January 8, 2008

Windows is better than Unix/Linux, sometimes.

Well, I agreed with Bill’s last article, until I read the part that said “Windows is better than Unix/Linux.”

Oh wait, that was the first sentence.

Now, if Bill had said “Windows is better than Unix/Linux, sometimes.” or perhaps if he had stretched and written “Windows is better than Unix/Linux — most of the time,” I may have agreed entirely.

Look, I’ve been a fairly OS neutral IT Manager for many years. If you’ve ever used CP/M, Xenix, DOS (any flavor), Novell, Windows (old school pre 3.11), OS/2, Windows, Linux, Solaris (SunOS), HP-UX, AIX, OS/400, Windows 9x/NT/2k (etc.) and now Vista (bleh), and so on, you’ll understand that every OS has features where it will excel. Every OTHER OS will have features that leave the other OS in the dust.

The key to success here is to identify where the use of one OS will benefit you more than the use of another OS.

Bill’s #1 point was Windows XP is the best productivity (and gaming) desktop. I won’t argue gaming, however please note that the other platforms are creeping up on the list. Windows works well when you have many users that need desktops and systems. Asking the masses to switch to Linux is a difficult task. While I admit (as a recent convert) that MacOS is highly attractive — there are still many user-level drawbacks in MacOS (and *nix) that Windows streamlines. However, many of the “features” that Windows users cling to are due to familiarity; not because MacOS or Linux doesn’t offer the same features, they do. Windows is the devil you know… better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know. Right? No, not always.

I find it funny (funny odd, not funny haha) that there is a very vocal crowd of anti-Microsoft people out there who believe that everyone should be running *nix on their desktop. C’mon, let’s be serious here for a minute… do you think the average-joe user can support Linux? I’ve seen groups of System Administrators (Unix and Linux admin!) load and reload (and reload again) their systems due to many issues. I’ve experienced too many “I’ll work on that as soon as I finish reloading my workstation” comments from highly qualified *nix admins — so many that I actually require my admins to have TWO workstations, and set a rule that only ONE may be inoperable at a time… and that one of them be Windows (generally their laptop, due to driver incompatibilities.)

This same group of people who constantly “tweak and tune” their systems, and perhaps reload their OS shortly afterward, are often the very vocal group of anti-Microsoft people that I deal with on a daily basis. Do I agree that *nix is a better desktop OS, certainly not. Do I believe that Windows is the better desktop OS, certainly not. I believe it depends on the USER. The user’s needs, the user’s requirements, the user’s cashflow, the user’s capabilities, and the user’s support group. Give the user what they will be most productive using. Stop crippling the user with an OS because you feel a hatred for one OS over the other. Stop being an OS Bigot.

Bill’s #2 was Windows 2003 Active Directory Service is the best directory service, and #3 was Windows DNS is the best internal DNS server. As a server platform, Windows serves it’s purpose. Sometimes it does it very, very, well. Other times, it sucks. Windows works very well as an office server — file shares, login and credential control, even as a workgroup (intranet) web server. Heck, I’ll even go so far as to say that in certain circumstances, windows works well as a high-capacity web server. Windows has made streaming easy, Windows has even made publishing simple for the common person. I personally believe that Visual Studio is one of the best programming environments I have ever used (please note, I did not say .net.) But if you were to ask me to design a highly available ec-ommerce system, with redundant systems, SAN, etc. I would not use windows — I would use Solaris or Linux. However, this is just my opinion… yours is welcome to differ. If another OS (yes, including windows) works well for you, and you can be successful using that OS, then so be it. More power to you.

Bill argues that the Windows implementation of DNS and ADS are better than any any other platform. In my not so humble opinion, I agree. I have implemented LDAP on many platforms, and DNS on many more. The level of integration between the OS and ADS and DNS in Windows is second to none. For those of you that wish to argue otherwise, feel free.

Bill’s #4 is a doozie. Probably one of the biggest philosophical debates in the anti Microsoft/pro *nix wars. Again I am going to agree with Bill. I’ve used Zimbra, I’ve used Lotus, I’ve used lots and lots and lots of other groupware packages. Currently I use Thunderbird with IMAP, not because I want to, but because I have to. Exchange simply does it better. *shrug* argue otherwise if you wish. I’ve been there, done that, and got the hat. Buuuutttt… why do I NOT like Exchange? Because Microsoft has been so kind as to do away with the MacOS version of their outlook client (Yes, yes I know about Entourage). Because Microsoft has a cruddy web based interface to Exchange when you’re not running Internet Explorer. Because Microsoft has seen fit to not fully support other platforms with their new technologies. Hmm… seems like good business to me… that’s what Microsoft is, isn’t it? A business?

Bill’s #5 was Windows has better hardware support with vendor-supported drivers.

Well duh. Microsoft has made it financially worthwhile for vendors to develop drivers and to support Windows. Go figure. It’s good business. Microsoft is not to blame if those same vendors do not support *nix. Some vendors release their code under GPL, some don’t. Blame the ones that don’t. When the drivers don’t work, because your kernel version isn’t supported, who’s to blame? The vendor who doesn’t have a release cycle for your OS because the money just isn’t there? Microsoft? Or you, because you upgraded your kernel, when the older kernel version worked just fine and was perfectly secure. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be on the bleeding edge.

So, Bill posted a pretty decent article about why Windows is better than Linux, he has some perfectly valid points. He also makes an argument that there are ways *nix is better. Do what’s right for you, for your users, and for your customers/clients. Don’t base your decisions on blind bigotry. Play the strengths, don’t focus on the weaknesses.

Ok, Bill, I agree (with some minor adjustments to your wording.) Now let’s see your five reasons *nix is better than Windows!

Happy computing! (Regardless of your platform of choice!)

Editor’s note: Jerry is often easily confused, and was last seen drinking large quantities of cough syrup. Nothing else can explain his agreement. Also, we have it on good authority that Jerry has a small shrine to Bill Gates under his desk, although he calls it Jobu… For more of Jerry’s wisdom (?), check out his blog at www.gadgetworkshop.com

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  1. w2bh said,

    January 29, 2008 @ 10:10 am

    You are getting the whole question wrong.

    First of all, Linux is just a kernel. It’s kind of tricky trying to *technically* compare Windows to Linux, because the first is an (in)operating operating system, while the latter is a kernel.

    You are of course refering to the GNU+Linux operating system, wich most people know as “Linux”. That would be more meaningful, if you were trying to compare them *technically*.

    If you concentrate in the technical area, you’ll find areas where one surpasses the other, or one is more convenient than the other, or whatever, as you say. When you look at the issue from a technical point of view, there is no definite answer.

    However, the GNU+Linux system exists because of the Free Software Movement that Richard Stallman started in 1983/84. Think free as in free speech, not free as in free beer. The goal of the Free Software Movement is to enable people to use computers and keep their freedom. The GNU project was then started to translate these ethical concepts into an actual freedom-respecting operating system.

    So, given that that was the issue that the system was designed to address, it’s meaningless to compare Windows and GNU+Linux in technical terms. The technical aspect is completely secondary: no matter how bad or good it runs, GNU+Linux will always be superior not only to Windows but to every proprietary piece of software out there, because it respects your freedom, wich makes it an ethical operating system. On the other hand, Windows, being propietary (or non-free), is an unethical user-subjugating operating system.

    More information:


  2. Sourav Roy said,

    March 15, 2009 @ 12:21 am

    Windows is Windows. Whatever people say about Windows, and how much you speak about the uses of all UNIX, Linux, Open source platforms, GNU-based platforms, blah, blah, blah………………………..Windows was, is and shall always be the default OS with the masses. Even if you are a Windows basher, you yourself know thing in your very heart. Windows is Windows – our default OS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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