"Windows 7 is the same as Ubuntu"

"Windows 7 is the same as Ubuntu"

Summary: Obviously, this isn't true. Their underlying architectures are quite a bit different, Gnome looks different than the 7 UI, etc.

SHARE:

Obviously, this isn't true. Their underlying architectures are quite a bit different, Gnome looks different than the 7 UI, etc., but to an average 17-year-old, there just wasn't any meaningful difference between the two operating systems.

The other day, I posted a blog titled "Windows 7: Good enough to pay for?" I described how I'd installed the Windows 7 Release Candidate on my son's computer for his take on the OS after living with Ubuntu 9.04 (and 8.10 before that) for a few months. It's summer break, so he basically spends every waking moment when he's not actually interacting face-to-face with friends on the computer. No better time to have a kid do some serious testing, right?

I asked him last night about his initial impressions of Windows 7 and, in typical teenage fashion, as he was bouncing between Meebo windows and browser tabs, he said it was "nice." I managed to extract from him that his favorite feature was that he was able to use his Zune with it, something that had never worked terribly well with Ubuntu. Otherwise, he said, "Windows 7 is the same as Ubuntu; there just really isn't anything different about them."

Of course there isn't. He lives in a web browser. The underlying OS is irrelevant. He has no need for Office 2007 and I expect his next portable music player will be platform independent.

For some, Windows 7 may, indeed, be good enough to pay for, especially if they are power-users of Windows-only software. For my oldest son, if he gravitates to any machine, it's to my Mac because it's so easy for him to create and share video content. For the average student, though, the old Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux debate may finally be dead. For someone who "hated Linux" a year ago to now happily switch between Windows 7 and Ubuntu in a completely transparent way certainly signals an end to that age-old flame war.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

560 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Well, I agree, but, the flame war will not end, and MS will not go down

    without a fight. It has been obvious for quite some time, that the only thing that windows has going for it is familiarity (both the brand and the interface), and application compatibility. Ubuntu, is equal or better in about every other category.

    But, familiarity and application compatibility, are, for right now, the two most important things for an OS.

    For some segments, like your son, they live 100% on the web, and have been exposed to Ubuntu, so familiarity and application compatibility are not a factor. That said, if there is not much difference in price, Zune working without having to go to another computer, would be the deciding factor for him.
    DonnieBoy
    • I agree on the flame war, but it is Ubuntu that will

      I think we have all concluded that many of the bloggers here tend to bend the truth a bit in an effort to start the very flame war most here participate in, Christopher to the point of disbelief at times.

      Familiarity is a tired excuse, as many of the post point to underlying issues many have (or have seen others) encounter. Even Christopher asked the question (though he dare not touch on the answer) as to why with free applications, people still pirate proprietary software:

      Because there are no real equivalent free versions. QuickBooks, MSOffice, AutoCAD to name three. In the publishing world, there is no QuarkXPress for Linux, and other high end programs. These are just some off the top of my head that we use in our business.

      For the home user, there will be many other programs they use that have no equivalent Linux, or if they do there is no real compelling reason to re-invent the wheel, as they have programs they use and like, that are already long been paid for, so it is not familiarity, but necessity, as in ?there is no need.?

      But then, as you always point out, the fact of application compatibility and/or availability, or the issue with support or usability, then familiarity is a tired argument by your own admission.
      GuidingLight
      • Exactly, it is about application compatibility and familiarity with the

        brand and user interface.

        But, Christopher brings up some good points about how younger users live on the web, and have few problems with application compatibility other than things like syncing MP3 players.
        DonnieBoy
        • Too scared to grow beyond a brand name?

          Brand names are so yesterday.

          In the same way that brand names became "the thing", they will become staid and not to do.

          Only the most agile brands will survive.
          fr0thy2
          • Tell this to kids and adults who

            have a need or requirement for specific non-
            Linux programs.

            example: my daughter has a class in high school
            where they learn the ins and outs of msoffice
            and they work on iMacs.

            She brought home an assignment to create a
            nifty spreadsheet. She did this in open office
            and it looked really slick. Took it to school
            and when loaded on the schools iMac and opened
            in MSOffice, it was not the same. Instead of
            an A,she got a C.

            Since then, whenever homework for that class
            (and other business classes) had to be done,
            she used a pc with msoffice.

            Linux for play, Windows and Mac for real work.

            Sorry

            rhonin
          • Oh wow! That's brazen

            @Dkunzma - "Linux for play, Windows and Mac for real work."

            By that definition, every time Windows catches a virus and cannot be attached to the network until it's cleaned, work cannot be done with a Linux computer since "Linux for play," right?

            I mean, Linux has no browser, no network tools, no artistic tools or office tools ("perfect" document compatibility with a self-important proprietary product aside), no way to print, eh?

            If you say yes, you are really and truly ignorant. If your ONLY criteria on how productive working in Linux is how your daughter can't bring an OpenOffice file to the school's Microsoft Office, wow, that's pretty simple-minded. You said it yourself, "it looked pretty slick." A little hint: OpenOffice can open and edit .doc files, but MS Office cannot open .odf files correctly, PERIOD.

            In geek parlance, that's an EPIC FAIL, son!
            kingttx
          • Windows and Mac for work... For sure.

            In the real world of business ODF files are not recognized. Unless you are a geek, like you obviously are, an ODF is useless.

            In the real world of business MS Office is the default business suite. In spite of the incompatibilities imposed by the proliferation of Office 2008, the Office 2008 Compatibility Pack is being utilized by support techs to make older Office versions compatible with the most common 2008 documents.

            In the real world of business specialized productivity software is written almost exclusively for Windows. The normal business person has a Windows computer and applications installed by a tech support guy, and does not expect to have to make decisions about the OS or applications, but simply use what is available to do the task at hand.

            Linux is a complete washout in all these respects. It is for geeks and kids, and has no place in the world of business except in niche markets and small outfits where the open source tools make sense based on cost.
            notme403@...
          • You aren't a geek - but a foolboy

            So linux can't have a virus? Well, you certainly do not know what you are talking about and yes his daughter's story is relevant. She wanted to move her spreadsheet from one computer to another and could not, she doesn't care about the OS but cares about the transferability of files.

            Fail, try over.
            willr6662
          • See, this is what I am talking about -- the flam wars...

            no one seems to want. The first poster told the truth about linux and compatability. The second poster told an untruth about windows viruses. You sse, he could not defend linux on the merits of linux. So he took an untrue swipe at windows to try and make linux equal with windows. But, "we are tired of the flame wars." NOT!!!
            eargasm
          • User error does not equate to software incompatibility

            @Dkunzma

            I feel for your daughter not getting a good grade, but I believe that the problem that you encountered is not due to software incompatibility.
            You blame Linux for your inability to understand what happened. How did Linux make you and your daughter intellectually lazy, not testing or figuring out what happened *befor* a presentation? How is she goinhg to do well in business without being prepared?
            I'm sure that with a search to http://www.FedoraForum.org/forum/ or http://www.linuxquestions.org/ you could have solved the issue *before* the scheduled presentation that would affect her school and possibly her career.
            I worked at Sun testing StarOffic/OpenOffice and I can attest to the fact that if properly exported, a spreadsheet will be fully and totally compatible. You do have to make sure that the system can properly read the filesystem. Mac uses HFS, Windows has DOS and NTFS and Linux uses EXT2, EXT3 and EXT4. Did you make sure to use the proper DOS file format to transfer the data?
            Obviously the file was never tested or checked before a presentation was made. It's a shame.
            I have used OpenOffice on various flavors of Linux since 2000, and have never had the kind of problems that you report when done properly, having ported to Windows PC, various Mac flavors and other Unix/Linux flavors. I did find bugs early on and reported them, but they have long since been fixed *years* ago.
            Don't blame OpenOffice for the lack of preparation.
            Linux and Unix is for "real work" like web and email servers, graphic design and office work. It's the Windows PC that is the proprietary closed source game machine, and the Mac to a lesser extent. I suspect that you know this, and just wanted to lash out.
            The main problem with Windows is that it lacks real security to protect valuable intellectual property and is not locked down and secure by default, which is why so many Windows users lose their data. Windows and to some extent Macintosh also lack the tools to read other filesystems in the way that Linux can. Name any filesystem, including ZFS, and Linux can read it. Windows does not read these filesystems, and the reason is because the folks in Redmond don't want you to be able to move from system to system. It's closed and will stay that way. Macs are very much the same for the most part, with the exception of being able to read Windows disks. Neither can read EXT3/4 Linux format by default and one is relegated to saving to ISO9000 CD format to be able to move data or other means like flash drives that use older DOS formats.
            I suggest that instead of blaming the tools and stating things that have no basis in fact, you might concentrate on learning how to use them properly, and then, once you have proved how to do it properly, your daughter can then teach others how to do it, and receive the A that she deserves.
            Renifer
          • The former is a GEEK message

            Really! The POINT is that no one needs to have all this computer familiarity if they stick with Windows -- or Mac -- and no one wants to. The only time you need to know all this is if you're trying to "save money" with Ubuntu. I gave it the old school try last Spring, and after 2 weeks it destroyed itself with its own updates and would no longer boot. Hello! I want to USE my computer.
            jemd@...
          • Wow, how bogus can you get?

            As others have pointed out, this was not a software failure.
            Your daughter should have tested the presentation on a machine similar to the presentation machine before trying to present it. Computers are complicated machines, and any time you move from one machine to another, there's a chance that the data will not be displayed pixel perfect, and the more different the underlying hardware or software architechture, the more likely there will be differences in the way it is displayed.
            You don't say whether she had the PC with MSOffice at the time of the presentation story, but if she did, she deserves a C for not testing it on that. However, if she didn't, she does now and should be able to continue doing "really slick" things with Open Office. But like someone else said, make sure you export to the native format of the computer on which it will be presented, because MSOffice is not intended to read other people's formats correctly; that would be counter to the vendor lock-in mentality.
            As far as making sure the spreadsheets render correctly on the school machine, someone else already pointed out forum help for that.
            over2sd
          • Or...

            she could have just used Microsoft Office and got a good grade. Also, there is no actual evidence that she would have gotten an A. If [b]I[/b] was the computer teacher, I would have given her an F for attempting to make a serious presentation with the outdated junk that is OpenOffice. Open office is not one step behind MS office. It is not two steps behind MS Office. It [b]is[/b] lightyears behind MS Office. Real productivity suites are written in native code
            nccastle@...
          • Users do not read code, nccastle@..

            They read formats.

            Its not that Open Office can't read Windows formats (although Microsoft doesn't like it and would prevent anybody else from being able to read their formats if they could get away with it). That's the problem. Microsoft deliberately presenting obstacles in an effort to coerce EVERYBODY into buying MS Office. Open Office can hit the target, but Microsoft keeps moving the target.

            Read up on the ODF/OOXML fiasco. Breathe some fresh air.

            http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS8722482021.html

            http://homembit.com/2009/05/microsoft-now-attempt-to-fragment-odf.html
            Ole Man
          • @ncastle: Are you pulling my leg, or do you really think...

            ...that the whole world uses the same software versions?
            Yeah, vendor lock-in at school is really going to prepare students for life in the business world.
            Because they should be taught to always expect that what works on their office machine will work everywhere, so they don't have to save in a compatible format.
            Because when you go to make a presentation at your client's office, they're guaranteed to use the same version of the software as you do.
            Yeah, and you never have to test your slide decks (e.g., *.PPT) on the presentation machine, because they're definitely going to be able to read whatever your software saved them in.
            By the way, your client missed (or skipped) the last upgrade cycle, when MS introduced the DOCX and PPTX formats. But good luck with that.
            That's what I meant by the native format of the presentation machine, you closed-source-minded fanboy.
            I wasn't saying the rest of the world should cater to the girl. I was saying that, even if everyone in business used the "same" productivity suite (which they don't. There are many businesses that use OOo.), the number of different versions of the document formats that exist precludes assuming that you don't have to know what formats the presentation computer will read.
            over2sd
          • Deserved C grade, got it

            She prepared it on OpenOffice ?

            It can be loaded on Windows based machines also, freely.

            Why didn't the zombie downloaded it before presentation ?

            She got her brains from her father, not mother. Obviously.

            Good-luck with your next kid.
            Web Smart
          • Did you even consider

            the possibility that the school forbids installing shit on their machines?
            Specially shit like openOffice that's huge, heavy and slow. They are quite right when they say its just like office, it sucks just like it.
            Going back to the original subject, sorry, there's real software for windows/mac that simply doesn't get done for Linux, think Adobe, think professional video production, think CAD/CAM.
            Yes, of course, you have alternatives like Gimp which doesn't even get close to Photoshop, ask a pro.
            royalstream
          • how crass and mean spirited

            So you are expecting any kid from elementary school would know or even care enough to know about which OS he/she is using and what version of software he/she is using? Sounds like you need more contact with the human world. Really, people like you make even the Apple zealots look normal.
            nothingness
          • Desrved C grade, Dad an F

            Exactly what I was thinking. I do it all the time at work and also at our community college on my continuing education.
            rMatey
          • Do You see now?...

            ... We have people on here flaming a little girl because of linux incompatability, rather than stand up and tell the truth.
            eargasm