Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Microsoft

A Week with Windows 11: Through the Looking-Glass


Running Windows 11 for the past week has been a rollercoaster of a ride. Installation was simple and I was up-and-running fairly quickly. There’s lots of updates received during the week which required a lot of reboots; far more than I experience with Linux distros including rolling distros.

Day-to-day experience was better than I expected. While there are lots more builtin-software and processes running in the background under Windows 11, they didn’t massively impact on my productivity. Some reduction in productivity was, in part, inevitable changing operating system, but it helped me appreciate why moving the other way (from Windows to Linux) is also a big step.

The Antimalware Service Executable (Windows Defender’s background process of its built-in antivirus) didn’t appear to cause any problems although having lots of cores on my machine helps. Running without a built-in antivirus under Windows would, of course, be utter folly. Windows is a prime target for cybercriminals.

While there are some enhancements in security, Windows 11 falls far short of being a safe platform when compared to Linux. While fewer viruses target Linux machines, that doesn’t mean that there are none. But I stick to recommended repositories and have never run into any security issues.

In Windows 11, everything is geared up to selling you unnecessary proprietary software. For example, one of the default pinned apps is Microsoft 365, a software suite that’s overburdened with features that 99% of users never use or even know exists. You get a 1 month trial for this subscription service providing you have a credit card to activate the trial. Definitely not tempting to me; LibreOffice meets all my requirements. Even Microsoft Solitaire Collection is commercialized.

There’s a good range of open source software available for Windows. While I had less choice available, I really missed the rich ecosystem of Linux.

There’s so many things I missed without my Linux boxes. For example, while PowerShell offers an interactive and scriptable command line environment it’s a pale imitation compared to the power of a good Linux shell. The terminal is where I’m happiest. By using the terminal, automation becomes a game changer.

I ran out of time to try virtualization under Windows 11 or to investigate the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) which provides a complete Ubuntu terminal environment. Other new things to try include the ability to download and run Android apps. Maybe if you’re interested in an article about these features or anything else, let me know in the comments below.

This is my first article for LinuxLinks.

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Installation / First Impressions
Page 2 – Microsoft Store
Page 3 – Summary

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  1. Compared to Windows, Linux is clumsy. Part of the problem is that Linux is not really a GUI desktop OS. It is much better and way more powerful as a command line OS. That, however, requires a STEEP learning curve for anyone who has been used to a real GUI OS like Windows or MAC. I’ve used both systems (Windows & Linux) in various flavors for the last 20-30 years or so, and my recommendation is if you prefer an easy GUI experience, take Windows. However, if you want real program power go command line Linux.

    1. You are definitely wrong to say Linux is clumsy. That’s laughable.

      Here are the facts:

      1) Linux and Windows are difficult to use for people with zero computing knowledge.
      2) Linux is not harder to use than Windows. It is different to Windows. And people with a lot of Windows knowledge complain a lot when using Linux. That’s just because they need to learn some new things.
      3) For the vast majority of tasks, Linux users never need to go near the command line. Sure they miss out on the rich ecosystem that the command line offers, but it’s definitely not essential to master.
      4) Making a blanket statement about STEEP learning curve of Linux is risible. There are some distros that require more technical prowess (e.g. Arch Linux), but there are lots of Linux distros which have a SHALLOW learning curve.
      5) Having taught beginners Windows classes for 30 years I know that most users really only want to do basic tasks e.g. surf, shop, email etc. They are all easy to do with a user-friendly Linux distro.
      6) Linux is a real GUI OS. Linux is a real server OS. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    2. Actually I never found a Linux GUI ‘clumsy’. Linux has ‘multiple’ GUIs to choose from which is a good thing because you have a choice of what works for you. I like, for example, KDE and Cinnamon. I don’t like Gnome. Distros like Linux Mint or KUbuntu. I work with Windows at work all the time. I am sure glad there is a ‘search’ selection to type what I am looking for (ironic isn’t it) … and I’ve used Windows since the beginning when Windows was add-on to DOS and Linux wasn’t even born yet. 😉 . I’ve used Linux at home for many years now. And (for me) I much prefer the Linux experience… But I did have to find a GUI that fit my work flow which is currently met by KDE with KUbuntu 20.04 LTS….

      As for steep Learning curve. Not really (anymore). Like with Windows, you can deep dive as far as you want to go. I don’t see much difference here. Most people probably don’t get much further than an Office Suite, Browser, and Email Client for productivity at home!

  2. Keep in mind that Windows 11 will mature over time and probably a few of the nastier things will mellow out. I still don’t see any reason to switch away from Linux, though.

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