Five reasons I'd rather run Windows 8 than Linux

Five reasons I'd rather run Windows 8 than Linux

Summary: I'm not telling you not to run Linux. I'm not even telling you that I won't run Linux. I'm just telling you that I'd rather run Windows. It's that simple.

TOPICS: Linux, Windows

Many of us use Linux every day. Thankfully, most of the people using Linux don't know they're using Linux.

My octogenarian parents, for example, have been using their TiVo DVRs for years, but have no idea that there's a variant of Linux running deep inside. The guy who installed my kitchen cabinets, who loves his Android phone but insists Facebook is hard to use has no idea he's using a variant of Linux.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Chromebooks make up 20 percent of all school mobile computer purchases. I'm betting the vast majority of those K-12 students using Chromebooks have no idea (and couldn't possibly be made to care) that they're using a variant of Linux.

There is no denying that Linux, when well-hidden, has great value. I very quite enjoy all my Android devices as well as my Chromebook. I've been a very happy (well, except when they break down every two years) TiVo user for more than a decade.

But there's a difference between using Linux like a random Ford purchaser uses a carburetor (like an embedded part) and using Linux as Linux.

First off, Linux fans are crazy. Want an example? Okay, let's try this one. My wife recently installed Mint on an old Alienware laptop that was gathering dust. Which brings me to Reason #1.

Reason #1: As soon as you mention one distro, all the fanboys go insane claiming you've made the wrong choice.

You did it, didn't you? Just as soon as I mentioned Mint, a whole bunch of you started to foam at the mouth. Mint's not the distro-du-jour anymore. There's Bodhi. There's Xubuntu. There's the truly unfortunately named DouDou.

Of course, there's Red Hat, Ubuntu, and even PCLinuxOS for those who really can't decide. That's not the point.

I don't even mind that there are more than six hundred individual and different Linux distributions out there. No, it's the fanbois.

As soon as you mention one distribution, everyone just jumps all over you insisting that his or her particular pet distribution is the best.

That doesn't happen much in Windows. Sure, mention Windows 8 and someone will grumble about still running XP or Windows 7, but there's never a raised voice, there's never any real stridency, and there are certainly no threatening missives written by some forty-year-old still living in his mommy's basement.

Reason #2: For all of us who have lives, there's Windows.

I don't need to write this one in detail. I wrote it before. Back in 2011, I wrote Why I've finally had it with my Linux server and I'm moving back to Windows after one of my Linux servers crashed (and I was very, very cranky).

To be fair, since then I have spun up some Linux servers (you really can't escape them), but they're still often cranky and uncooperative. Some common software won't run with certain distros.

Back in 2012, I wrote Dropbox is everywhere, but not, apparently, on most servers after my very helpful and knowledgeable ISP and I spent days trying to get Dropbox to work on CentOS, even though it works fine on other distros.

Don't get hung up on the Dropbox example. The point is, Linux can just be plain annoying. And so can its users...

Reason #3: The aggressively nutball Linux community

Don't get me wrong here. Windows fanboys aren't exactly well-behaved. But compared to the Linux crybaby whiners, the Windows kids are little angels.

After I wrote about the server crash back in 2011, there were a whole lot -- a whole, whole lot -- of comments and emails. Many weren't exactly nice, and many were wildly internally inconsistent. I wrote about it in Mea culpa: coming clean about my n00b Linux mistakes, but the best summary of the nutball Linux community reaction was a little video I put together that helps showcase the true Linux-lover lunacy.

But let's get away from personalities, people who don't bathe, and the whole basement <airquote>Fortress of Solitude</airquote> thing.

Let's talk about practicality.

Reason #4: Linux doesn't run many serious production applications

Linux doesn't run the Adobe Creative Cloud applications. There's no Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, After Effects, Premiere, and so forth. Sure, you can run The GIMP on Linux. Yippee. But I'm talking real applications.

Let's go one further. Microsoft Office doesn't run natively on Linux. Okay, settle down. I know what you're all going to say. But Microsoft Office is the standard for Office suites and whether or not Open Office or Libre Office or Che Guevara Office runs on Linux, it's not real Microsoft Office.

Evernote doesn't even run on Linux (and Evernote runs on everything, including WebOS and BlackBerry —and even Windows touch). But it doesn't run on Linux.

The point is, if you need to get real work done using real desktop applications, Linux is simply not a wise choice.

Reason #5: Windows is just nicer

I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I know some of you like command lines and shell scripts and can't imagine using a graphical user interface. I know others of you simply hate Redmond.

Meanwhile, other Linux users have gone so far as to use a highly-customized GUI on Linux to make it seem Windows-like, in some sort of deeply sad Windows-wannabe attempt to feel like you're loved as much as the better-adjusted Windows children.

So sad.

Windows is by far the more pleasant environment. The desktop interface is battle tested and familiar to everyone (and with the addition of Start8 or the new Windows 8.1 Start button, it feels just like old-time Windows 7).

Even the touch interface for Windows 8 and 8.1 is pretty sweet. Sure, there aren't many compelling Windows 8 touch applications, but there are a whole lot more than there are for the typical Linux distribution.

If you want to run an application, you just run it. You don't have to go through days of script hacks, package fights, version hassles, distro disturbances, and all the rest. With Windows, you just get your work done.

Without a doubt, Windows is simply a more pleasant, peaceful operating system than Linux.

That's really what it's all about. Windows is far more compatible, far more accepted, far more understood, and it works. By contrast, Linux is populated by a subculture of immaturity and pseudo-rebellion that's neither welcoming to newcomers or pleasant to professionals interested more in productivity than proletarian pronouncements.

I'm not telling you not to run Linux. I'm not even telling you that I won't run Linux. I'm just telling you that I'd rather run Windows. It's that simple.

Go ahead. Comment. Rant. Prove me right.

Topics: Linux, Windows


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • I see.

    That's nice, dear...
    • Understandable

      First of all it is difficult to speak about Linux. Linux is not an operating system, Linux is just an OS kernel. That is the reason why Linux is so ubiquitous. Linux powers Android, the majority of webservers (e.g. at Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter etc.) and runs most supercomputers (basically 95% of the worlds fastest computers are running a Linux kernel). Most people referring to Linux are basically speaking about a distribution (like Ubuntu, Red Hat, Steam OS, Android etc.). Fact is that the open source development model of Linux and of most Linux based distributions is serving existing Linux users and not the OS mainstream (which is served primarily by Windows). That is leading to a situation where Linux users remain to be happy but the majority of OS users won't get addressed with their requirements. Linux distros are made primarily for IT specialists. This situation did not change despite progress on the GUI front. Many PC users with limited IT skills and a lack of persistence still won't get happy with a Linux distro. People who have been successful to make the switch from Windows to a modern Linux distro and have worked for some months solely with it will never go back to Windows. I am happy that the mainstream is not using a Linux based desktop OS. That keeps the distros away from implementing clutter (for the sake of comfort) and making wrong compromises (for satisfying less skilled users). Therefore is no room for all these flame wars against Linux. A desktop Linux based OS is not for everybody (in the mobile world things are different if we are looking to the success of Linux with Android). People who don't grasp the advantages of Linux can stay happy Windows users and continue to spend money for mediocre software. Skilled users understand and appreciate what Linux is offering (and that for free). It is great that users have the choice. I have worked with Windows from version 2.0 on. I tried several times to switch to a Linux based desktop OS. I failed several times until I really forced myself to resolve all issues until things would work perfectly for me. It was not an easy journey. Looking back it was the best IT related decision I ever made. I am now a KDE user and the KDE desktop has everything what I always missed with Windows. Now, where I am very familiar with Linux only thinking about switching back to Windows is already a nightmare. The difference of satisfaction I have with KDE compared with Windows is huge. I always made my Windows versions working very well and even when I have to use from time to time Windows 8.x I have no complaints although the whole concept of Windows 8.x is a sort of sick. But in general I have/had no complaints with any specific Windows version (and I used them all and also Mac OS X). But working with a KDE distribution like Kubuntu is like playing in a different league. There is nothing wrong to be stuck with Windows and for the mainstream it is the best OS. People who want more have now several options (Mac OS X or a modern Linux distro). That is great :-)
      • Freedom of Choice

        I have a Mac OSX and dual-booted by PC between Windows 8x and Linux KDE. However, among the three, I use Linux most of the time and I am very happy with that. I only use Win8 whenever I need MS Office because I still am not yet satisfied with Libre/Calligra/Open Offices. I have lots of reasons why I prefer Linux over Windows. The Main Reason is my FREEDOM OF CHOICE. Second is a better Security and Privacy in Linux. Third is that there are more Challenges in Linux that Windows. I am just a 3-yr newbee. I started with Ubuntu, then Mint, Debian and now a Fedora user. I have been a Window-user for more than 20 years and I remember the time when my first PC was infected with CBrain and Microbe. Now, I could not use Windows without Antivirus installed in it.
        • Office

          Have you tried Ksoft? Chinese Office clon. Very good and compatible but it's not free software
      • thank you hengels

        before i read your post... i felt very offended, angry and disapointed...
        I read this artical gritting my teeth as this imbecile decided to wow us with his ignorance... and given his 'title'

        this David... left a sour taste in my mouth... trying to wash it away with jack daniel's no.7 -but there's only so much imbibement possible for one body, though i'm doing my part.

        ** "Distinguished" Lecturer at CBS Interactive,

        ** "author"
      • wow ... majority of my post got clipped...

        either way,

        I left on
        PS.. i hope microsuck paid you to write that... yatayata...

        and read this
  • You hit one nail on the head

    Linux is a great tool, but the hard core Linux community can be tools. Depending on the purpose, I'm a big fan of Linux but it is not the be all and end all of the technology world.
    • Unix redux

      UNIX lost out to Windows mostly due to one thing. Incompatible distributions for running apps. After all the OS is not the purpose of a computer. Linux has repeated this scenario and made it even worse. I see no chance of the Linux community ever resolving this issue.
      • I like Linux.

        My biggest problem with it however, is that its community is very fragmented.

        There isn't a "core" distribution to use.

        Ubuntu, Mint (also Ubuntu, I believe), Red Hat, Arch; which of these am I supposed to choose?

        I don't have time to test every distro and find the one I like.

        Red Hat seems to be recognized as Enterprise Linux, at least, but even then, the community still fights each other.

        Consumer choice is a good thing, but when there are too many options, finding a gem among a pile of coal becomes difficult.

        If it were up to me, Red Hat should take up a flag, absorb MintBuntu, and make a consumer-friendly Linux OS.
        • I have to admit - i despise all who are using Windows

          but i have very good personal reason. I lost 13 years with battles with unstable, insecure and crap Windows ecosystem. That's the reason why i moved to Linux in 2007 and never came back. Why? Because Linux has been increadible good. Simple the best for me and my family. I have installed it to tens of computers of other people too. Haven't heard anyone of them been disappointed at all. These people were ordinary folks, not those grannies using AutoCad and playing stupid Windows-only games.
          Napoleon XIV
          • It sounds like you did not bother to learn how ot use it.

            Windows, like Linux, has to be learned. The biggest problem with windows is it is too easy to use. It makes a person lazy. Windows is designed for point and click type and print. Linux makes you focus more and actually make an effort.
            Kieron Seymour-Howell
          • Okay, I know all this is basically troll-bait

            But, what I read in this article just had me scratching my head...

            I have FOUR Centos 6.5 Linux servers set up running Dropbox without issue. It was as easy as following the instructions at So the statement that Dropbox doesn't work with Centos is just FALSE. In actuality, in your original article you only mention the sparsity of linux documentation briefly, the reset of your ORIGINAL article was correct, that it's a problem with the ISP! It's no different from an ISP that would not allow you to install a system service in a hosted windows installation! Wow... So yeah, my respect for your article took a nose dive with that paragraph.

            Linux doesn't run "REAL" applications??? A "real" application is one that helps you get your work done for the task at hand. If your work REQUIRES Adobe (or whatever windows application) to edit pictures and videos, then that's your "real" application. However, I'm helping people from MS Publisher to inkscape and work, and they are loving it. No more crazy licensing hassles, and updates actually introduce really new features. Of course they are using Windows. My development team, however, uses Linux. We do so because Linux has easy installation of "real" applications for development. The development team switched from windows to Linux over a year ago, and while Linux has it's problems similar to Windows, it's by far no worse. We just don't have the constant threat of licensing issues, also updates don't break us like the do on Windows, and we can actually do more with our systems because the OS tries to stay out of our way and uses less resources.

            So yeah, this article is just fluff. No knowledgeable content, and really I shouldn't have waisted time commenting because I now realize that's what you're trying to drum up... but I've written this much... might as well hit submit...
            Technical John
          • Non Sequitur

            My response...

            Reason #1: Non Sequitur. That's like saying "I hate to wear shirts because nobody I know likes Hanes".

            Reason #2: I've personally never had any problem getting a Linux server kickstarted. I don't know what your issue is. Perhaps a book would help. Again, non-sequitur argument here.

            Reason #3: You've had a personal experience with certain individuals and thus the entire community is toxic? Do you even logic? We all know how easy it is to get a hold of Microsoft Tech Support and how knowledgeable they are compared to "Linux Geeks". With their thick accents asking if you have plugged your computer in, wasting much more time than I ever have talking with Microsoft tech support over lurking a forum for a common issue with Linux.

            Reason #4:
            Wine, albeit not perfect, comes pre-installed in many linux distributions for this reason. If a complex Direct x 11 video game can run natively on Linux with only losing about 5fps through the translation process then why can't you get the simplest of apps to run through Wine? Perhaps you're too used to "Whine", and not "Wine". The entire movie Avatar was rendered using an Ubuntu based supercomputer. Give me just one example of any task that cannot be completed on Linux. Just one example would make this reason sequitur, you fail to supply a reason and relate Linux apps to Che Guevara (talk about going way out into LEFT field!). Do you fact check? Do you research anything you're saying? Because within 5 minutes I've found dozens of people able to use all the programs you've listed within a Linux distro.

            Reason #5 "Windows is just nicer"? Nicer to who? And "Windows Wannabe"? Are you serious? Have you absolutely no knowledge of the GUI history? Windows original GUI was STOLEN from VISI-ON, then "enhanced" by copying Macintosh's OS. Then further "enhanced" by stealing the functionality pioneered by the OS X development team, and the Linux community. Is the bulky "Registry" easier for you to navigate? Is defragging once a week/month a productive use of your time? Is maintaining your antivirus subscription worth the money? Or, if its free, worth the resources? I can continue this list of annoyances and inconveniences Windows brings me, but I won't, because as it has been elegantly said, your entire post is non-sequitur, it leads nowhere, and is thus the perfect definition of "troll bait".

            I'm posting for the sole reason of any would-be readers who accidentally stumble on your poor excuse of subjective non-constructive criticisms.

            One question: Why is it that in 2014 Linux accounted for over 38% of all online servers, while Microsoft accounts for less than 33%. Linux also accounts for about 96% of the top 500 super computers in the world. But, I guess that still doesn't count as a "Real Application" under your definition. I mean, photoshop is much more important than natural disaster and weather forecasting, right? (Photoshop can be run in Linux anyway)
          • Ubuntu

            I teach computing in a public school in Spain and we are using the customized Ubuntu of my regional government (Lliurex). The kids are 6 years old and they love it. We've got 2 machines with win7 but they don't want to use because they say it's slow and more difficult. This opinion, coming from children they are starting to use computers it's goog enough to know what is the best desktop OS nowadays
        • Debian /Ubuntu

          I am a Ubuntu user since 10.04. I've used Gnome, KDE, Xfce, LXDE.... All them are very easy to use. I recommended you to start with GNU/Linux on Debian, Ubuntu or derivatives (Mint, Elemnetary, etc...) Now I have boutgh a Raspberry Pi and I feel really confortable on Raspbian because I come from Ubuntu
        • Your comment from different angel.

          My biggest problem with it however, is that its community is very fragmented.

          There isn't a "core" distribution car to use.

          Ford, GM (also Opel, I believe), Red Ferrari, BMW; Mercedes Benz, Toyota, Honda which of these am I supposed to choose?

          I don't have time to test every distro and find the one I like.

          Red Ferrari seems to be recognized as Enterprise class, at least, but even then, the community still fights each other.

          Consumer choice is a good thing, but when there are too many options, finding a gem among a pile of coal becomes difficult.

          If it were up to me, Red Ferrari should take up a flag, absorb Lamborghini, Bugatti , Toyota, Honda, Ford, GM, BMW; Mercedes Benz and make a consumer-friendly car like Windows OS. There shouldn't be any choice.
        • Choose Ubuntu

          Ubuntu has one of the biggest Linux community, and is easy to take in hand. It is a "gem in the pile of coal" with it's interface, it's "humor"? (Just try the OS uninstaller)
    • Come to think of it...

      For some of his snarky, fatheaded comments David Gewirtz is a great tool himself. I hate to resort to namecalling but honestly, this is one of the douchebaggiest pieces I've ever read.

      Mr. Gewirtz, you and I had a pleasant conversation a while back. I thought you may have rethought how you addressed people and I was even humbled a bit. But after reading this I can see that it's not really Linux or the Linux community you're really upset about. It's your inability to use Linux. I wish I had the time to dig it out but I remember a couple of years ago you announced how much you despised using Linux and were going back to Windows for your server infrastructure. I also remember a lot of people bringing your comments to the attention to Chris Fisher of the Linux Action Show podcast, among others. I was among them. Chris wrote me back and said it was pretty funny and that he had a few words prepared for you in response on his show that week. And boy, did he ever!

      "These are hard to use because these are professional tools," he said. He thoroughly addressed your ineptness at using Linux distributions and your piss poor attitude toward the community as a result. I would say we've done a damn good job at keeping this thing going as many years as we have, despite all the negative press, despite the claims that it's "hard to use", despite ZDNet's wishing it would die and rot.

      I mean, it's not like we have to voluntarily allow Microsoft the ability to spy on us by simply logging into our own computers. I guess you're okay with that.
    • RE: You hit one nail on the head

      To be fair hardcore any type of fans are tools (whether it be Apple fans, Windows fans or Linux fans). It's a simple argument really; whatever suits you suits you, though maybe that's an example of having reached an age of live and let live rather than be bothered arguing for why I use what I do. I like them all actually, but use Linux for personal use, where my wife and kids use Windows due to education, work and ease of use reasons. I quite like the idea of a Mac Pro laptop but can't bring myself to spend the money on one machine that could be used to equip the rest ofg us with a machine each...
  • True

    "Thankfully, most of the people using Linux dosn't know they're using Linux." [sic]

    So very true.