The Windows XP alternatives gallery

The Windows XP alternatives gallery

Summary: XP will be falling off the Microsoft support wagon within a year, and Windows 8 is, ah, unattractive. Here are the best of your alternative choices.


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  • The fun, but pricey, Mac OS X desktop

    (Image: Screenshot by Steven J Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet)

    The fun, but pricey Mac OS X desktop

    This is more like it! OK, so it's a Mac and you may have avoiding them for decades, but still it's a reasonable choice... if you can afford them. Whatever else may be true of Apple products, they're never, ever cheap.

  • (Image: Screenshot by Steven J Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet)

    The Linux desktop can look and work a lot like XP's interface

    Hey! Now this is more like it. Windows, check. Icons, check. Menus, check. Mouse pointer, check! Welcome to an XP style WIMP interface. It just happens to be running on top of Mint Linux instead of Windows. Don't run away! This is not the scary old command-line Linux your Microsoft salesman has been telling you about. This is today's Linux, which is every bit as user-friendly as Windows... well, until Windows 8 showed up, anyway.

  • (Image: Screenshot by Steven J Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet)

    Chrome OS? Google's cloud-based web interface operating system

    Quick question? Do you know how to use a web browser? You do? Good, then you already know how to use Google's Chrome OS. Sure, there's Linux underneath it, but you'll never see it. If your applications are already 90 percent on the web or cloud, then you're already 90 percent of the way to being a fine candidate for using Chrome OS.

Topics: Windows, Android, Google Apps, Tablets, Software, Operating Systems, Linux, iOS, Google, Cloud, Apple, Windows 8

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  • New it

    How did I know that you wrote/published this article? In any way, shape, or form you hate on Windows and more so Windows 8. Get over yourself already.
    • update

    • Did you read it?

      It concludes that windows 7 is the best fit for many win co users that are upgrading through necessity rather than choice. That's common sense; very similar interface, same programs can be installed... It's just going to be a case of learning that the windows are a bit see through and that they're going to get dummy-checked when they click on something.

      He clearly goes through all the sensible options, mentioning two from apple, two from MS, two from google... And one Linux. His conclusion is MS

      Seems you're getting annoyed at what you want him to have said than what he did say.
    • I assume that you commented without reading

      because, as has already been noted, his conclusion is Windows 7.

      Or maybe you just need to take another of those anti-paranoia pills that you seemingly skipped today.
  • Really?

    Windows 8 is unattractive to those who don't know any better, or are proponents of alternative, never-going-to-catch-on operating systems that lack enterprise management and security features.

    Once again, the author knows how to make himself look like an inept Linux fanboy.
    • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

      Freedom of speech lets you voice that opinion.

      He doesn't mention anything about windows 8 apart from finding it ugly. He provides a picture. If you find it beautiful then kudos. If you find it ugly, then kudos. Would you prefer a list without his personal opinions? The Linux option is hardly the best looking Linux out there, just one made to look more like home....
      • Windows 8

        I'm just curios why didn't he show the Windows 8 desktop on the Windows 8 slide? That looks a lot like the Windows 7 familiar desktop and the only thing missing is a button. The Windows 8 desktop is more efficient than the Windows 7 one because it's more stable, secure, and faster. Not to mention that if you right click on the far left of the task bar you get a list of very useful commands that could not be accessed like that in Windows 7.
      • to think

        You're gonna avoid an os that comes with a number of functional upgrades, just because you find it ugly, shows how desperate you are to exaggerate the flaws... The only downside he could find was the ugliness of win8.. There were many in this fanboy's list to begin with. I guess all the laughter he received for his childish articles made the list shorter and shorter.. Now the only flaw he's emphasizing on is a vague and subjective one.. I don't care much about win8 but this kind of fanboyism or pointless hate whatever you wanna call it just pisses me off..
        • DYSfunctional

          It is hard to say that win8 has functional upgrades... more like DYSfunctional to me.
          Lets do it in order:

          Installation. Win 8 has a more streamlined installation process, but if you have more than 1 device installed in your computer you are screwed :( It is a fact that more advanced users that understand in how to build a computer in order to install win 8 have to first disassemble their rigs leaving the bare minimum to fire it up, since otherwise win 8 just errors out and does not install.

          First impression. Pretty... kind of... ehm I have a mouse and multiple monitors so windows is giving me huge icons on 1 monitor without the ability to move it to a different screen, no ability to stretch it. that is useful... So microsoft is pushing to desktops clunky interfaces that can be used on one monitor only regardless that I have several more monitors that now become useless. Well sure it is a new take on unifying the OSes so lets cut it some slack. Btw, you cannot switch out of the music player if you don't want the music to stop. Wat?!

          Evading metro. So now that we know that metro is just a piece of bloatware designed to distract users and make life terrible trying to evade this dysfunctional piece and just use the desktop mode. So great you actually can use more than one monitor, it even has special corner snaps to make multimonitor life easier and allow you to target a specific corner with your mouse. Ehm, well that piece is almost functional, you still cannot snap a window to a shared edge, you still have to use hotkeys to achieve this. Well small things aside lets start working... speaking of start... where is the button? ok, I've played pranks like this back in the school days on other people - hid the start button, but it can easily be bypassed by pressing the windows key on the keyboard! But in win 8 that key is bound to show you the metro interface, so that's a bust. Oh look if you go into the left bottom corner you see a tooltip mentioning the start... it also takes you back to metro. That is just great. It is very functional to remove the button and make the menu fullscreen with huge icons (could be bigger - my grandma still has trouble seeing them from the other room) that appears with a big lag on my i7 with SSD and 16GB RAM. I do believe that was done on purpose since power naps are known to increase productivity.

          I speak other languages. It so happened that I speak other languages besides english and work with people speaking those languages, so I've installed additional keyboard layouts to be able to type in those languages. Oh the default combination changed to win+space? That was unexpected. Actually something useful. Mac OS had it nailed down for decades, but that is besides the point. So lets get to typing in other languages. My password doesn't work? Wait, why did it switch the input language for all my apps and not just the im that I switched the language for? I guess it was to be expected that if they'd fix something in windows, they'd also take the time to break something else. So sorry, my colleagues, but windows encourages me to use transliteration in order to talk to you.

          Time for a movie. So far windows 8 was a huge disappointment, so let me pop in a DVD and watch a movie while I calm myself. Oh! There is no player capable of playing a DVD movie in Win 8 Out Of The Box? Win 7 had it, Mac OS has it, Linux has it, Win XP had it for what its worth! So there is no way that Win 8 cannot play DVDs. A quick search on the internet revealed that in order to play DVDs on Win 8 you have to buy the Media Center edition and in order to buy the Media Center edition you have to have Win 8 Professional regardless of the needs of the user. So a yet another dysfunctional feature implemented by Microsoft. No built in games either. You can register for free and download some of the free games from the games market and some of them might even work without an internet connection, the rest... your ISP has a hiccup and you can't play those games, in fact without connection those games just freeze. I understand that this despite being completely dysfunctional is a very useful feature and exactly why microsoft is introducing the always online requirement for the Xbox One.

          I can still go wireless. At least I thought I could, but apparently Win 8 cannot how WiFi networks. Wait What?! Not even AdHoc? At least it has ICS (internet connection sharing). That is good, right? But why would I need ICS on a computer with a single wired port and incapable to host a WiFi network? It is like having a car,but without wheels - it can still burn gas and make noise, regardless that it cannot actually drive you anywhere. So the ICS is still there, but you can't use it because you just cannot host a network with which you could share your internet. I take it microsoft guys never stop at a hotel that has only wired connection and the phone in roaming. So now you can't just share the internet with your other devices that cannot be connected wit a wire.

          And this is just a short list of the most DYSfunctional upgrades that Win 8 offers. That said if you are planing to use your computer for anything else but being a decoration in your house or a colorful brick in you bag - stay away from Win 8 or be ready for pain.

          P.S.: a laptop is also a computer, and so is your phone nowadays.
          Victor Sur
          • W8 is dysfunctional

            Only a comment to say that your post sums it up. Those disagreeing must be paid trolls. Very well put indeed.
    • Windows 8 has bifurcated users

      to those who love it . . . and those who hate it. Just as much as you are entitled to love it, others ARE entitled to dislike it.
      • bifurcated

        The all time BS bingo word.
        Alan Smithie
  • You're one of the very few people I know that places the Start menu at top

    Hey! Now this is more like it. Windows, check. Icons, check. Menus, check. Mouse pointer, check! Welcome to an XP style WIMP interface."

    Except it looks more like MacOS X than XP - you're one of the very, very few people I know who places the Start bar on the top, rather than on the bottom.

    Although with Linux I suppose that it could be moved - with a bit of effort.

    And the arrangement of stuff in the menu will seem pretty alien to anybody who has been using Windows for any length of time. It's not exactly like Windows. It has a learning curve.
    • Desktop screenshots

      Since all of those screenshots have the menu closed and are just sitting at the desktop he could have very easily had the Windows 8 screenshot be the system sitting at the desktop and it would have looked exactly like the Windows 7 screenshot just without the Windows logo for the start menu.
      • Or

        Had ubuntu's dash open... Or Mac OS's launchpad ...

        I completely agree. To my mind, the tiles thing is just square icons. Everyone's been moving to tile/icon menu's.

        Ubuntu got panned for it, as did gnome 3, Mandriva also in Linux. Maybe it's just MS's turn to take it for a bit... People seem to hate change. Over in Linux world the noise surrounding tiled menus has faded now; people are used to this.

        Mac OS is a bit different; their stacking menu system was horrendous for getting to your apps; everyone just blitzed the dock, so launchpad has been very popular there.

        Now MS have implemented tiled menus and they're getting exactly the same flack I saw ubuntu getting two years ago; it's a menu people, you will get used to it.
        • "To my mind, the tiles thing is just square icons."


          Not only that, but the majority of the icons, despite the hype, are STATIC!
    • Re: with a bit of effort

      You are correct on this one. There is a bit of effort involved. You go to the systems settings and click "put taskbar on bottom". (or at whichever side you prefer)

      You can then go to the windows decoration themes, and chose how you want your windows decorated. You can have them exactly as Windows XYZ (insert your favorite version) places them, or as OS X places them, how CDE/Motif placed them or a number of other variations. You can customize pretty much anything on a modern UNIX window manager. Many come with ready templates "everything as in CDE", "everything as in Windows XP", "Everything as in OS X" etc. The "emulation" is pretty good, down to the bouncing pointer at application launch etc.

      It is, after all, just a windows manager. Welcome to the larger world :)

      But I agree, SJVN could have made better screenshot.
  • Not sure whether it was deliberate...

    Showing each of the o/s desktop exposed a common theme: they are all in some way or other prototypes of the metro. After years of seeing users screen filled to capacity with shortcuts (sometimes several to the same thing) the metro concept was brilliant..... Implementation of the functionality is a bugr but still it has promise.

    I often wonder the motivation for many of the articles here and elsewhere with subtle snippets of goodness which help the windows 8 take up. Take the great debate *Can this OS be saved?*. Both sides had good points helping win8 adoption, especially the no side!
  • Just curious!

    How many Linux people are running 12 year old versions of Linux? If so, is it still supported?
    • How many Linux people are running 12 year old versions

      I'm guessing not many, because you can keep upgrading to the newest version for free, and you don't even need to buy new hardware to run it.