I am going out on a limb here…really opening myself up for a flame-war. But you know – there are some defining moments that beg for such an action. That action? To question why anyone (when they KNOW the difference) would seriously choose a Windows operating system over Linux.

Let me set the stage a bit. Recently, I wrote an article for Techrepublic about the fundamental differences between Linux and Windows. As I wrote that article, I found myself constantly wondering why anyone knowing these fundamental differences would choose anything but a Linux operating system.

Recently my youngest stepdaughter brought her Windows XP machine to a screeching halt with a nasty boot sector virus. The machine was in a constant loop. Even attempting to get into Safe Mode was no help. Her machine was protected with AVG and yet the virus managed to get right on by what I have used for years to protect Windows machines. But her bout with Windows doesn’t end there. The machine, having a fresh install of XP, constantly (and randomly) restarted itself causing her to lose countless hours of Myspace tweaking and OMGSTFUing on IM with her buds. Granted she wasn’t losing databases and research or anything mission critical. But to a fourteen year old, Myspace is pretty critical. And to a stepfather who serves as IT person for the entire family (well beyond “extended” family), having a happily computing fourteen-year-old saves me plenty of nerve endings.

So I decided to run a little experiment and install Mandriva Spring 2008 on her machine. She was worried that she wouldn’t know how to use the computer or her iPod wouldn’t work. OMG! Well, after a very quick installation and next-to-no instruction, she was back to her happy place typing acronym after acronym in Pidgen. And guess what? No restarts. No crashes. No worries about viruses. In fact, I have yet to hear a peep out of her since her machine adopted Linux. This is the epitome of the average computer user I’m speaking of. A Myspace, IM, e-mail junkie who needs to write the occasional report and browse Ebay.

So after her success I was back to the question that perpetually plagues me: Why would anyone choose Windows over Linux?

  • There’s far less risk for viruses and malware.
  • It’s free.
  • Applications are free.
  • It’s far more flexible.
  • It has multiple routes for support.
  • It is improving at a far faster rate than Windows.
  • Bugs and security holes are patched much quicker.

I realize the pat answers will appear:

  • No games.
  • No Linux version of application X.

But do those really satisfy the question when the average user is not a gamer or uses an application outside of the usual fare?

In my seriously biased opinion, I think this question is answered with a simple conspiracy theory: Microsoft is doing everything it can to keep the public blind to Linux. Think about it? Remember the whole Wintel conspiracy where MS and Intel played off of each other to continue their strangle-hold monopoly in the PC industry? That era played a huge part in the blinding of consumers. Top that with the business practices MS forces upon big box shops to insure their operating system is sold on nearly every PC sold and you can see that conspiracy is more of a reality than one might think.

But I would like your opinion on the issue. After our wonderful Selena posed the question, What does Linux do that Windows can’t? your replies make me believe that you understand my frustration with this issue. So do tell me…why would anyone choose Windows over Linux?