Although this debate has been going on for a while, even more users are asking this question now, primarily because of the growing popularity of netbooks. Netbooks, unlike most other laptops give the option of choosing between Windows XP or Linux. Some netbooks come with one or the other by default, while others give you the option to choose, such as the Acer Aspire One. Most of the other hardware specs (hard drive, RAM, processor speeds, etc) are pretty self explanatory, but the choice of software is not so evident. So, in this article, we’ll talk about a couple of the different aspects when choosing an operating system, and help you get a better idea of what fits you best.
This is probably the first question that people come to when choosing. The simple fact of the matter is that, in most cases (and by that I mean most of the tests performed), Windows XP is almost twice as fast as Linux. This is primarily in the start up of the laptop, as well as, the opening of new programs. So if you plan on having several applications that you need to open, and you don’t want to compromise your laptop speed dramatically, then Windows XP is probably the best choice for you. The other thing to consider is that though faster is better, if you don’t need speed, you may want to go with Linux. If you plan to only run the internet, e-mail, and open the occasional document, then Linux would probably be best. Now, I bet you’re wondering, why would I ever go with the slower one if there isn’t a big difference in price of the initial laptop? Well, keep reading and you’ll find out.
This is more of an issue with businessman, students, and people who have established networks. To start, some networks only are compatible with Windows XP, especially if there needs to be security software/login software installed. So, if you do plan to get a netbook and are using it in other places than your own home network, double check whether you have to have one or the other. And yes, there are usually always workarounds to get Linux to work on a Windows-only network, but usually this is a pain. The other thing you want to do is double check that you don’t have any software programs that only work with Windows. Linux is becoming more and more compatible with almost all Windows software, and has programs mimicking programs like the Microsoft Office Suite. A lot of higher end games are not compatible on Linux either, but if you’re a hardcore gamer, I doubt you’ll be looking at a netbook for gaming. So, you may have the option available, or may be able to find a work around, but double check to be sure.
As you take a look at netbooks, there’s not a huge difference in cost of Windows XP netbooks and Linux netbooks, all things considered. It's typically $50 or so extra for a Windows XP netbook than a Linux version. Usually the Windows XP versions come with more memory, a faster processor, and sometimes more hard drive space, and are therefore more expensive. This is because people expect users using Windows XP to want higher performance, as discussed above. So, where does cost become an issue? As you start putting software on your laptop, then the costs start adding up. For Linux users, almost all the software is free, so having programs that run Word documents, Excel documents, etc, won’t cost you an extra penny. But for Windows users, they must purchase the Microsoft suite, plus pay for almost any other software they need, which adds up to a couple hundred dollars at least. So, to save some money, at least in the long run, go with the Linux netbooks.
So, the bottom line, if you want to save money and don’t need higher performance, go with Linux; if performance is something you desire, and you don’t mind paying a bit extra, go with Windows XP. Now that you know the differences and can find which operating system suits you, check out our other articles on netbooks.