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From the Dark Side turn you must: Alternatives to Windows 10

31 Aug 2016

There are always alternatives. This morning I was greeted with another dreaded, “Please wait while we set things up for you…” messages when I rushed to my Windows 10 laptop. Er, in reality it’s my wife’s but she allows me to use it, bless her.  I thought it was time we looked at some alternatives to Windows 10.

Alternative 1: Windows 7:  Forget about Windows 8 or it’s much vaunted offspring, 8.1. They are so bloated and memory-grabby that most corporates ignored them. Windows 7 was a different story. For me it was the best thing to come along since XP. At the time I was a teacher, part of the TELA scheme, and it didn’t go un-noticed that Windows 7 was the logical progression from XP. Most schools hung on to XP til the last moment before upgrading. Why? Well for one thing it was an easy OS to distribute using Windows Server and for another, you didn’t need a dedicated 4GB of RAM to run it.

Alternative 2: Mac OS: I’ve heard all the stories of why you shouldn’t consider Apple Computers. The nay-sayers keep on inventing new ones. For years I’d hear from former bosses that Apple was about to fold. They were strangely silent when they overtook Microsoft in terms of value. Apple is here to stay.  You can even run Office on your Apple, but many Mac users prefer Pages to Word and Numbers to Excel. Personally I hop from one to the other without any problems. When it comes to Microsoft Office, the only drawback is that Publisher and Access are not part of the Apple version.  Many Apple users run Windows, and software like Parallels enables you to switch backwards and forwards without a problem.

I’ve heard people complaining that Mac OS is difficult to navigate. What they really mean is they don’t want to learn an easier way of doing things. Use your common sense, know where your dock is, know what the Apple Menu is about, and read up on the Finder. No more navigating countless sub menus to find your system tools.

Another excuse against that Apple purchase is cost. My reply is that you get what you pay for, and Apple products compare favourably with their Windows –equipped counterparts. The low-end of the Windows-based market is full of less powerful alternatives to the latest multi-core machines.  At the higher end there’s no difference in pricing. 

Alternative 3: Linux Distros: Having cut my teeth on using Terminal in Mac OS, Linux doesn’t really scare me, but today you can avoid going into the Terminal if it really scares you.  Like Mac OS, Linux exists in a unix-based world. Modern GUI (graphical user interfaces) mean that you rarely need to venture into the shell of things, and unlike Windows and Mac OS, everything is Open Source.  Libre Office is just one Open Source alternative to Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

Linux comes in a variety of flavours, Ubuntu being the most well-known. If you’re running an older X86 32bit machine, you should look at Linux Distros like Lubuntu, LXLE and the like. Other flavours such as Linux Mint have 64 bit interfaces. Explore Linux you must or forever on the dark side will you be doomed to remain.

Other Alternatives: I haven’t mentioned the Chrome-OS alternative, but if you can live happily in the Cloud, Chrome machines are another solution. As a former teacher I’m familiar with Chrome Apps, and they have cloud-based alternatives to those indispensable Office programmes we can’t live without.

It’s reassuring to know that there are alternatives to the Windows world and some of them will cost you next to nothing if you already own the hardware. You can even reinvent that old XP machine gathering dust in your closet. Failing that, I’m sure Windows will eventually release another iteration that will mollify those of us who have had enough of those pesky tiles, unwanted bloatware and annoying interruptions to our work days.