The Network Manager at Westminster School presents solutions to sticky problems...

Monday, 28 September 2009

Windows 7 will push back the tide...

When Windows Vista arrived, everyone had a good excuse to go to Linux. The hardware specifications were hard on old hardware. Even PCs that were just above specification they lagged quite badly if you ran too many applications side by side. Ubuntu, though derided by Linux die-hards, has brought Linux to the masses. Easy installation and hardware compatibility makes installing Linux on a 2-3 year old laptop a breeze, and a viable option against staying with a compromised, buggy XP or moving to the lagging new secure Vista.

However, if you were expecting to see blistering speeds, forget it. There was a time when you could load Unreal Tournament on a like for like Linux PC and push all the sliders to the right, when you could only go half way on Windows. While gaming performance may still be better, the desktop certainly lags. KDE 4, shipping with the latest versions of Ubuntu provides a nice shine, but does not impress with program launch times. Even Gnome, now the flavour of Linux, does provide a measure of speed, but is so unfamilier to traditionally Windows users. It still lags when launching programs. Add to this the difficulty in managing Wireless connectivity.

After 9 months of KDE 4, I finally decided to go back to Windows. With the release of Windows 7, I was impressed with the apparant lightness on a low processor, 1Gb RAM laptop. Vista is do-able on that specification, but it lags and makes your hardware feel like a dog. Windows 7 provides the response time not far off how it felt when you first loaded XP (before all the addons and start programs are added to drag XP into the quagmire.) Windows 7 was installed in around 30 minutes. Hardware drivers were mostly installed within 10 minutes (after running a Windows Update) and one driver in particular took some hunting down (the lastest sound drivers did not work, I had to use an early driver.)

All in all, it was quicker to install Windows than it was to install Linux. And the wireless, once configured, just worked, without constant wallet passwords or dropping out after hibernation. If this is the way Windows is going, there is no reason for the average person to turn to Linux any more, other than the price.

But then again in the business of life and business, would you not rather pay for something that works out of the box? Or would you rather spend time on getting a free product working. Time is money, you know. How much does Linux really cost?

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