Ubuntu vs. Windows 8: An Operating System Face-Off: Page 2

It's much easier to find a system with Windows 8 pre-installed, but Ubuntu offers a better interface and better apps.
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As for music management in the cloud, both SkyDrive and UbuntuOne offer music players that will stream your music to you remotely. But only Ubuntu offers you a built-in music store from which to purchase new music from and the ability to store it in their cloud. In the end, which cloud solution is better depends on your skill level and what functionality you're looking for. For the tech savvy, Ubuntu wins. For newcomers to technology, Windows does since everything is so tightly integrated for ease of use.

The final application that needs to be compared is the calendar. Under Windows 8, the calendar application is able to sync with Outlook and it also provides a live tile for instant viewing. Jumping back over to Ubuntu, the calendar provided is basically non-existent. Ever since Ubuntu dropped integration with the Evolution personal information manager, Ubuntu has lacked a proper calendar. And while it's quite doable to use Sunbird and various Mozilla supported extensions to make two-way syncing to Google calendar possible, Ubuntu really drops the ball with its lack of proper calendar support. Windows wins this one, simply because users aren't left without the use of a decent calendar experience. Thankfully there are installable calendars available under Ubuntu to compensate. It’s just unfortunate that they’re not integrated by default.

User Interface

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of any desktop operating system is how the the target user perceives the interface. Despite a rocky start, Ubuntu's Unity desktop has grown on new and existing Linux enthusiasts alike. And while there is a little bit of a learning curve for new users, it's worth noting that at no time is the desktop "hidden" from you.

Unfortunately, Windows isn't able to make this claim. With the release of Windows 8, users are presented with different tiles, from which you're supposed to find your way to the desktop. Worse, Windows depends entirely too much on a blend of confusing menus, and bouncing your cursor from left to right to locate places you've already been.

The simple navigation under Unity, while not for everyone, isn't that confusing. Because the dash overlays your desktop, you'll never find yourself getting lost. The same can't be said of Windows 8.

With Ubuntu's Unity, I'm able to search for a specific application or document, or I can easily browse for it if I prefer. In Windows 8, locating anything on the OS can be a complete mess.

Having used both desktops extensively, I think there is no question that Ubuntu wins this match. The Windows 8 tile layout and hidden menus may look interesting, but they're without question the most non-user-friendly user interface I've ever used on a desktop operating system.

Software Discovery

Finding new software is important when it comes to trying a new operating system. It can help us be productive by providing new tools to get things done. Both Ubuntu and Windows offer software stores from which we can find new software titles at our leisure. But this is where the similarities end.

The Microsoft app store is available as a tile via Windows 8. There are other ways to get to the store, but this is the most straightforward. Once you've logged in, you're then free to browse around and locate software that you think might meet your needs.

The same applies to the Ubuntu Software Center, except that it offers something you're not likely to find in the Microsoft store for Windows–apps worth using. While Ubuntu gets its fair share of grief for various aspects of the software center, it's surreal how poor the quality is with the apps found in the Windows app store.

Both Ubuntu and Windows have room for improvement in the quality of apps offered in their app stores, but I expected a lot more from Windows as they've spent insane amounts of money reaching out to developers.

So who comes out on top? Ubuntu, because of the fact that they've spent much less money to accomplish an app selection that, in my opinion, surpasses the quality of software found in the Windows app store.

Closing Thoughts

When doing a software comparison of Ubuntu vs. Windows, there's going to be a lot of ground to cover. The purpose of this article wasn't to offer an extensive side-by-side comparison. Instead, I wanted to tap into specific areas that I felt could affect anyone looking to try either of these platforms.

During my work on this project, I discovered something amazing. If you're able to put the need for legacy software titles behind you, there's nothing stopping you from moving over to Ubuntu full-time. The biggest challenge I see for Ubuntu is getting it onto more PCs in brick-and-mortar stores. Windows wins in terms of availability and functionality, whereas I'm confident that someone who's willing to customize their Ubuntu install will find it to be superior to Windows overall.

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Tags: open source, operating system, Cloud, Microsoft, Ubuntu, apps, Windows 8, Office, app store, OS, interface

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