Windows, Linux, and Unix: Which is best for you?


Many people confuse Linux with Unix and Windows with Microsoft. But they’re not the same thing and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, here are some key differences listed by :

  • Windows is a closed system that doesn’t support 3rd party programs; 
  • Linux is an open source system that allows third-party programs to be installed 
  • Unix’s command line interface leads to shorter lines of code than in Windows 
  • Unix is more secure than Windows 

Each operating system has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to security, compatibility, performance, etc. There’s no single “best” software for you it really depends on your desired outcome(s). There are some glaring negatives to cross operating system choices, though.

Computer, Laptop, Windows 10, Hybrid

Control over the hardware

Windows has a lot of control over the hardware so it’s more difficult for software developers to support multiple computers 

Windows has a lot of control over what programs can be installed on a computer so it’s more difficult for an average person to install and use different programs 

The “end user” is more familiar with Windows than Unix or Linux, which leads to fewer usability issues 

Many programmers are less familiar with Unix or Linux than they are with Microsoft (e.g., .NET) programming languages; Linux integration tools are less developed; this means that their experience may be less diverse and therefore less reliable.

How much do the advantages of Windows outweigh its many disadvantages? Let’s compare it to Unix in order to see how they stack up.


Pros :  Easy-to-use interface  User level control  Syntactically similar to Microsoft programming languages  Automated testing with compilers  Low cost for support and upgrades  Larger install base for additional applications 

Cons :  Vendor lock-in is an issue if you want to move to another vendor’s hardware or software. A user has control over system hardware but little control over system software. Programs are tightly controlled, with fewer different programs supported by most companies. Greater chance of incompatibility.  It’s ubiquitous – you’ll find most people are familiar with the Windows interface


Pros :  Security features are built into the operating system itself  Software is less controlled by vendors, with more control over what software can be installed  Uses open source software which allows for anyone to edit the code and fix bugs, making it highly adaptable  Customizable through 3rd party programs 

Cons :   Learning curve is higher than Windows, due to a different syntax (syntax may not be as familiar as Windows) Lengthy lines of code due to command line interface Cannot run many programs that were originally designed for Windows.  Fewer hardware manufacturers support Unix than Windows.  

In the end, it really comes down to what you want from your computer. If she’s running Windows now, chances are she’s settled in to how Microsoft wants you to use their software – and that’s fine if everything is working as she wants. But depending on the type of work she does, there may be a better solution for her. For example, if her company runs a lot of Unix-based applications, then a Windows-based machine would need to connect via a remote desktop or terminal emulation program – which can cause issues regarding screen resolution and other things that could affect productivity.

Unix commands

Another example is if she’s working with large files. The Unix command line interface allows you to do this more efficiently than the Windows graphical interface. With the Windows GUI, it’s possible to move the cursor to the end of a long file, press Ctrl+A (to select all) and then hit Delete; but that takes longer than doing it with Unix commands. When trying to view or edit data in long files, one often ends up pressing Page Down or Page Up one line at a time using the arrow keys – which wastes time re-orienting your place in the file.

There are also different ways of implementing standard operating system features like data backup, screen resolution, networking setup and much more. If she has used Windows in the past, it may be easier to move to one of the different Unix distributions. If you’re not sure about her needs, then browsing through a few of them and making a quick comparison is a great start.

Objective decision

It’s more difficult to make an objective decision because we’re comparing two different operating systems that serve different ends and have completely different cultures. There are some positives and negatives to both — but the key point is that you want to stay away from “Windows is better” arguments (which aren’t really arguments at all) and merely focus on what your intentions are with regard to the type of work she’s doing or where her company does business.

If you can find a distribution that’s well suited for her work and will benefit from the tools that a Unix operating system has to offer, then the decision becomes much easier. That way, she doesn’t have to spend time learning a new operating system or dealing with hardware problems.

In the end, there’s no correct answer to this question because it’s going to depend on many factors. If she’s running Windows, ask if she sees herself doing more work on a Unix-based or Windows-based machine. If it looks like her company is going towards Linux, ask whether he has any experience with other operating systems and let him make the final decision. In other words…


Pros :  Freedom to install, upgrade, and remove software. Control over which software can be installed. Control over what system configuration information is available (e.g., CPU speed, amount of RAM) Control over where software is stored (e.g., on the file system) Control over which programs can be installed Control over how systems are configured (e.g., set CPU speed, voltages, etc.) 

Cons :  Most people are familiar with Microsoft Windows so many software problems are reported as problems with Linux. Software development is less extensive than for Windows. Kernel is under-documented due to the open source nature of Linux. Few hardware manufacturers support Linux.


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