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Ditching Windows?

Updated on: 12 May,2024 07:31 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Jaison Lewis |

Do you still need Windows to play games and use your computer for work? Let’s explore...

Ditching Windows?

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Microsoft has abandoned all the users who shifted from Windows 7 and 8 to Windows 10 as of October 2023. If anything happens to your old computer and it needs to activate Windows 10 for any reason, you cannot do this anymore. I found this the hard way when an old computer I own required a motherboard transplant, and after it was fixed, I could not activate Windows 10 anymore. A quick call to customer support revealed that Microsoft had essentially left my PC behind. I would need to buy a new Windows copy if I want the PC to function normally. That got me thinking about whether I wanted to use Windows on that computer or move on from it. Several reasons make Ubuntu attractive to me right now.

Working PC outdated
With Windows 11, Microsoft had already declared my PC outdated, though it is a perfectly viable computer that can perform AI tasks and do a fair bit of gaming. It has sufficient RAM, a decent graphics card, and an old but top-of-the-line processor. I don’t intend to upgrade this year, but I will probably build a custom PC next year. My current PC will live on as a network-attached storage (NAS) running Linux. So essentially, I have to pay for Windows 10 for less than one year of use because an OS company has decided that the PC I own is outdated. Not to mention, Ubuntu is much better at handling older, supposedly slower computers than Windows. A machine that might have crawled on Windows could see a new lease of life in Ubuntu instead of being dumped in the garbage.

Window 12 on the horizon
Windows 11 will be outdated soon as there are rumours that Microsoft will push for an AI-driven Windows 12 OS. The OS may focus heavily on AI and exclude even more PCs because of the heavy hardware requirements for AI or, worse, introducing a subscription model to enable AI features. The new OS is still in the ether, but since Windows 11 didn’t support my PC, I doubt Windows 12 will. Besides, there is a lot of pushing of content and adverts in the newer versions of Windows 10 and 11. Windows 12 will be no better.

I have been using Ubuntu as my workhorse on a laptop for almost six months now, and I can finally recommend it to non-hardcore users. Libre Office and all the hardware support make it an easy switch. Not to mention, it now has Steam and a significant number of games from the library run on Linux. The app store has also improved, allowing one-touch installation of several compatible software. Ubuntu also has substantial advantages if you want to program, use AI, or learn about computers. As mentioned, it gives new life to old hardware. I have already replaced macOS on a 2011 Macbook Pro and transformed that laptop from barely usable to a potential stand-by laptop.

Web Apps and Software
Web applications that are platform agnostic have become very popular lately, and these kinds of applications are replacing many traditionally installed programs. Even Microsoft has jumped on this, allowing users to use Word, PowerPoint, and Excel on web interfaces without needing significant resources from the client/ computer side. Canva is a great example of this, and so is Adobe Firefly. This means your work need not suffer if your computer is not cutting-edge. Open-source programs that replace the expensive Windows versions are also plenty. For example, Gimp is a pretty good replacement for Photoshop if you don’t use Content Aware; there is Scribus which is a great publishing software and Libre Office, which is a great replacement for Microsoft’s Office Suite. There is also Wine, which works wonderfully on Ubuntu and does a good job of running most Windows applications on Linux. I tried it with Irfanview and a few other staples I usually use on my Windows PC.

Microsoft has excellent support. You can quickly contact their representatives on the phone, who will solve any problems you may have. With Ubuntu, the support is a bit more DIY, you may not be able to get their staff on the phone, but there is an active community called Ask Ubuntu. Also, just searching for a specific problem in Google or ChatGPT usually results in a quick solution. This is one of the areas where I consider Windows to be superior. However, if you look at this as a learning opportunity, then there is a lot to learn by doing things yourself and figuring out how a machine ticks.

Installation and Migration
If you are installing an OS from scratch, consider both operating systems equivalent in terms of difficulty levels. Both are super simple, and the instructions on the screen are more than enough for most people to get by. However, if you are moving from Windows to Ubuntu, a fair amount of backup and preparation is required. It isn’t complicated if you back up your files regularly, but it might be challenging for someone not used to this practice to locate all the places where you can save files in Windows. Make all your backups on an external drive for ease of use; this will simplify the installation process. Once a drive is empty, you can follow the installation instructions on Ubuntu’s website, which usually involves creating an installation pen drive.

Giving Ubuntu a chance
Well, if you have an older machine like me, I think you should consider giving Ubuntu a chance. You can also test Ubuntu before installing it by making a live USB and booting it. There are a fair amount of instructions available online for this, and if you can do this step with the instructions available online, you are 100 per cent ready to install and use Ubuntu as your daily driver.

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