March 28, 2014

Why Arguing That Windows is Better Than Linux Makes You Look Silly

Bryan-LundukeIt seems as though you can't throw a rock on the internet without hitting an article which argues for the superiority of Windows over Linux. With titles like “Five reasons I'd rather run Windows 8 than Linux”, these articles are a dime a dozen.

Truth be told, I've written my fair share of “Why X is better than Y” articles over the years (almost always arguing in favor of the superiority of Linux-based systems). They're fun to write. They're easy to write. And, perhaps most important, they're somewhat cathartic to write. Have a hard week where you've been forced to use a platform you don't particularly like? Write an article about how it's worse than one you do like. It's good for the soul.

Are these sorts of articles a wee bit pointless? Sure. It's really just preaching to the choir, so to speak. But they're fun to read. They're almost like the tech-nerd equivalent of a gossip rag. I read 'em. You read 'em. We all read 'em (even if we pretend like we don't). But I have noticed something rather interesting about these sorts of articles...

Every article I have read, in recent memory, arguing that “Windows is better than Linux” makes the author sound a little bit, for lack of a better word, like a big giant goober. A raging, loopy goober. The points that writers of these articles use to back up their hypotheses tend to be just plain silly and poorly thought out. They're really scraping the bottom of the barrel, looking for any possible evidence – no matter how ridiculous – to prove the superiority of Windows over Linux.

[“Hey, Bryan! I've got an idea. Why don't you try insulting a bunch of talented technology journalists, some of whom are your friends, by calling them 'raging, loopy goobers'?” Great idea, personage I just created for the sole purpose of asking myself a hypothetical question. Consider it done!]

Here. Let me show you what I'm talking about. What follows is the very first reason given, for why Windows is superior, in a recent ZDNet article by David Gewirtz:

1. “Reason #1: As soon as you mention one distro, all the fanboys go insane claiming you've made the wrong choice.”

You didn't just hallucinate.

The #1 reason to not use Linux, stated by a technology writer for both ZDNet and CNN, is that other people use Linux also. Some of those people have opinions. And you, with your obvious inability to exist within a universe with other people in it, will simply collapse into a fetal position and give up using computers altogether.

Bottom of the barrel reasoning. Heck. Not even in the barrel. In a box next to the barrel with the words “just some fish or something” scribbled on the top with a sharpie. But let's jump past that relatively catastrophic level of goobery-ness and tackle some of the more reasonable (at first glance) points that are made in many of these sorts of articles.

2. “Windows has more software.”

One of the common mantras in making the case against Linux, particularly on the Desktop, is that Windows simply has more software available than Linux. In fact, I don't even think you can use the phrase “Windows is better than Linux” in an article without trotting out this tired old argument.

This is usually backed up by an example of an important piece of software that doesn't run on Linux, such as Adobe Photoshop.

There's just one problem with that argument: It's not at all true. Want to run Adobe Photoshop (or the vast majority of software often used to make this argument)... you can. With Wine.

Sure, you could make the argument that not all Windows software runs perfectly using Wine on Linux. Then again... I could make that same argument about Windows software not always running well on Windows itself. Which would be a far more damning point to make. And, because I'm not the type to kick a guy when he's down, I'm just going to move on...

3. “Windows has more commercial support.”

This one gets pulled out fairly often.

The idea here is that people and companies want professional support – the ability to pick up the phone and call someone when they have a problem. This is, obviously, super critical. Especially for big businesses who have mission-critical work happening on their computers.

When this gets written, I feel like the writer wasn't even trying. This argument is immediately disproven by a quick Google search for “linux enterprise support” and checking out the number of options on that first page of results alone. Multiple high profile companies offering various support options for both Linux servers and desktops.

In other words, “Lots and lots of commercial support for Linux”.

4. “Windows is pre-installed.”

Ah, now here's a valid point. At least it would be, if installing operating systems were difficult at this point in human history. It also assumes nobody has ever had to re-install Windows which, I am pretty sure, is a task that has been done at least 50 times by every man, woman and child on planet Earth (on average).

Also... the logic here is “You already have this thing... so don't worry about that other thing that might be better. Also buy some new versions of the thing you have. But, seriously. Don't think about other, better things.”

5. “Windows is easier to use.”

The core of the argument here usually revolves around how it is impossible to use Linux without spending all day hunched over the terminal and typing archaic commands into Emacs. Which is both completely wrong (Linux desktop distros tend to be astoundingly easy to use nowadays), and also a wee bit insulting for the reader.

If a person is reading a technology article comparing two different operating systems... my guess is they don't have a panic attack the moment they need to type two words on their keyboard. I know, call me crazy.

I could go on and on with this but I think the point has been made. It sort of feels like all of these “X Reasons Windows is Better than Linux” articles are regurgitated versions of similar articles written in 1998. And, in the end, simply make the writers look uninformed about Linux.

Also goobery. It makes them look a bit goobery.