Windows 7 v Ubuntu 9.10: an illustrated guide

Windows 7 v Ubuntu 9.10: an illustrated guide

Summary: Is Windows 7 good enough to halt the move to desktop Linux in its tracks? We compare and contrast Microsoft's new OS with the latest version of Ubuntu.


Enterprise IT managers, frustrated for the last three years by Windows Vista, have recently begun to move Linux from its traditional home in the datacentre out to user desktops. However, it's still very much a minority option and Linux's progress could be halted in its tracks by the release of Windows 7, which is widely seen as the logical upgrade for those still running XP.

Whether or not Windows 7 will actually put paid to Linux on the desktop remains to be seen. But to give you flavour of how the two platforms measure up, we've compiled a brief illustrated guide, comparing key business features as implemented in Windows 7 and the latest version of the world's favourite Linux distro — Ubuntu 9.10, otherwise known as Karmic Koala.

Getting started

Ubuntu Linux is free and can be trialled from CD without installing anything to hard disk.


Although there's no direct upgrade from XP to Windows 7, it's easier than moving to Ubuntu.

Hardware support is much the same, and both Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.10 come in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. However, Windows 7 licenses have to be paid for, while Ubuntu is open-source and free. Vista users can upgrade in place, while there are tools to help you migrate XP desktops. However, if you're switching from Windows to Ubuntu you'll have to start, more or less, from scratch.

Windows 7 will be available preinstalled on new PCs, but Ubuntu can be trialled from CD without being installed onto the hard disk at all. Tools to help with large-scale rollouts are available for both operating systems.  

Topics: Windows, Operating Systems, Reviews, Software

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  • illustrated guide

    Not much of a comparison between the two, but i know i'll be installing Windows7 this weekend as the BETA worked a treat on my 'test box'. Have tried Ubuntu before and got bored with looking for drivers all the time, and I know thats not down to Ubuntu, its consumer choice at the end of the day.


    Although I think that this is a nice high-level view of Ubuntu v Windows 7. As soon as a user tries Ubuntu, in my experience; they think it is more Windows 95/ME/2k than Windows XP leaving out of the equation the glitz and glammer of aero in Vista and 7. Aero Peek is a fantastic feature as are many other things in Windows7. It really is a major step forward for Microsoft.

    As mentioned in other articles people didnt like WinXP when it was first launched; I was included in that group of people. XP built on Windows2000 so generally the drivers were available. Vista had the problem of making many more changes to the UI (from XP to Vista) than XP did (from Windows 2000 to XP) AND it had poor driver support creating much more frustration in trying to get things working while struggling with a new interface.

    This is a problem for Linux adoption; Linux had its best chance with Vista; but the glitz of Vista wasnt ready in Linux at the time; GNOME looks old; although it is efficient and very usable; it just doesn't get users to go WOW.

    KDE4.3 however has the glamour of MAC OSX and Windows 7. Please Please Please do a comparison of Kubuntu v Windows 7.

    Kubuntu looks more modern, prettier and cleaner, its still efficient and looks great out of the box (without having wobbly windows overkill) and there are all those extra effects lurking to be turned on if you want them

  • Win vs Linux

    Add a printer to windows, and you had better have a disk from the manufacturer. 99.9999% of the Linux distros I have used configured the printer without any interaction from me. This includes HP all-in-ones. You need to make sure to have anti-virus software running and configured before putting your windows box on the internet. Also, in windows get used to seeing a blue screen, or automatic reboot when encountering a problem. I've never had any of these problems with Linux.
  • Blue Screens?

    I gotta say that in all my years using WindowsXP I have very, very rarely ever seen a BSOD on my PC. I dont know what hardware/software some people use that would give them such a serious error but it must be down to them doing something wrong. Having never really given Linux a go I cant comment when installing drivers for new devices but in XP the setup of such devices always went pretty smoothly, as long as they come with CD's or are for that particular OS. When devices fail it's usually due to the 'age' of the device or software. Perfect example is when I'm visiting 1 of the many schools and they dig out a 'printer, scanner, software etc' that's at least 6 years old and pre-xp and still expect it to work. 'It worked when we were on 98' they always say!!!!
  • BSOD and Devices

    @tHeClAw - Unfortunately for me, I can give you several examples of BSOD crashes with XP. First, a Logitech webcam driver and software. Does that qualify as "strange" hardware/software in your book? The largest webcam company in the world, and the software they deliver with it, nothing changed, nothing non-standard, nothing special, and it produced intermittent BSOD crashes. For me, on my hardware, this is not a myth, or an empty claim. Want more? How about Skype, does it count as "strange" software? Running a full, standard release, suddenly it produced a BSOD. What about Vista? I bought a brand new Fujitsu Lifebook S6510, preloaded with Vista Business. During the first few months, when I was still trying very hard to actually use Vista on it, I got BSOD crashes on a fairly regular basis. Once again, nothing non-standard added, neither hardware nor software.

    So tell me, what did I do wrong? Bought a camera from the most reputable company in that market, used nothing but their driver and software? Tried to use the most popular video chat software available? Bought a laptop from a reputable manufacturer, preloaded with the latest Microsoft operating system? Which part of that was "my fault"? Please tell me! I've already been told by another Microsoft apologist that I was "stupid" to buy Vista, because "everyone knew" it was garbage before it was ever released, and I should have just waited for Windows 7. That, in my opinion, is the absolute pinnacle of blind, mindless loyalty, to say "oh sure, it was trash, but we all new that in advance, and now we can hardly wait to give Microsoft more of our money for the next trash they produce".

    Adding new devices? How about an extremely common HP scanner, worked perfectly on XP, but no driver exists for Vista? What am I supposed to do, throw the scanner away and buy a new one just because HP decided to jump on the Microsoft bandwagon and use the change in operating system to force a hardware purchase? HP's decision might not have been directly Microsoft's "fault", but it would never happen, and could never happen, with Linux and open source drivers. Repeat the above for two different Linksys wireless network adapters, the absolute latest "state of the art" at the time they were purchased, what Linksys called "SRX400" technology. Less than six months after purchase, Vista comes out... and there are no drivers for them, and never will be. Stay with XP if you want to use the (rather expensive) Linksys adapters, or upgrade to Vista and throw them in the trash. Nice choice. Not Microsoft's "fault", it wasn't their decision not to make the drivers, but it would never, and could never, happen with Linux and open source drivers. Once again, with "When devices fail it's usually due to the 'age' of the device or software", you are trying to shift the blame to the user. Anywhere but Microsoft, their monopolistic position and crappy closed-source operating system, where it belongs.

    By the way, as things turned out I should have sent Linksys a thank-you note, because I ended up staying with XP, and throwing my Vista CDs in the trash rather than the Linksys adapters. Hmmm. I never thought about it that way before, maybe Linksys knew something about Vista at the beginning that the rest of us didn't figure out for quite a while, and they were trying to do us a favor by making us stay with XP...

  • Your out of line...

    "you are trying to shift the blame to the user."

    NO he's not.

    With comments like this, jut because "YOU" had a bad experience with windows or other products doesn't mean that everyone else has!

    Besides what all this us & them ? its a bloody inanimate object! people are free to try what the bloody hell they like!
  • Windows XP -> 7 easier than Ubuntu?

    Seem pretty much the same to me

    Windows XP -> 7 isn't a supported seamless upgrade by microsoft a clear install is incurred? If it is support is definetly NOT recommended

    In which case you must export your Userprofile, Desktop Settings, Software application settings, and documents manually.

    Ubuntu Install CD will ask do you wish to import that Windows XP user account?
    Internet Explorer History saved forms etc, Documents, Wallpaper are all imported seamlessly.

    Vista -> 7 is clear easy and suggested
  • bad luck

    thanks for your comment. it looks like you've had nothing but bad luck with Vista, which is an operating system i stayed well clear from after using the BETA for 3 days. i agree, most of my devices didnt work with Vista at all and promptly removed it and re-installed XP. Vista, backfired on MS to try and force everyone to upgrade, the people stood firm along with some companies who didnt release updated drivers because of all the bad hype. but unfortunately people will need to upgrade at some point and xp wont have support forever, i think only for the next year or so.
    Windows7, with 8 year old hardware, works a treat. granted you dont get all the 'bells and whistles' but its still a workable OS and Vista wouldnt even entertain the hardware. As for really old hardware, how can you expect 10 year old scanners, printers etc that are pre-2000 to work on todays systems for windows? I doubt even hardware that old will work successfully on Linux, and if it does, well done Linux, maybe there are some things MS can learn from open source.
  • Bad luck, and more

    Thanks for the interesting comments. Whether bad luck or not, I certainly did have immense problems with Vista, despite my best efforts. I recall writing in my blog at the time that I really wanted it to work, I wanted it to be better than XP, and I kept trying, reloading it from scratch and installing all the patches, and eventually the SPs, many more times than I probably should have.

    The scanner in question in my posting was not 10 years or more old; as I recall it was on the order of a year or two at the time Vista was released. The two wireless network adapters were less than six months old at that time, and I had purchased them when they first became available. Whether the manufacturers didn't make Vista drivers because of the "bad hype", or because they though they could use the OS change to force a hardware purchase, I don't know.

  • bad luck!

    Hi there,

    That is a very strange comment especially if you know, as I expect you do that vista and win 7 for the most part use the same dreivers.

    Winvista had a problem because the driver model and the ui changed while they hadn't optimised the code so it was also slow.

    Win 7 corrects most of the issues, but to be fair so did drivers that have been released over the years vista has been out and the service packs from ms.

    Vista is wuite a solid os now, yes, win7 is better. I choose not to use either, I have kubuntu on my home laptop.

    Win xp will be supported by ms pledge until 2014 for corporates. It isa unlikely that the ftse100 company I work for will upgrade from xp anytime soon due to the amount of vista incompatible software, and no, xp compat mode is not a solution. Two os's to patch and antivirus, even more load on our underpowered pcs. Its just not workable. It'll take years to upgrade the majority of software to win7 compatible and in this current climate its just not on our radar to go and rieimplement vista compatible software, especially as some is in-house and others are huge implementation projects that take years, like oracle financials.

    Win 7 is fixed cause thr drivers for most stuff has been produced for vista.

  • Lets not forget that...

    Vista was released 3-4 years ahead of schedule because bill gates panicked over the 64bit hardware releases, obviously this had massive negative impact because all the other firms out there still had there own roadmaps to adhere to, so driver release uptake seemed to be worse than usual.

    No doubt either they will have being some back scratching going on with the big vender's and ms i have no doubt about that, but given the chance all big company's do that, but still things did not work out quite the way they all would have liked it to.

    The one good thing to come from all this though was xp got much more needed updates that have matured that OS into a solid little bundle of fun now, and I think its fair to say that the open source as well as the apple markets grew a little more, and just maybe because of this we have a much more vibrant open source community now.

    I think it might be fair to say that if the above had not had happened then just maybe google wouldn't have stepped up this soon, to announce that they think there's room for a couple of more offerings in the market.

    With any luck though because ms & others got there hands burned last time around, they won't be in any hurry to piss people about again.
  • Vista AHEAD of schedule?

    You may be the only person on this entire planet who thinks that Vista was released ahead of schedule, rather than several years behind schedule. I suppose the fact that Microsoft pushed back the originally announced shipping date by 18 months or whatever doesn't prevent it from being "ahead of schedule".

    It was certainly shipped before it was "finished", and thus before it should have been. But perhaps that is not actually the case, and what SHOULD have been shipped is just now finally being shipped, except it is being called Windows 7 instead of Vista. That would fit with my claim that Vista actually served exactly the purpose Microsoft intended it to, it kept people at bay while they finished development, and it raked in a few billion dollars for a broken piece of garbage which Microsoft could then make people pay again to get the "fixed" version of, simply by changing the name.

    Oh, and I don't think Microsoft gives one whit about whether they piss about their customers or not. As long as the customers keep shelling out money for whatever broken software they produce, and more money for the next "fixed" version, and even more money for the "fixed" version after that, and on, and on, and on.

  • Did not say it was...

    Ahead of schedule I said that bill gates stormed the windows camp and demanded that it be brought forward, thus ensuing that the windows camp then went onto drop several elements of the OS, that they said they would redeploy via updates after it had shipped.

    Consequently as stated the program still fell back by another 18 months time frame, ill prepared is the key word here.
  • Did not say it was.

    Posted by: CA (Wednesday 28 October 2009, 5:09 PM)

    * Reply

    Lets not forget that...

    Vista was released 3-4 years ahead of schedule

    Nuff said.
  • Ator the point was...

    Bill gates tried to bring the program forward so maybe I paraphrased it wrongly big deal, besides whether or not vista shipped on time or not it would have still flopped because it was far too controlling and hardware prejudice.
  • works very fast