It’s incredible that an article can be written about what options are available when XP is dead and buried, with not a single mention of other operating systems, but that is exactly what is happening in much of the mainstream press. I’m not suggesting that the likes of computerweekly are getting backhanders from Microsoft, but their apparent ignorance of other operating systems raises questions about their presumed expertise.
The Big 4 Big 3.
Microsoft, despite the $billions spent on advertising, are not what makes your computer work. Microsoft provide 4, soon to be 3, operating systems, out of hundreds of other operating systems.
At number 5 number 4:
Through the power of advertising, there is one other operating system in the main stream public consciousness – “Mac OSX”. This is the operating system developed by Apple, based on an operating system called “Unix” but highly modified for home computing needs. Unfortunately Mac OSX is designed to run only on special hardware that is also developed and sold by Apple. These are of course “Mac” computers. Switching from XP to Mac OSX is not so hard. There are some differences that users will need to get used to, but Mac OSX is a mature, stable, user friendly operating system (at least by Microsoft standards) that will take no more getting used to than Windows 8. The main downside for many domestic and corporate users is cost. Not only does Mac OSX require special Mac hardware, but software and peripherals tend to cost more for a Mac.
And what about the rest?
So what of the others? The next most widely used operating system* is Linux.
Like Mac OSX, Linux is based on Unix. Unlike Mac OSX, Linux is available in a multitude of “flavours” called “distributions”. Linux is not only used for home computers but has a long and distinguished history in servers with over 96% of the Top 500 super computers running on Linux family operating systems. Linux is also becoming firmly established in “embedded systems”. This is where the operating system is built directly into a hardware device, such as a sat nav, mobile phone, NAS drive, media centre, washing machine, router, firewall, television, or anywhere else that embedded computer systems are used.
So why have so few people heard of Linux as a viable home computing operating system? This largely comes down to advertising. Unlike Windows and Mac OSX, most flavors of Linux for Desktop computers are free! How much do they cost? Nothing! While this is terrific news for users on a tight budget, the down side is that there are no multi-million dollar advertising campaigns.
Over the next few months I expect that Linux will become much better know, though sadly much of the “news” is likely to be disinformation from Microsoft and their fanboys, scared sh’lss as Microsoft loses its (near) monopoly on home computers.
While we cannot expect Microsoft-centric computer publications to give fair reviews of Linux (after all, it’s free so it can’t be any good can it?), users are able to try it out for themselves. “Linux Mint” is a popular Linux distribution that includes most of the software that home users will need, as standard, right out of the box, and for free. Linux Mint is available for free download, and there is a large and enthusiastic community of users (millions worldwide) should new users need help and support.
I recently read:
“Running XP in a virtual machine may work for now, but this approach is only valid while support
is still available for Windows Server 2003.”
What rubbish! Does the author think that Windows XP can only be “virtualized” on Windows Server 2003?
Virtualization can be used on many platforms, including Mac OSX and Linux.
Linux Mint provides “VirtualBox” which is an open source virtualization program. All you need to do is to run VirtualBox, then follow a simple “Set-up Wizard” to create a “virtual machine”, Then install the operating system of your choice (which can be Windows XP) from your Windows set-up disks into the virtual machine. As the virtual machine is running “behind” Linux, it immediately has some security protection as the host computer provides an effective firewall between XP and the outside world. As “genuine” Windows is running on the virtual computer, it is fully compatible with all of its old programs (though it may run a little slower). For users that currently depend on old XP pograms, virtualization provides a way to keep those programs running securely while alternative programs are found (and Linux provides alternatives to satisfy most needs, for free!)