For the past year Microsoft has offered free upgrades to their latest operating system, Windows 10. This was mainly due to the fact that Windows 8 and 8.1 were poorly received, especially when compared to Windows 7. Unfortunately the free upgrade period has passed, so if you want to give Windows 10 a try, you’ll have to dig into your wallet to do it. If your faith in the tech giant has waned over the years, you’re not alone. The latest versions of Windows have all been heavily criticized, proving that they have been a far cry from the world dominance of Windows XP.
If you’re one of the many people turned off by the latest iterations of Windows, the jump to Linux might look very appealing. Unfortunately, a new OS often comes with a steep learning curve. Windows, with the exception of the fumble that was 8, has more or less looked and behaved the same for years. Having to re-learn everything can be a daunting task, one that could pressure you into staying with Windows forever.
However, you do have options. There are many different distributions of Linux out there, with some aiming to replicate the look and feel of Windows. The goal of this is to make transitioning relatively painless. With Linux boasting improved hardware support, long term stability and a wider range of software applications, there is no better time to try it out!
1. Zorin OS
The team behind Zorin have one major goal: provide Windows users with a smooth and easy transition to Linux. Screenshots of the Zorin OS in action is proof that Zorin takes major design cues from Microsoft. With a Zorin-branded Start button, a familiar Start menu and tiled windows inside the taskbar, Windows users will feel right at home.
While Zorin has the familiar Windows 7-esque desktop by default, the OS has a customizable user interface that they’ve dubbed the “look changer.” This allows users to change the desktop to look and behave like Windows 7, XP or GNOME in the free version, while the premium version includes Windows 2000, Unity and OS X.
Robolinux is an interesting distro that is gunning for Windows users in a big way. Most folks are aware that Linux users can run Windows programs in a virtual machine like WINE. If you’re migrating to Linux from Windows and want to bring all of your programs, files and settings with you, there wasn’t an easy option. Cue Robolinux.
Robolinux includes Stealth VM, a virtual machine that they claim can run any Windows program without any lag. In addition, Robolinux has a tool that allows you to clone your entire Windows C drive. This means that you can migrate all of your pre-existing programs and data. While Robolinux is free, the developer is asking for donations for the cloning tool.
A number of Linux distros seek to emulate the look and feel of Windows with varying results, but ChaletOS hits the nail on the head. Featuring a very familiar look that will make Windows users feel right at home, ChaletOS boasts a Start button and desktop icons.
The beautiful ChaletOS interface looks and behaves so much like Windows, that at first glance most will assume it actually is Windows. The only issue with ChaletOS is that it does not come bundled with an Office suite. Most Linux distros come with LibreOffice which offers basic functionality like word processing, spreadsheet and slideshow capabilities. While one can install their Office suite of choice, the decision to omit one is curious.
4. Linux Mint
One of the most popular distros around, Linux Mint is stable and has a large community of users behind it. As such, users have access to lots of troubleshooting documentation, something Windows users will greatly appreciate.
Since Linux Mint is based off of Ubuntu, it is privy to the same security updates and software options. Mint also comes in four different editions: Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce and KDE. All of these graphical desktops feature a similar layout to Windows, with a familiar task bar and start menu. In short, Linux Mint offers the benefits of Ubuntu while maintaining a familiar user experience.
One of the best things about Linux is that you can try each operating system before you install. Simply burn a Live CD or USB and configure your machine to boot from it. If you’ve been on the fence about Windows, try one of these out.
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