Linux vs Windows 8 (Part 3)

6/6/2013 6:01:48 PM


How do the bundled programs and software centers compare?

Truth be told, no one buys Windows for its default apps. However, Windows 8 breaks this tradition. The new OS does include several apps created from scratch for its new interface. Unfortunately, most of them are half-baked, despite going through multiple test releases.

But perhaps the biggest issue we have with Microsoft’s way of doing things is that they require you to first sign up for a free Microsoft Live account, which you can create while installing Windows. However, if you log in to Windows using an offline account, you won’t be able to use any of the new Metro apps, or the app store until you register with Microsoft Live.

Surprisingly, the version of Windows Media Player that ships in Windows 8 doesn’t include support for playing DVDs, because the OS is designed for devices which do not include optical disc drives. For the same reasons, you won’t find Windows Media Centre in Windows 8. But you can get the software, along with support for DVD playback, by paying for the Media Center Pack add-on.

Windows 8 apps have built-in ads!

Windows 8 apps have built-in ads!

Of course, you won’t find this sort of limitation on Ubuntu 12.10, or any other mainstream desktop distro for that matter. The distros respect the licensing terms of the various codes, and you might have to download a codec from the repos to play an exotic format, but it only involves a click or two and there’s no need to reach for your wallet.

As we mentioned earlier, Windows 8 does include the necessary apps to let you communicate with your friends and colleagues. Instead of Outlook Express you get the Mail, Messaging and Calendar apps, and there’s also the People app that collates contacts from different online accounts.

However, some of these apps have glaring limitations. Don’t think of them as replacements for real productivity apps. In fact, they are best compared with similar apps on an Android tablet. But unlike Android, Windows 8 is meant for regular computers as well, and that’s where these apps come up short.

For instance, if you share a news story from the News app, it’ll be sent as an email via the Mail app, but the recipient can’t follow the link included in the message on any platform besides Windows 8.

As a desktop app, Mail has perhaps the worst UI design. If you launch it without any accounts, all you get is a blank white screen with no icons, buttons or pointers on how to set it up. Furthermore, when composing a new message, it takes over the entire screen, so you can’t view other messages. Even the web-based Gmail service knows better.

Similarly, the other apps rarely go past the most basic features. For example, the Messaging app works only with Microsoft’s own Messenger service and Facebook’s instant messaging, leaving out popular services such as Google Talk.

Contrast this with Ubuntu 12.10, which includes the best open source software, including the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email client, LibreOffice productivity suite, Empathy for instant messaging, Gwibber for micro-blogging, the Shotwell photo manager, Rhythmbox and Totem for playing media, and more!

Online application stores

The new Windows backup feature only backs up files in the Windows libraries

The new Windows backup feature only backs up files in the Windows libraries

Beyond the bundled programs, both Ubuntu 12.10 and Windows 8 have app stores to help users find the additional software they need.

Although Linux users have been pulling and installing software from online repositories since time immemorial, the concept of a Software Center, that showcases apps and lets users rate and review them, is fairly new. Still, Ubuntu and its Software Center has had a headstart of more than three years over Windows 8, and it shows.

With the Ubuntu Software Center, users can install thousands of free and open source apps, drivers and other system libraries, as well as paid commercial apps, including, for example, Wine or CodeWeaver’s CrossOver app, that lets you run Windows apps on top of Linux.

On the other hand, the Windows Store lists just apps and not drivers. It has both free and paid apps, but several developers, including major ones such as Google, have announced that they won’t be developing any apps for Windows 8.

Another key difference between the two app stores involves security. Ubuntu 12.10 uses GPG keys to verify the authenticity of the packages. Apps in the Windows Store are screen and allowed only as per Microsoft’s discretion.

Ubuntu gives you the option to install multimedia codecs during installation

Ubuntu gives you the option to install multimedia codecs during installation

Another area where Windows 8 fails miserably, when compared with Ubuntu 12.10, is integration. Some of the new Windows 8 showcase apps aren’t integrated well with the Desktop. For example, clicking a live tile doesn’t take you directly to the content being shown at that moment by the live tile.

There’s also no integration between the Mail app and the desktop. So while the Windows file manager does have the option to email a selected file, it doesn’t work with the Messaging app. To send a file from the Windows 8 Desktop, you need a desktop mail app, and Windows 8 doesn’t ship with one.

On Ubuntu 12.10, you can not only email files directly from the Nautilus file manager, you can also pack them in several compressed archive formats for easier transport.

Additionally, you can send them to your IM contacts, or to an attached USB or network drive, burn them to a CD or DVD, or to connected Bluetooth devices.

Talking of action on files, if you’ve set up the built-in Deja Dup backup tool, you can also revert individual files to a previous backed-up version. Deja Dup is inarguably the easiest backup tool on the planet. In Ubuntu, it will also back up files to the Ubuntu One online storage service. Then there’s Dash’s ability to suggest apps, which was very popular with our previous group of testers when we compared Ubuntu with Windows 8, prior to their release, back in LXF159. In Ubuntu 12.10, it has been enhanced so that users can now install apps directly from the Dash itself, saving them from making a trip to the Ubuntu Software Center.

If you right-click on a suggested app, you get some information about the app, along with a button to install it. Or, if you want to select optional components, such as plugins, just left-click on the app, which takes you to the Software Center.

Web services as apps

The Ubuntu Software Center houses thousands of free apps

The Ubuntu Software Center houses thousands of free apps

With Ubuntu 12.10, the distro is integrating web apps with the rest of the Desktop. And, no, we’re not talking about just placing icons in the Launcher that do little more than open a dedicated web browser window with a web app.

The idea with web apps is that despite the fact that they run in a web browser, they’ll be integrated into the various components of Ubuntu’s Unity desktop, such as the Launcher, the notification system, the Dash and the HUD.

For example, the Google Docs web can is fully integrated with the HUD. So you can navigate the Google Docs menu using the HUD, just like you would on an offline app, such as LibreOffice Writer. Then there’s the web app, which integrates into the volume menu in the notification area, just like Rhythmbox, enabling you to change tracks and jump to a new station.

Currently, there are more than 30 websites and services that can be integrated as web apps. When you visit a website that has a web app, the browser will prompt you to add the website as an application. From then on, you can launch it from the Dash, or pin it to the Launcher, just like any other app.

Some web apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail, integrate with the messaging menu, and will keep track of any new activity on the services.

Then there are news sites, such as CNN and BBC, that deliver new headlines as desktop notifications.

PS4 game trailer XBox One game trailer
WiiU game trailer 3ds game trailer
Top 10 Video Game
-   Minecraft Mods - MAD PACK #10 'NETHER DOOM!' with Vikkstar & Pete (Minecraft Mod - Mad Pack 2)
-   Minecraft Mods - MAD PACK #9 'KING SLIME!' with Vikkstar & Pete (Minecraft Mod - Mad Pack 2)
-   Minecraft Mods - MAD PACK #2 'LAVA LOBBERS!' with Vikkstar & Pete (Minecraft Mod - Mad Pack 2)
-   Minecraft Mods - MAD PACK #3 'OBSIDIAN LONGSWORD!' with Vikkstar & Pete (Minecraft Mod - Mad Pack 2)
-   Total War: Warhammer [PC] Demigryph Trailer
-   Minecraft | MINIONS MOVIE MOD! (Despicable Me, Minions Movie)
-   Minecraft | Crazy Craft 3.0 - Ep 3! "TITANS ATTACK"
-   Minecraft | Crazy Craft 3.0 - Ep 2! "THIEVING FROM THE CRAZIES"
-   Minecraft | MORPH HIDE AND SEEK - Minions Despicable Me Mod
-   Minecraft | Dream Craft - Star Wars Modded Survival Ep 92 "IS JOE DEAD?!"
-   Minecraft | Dream Craft - Star Wars Modded Survival Ep 93 "JEDI STRIKE BACK"
-   Minecraft | Dream Craft - Star Wars Modded Survival Ep 94 "TATOOINE PLANET DESTRUCTION"
-   Minecraft | Dream Craft - Star Wars Modded Survival Ep 95 "TATOOINE CAPTIVES"
-   Hitman [PS4/XOne/PC] Alpha Gameplay Trailer
-   Satellite Reign [PC] Release Date Trailer
Game of War | Kate Upton Commercial