Sick and Tired of 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?
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 10 Sep 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Sick and Tired of Windows? (Posted: 10 Sep 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved