Linux vs. Windows Vista: Is There a Contest?

Lora Bentley

We know we've said it before, but the answer to any question most often depends on whom you ask. Whether the bad press surrounding Windows Vista's anti-piracy program will hurt Microsoft's share of the OS market in favor of Linux is no exception.


On one side of the equation is the Linux enthusiast who says that Vista's anti-piracy (a.k.a. "spyware") controversy will be the best thing that ever happened to Linux.


According to what we've seen, Microsoft will essentially disable a system that the anti-piracy program determines is running unauthorized software if the user does not pay the requisite licensing fees. What if, as concerns the iTWire writer, the program doesn't differentiate between reinstalls (which do not constitute piracy) and installation of software on a machine for which the software was not licensed (which is piracy)?


The idea that a reinstall -- following a hard drive crash, for instance -- would be intentionally reported as piracy is goofy, we know. But we've also seen coverage of a survey -- admittedly an unscientific one -- finding that as many as 42 percent of the installations flagged as pirated are actually not.


Will the users inaccurately deemed software pirates pay double the fees just to continue using the software? No, the iTWire writer says. They'll have no choice but to look at alternatives, including Linux.


On the other side of the equation are those like ZDNet's Paul Murphy. In a recent blog post he posits that Microsoft is so convinced that Linux poses no threat to Vista's share of the market that it can, and probably will, get away with huge inconveniences like the anti-piracy program. Users are so indoctrinated to use Microsoft products that they will put up with a lot to continue doing so, he says.


So who's right? Only time will tell. And if the reports of even more Vista release delays are accurate, it may be a while.

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Oct 11, 2006 11:27 AM Adam Adam  says:
I think you foregot Apple's OSX ..   Anyway, If there is enough bad press about Vista, im sure Users will ask questions about alternatives Such as OSX or Ubuntu. But I really don't think people will be switching to Vista any time soon just to Upgrade Windows XP, unless one is sick of mass virus infections... But anyway If you are upgrading XP to anything but Vista, UBUNTU Linux is a Great for the first time user or any Desktop OS user! And its FREE If you are upgrading your Computer System, The Alternative is APPLE, you can run OSX, Windows, and Linux. Adam P.    Reply
Oct 12, 2006 1:18 AM m.masseo m.masseo  says:
There really is no comparison, Windows will win. It will maintain the market share it has. XP users will upgrade to Vista, for Free.Microsoft is really blowing smoke with the Anti-Piracy jargon. At the last moment, they will change their ideas and say "See, we are flexible, we've made adjustments to please the users.", then seem less stringent.Also, If for some reason Microsoft really cared about piracy, they would not have ignored my calls to them, and multiple reports to (the business software alliance) about fairly large violations I recognized.Microsoft, although "not responsible for any damages in any circumstance", as pretty much statet in every agreement, would have hell to pay from the workd if they disabled the pirated version of Windows. The consequences would be disasterous. Many businesses would cease to operate.I dare microsoft to use their talent to really press forward with this smoke and mirror show.Microsoft is for the most part a free(as in cost) operating system for 99% of the users I know.One person downloads Windows XP Pro off the internet, and passes it on.I so not know 1 person out of my approx. 20 friends that have ever purchased Microsoft Windows XP pro.I have been a desktop Linux user for 8 years at home, and 7 years at work.Personally, I like Linux much better. Not from a licensing point (because as I stated, Windows is free of charge to 99% of the world... and they don't care). But I like Linux becuase of the eternal customization of it. The look and feel of KDE and Gnome suit me very well, I really love having so much power on my desktop to perform any server task I wish, easily. And do everything I have to do all day, and every day. Reply
Oct 12, 2006 2:27 AM aussiebear aussiebear  says:
There's no contest. Windows will win. Simply because MS has made it such that it would be too expensive (whether time or money) for people to leave Windows, and seek alternatives. This is delibrate and by design.Microsoft ensures its dominance with partners like Dell, etc, etc. They have deals with them in regards to lowering volume licensing costs. Such conditions involve things like: (1) Those "recommendation labels".*insert company name here* recommends Windows XP (or some other version of Windows) clearly recommends Windows XP.HP recommends Windows XP.Levono recommends Windows XP.etc, etc(2) Never advertise an alternative OSs or as an option for a typical desktop PC or notebook.Have you ever seen any popular/large computer company actively promote Linux when they also sell Windows in their desktop systems?Why? If people start to hear of alternatives, why would they bother with Windows?(3) Apply those bloody "Windows stickers" to all boxes they sell.Part of the "advertising bombardment" campaign. Just keep hammering to the no-clue PC user that their only choice is Windows...And they'll be forever dependent on it.Basically, Microsoft has companies like Dell, Lenovo, HP, etc by the balls, when it comes OSs on their desktops being sold. If they don't follow MS's rules, MS will punish them with higher license fees and such.In essence, Linux and open-source have become the revolution to rally behind, to strike back at a tyrant that is Microsoft.Why do you think IBM, HP, etc are supporting and promoting Linux and open-source?MS is maintaining its dominance by force. (Like any dictator). Open-source, Apple, etc are gaining marketshare by innovation and actually providing something worthwhile. As well as giving the people the choice as to what they want...Not cornering people to use their solutions. (Like what MS has done in the last 10 yrs).Anyone who's actually looked at what MS has done, knows that MS really only makes money by bundling Windows with pre-built systems and MS Office. Everything else that isn't directly related to their dominance on the PC; like their Xbox, etc aren't making money at all. (Its a known fact that they're making a loss with the Xbox360)And no, they can't continually throw money out like this forever. Sooner or later, their shareholders will react. (devaluing MS stock).MS solutions aren't popular because they make quality or innovative products. Its because they trap people to using "their" standards and such. In this scenario, there is no competition.People use Windows not because they like it. But because they have to. Given the real choice (as in being informed of all the options at their disposal), do you think anyone would pick Windows? (Besides games and specific apps that only work on Windows). Reply
Oct 12, 2006 4:51 AM Chuck West Chuck West  says:
As far as we are concerned Linux has already won. We use it everday, for everything, and have done so for years. It is far easier to start today too. We help people do it everyday in our Linux users group at and the Ubuntu documentation (for example) is outstanding. Machines run so much better with Linux and it's all free. Forgert about reinstalls too; it's rarely if ever needed. People that use Linux know what I say is true. If you don't use a current Linux distribution then you are not in possesion of all the facts and therefore, by definition, you have no idea what you are talking about. Keep that in mind as you comment here and remember Linux next time you have to reformat, reinstall, reconfigure and then patch your XP box. Reply
Oct 12, 2006 7:04 AM Chuck Chuck  says:
I have 6 computers in my house: one for each teen/college kid, my wife and I. Over the last few years I've averaged one Windows reinstall every three to six months from fatal OS crashes, usually on one of my kid's computers, since they visit popular teen web sites which seem to serve primarily as a spyware injection points. Each time, I've had to expend copious time and effort to reacquire updates, repurchase antivirus and anti-spyware programs, and restore files from backups. Since last year, I've quit reinstalling Windows, instead reprovisioning crashed computers with Linux. This has worked out so well that I recently upgraded my own IBM T41 laptop, which had no critical problems, to Ubuntu 6.06. This increased my usable disk space, speeded up my computer noticably, and, with the addition of Crossover Office, I've am absolutely functional and interopreable with all of my business needs. Windows is out of here at my house. Reply
Oct 12, 2006 8:37 AM Mariano Mariano  says:
I am fairly new to Linux. Nevertheless, I am impressed by its performance. As a matter of fact, I currently double boot Linux and Windows XP tablet edition. Once again, I have fallen in love with Linux. However, I have not been able to let go of Windows for one reason, namely Onenote and drivers. I think that Linux can really start competing with Windows once there is more driver support in Linux distributions. Personally, I would love to see Linux grow into the mainstream. Unfortunately, I do not see the previous taking place any time soon. But, one can indeed dream. I would personally love to leave windows xp, but I will be unable to do so until I find a Onenote alternative, and a way to undervolt my cpu via linux. Until then, I will continue to double boot. L Reply
Oct 12, 2006 8:40 AM john brown john brown  says:
Over time Microsoft is doomed.  Maybe not today or tomorrow - but it is inevitable. The reason is that software made by the people and for the people tends to do stuff the people actually want. Example: MythTV - which if you aren't familiar - is a lot like media center stuff found on windows. Records your TV programs for you - and music, and movies, etc...Except that MythTV does something windows never will - it allows you to automatically skip commercials.Maybe you didn't register that last statement. MythTV allows you to automatically SKIP THE F*^$ING  COMMERCIALS!Once you've actually seen MythTV in action - you just don't see anything of real value in windows media center.   Reply
Oct 12, 2006 9:00 AM ue ue  says:
The competition is not between Linux and Vista. It's between XP and Vista. At least for now. To business, Vista offers few advantages over XP. Invoices will not be created or paid faster with Vista than with XP. Sales letters will not sell better if they are produced on Vista and so on. If you are a gamer things may be different, then you may feel that the better graphics of Vista is worth the price. The problem is that most housholds doesn't have all that much money to spend on software, so the uptake may be slow even here, especially if Microsofts antipiracy features works as advertised.As most people are satisfied with what they allready got, Linux will probably not enter the competition until XP gets end of lifed. By then, will have to compete with a totally different Linux than what we see today. KDE 4 will be out, Gnome will be several generations more mature, more cross platform packages will be available and we should not forget MacOS-X either. Reply
Oct 12, 2006 9:14 AM Henry Zhu Henry Zhu  says:
Look at the lessen from SONY's anti-piracy software will see lot of more people getting furious and frustrated with MS Windows OS. No Vista can save it. It makes things worse. Windows crash, crash, crash, and then with Vista coming, it will crash your system purposely and intentionally again. It is simply because you can not always prove you are using an authorized copy. Customers, most of them, will be screwed up. ...Then, more people will, suddenly, discover Linux and a whole world of wonderful open source free software to be able to replace everything from MS.  MS is digging its own tomb. It will lose sooner or later. The future is Open Source.I am happy to see the mess Vista will definitely show us. Cheers,    Reply
Oct 12, 2006 9:28 AM werner werner  says:
ref: no. 4 ss.There dont exist 'piracy' of Windows.Because each computer in fact is selled with Windows installed, thus, with a life-time license for that computer - independent on details like reinstallation, lost of the install cd, owner change of the computer etc.In opposite, Microsoft want to bill 2 x the license fee, when they claim 'piracy' or 'unauthorized copies'.When Linux is not actually able to grow, then because of the lack of rigorousity by the developers of the distros and progs to repair all bugs and remove all inconsequencies/problems. Here, really is necessary a progress.To my opinion, each program should receive, according to objective criterions, an avaliation of its funcionality and easy-usability, and the distros should enter in concurence for the highest avaliation-number of what below they dont include longer programs. Then the programmers would be forced not to abandon but to finish their progs until a certain quality level. Reply
Oct 12, 2006 9:58 AM phil phil  says:
Vista will flood into the market preinstalled on new computers. Xp will die out when the computers it currently runs on die. And so it goes. Linux will continue to get a ride on the old Xp computer that the Vista computer replaces.  People that don't like the dark side of Microsoft will experiment with Linux. Many will find it to their liking and not go mack to Windows. The clueless masses will remain clueless and become good at new disasters vista will bring. Reply
Oct 12, 2006 11:42 AM Govind Govind  says:
Every new version of windows is like alcohol. We know it is going to bring us lot of problem and will be suffering from several serious problem atleast till service pack 2, still we all will buy or accept Vista for following reasons:1. Hey have you seen the new vista, I got it yesterday with my new pc/laptop. definitely better than xp but f... this and fu... that issues. You are scrwed buddy you already bought it.. not keep looking for upodates 10 times a day.2. My colleagues and clients all use special features and macros of office. Thos docs won't play in linux or other cross platform office. Lets not take chance.3. All the corporates using windows desktops will automatically upograde to vista sooner or later.The only way linux could beat MS is by number of installations in developing countries, small business, educational institutions and non profit organizations completing converting to linux. Reply
Oct 12, 2006 11:55 AM Dave Dave  says:
m.masseoIf 99% of people have never paid for windows why is Microsoft the largest company in the world? When you bought your computer, you also bought windows.  Reply
Oct 13, 2006 3:07 AM m.masseo m.masseo  says:
[quote comment="49"]m.masseoIf 99% of people have never paid for windows why is Microsoft the largest company in the world? When you bought your computer, you also bought windows. [/quote] I never purchased Windows!!!... I copied someones on my first machine, then I switched to Linux. You actually purchase nothing when you buy a computer with Windows Installed. Read the License agreement, You own NOTHING..As microsoft states in the EULA, "The software is licensed not sold." All Microsoft probably needs is approx 2% of buyers out there purchasing the operating sytem. So I'll say 98%, thanks for pointing this out.  I Reply
Oct 13, 2006 3:45 AM sobani sobani  says:
Actually, I have understood that the OLPC project predicts it will bring out (several) hundred million laptops ultimately. Reply
Oct 13, 2006 4:38 AM egbert egbert  says:
Windows or Linux? That's not a question for me. It was decided 10 years ago by Microsoft.In 1996 I needed to buy a new server, as the old NT machine had to be replaced sooner or later. To help me make up my mind what to use, I looked at a number of web sites, asked for the opinion of people, and also went to the Microsoft Website to see what they have to offer.  I had not decided on anything yet.I don't exactly remember what happened, but it is probable that M$ presented a form and asked to enter my name and address. Which I did. A few days later I received a communication by M$ threatening me with legal action for using pirated software. (For the record: The software was pre-installed on the laptop, and was not pirated)I acted on this thread immediately. Within 10 minutes I had logged into the Internet and ordered a copy of Red Hat. Here I had my server, and I have never looked back.This was also the beginning of a very exciting adventure. I was able to follow  the development of Linux and related software, and how it improved with each new release over the years. Nowadays, there is no Windows system anywhere near me, both at home and in the office.   Reply
Oct 13, 2006 6:27 AM Stomfi Stomfi  says:
The ones rich enough to upgrade to new hardware will get Vista built in.The rest will stay with XP or Win2K.What Linux to needs to succeed is a new inexpensive platform. Maybe the upcoming PS3 will get it into home market.Virtualisation on servers could be the mechanism for leveraging Linux in the corporate sector, as businesses can retain and reuse older hardware as Linux terminals for the majority of business tasks. The addition of Crossover Office addresses many other needs. This strategy will also save quite a significant amount on the electricity bill.Many vertical market or inhouse developed applications use a database backend like Oracle or DB2. As companies like RedHat and Novell increase their online training services, more and more businesses will have the Linux expertise to port their frontend Windows interfaces.Linux is at the 15 year cusp, Windows acheived this with the 1975 XEROX WIMP like Win 95. Because of its monolithic architecture, to the users, all the subsequent Windows versions over the last 10 years have generally been added eye candy and bundled applications. Linux has the advantage of having a traditional OS, seperate from the Windowing system, so that developers can make radical changes to the GUI without breaking the OS, as can be seen with products like Novell's SLAB and XGL/Compiz.The next 10 year for Linux with hardware like the Cell chip could easily see the holy grail of user interfaces, the all talking, all seeing, motion, context, mood sensing AI interface. One wonders whether the monolithic Windows architecture will be able to acheive all the innovations that will come out of the Linux community in the next 10 years, without needing comparitivly bigger hardware requirements.Lastly, although Windows has acheived a monopoly on human interface desktop machinery, the majority of all the other pieces of the computer are still being run by *Nix OSes. Successful global computing requires a universal OS. The increasing appearance of standard Linux in anything from embedded devices to supercomputers guarentees its eventual dominace in the human interface. Reply
Oct 13, 2006 6:43 AM P Johnston P Johnston  says:
Both will win! Lets assume windows has 95% of the market and with windows vista they upset a few users, that will migrate to a diffrent OS. Windows will still have a big share of the market and linux users will also increase. With vista losing market share I don't expect this to be any higher than 10% thus MS keeping market share and increased profits from the features in vista. This would of all been planned for within a risk assessment. Reply
Oct 13, 2006 6:59 AM Shamar Shamar  says:
 Linux is doomed to win.  Hardware is nearly "free" today. A 1Gb RAM laptop can be priced around 600$ and dropping every day (with no preinstaled OS). Installing a Windows licence can with easy, duplicate the cost. In one or two years it will be easy to see laptops priced 300-400$ and the windows licence would mean tripiclating/cuadruplicating costs. Never mind about ROI, or software quality, a housewife reaching the store to buy a new computer for her children will see a Linux laptop priced 300$ and next to it a Windows laptop price 900$ with similiar features. You don't need to be smart to guess what's going to happen. Linux bussiness model, based on services and quality assurance provided by its open-source (many-eyes watching the code), allows for much cheaper prices, while Microsoft  (or Mac) bussiness model, based on marketing + licences, requires lot of money to keep consumers feeling the need to renew its software. Microsoft is over-dimensioned, and that's been shown in the stock trade, with its actions dropping year after year for the last 5 years. Big "movements" in favor of linux are already present. Sony PlayStation 3 will work with Linux.  Nokia (70% of mobil market) use linux for its 770.   Even most important could be the interest by many internet providers to give "for free" integrated linux terminals to browse the internet, since that will help them to favor its own content over the competence at  low cost. French telco Cegetel EasyNeuf offering being the most notable example. ( Reply
Oct 13, 2006 8:52 AM Doug Loss Doug Loss  says:
If you want similar functionality to MS Onenote, take a look at If you want an exact replacement, you don't understand what Linux is about. :) Reply
Oct 13, 2006 12:01 PM Devel Devel  says:
@Shamar:In your enumeration,  you  forgot to mention OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) which will bring many MILLIONS new users to Linux (at least 3 countries already signed up with more than 1 million OLPC devices each). Reply
Oct 15, 2006 12:51 PM juve juve  says:
need more info about operating system,linux n windows vista.thank you. Reply
Oct 17, 2006 11:58 AM Kyaw Than Kyaw Than  says:
As a unix sys. admin. and Oracle DBA, I am a heavy unix and linux user, both at Office and at home. I still cannot get away from MS because I need software like Visio for SAN storage / server diagrams, network diagrams, etc. (There is just too much impedance when under pressure, to do things quickly with tools like kivio, etc.) Ay home, I am beginning to move away from MS and am using Open SuSE with Open Office.However, all this takes time, so it will come as no surprise to me that Vista will continue to to be the overwhelming desktop standard. Although my latest two PCs at home are Linux, the other 4 (used by other members of the household) are still Windows.My conclusion - although Linux will continue to make inroads, Microsoft will still be the standard desktop for a LONG while to come. Reply
Nov 6, 2006 3:26 AM Tom Tom  says:
There is this fine line that is walked between empowerment and burden with all applications, operating systems included.  Windows Vista places a lot more decisions in the hands of the average user.  This type of empowerment has long been the boast (and also the bane) of Linux.  Some users demand such control over their environment.  But is a burden for a huge number users in the consumer market who really want most of the choices made for them, simply because they don't care that much about how their system works, but just that it works with as little sweat from their foreheads as possible.For all the simplicity and convenience of a Linux distro like Ubuntu, it cannot be labelled "for dummies" just yet (despite the Linux zealots claiming it to be no more difficult than MS Windows).  This is still the biggest obstacle that is preventing the widespread adoption of Linux in the consumer marketplace.  Interestingly, Linux has been making nice progress in the corporate marketplace (i.e. Dell's adoption of Linux).  That could be a key inroad to inreased adoption among consumer PC's.  Something else working in Linux's favor is that the "average user" is becoming more technically savvy every year.  This will increase the Linux adoption rate over time, further accelerated by increasingly "friendly" distros like Ubuntu.Microsoft Windows will remain the dominant OS for many years to come.  The brand is so strong, so entrenched, its not going away anytime soon.  Still, Linux and MacOS have matured rapidly into viable alternatives for an increasing demographic.  While it isn't a close race (yet), the beneciaries of competition are the consumers.  I think we are just starting to see that...     Reply
Jan 31, 2007 5:26 AM Jack Jack  says:
It is funny how people bag Microsoft as a tyrant and dictator. People say apple is so much better. Try downloading a song from itunes and using on any MP3 player besides an iPod. Oh look Gates is giving most of his money away. Oh look Jobs will probably end up in JAIL for illegal Options grants. At two different companies. One company maybe a coincidence. Two simple crook. I would rather pay for less of a product. Even if it is. As long as it is going to a man. Not a true Communist like Steve Jobs. Please. Reply

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