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It's Not Magic, It's Work!

16 Apr 2009

The difference between Linux and Windows

In a recent blog Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols states that Linux and Windows are Different. He is quite correct that Microsoft software comes out with a very slow release cycle and that bug fixes come out at regular monthly intervals often after they are being exploited in the wild. In comparison open source software is released often and with a much higher frequency.

I think it's a bogus argument in the contex of Steven's blog, however he has made an observation about the frequency of change which is interesting.

The up-shot is that a typical Linux user will have a continuous upgrade or improvement cycle. Bug fixes and security patches will be made available quickly often before exploits are available. Depending on the software distribution this continuous improvement could actually be quite annoying and painful, but for most it's painless and routine.

A windows user installs Windows and it stays the same for long periods of time punctuated with infrequent but usually painful upgrades. It is not uncommon for a machine to be physically disposed of rather than be upgraded. In the event of a major security flaw being discovered, Windows users are often left exposed for days or weeks before Microsoft are able to respond.

Basically upgrades and changes are painful. Microsoft aim to reduce the pain by making changes infrequently, Linux distros aim to make the upgrade painless so the frequency is no longer a problem. That is a difference.

The long period of relative stability with Windows XP has clearly caused pain for Microsoft with a lot of resistance from customers, unwilling to upgrade to the clearly superior Windows Vista.