After using these two popular operating systems for years, here is a summary of my journey thus far:
1. Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 32 bit and Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.
2. latest releases of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint.
I can say without a doubt that Microsoft Windows is a much better operating system than the major GNU/Linux distributions. It is easier to install, setup, and configure and it performs better especially on newer PC hardware. Linux is better for flexibility, customization, stability, and security especially if you embrace the Free Libre Open Source Software philosophy. It is also less compatible with the newest PC hardware that is designed for Microsoft Windows. Running VMWare Workstation 7.1 and Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat 64 bit alongside Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit shows me that Ubuntu still has a ways to go toward greater adoption among PC users worldwide because there still are a good number of software software applications that have no equivalent to their commercial Windows counterparts. I have to give up a lot of power and familiarity when running GNU/Linux; that is almost impossible given the fact that I am a graduate student pursuing a Masters of Science in IT Administration and Security degree program at New Jersey Institute of Technology and I work there as a Help Desk and Support Technician. NJIT is a Dell, Intel, and Microsoft institute and they expect their faculty, staff, and students to purchase and use compatible hardware and software applications both on and off campus. As my studies progress and my knowledge increases a little bit every day, I realize that GNU/Linux is designed more so for a minority number of faculty and students that are considered to be hobbyists. They like to tinker with operating systems design, theory, and architecture along with applications on their own time. I have seen the aforementioned major GNU/Linux distributions deployed on an enterprise level for daily production usage, but the scale is relatively small and it is still rare. Most often, I see a few desktops and more workstations or servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a part of a back end function for specific roles or functions and that is about it.
This is not to say that I will stop using the major GNU/Linux distributions. I may elect to take courses on the subject matter to exceed the requirements of my degree program while I continue to attend NJIT. However, my experience in lending help and support to two professors that use Scientific Linux Release 5 and Fedora 13 is fraught with stories about solving incompatibility problems when they try to integrate their Dell Optiplex or Precision computers with the rest of the NJIT community that runs Microsoft Windows and other Windows software applications exclusively. Headaches do not even begin to describe the myriad of problems that I am responsible for solving to provide a more contiguous and seamless computing experience for these two professors over the past several months as a requirement of my job on campus.
Most of us are familiar with the inherent problems associated with Microsoft products including Windows and Office. Security flaws, instability, expense, etc. are just some of the major problems associated. Yet, my opinion is such that Microsoft is a better software vendor than the major commercial GNU/Linux vendors combined despite these ongoing issues. Microsoft is churning out higher quality software that is more reliable and useful to meet the challenging computing needs of a vast majority of people worldwide.
I am curious as to what others think about this topic at hand. The purpose of my discussion is not to engender vitriolic replies and I am not here to rekindle war either.
Please do share your thoughts if you have the time and inclination. Thank you.