Windows releases have formed an unfortunate pattern over the years. Microsoft will release a great new version that users love and then follow it up with one that flops, attracting criticism from huge numbers of its customers.
Windows 95 was a major success, but Windows 98 was so disliked it was replaced with the well-liked 98 SE. Then came Windows ME, a release that was nicknamed “Mistake Edition”, followed by Windows XP, one of the company’s most-loved products.
The much-hated Vista came next and was superseded by the smash hit Windows 7. Microsoft’s next release, Windows 8, was an attempt to move its OS into the touchscreen age, but it angered users who missed the Start button. Then in 2015, Windows 10 corrected the course again.
Whenever a new version of Windows is put on the market, especially if it’s a “bad” version, more PC users entertain the idea of making the jump to Linux. The open-source operating system has come a long way since its inception in 1991, at 30 years old, it has become a viable alternative to Windows.
Microsoft recently released its new Windows 11 operating system, and while most users are sticking with Windows 10 for now (many can’t yet upgrade), some are seeing this as the right moment to make the jump to the penguin-powered alternative.
Is it a good idea or are most users better to stick with Microsoft’s option?
Windows 11 Isn’t Compatible With Many Older Devices
Microsoft is usually pretty good at ensuring backwards compatibility for its operating systems. There are elements of Windows 10 that can be traced back to the earliest versions of Windows NT.
This is because, while most users won’t need to send a fax or connect to a really old peripheral, there are some that will. However, some functionality is quietly dropped over time either because it has security holes or is no longer used.
Windows 11 won’t quite have the same level of support. Officially, Microsoft is only allowing upgrades from computers with an 8th-gen Intel Core CPU or higher, meaning all computers from before the end of 2017 won’t run Windows 11 without some bodging.
The reason for this is that older CPUs don’t support the added security features that are turned on by default in Windows 11 and Microsoft wants to push people onto devices that use them.
If you’re a user of one of these older machines, then you might be considering switching to Linux, though Windows 10 support will continue for a few years, so you can wait if you’d prefer.
Linux Has Come of Age
One of the biggest problems with Linux over the years has been that there hasn’t been the same level of support for key pieces of software. Major suites like Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud can’t be run natively on Linux, although there are open-source alternatives.
Gaming has also traditionally been a struggle on Linux, but a lot of progress has been made in recent years. Valve has been making more of its games compatible with Steam and even created the Linux-based SteamOS to make its catalogue of games more accessible.
For games that don’t have a Linux version, then third-party translation tools like WINE can be used. Companies like PokerStars and Blizzard even have articles and forum threads that explain this to their users, while WineHQ has a database of supported titles.
Additionally, many new software applications are based in the cloud and, therefore, don’t need to be installed on your own computer. Instead, you just need to use a web browser and navigate to the correct website. One of the most popular examples of this is Google Workspace, which has a set of tools that work similarly to Microsoft’s Office.
That said, learning how to navigate around Linux is not a simple task. Even experienced computer users have to spend a lot of time getting used to it and it can be very daunting for those that aren’t as comfortable with tech. Therefore, despite the improved compatibility, Linux still isn’t for everyone.
Linux is Lightweight
Linux is (often) much lighter than Windows. This doesn’t mean your computer will become easier to lift up, but it does mean the internal components won’t have to work as hard just to run the basic background tasks. It’s this quality that makes Linux great for the Raspberry Pi.
This also means that Linux is a great option for anyone that wants to avoid replacing a computer that is getting a little sluggish while Windows is running on it. And because it’s free, it’s also wallet-friendly.