Having finally gotten my oldest son a nicely-working install of Ubuntu on his laptop, I couldn't resist but wipe out his hard drive (saving his music, of course) and install Vista to get his impressions.
He was perfectly content with Ubuntu once I had it all spiffed up. It suited his needs and was quick and stable. However, we're rolling out some Vista workstations this coming year and I wanted to get his impressions as a typical teenager who has made it abundantly clear that he just wants something that works. "I just don't really care; Ubuntu's cool. Whatever." From the mouths of babes, right?
So away went Ubuntu (yes, I could have dual-booted, but his AV collection is growing quickly and the 100GB hard drive was much better served just single-booting; besides, I wanted to simulate a more typical experience using a single OS on a new computer) and on went 32-bit Vista Business. I had a 64-bit DVD, but decided to stick with the 32-bit to ensure maximum software support across the board (when will developers catch up with the chips, by the way?).
I took the opportunity to get him a Zune, as well, since he wanted one for his 16th birthday and Zunes really don't play well in Linux-land (surprise).
He's been using the OS for a couple weeks now. Here are his impressions:
- Vista is "OK". Like Ubuntu, Vista works fine for him. He can do all of the same productivity software work with the added bonus of Microsoft Publisher. There are open source functional equivalents for Publisher, but none can match its utter ease of use.
- His Zune works and all of his music is there, but the interface via Windows Media Player isn't nearly as intuitive as iTunes. However, he much prefers his Zune to his mom's iPod (I have to agree that the interface on the Zune itself is quite good, as are the built-in features).
- Vista is pretty, but lacks all of the OpenGL screen effects that "amused him endlessly". Compiz is pretty darned cool.
- Neither of us did any benchmarking, but his seat of the pants impression was that Vista booted faster than Ubuntu (surprising, although I did follow a number of reader suggestions and killed unnecessary services in Vista), but that Ubuntu seemed to handle multi-tasking a little better. To his thinking, the whole thing was basically a wash.
So what's the bottom line? If there aren't any Windows applications to which students are wedded, Ubuntu will be just fine for a typical teenager. On the other hand, so will Vista. As usual, it comes down to the applications and a careful assessment of compatibility needs in your particular environment. Just make sure that you choose Vista Business if you do head down the Vista road. Management is easier and it's a bit leaner than the typical off-the-shelf Home Premium install.