Microsoft Windows has changed the way we work forever. It is by far the most popular computer operating system and is so popular that there are many people who are unaware that they have a choice. Windows has some very serious faults. For a start the cost, secondly you need to replace it every few years.Being the most popular operating system, it is also the one most often targeted by malware. So you also need to buy extra security software. Security updates are only released by Microsoft once a month.
The previous version of Windows is Vista, which was been plagued with problems from day one. The situation was so bad Microsoft had to extend the life of Windows XP, the previous version. Luckily the current version, Windows 7 is a stable.
Linux is very different to Windows. For a start there are several different versions, both commercial and free. Linux is also open source and this is the one of the greatest advantages that Linux has over Windows (and Apple). Open source does not necessarily mean free , it means that the source code is published so that anybody may take and use it. Maybe they improve on it and publish their own version. In fact one of the most popular and in my opinion the best Linux is Ubuntu, which was built using source code from Debian, another version of Linux.
Linux has come a long way and is definitely more user friendly that it was originally. Whilst there are still versions better suited to geeks, Suse, Madriva, Fedora Core and Ubuntu are very user friendly and make the change from windows relativity painless. Suse produce a commerial versions but also have free version that is community maintained. Red Hat, another commercial version are responsible for a free version - Fedora Core. And Mark Shuttleworths company produce Ubuntu which is is also free.
Another important feature of Linux is the software. Each distribution of Linux comes bundled with software. It usually includes a full office suite such as Open Office, something you are expected to purchase separately in Windows. Fair enough, Windows does come with a fair amount of software, but not with a office suite. There is also a great deal of free, open source software that can be downloaded and used with your Linux distro.
By doing things differently, Linux is more secure that Windows. You sign at the beginning of a session, just as you would with Windows. But here is the difference comes in, you can not make any administrative changes or load any new software without signing on as the System Administrator. In windows any software you download is ready to run, not so in Linux, it first needs to be complied, a simple process but again only the system administrator can do it.
Just that one step, not allowing software to install without permission from the system administrator gives you a great deal of protection not available in windows.
Linux normally does not ship with a firewall or anti virus. Whilst this may seem arrogant, they have good reason to do this. Microsoft became the biggest and most powerful computer operating system. The internet and computers are perfect tools for anarchists. They targeted Microsoft mainly because of its "in your face" marketing and attitude. Microsoft releases patches maybe once a month and not when a problem is found. The Linux community release a patch for download the minute a problem is found.