01 November 2010

How to live without Microsoft: Operating Systems

With the rise in popularity of Apple products I take a look at how reliant a lot of us have become on Microsoft and whether there really are any viable alternatives for business users.

Microsoft have produced a lot of great software (Windows 7, MS Office) but also some bad releases (Windows CE, Vista). Its also true that neither theirs nor the major alternative (Apple) are the cheapest of products. Whilst it’s often a common truth that ‘you get what you pay for’ I’m taking a look at whether in the modern age of interoperability and online collaboration there are really any viable alternatives.

The basis of any computer is the operating system. If you imagine the bridge between all the circuit boards and wires and the user as a layered open sandwich (mmm bacon) then the OS is like the bread on the bottom. It’s the first point at which the computer starts to be useful to an ‘end user’.

In the case of a PC, the OS of choice for many years has been Microsoft’s latest offering, whether that was XP, Vista or now Windows 7 but without making the expensive switch to Apple are there really any alternatives?

Rather than constantly buying new hardware, I would recommend that users try and squeeze more out of their existing hardware. I have to hand it to the guys at MS for Windows 7, I think it’s a great OS which really shines in it’s ability to run even on old hardware. However it is expensive so the best alternative in my opinion at the time of writing is Ubuntu. It’s a Linux distribution so its built on top of rock solid basis but that used to mean that hardware support was a bit haphazard and some things weren’t that intuitive. With Ubuntu Mark Shuttleworth and the guys have really created a working useful OS for the end user. An open source alternative is OpenSuse.

Ubuntu comes in Desktop and Server flavours so you could even use it as a server although you might want to consider something a little less bulky like a Debian distribution for that.

Other posts in the series:

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