mac OS, Chrome, Linux, Android

If mobility is the future of your computing, then your alternatives to Windows are Apple iOS and Google Android. The iPhone and the iPad are Apple’s very popular smartphone and tablet offerings. They run the iOS operating system, which is noted for simplicity, but not so much for flexibility. Android smartphones and tablets are available from a myriad of vendors in all sorts of configurations. Some of the most popular now are the Samsung Galaxy series, the Motorola Droid RAZR, Amazon Kindle Fire, and the Google Nexus tablet.

Because Android was designed to be open, flexible, and modifiable, it is typically molded or "skinned" to suit the whims (and business goals) of the vendor or wireless carrier that offers the device. For example, the look and feel of the Android OS running on the Kindle Fire is rather different from that of the Samsung Galaxy S4. But under the hood, 99% of the code is the same.

"And in This Corner…"

In the compromise range between mobility and comfort lie laptops and Google's Chromebook. The Apple Macbook line runs Mac OS X, the older brother of the mobile iOS mentioned earlier. Macbooks get high marks for quality and usability, but command a higher price than similarly equipped laptops that run Windows.

Chromebooks running Google's ChromeOS are designed to be web-centric. They have minimal hard drive storage, relying on the cloud for both apps and file storage. And they're very inexpensive. Check out my review of the $199 Acer C7 Chromebook. I compared a Chromebook’s potential performance to that of a Windows 8 laptop in Chromebook Vs. Windows 8.

Windows still reigns supreme on desktop PCs, excluding Apple machines used primarily by graphic-intensive professionals. The Apple iMac all-in-one is a sleek, simple, high-performance desktop machine that takes up hardly any desktop; it runs OS X, like the Macbook series.

And then there are all sorts of Intel-based desktop computer systems running homebrew and commercially enhanced versions of the free Linux operating system, such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Fedora. You can bypass the corporate hegemonies, and dive deep into the world of open-source software. You'll find more free software than you can ever use.

So don’t ever say you have no choice but Windows.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?

I didn't write this article to convince anyone to switch from Windows to Mac, Linux, Chrome or Android. I currently have an assemblage of desktop and laptop computers running XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8. There are also some Apple products and a few Android gadgets in the family. I'm not even down on Windows 8. See my article Switching to Windows 8 Made Easier. I mention all this to underscore the point that you have choices. And I love the fact that competition fosters innovation.

But ironically, operating systems are starting to matter less, as web-based and cloud-based computing become the norm. Cloud services like Gmail, Outlook, Google Docs, and Office 365 run right inside your browser, and they don't care what OS you have.

The bottom line is this: the operating system doesn’t matter so much if all you do is standard computing stuff such as web surfing, email, office apps, video viewing, photo management, and so on. You're only stuck if your work or hobby requires a specific program that only runs under Windows.

Far more important these days is the computing device form factor that best fits your lifestyle. Sendentary or office-bound folks find desktop PCs comfortable, and it’s rarely necessary to move them. They'll choose between Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. Power users on the move favor Windows or Mac laptops with plenty of storage space and horsepower. Mobile students, sales people, and others who have to move fast and frequently may opt for lighter, simpler Chromebooks.

And of course there are hundreds of millions carrying tablets and smartphones running Android or iOS. They may not even be aware that they have an operating system. And that's a good thing. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Sick and Tired of Windows?"

(See all 23 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Harold P. Morgan
10 Sep 2013

Bob, I love Windows 8. I've had no problem with it after moving from XP to VISTA to Win 7 and finally to Win 8. But I cheated. I spent a "bank-breaking" $4.95 for a little app named "Start8" from a company named Star Dock. Now my desktop and laptop PC's boot up to the traditional desktop screen that I've been using all these many years. But...if I want the new "Start" menu tiles that Win 8 is famous for it is only one click away.
I got "with-it" and purchased my Win 8 for the desktop during the introductory period. The store was out of the upgrade version so I ended up with the full two disk version for 32 or 64 bits for the amazing price of $39.95. Then my new laptop I bought in May of this year came with Win 8 on it. Yep....I can highly recommend the Start8 application. Inexpensive....easy to set up...and configurable by the user to suit personal taste. Who needs Win 8.1?????

Posted by:

10 Sep 2013

Early in the PC business, Apple's biggest mistake was not to offer an IBM PC operating system that competed with Microsoft.

They could have still gone into their own little niche as they did and done well there too.

Posted by:

Renaud Olgiati
10 Sep 2013

You tout the cloud as the future of computing; have you considered that it may be in grave jeopardy, for most users outside the US, because of worries over US Government spying on all Internet traffic going through the country ?

Posted by:

10 Sep 2013

Hi Bob, thank you for the interesting article.

I still use my ten year old XP Home SP 3 Core 2 Duo Desktop which just goes on and on without any problems (Acer monitor 1440x900).

I also have a home-built Desktop with an Intel 2 Core Quad and DDR3 Ram 4096 MB, on which I installed Windows 7 Pro (SP1) 32 bit - I also have the 64 bit CD. (Monitor Samsung1920x1080).

So what on earth do I need Windows 8 for? Or any other gadget for that matter? What I have suits all my requirements and Windows 7 is, after three years, flawless, except that the backup doesn't work too well.

And at my age I have no gadgets, not even a cell phone!

I notice my Doctor is still using XP and many businesses too.

It's not that I am sick of Windows, I am sick of Microsoft and it's absurd and constant urge to make something new, instead of steadily improving the Windows already produced.

Posted by:

10 Sep 2013

Personally I think that Microsoft is committing suicide. They are cooking the goose that created the golden egg. Everyone that has gotten a Windows 8 computer dislikes the software. I was talking to a friend who recently purchased new Windows 8 laptop. She has had nothing but problems. She was so frustrated, she was almost in tears. I seriously doubt I would buy Windows8 computer and I bet there are plenty of others that feels the same way I do. The people who designed the software should be fired. The CEO & president should join them. You can tell, I'm angry.

Posted by:

Ken Ormson
10 Sep 2013

Bob, I use the Quicken accounting package. This runs on Windows (and on Mac in a restricted version). I know that there is also a mobile version for Andriod -but only if you have the main version on a PC or Mac.

I have looked for alternatives that would run fully on Android or Mac, but have failed to find a suitable one.

The main problem is that I live both in the UK and the USA, so need to use bank accounts etc. in both currencies. I also frequently visit Canada and Europe so the CAD and Euro are also required currencies. Only Quicken copes with multiple currencies in this way.

So, when I was looking for a tablet, I had to wait for the full Windows 8 tablets to appear (W8 RT would not do) because Quicken does not run on IOS or Android. I ended up with the Asus Vivotab Smart PC.

If you have any suggestion for a viable alternative accounting package, it would widen my choices next time I upgrade.

Posted by:

David Ruedeman
10 Sep 2013

I currently run 3 Operating systems all the time.
My main system is Fedora 18 which runs MATE, a gnome 2 respin. I run Windows 8 and XP in VMs and I have a Mac Pro.

Windows 8 isn't so bad when you use a shell program like classic shell. I even prefer Office 2013 to Libre or Open Office. Otherwise the "Metro" apps at best are a waste of disk space. Microsoft doesn't know who they want to be.

The great thing about Mac OS is that the hardware and software all come from ONE vendor. This means if you have a problem you go to one source with no finger pointing. Reinstalling the OS from scratch is a snap with no driver disks etc.

Believe it or not the WORST UI is Gnome 3. If that all there was in Linux I would crawl over broken glass to use Windows.

Posted by:

11 Sep 2013

I have an old (5 year old) netbook, WINXP crawls, UBUNTU 12.04 runs just fine.

Posted by:

11 Sep 2013

I still have XP on my PC, but run it on a separate partition because Ubuntu is also installed. As for MS patching and supporting XP, never needed MS to keep my system safe nor am I sure the "security" updates to XP makes it an safer.

Once it stops running, well I'll switch to my backup Linux and keep going.

Posted by:

11 Sep 2013

I have run Windows desktop computers since 1998 and am currently running Windows 7 and apart from the constant updates it requires and the fact that the clipboard often doesn't clear and therefore 'fills in' the previous clip, I love it.

Two of my friends have recently bought Windows 8 laptops and being the computer 'wizard' (and I use that term loosely) in my circle, I was called upon to set them up for them - and I hate it! I constantly have to return to the Metro (apps) screen because I cannot find any other way to close certain apps!

So you're right in saying that if you're going to have to endure a lengthy learning curve to be able to use Windows 8 efficiently, you might as well try a Linux operating system. But although Windows 8 is different to previous versions of Windows, at least I still know where to find things on it. Whereas to me, installing Linux would a giant leap into the unknown and the thought of trying something so different scares me half to death! I really wish I could pluck up the courage to try it, just to see if I like it, but judging by some articles I've read, it doesn't sound nearly as easy to set up as Windows?

Posted by:

11 Sep 2013

Hi Bob and thanks for the info, yet again.

When the laptop crashed due to an incompatable windows update..... I loaded ubuntu (probably would have done better with mint but too lazy to change it) it works for what we want VLC shows no difference neither does browsing.

When the older laptop went buggerup (N.B. that's pidgin not swearing) I dug deep and bopught a new desktop..... and upgraded the OS to 8 after reading your article on making it easier. My comment is with the 'app' that loads the desktop at startup what are people complaining about?????

The only problems I Have now is getting rid of the sign in by password twaddle (if I locked herself out of my computer I would wake up singing soprano) and email links opening the weird email idiocy on 8 - why so big, has Bill Gates forgotten to have his eyes tested recently?

No steep learning curve, just a little different.

BUT and it's a BIG BUT.....

I was just as easy to change to Ubuntu as 8 with except for a few programs that can't be bought for linux and have no alternatives (O.K. so I still play Civilization to relax, sad, sad 59 year old).

All the best and thanks for making things less traumatic.


Posted by:

12 Sep 2013

If you have Windows 8, you either run it by choice or you just bought a computer in the last year or so. If you did it by choice, the article is not relevant. If you just bought a computer, alternatives aren't quite budget friendly. I fall in both camps, so this article is relevant, thanks. I actually switched to Mac, at home, before Windows 3.0 came out. Still keeping up with Mac I did a series of home-brew computers running the latest Windows from 3.0 onward (including ME), and switched to NT 4 when it came out (didn't much care for NT 3.51). I went through the entire progression, NT 4--> Windows 2000-->XP-->Vista-->Windows 7. Vista onward, I used VMWare Fusion and Parallels (initially preferred Fusion since it was the first to support multiple cores, but Parallels became better). SInce Vista was run in VM, never had any driver issues and Vista SP1 was stable and it worked great. One Mac is still running Windows 7 in a VM (VMWare Fusion). Another Mac, this one, is running Windows 8 in a VM (Parallels) which was my choice. Haven't used XP since late 2006, but then again main computer has always been a Mac since 1989. I also used to run Ubuntu, but now I use Mint (didn't care for Ubuntu's Unity) and these are in a VM on my Mac.

Had to buy a laptop for my daughter (previous one died, a couple of months ago) and she opted for Windows, but it came with Windows 8, which was not my choice. Have to admit, on daughter's laptop, Windows 8 was frustrating to setup (even if preinstalled, you still need to set it up). Thus, both camps.

A few month ago, I was thinking of a lighter ultrabook. I ended up getting a MacBook Air. I don't know why, but over the years of getting new Macs, Apple was more expensive. Not so different recently.

Posted by:

16 Sep 2013

For me (latin CAD/Web/Paper designer), all depends on the software availability and no one wins from windows in this (mainly, on the internet). Even in open source systems, like linux, you won´t find the one you need to work, only free incomplete versions.

android: is making posible to use internet tasks, photo or video in a portable device, anywhere (your bed, bathroom or traveling). Not yet for work on "heavy" programs.

mac: why pay more than double of price for a computer that is not much better to the others anymore (like it was before)?

Now we can deal with less frequent system failures (in more stables windows 7-8 versions or using cloud based backup of files).

So, windows for work and android for fun (and comunication). Stuck in time? this is changing fast, I am not a Microsoft fan, but this is what I have for today.

Posted by:

16 Sep 2013

Great article, but Androind cannot claim to be better but with open source software, it will allow people like engineers and technicians to allow that culture of tinkering machines. Cars have technicians so do computers but with Android, Google and the open source will allow further development to not only tinker and modify computer electronics but also allow a room to develop and innovate. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates played a lot with hardware and made groundbreaking understanding to global giants their companies are today.

I also think one day we will have TVs running customizable operating systems like we see on linux or porting your linux OS into a giant TV.

This time i think Android thinks different.

Posted by:

17 Sep 2013

Looked at Chromebook specs but they bother me. Are we sacrificing battery endurance for light weight - and screen size, and other comforts? What if you don't have a home hotspot, and are often in places where internet access is landline only? And then there are all the privacy issues with Google. I think (I can figure out why none of the commenters seem interested.

Posted by:

23 Sep 2013

As a professional drafter that uses AutoCAD SOFTWARE
Windows8 is not an option it is neither recommended by AutoDesk nor will it run a 3D design application. I tried several with the RC version. Microsoft claims its the software developers problem and fail to recognize that if their NEW OS won't run the programs used to make money I have no need for the OS. Just like with the release of VISTA to me 8 has very limited use and has been produced to compete with Apple & Android features while ignoring compatibility.
True the developers will make their next version to work with 8 but why should I buy an incomplete version of the OS and wait until everything works. I can't sit idle for 3-4 months waiting for things to catch up.

Posted by:

24 Sep 2013

In terms of concept, Apple’s vision of touch computing is very much unlike a PC. It’s an entirely different computing experience, not just a different form factor. And by popularity this (hardly new) computing experience is obviously very pleasing to the masses, many of whom used their home PC for little more than email, web browsing, some gaming, and maybe playing some music and videos.

But, unlike PCs, where the hardware uses 'open architecture', being made by many different manufacturers & assembled together & running software produced by other companies & OEMs, Macs use 'closed hardware architecture'. No one other than Apple can produce a Mac & even the software that runs on a Mac is by Apple.

As Apple does both hardware & software, due to the 'closed architecture' of security locking certain components, Intel-based versions of the MacOS only run on special, Apple-branded PCs that contain a proprietary security chip. The MacOS looks for the security chip, & refuses to run if it's installed in a Computer without the chip- which is to say: It will refuse to run on any other brand PC, even if all the other hardware is identical. Apple use legal measures to remain the sole provider of Mac hardware; thus allowing them to charge their premium prices (& therefore offer their own first party support where required). You could illegally for example, build a 'Hackintosh'- A PC with Mac OSX installed on it - but you can't buy one ready built. You can of course buy a Mac that can dual boot with Windows as an option, but why would or do users do that? One of the main reasons I dislike iOS is simply being forced into iTunes.

The business models of the 'tech giants' dictate different ways of 'making money'. They all make good profits in different ways. As far as Microsoft is concerned, it's main money is (or was) generated via licence sales. Because of rife software piracy though, more & more software became free anyway, thus making the cash cow of licence sales dry. The answer (which proved to work with movies, music & apps) is the subscription model. (You can pay monthly, just rent your copyrighted streamed movie, pay a regular smaller amount & everybody wins).

Because Googles business model is different, it makes it's money by advertising (as does Facebook). The other Business model is to simply make your money at 'point of sale'. Simply sell your 'product' (usually hardware but can be software with it) at a premium price (not short of extortion in comparison). Some people will always prefer to pay through the nose, (of course). So all of the different business models do generate income. All work for them, but there are steps that have to be taken in order for them to make money via whatever method is employed for their businesses.

Windows of course, can be an infinitely better operating system when it isn't smothered by the demoware, adware, & other bloatware that many PC manufacturers & vendors splay onto the Start menus, the desktop, & the System Tray. But, what would you do if you could get it all in one machine? We have been marketed & brand conditioned into feeling we can’t have it all in one device, when it’s becoming more & more obvious now that we can, & it could happen sooner than we think. It is advanced technology that likely makes successful brands, or the vendors of the high performance pieces, such as the thin high resolution touch screens & getting things small enough & making them thinner. Thats all advanced tech that wasnt available before.

It is silly to emotionally connect with a piece of electronics. That could be the downfall of humanity, people wanting to feel better about branded kit rather than having human interaction.

With Linux, all of the components will have been developed for the windows market & so you are simply benefiting directly from the economies of scale that Windows created in the first place. Linux (not a business) as well as Mac (certainly a business) may be targeting PC's & Windows PC users to try & increase user base over respective levels that have been kind of stuck at for years, but linux can't afford to pay for professional marketing. However it looks like a very narrow vision, & the non stop badgering doesn't look like it's working for either.

Windows 8 is now the fourth top operating system in the world, & it’s growing every day. Windows 8 is currently overtaking Apple’s platform in popularity. Linux 1%, Andriod 5%, iOS 6%, Windows Vista 6%, Mac OS X (includes all versions) 7%, Windows 8 8% (currently overtaking Apple), Windows XP 20% (Dying), Windows 7 52%.

Businesses don't just make money, they develop, innovate, provide goods & services that improve the lives of users, provide jobs & enhance workers’ quality of life, develop a strong network of suppliers & business partners & by ensuring financial viability, provide resources for improvements, innovations, & returns to investors.

Benefits may be covert. But third party vendors have been getting away with that for years, certainly with Windows, which is half the problem. With Microsoft now, for the first time 'hardware & software' come together, but neither necessarily or just with the business model of 'point of sale' (as it is with Apple). All can benefit from Bill Gates' most generous charity donations too.

Posted by:

24 Sep 2013

For those moving to Linux from Windows XP, the KDE desktop is probably the better choice than Ubuntu's Unity or the GNOME interface favored by Fedora. A beginner is likely to do well with Mageia, PCLinuxOS, or Linux Mint all running KDE. All three of these are pretty easy to get running and have great support.

Posted by:

Antonio Fiorentino
28 Sep 2013

Microsoft deserved to die a long time ago for foisting on the world a brain-dead operating system; pricing it beyond the reach of the majority of people in the world; killing many worthy alternatives simply to enrich a few people. Linus will be remembered for ever for opening the doors of computing to the world. Not so Gates. I started using unix some 20 years ago and use Ubuntu exclusively avoiding any Windows 7 software as much as possible.

Posted by:

10 Nov 2013

I have been using Vaio for 7 years under XP. No problems at all. Just because I wanted new Full HD screen to show my projects to clients, I have boughtAsus NV series laptop with W8 preinstalled. I did so just I was sure to be able to run W7, if I dislike W8. And I realy did! I must use 3rd party gadgets to use the old classic interface, that is silly! And Kaspersky Internet Security package, which I purchased is not working on W8.1.
MS will automaticaly upgrade all W8 to W8.1, want you it or not!
I have never been so frustrated by OS!
I am going to swich to Linux Mint and the only Windows requiring software - Google SketchUp under XP in so called Virtual box.

My strong advice -do not have connection with MS, unless your are forced to do so. And you literelly are!

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