Yep, you read this right. I’m officially declaring Linux to be more usable than Windows (provided of course that there is parity in available application software). The reason I’m saying this is Linux and Ubuntu in particular has passed the litmus test of usability in my book – my wife has declared Ubuntu Linux to be more pleasurable for use than Windows XP. I can’t say that my wife is passionate about computers, she is a journalist and sees computers and by extension operating systems as just another tool that gets her job done. So there are no emotional ties to any vendor or particular implementation on her part, her approach to computers is purely utilitarian and whatever OS gives her the least amount of anguish wins at the end of the day.
My has been a long time user of Windows and believe it or not it took a little bit of convincing to move her to a Mac, which she now absolutely loves. So she’s Mac OS X on her desktop, but the laptop she’s been lugging around has been running Windows XP up until now. And like with any Windows installation that just somehow mysteriously disintegrates over time (slow boot times, annoyingly slow wake-ups from hibernation, growing suspicions that the laptop in infected with a virus, etc.) , my wife started dreading using her laptop and would simply postpone her work till she gets to the desktop just to avoid the pain and anguish of using it. I can’t blame her, I would have done the same thing. So I decided to shrink the Windows partition and make the laptop dual bootable with Ubuntu Linux.
Installation went without a single hitch and choice of software satisfied all of my wife needs for her professional work – Firefox for web browing, Thunderbird for email and calendar, OpenOffice for office application, vpnc to vpn into a Cisco based VPN network. What do you know, my wife started using the laptop again and she loves it! Using the laptop feels a fair bit more snappier than with Windows XP, there is stronger feeling of security with Linux, and sharing files between the laptop and other computers is actually easier. I don’t think my wife will want to go back to Windows any more.
So there you have it, if a fairly non-technical computer user who is purely utilitarian in its approach to operating systems finds Linux more usable that Windows, well, it is a clear win for Linux and Ubuntu in particular in my book. Very well done for the Ubuntu folks! I really hope the goodness of Linux keeps on catching on among non-techies.