Currently, slightly less than half of all desktop computers are running Windows XP. According to Microsoft’s product life schedule, XP is slated to lose extended support status (i.e. no more security updates) in August 2014. If you haven’t yet thought about your next OS you might want to start now so it won’t be a last-minute decision a few years from now. Besides, why wait to upgrade when you can start benefiting from more modern and more secure OS now?
If you’re on XP, the most logical next step is Windows 7. While I don’t use Windows 7 (yet), everyone I know who does seems to be happy with it. The general consensus is that Windows 7 is everything that Vista should have been. If you want to stay in the Microsoft camp this is where you need to be and you might as well consider going there sooner rather than later!
However, I’m sure that some of you have thought that a Mac would be nice a change of pace. To be sure, Macs are not yet targeted by hackers and viruses to the degree that Windows computers are. More importantly for the hip younger crowd, they have the Apple “cool factor” going for them too. Again, I don’t have a Mac, but I can definitely see the appeal! The only problem is that you’ve likely got a substantial investment in both hardware and software so it’s not an easy decision to give up on that just to switch to the Mac camp no matter how cool they might be.
Then, there’s the third option: Linux! Despite what you may have heard, Linux is no longer just for tech users. As you will see in this article:
Linux is everywhere. If you’ve got an Android phone or an Amazon e-reader you’re already happily using a variety of Linux, so why be afraid of using it on your desktop? While I am a tech user, I would not have recommended Linux as an OS for the average user even just five years ago. Fortunately, Linux has come a long way since then and many of the barriers that would have stymied new users have been eliminated. It is now often easier to set up Linux on a new computer than it is Windows.
I switched nearly all my business machines to Ubuntu Linux back in 2007. One of the keys to making the switch to Linux was the key technology known as virtualization (see my earlier post on Virtual Machines). By converting my Windows OS machines to virtual machines I was able to keep all Windows functionality while running Linux as the host OS. The combination of Linux and VMWare has allowed me to improve efficiency, reliability, and security while at the same time preserving my legacy software and hardware investment.
Since migrating my business, I’ve also setup my wife, my mother, and my in-laws with computers running Ubuntu Linux. Amazingly, my non-power user family barely skipped a beat in the switch from Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux. True, they needed someone with tech skills to help them setup the computer, but that would have been the case were they installing Windows from scratch too. On the other hand, once the Linux system was configured they became Linux users quite easily and have rarely need extra help from me since. Indeed, I would estimate that I help them less with Linux than I did with Windows.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of using Linux as your next OS, I urge you to take a look at Ubuntu. It’s very popular, well supported, easy to use, and best of all FREE!