Thinking About Ditching Windows?
For millions of people running Windows 10, a decision is looming. When Windows 11 was announced, Microsoft made it clear that it would support only certain “newish” computers that have the latest hardware security features. That means the majority of Windows 10 users will soon face a choice: buy a new computer, switch to another operating system, or both. Here are some of the options to consider...
Alternatives to Windows
Microsoft isn't backing down from requirements that a PC must have UEFI, Secure Boot, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0, and an approved CPU in order to run Windows 11. You don't need to understand what all those things mean. The Windows 11 PC Health Check App will tell you if your computer meets the minimum system requirements upgrade to Windows 11. If your PC is more than two years old, there's a good chance it won't. If not, you have until October 2025 to decide if you'll buy a new computer, or try an alternate operating system.
Even if you've got the right specs, for most people, moving to Windows 11 will mean learning something new, and possibly updates to both hardware and software. One may as well consider other operating systems if there's going to be a learning curve anyway. Your options include Linux, Mac OS X, Android, Chrome OS, and others. Here are several alternatives to running Windows on your desktop, laptop or mobile device.
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 laptops, 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 10 will end completely in October 2025; that means no security or vulnerability patches will be provided after that date.
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 S20/S21 series, and Google's Pixel lineup.
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 Lenovo Yoga tablet is rather different from that of the Samsung Galaxy S20 smartphone. 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 this Acer Chromebook 311 Chromebook for $149. You can also install ChromeOS on desktop or laptop currently running Windows. See How to Install Chrome OS on PC.
Windows still reigns supreme on desktop PCs, excluding Apple machines used primarily by graphic-intensive professionals. And then there are all sorts of Intel-based desktop computer systems running 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.
I installed Peppermint Linux on a 10-year-old Toshiba laptop that was struggling to run Windows 10. It runs the free Libre Office wordprocessor and spreadsheet very nicely. Peppermint comes with tons of free software - games, media player, calculator, and the Firefox web browser. I downloaded Chromium, an open-source version of Chrome, because it syncs with my Google account for bookmarks. The file manager gave me access to all the documents and photos on my Windows partition, which was another plus.
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, iOS, Linux, Chrome or Android. I currently have an assemblage of desktop and laptop computers running Windows 10, ChromeOS and Linux. There are also some Apple products and a few Android gadgets in the family. 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. Sedentary 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 18 Jan 2022
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Thinking About Ditching Windows? (Posted: 18 Jan 2022)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved