Abhay Rana aka Nemo

Why I still recommend Windows

Even though I am a long time Linux user, and a big time fan of the many Linux distros that I’ve tried out over time, I still go around recommending Windows to people who ask me for advice. The only exception I make is when the person in question is a developer, in which case I try to convert them to the Church of Linux.

The main reason I recommend windows to non-developers is because it is a far better operating system than most Linux distributions (for general public). Now, before you bring out your pitchforks, hear me out.

The first and foremost reason that I give is that Windows sports a far better integration across all its services. Nautilus/Nemo in the Linux world do not reach same level of integration that Windows Explorer does. For instance, just look at the way the “Send To” feature works in explorer. To add a folder to the send to entry, you just have to add a shortcut to that folder inside the special “Send To” folder. On nautilus, the equivalent would be going about installing an extension, and editing a configuration file by hand.

Or take a look at how the “Play All” feature in Explorer. Or the “Libraries” feature in Windows 7. Or the simple way that you handle file sharing in Windows. Even though Linux has (arguably better) Samba support for files sharing, you have to go about editing a handful of files to make it work. I personally find apache easier to configure to just share files one way.

Games are another reason. Even though Steam is available on Linux, all of the non-Valve triple-A titles are missing on Linux. Even though I continue to buy and play the Humble Bundles that offer Linux as a platform, I’m reminded of the stark reality every day when my friends ask me if I’ve played a recent title such as Call of Duty, Metro, NFS or even Swapper.

The next peeve that comes to my mind is the ridiculous driver support. It has been improving since a long time, but its still not there. Even Ubuntu needs to fetch proprietary drivers for my WiFi support on Broadcom, which needs an internet connection in the first place. This means I need to find out a LAN network connection to even start using Ubuntu. Similarly the pain I’d to go through to install drivers for Ralink network drivers on a friend’s laptop was immense. I can never use circular scrolling or touchpad zoom on my laptop in Linux because there are still no drivers available anywhere for it. And don’t get me started on UEFI boot issues. No matter what people believe or pretend, hardware support is just not good enough to be relied on in the Linux world. As a side note, I haven’t synced my iPad in Ubuntu since I shifted to iOS 5, and apple driver support on Linux will remain abysmal forever just because iTunes will never be released for Linux. The last version of iOS that had music sync support (via libimobiledevice) was iOS 4.0 (released 3 years ago in June 2010).

Next I want to point put out the upgrade pain that everyone has to go through. It’s like a constant rite of passage, which turns a Linux noob into an actual user. I am yet to do an Ubuntu upgrade which went smoothly and didn’t break a thing; and I’ve been upgrading my Ubuntu since 10.04 was released. The upgrade tag on askubuntu is chock full of horror stories.

Another thing that frustrates me to no end is that the Ubuntu Dash, and the GNOME Overview are both slow as hell. I’m currently using Cinnamon, which is faster than both of these, but still an order of magnitude slower than the Windows Start Menu. Synpase is better, but cannot be set as the deafult.

I was using Windows 7 on my cousin’s laptop these last few days and I remembered the favourite app that I used to no end: Everything. It is the quickest file search I’ve ever used. The alternatives, in the Linux world are synapse, zeitgeist, and plain old locate command. The only issue is that I’ve to manually run updatedb manually, while Everything was always up to date, using the NTFS File Journal. To this date, I am yet to find a good enough alternative to Everything.

It is true that Windows lacks many of the good things that Linux distros provide, such as the excellent package management support, POSIX compatibility, and the plethora of tools we get on the command line; but at the same time, it is also a better operating system for most of the masses. I’ll continue to recommend Windows to all my non-developer friends till “The year of Desktop Linux” arrives.

Published on July 21, 2013 in opinion,windows