Windows 10: Is it Really Worth Ditching Linux for?

Posted by jun auza On 10/17/2015
For many years, Linux desktop held the bragging rights for being free as in free beer. It was going swell until Windows 10 came along. Microsoft's latest desktop offering, apart from being a move towards convergence, ushers in a new model of operating system licensing. In July 2015, the Redmond giant in what is considered a bold move, decided to upgrade every Windows 7 and 8 user to the latest and greatest version -- for free. What's more, the development of the operating system was more community-oriented and focused on taking valuable feedback from testers and implementing into the OS. The result was a perfect blend of the familiarity of the good ol' Windows 7 and the modernity of Windows 8.1. 

Though we won't call Windows 10 the perfect desktop OS, it is certainly an eye-catching offering packed with features that are hard to resist, even for Mac users. The homely start menu, the sharp Cortana, and Linux-esque features like virtual desktops all blend in to provide a seamless desktop experience that, for the first time, matches up with the prowess of the Mac OS X desktop experience. While Ubuntu's growth remaining stagnant and no new 'big' announcements on the Linux front this year, many penguinian users are considering migrating to the dark side. While some have already crossed the threshold, others are reflecting on the pros and cons. For them the following article will shed light on some of the tempting features of the OS and how they compare to what Linux currently offers. 

The Search Experience

One of the biggest changes in Windows 10 is the integration of search with Cortana, local files, and content from the web. This combination makes search a powerful addition to the Windows 10 experience. With the ability to look through files, folders, and content on the web, the need for opening the web browser time and again becomes redundant. 

The search experience on Linux, however, is still mediocre as compared to what Windows or Mac offers. On Ubuntu you can search through files; but searching on the web through the Dash is still flaky. If you are someone who wants a unified desktop and web experience and online search is a big deal for you, switching to Windows 10 might not be such a bad move. Otherwise, the good ol' Dash works perfectly for the normal desktop user.

The Start Menu

Yep, it's back. After hearing the complaints of millions of users from around the world, the Redmond giant finally decided to bring the Start menu back. Though it is not the same as what Windows XP and 7 had, it still retains the functionality of its predecessor. You can search, browse through programs, and even pin tiles to your start menu. This is a welcome change from the gaudy Windows 8 start screen that took up useful real estate. For Linux users, there has always been an equivalent of the start menu. In Mint for example, the start menu is reminiscent of the Windows 7 start menu and on Ubuntu we have the Dash, which is the right blend of modernity and functionality. If you are looking to ditch Linux for the Windows 10 start menu, unfortunately, it might not be worth it.

Free as in Free Beer, but not Freedom

Windows 10 is free. Yes, completely free. Well, almost. If you own a genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can upgrade to the latest desktop without paying a single penny. If you don't, you'll have to pay the retail price for a new copy of the operating system. So, if you are already on an earlier version of Windows, probably dual booting with your tux desktop, there are no reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10. However, it is essential that you backup your data before making the switch as the upgrade has been known to cause some issues. 

Always Updated

Both Linux and Windows rely on updates to provide a secure and up-to-date desktop experience. Windows, however, goes a step further with this process. Switching to a software-as-a-service model, the latest version of the desktop will deliver all future updates and upgrades online. This means no Windows 11 or 12 and every new feature or major change will be delivered to your desktop via a simple over-the-air update. The only problem, though, with this model is that you can't opt out of it. If you upgrade to Windows 10, there's no official way of disabling those updates. So, if you have a limited bandwidth, just think a couple of times before upgrading. Compared to Linux, this might feel like an intrusive move, but Microsoft plans to make money as a service rather than an operating system that is quite different from the way Linux operates.

Privacy Issues

Last, but not the least, one of the controversies surrounding Windows 10 is quite a biggie for Linux users and that is of privacy. Despite clarifications by Microsoft on this matter, Windows 10 is known to collect a huge amount of data that is quite unsettling for a desktop user. If there's one big deal breaker Linux users have to face while installing Windows 10 is this one. Even though you can tweak the settings, having complete control over your data is something only a Linux user can enjoy in its full glory.


So, is it worth ditching Linux for Windows 10? While it is a great update to Windows 8, the one that fixes it all, upgrade problems and privacy issues are main reasons Linux users should be wary of the upgrade. However, if you want the latest and greatest, it should be a no-brainer. Our advice is to wait till Microsoft settles the issues plaguing the OS and then give it a shot. Till then, penguins are always your friends.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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