Seven or Ten

7 or 10

7 or 10

My “old” laptop (it’s always “old” isn’t it?) is running Windows XP Pro. So since my disasterous attempts to “upgrade” to Outlook (see my previous post here), all my Microsoft buddies promised me that all my problems will be solved if I upgrade to Windows 7.

Great news!

But this time I wasn’t going to get caught again. This time I wanted solid evidence, measurable parameters, clear results, before committing to my “new” laptop.

So I purchased a nice piece of hardware (Intel Quad-core, 8400 chipset, 4Gb RAM) with 4 SATA hard drives that I could swap out easily. The strategy is to install a clean operating system on a new hard disk and then emulate my existing workload and work methods and programs. One hard disk was pre-loaded with my document set (around 350Gb, mixed stuff like old documents going back to 1998 in Lotus Smartsuite, recent Outlook PST files, or even very up-to-date Office 2007 documents). The remaining 3 disks were used – one at a time – to hold a particular operating system. Programs ranged from basic Office suites to image manipulation and PDF manipulators.

Windows 7 and Ubuntu version 10 (hence the 7 or 10 moniker) would be the two main contenders, and my control set is Windows XP SP3 with which I am very familiar.

The results were astounding. I am still in shock!

Windows XP came first and within 3 hours my system was running perfectly. Check!

I decided to try Windows 7 next. Windows is Windows, the same, right? Never was I so wrong! It was sheer hell to learn the new interface, to find things, to get used to stupid UAC messages and indexing and searching … after 3 days (two of which were over a weekend with lots of time) I could say that I had a reasonable system up and running. I am still playing “Find-My-Documents” but I now know for sure that the reason MS improved the search facility is to help them find their own documents. Oh, sharing between my XP laptop and my Windows 7 machine is still not exactly seamless, but some kind soul posted a work-around. I was tired. I also have NO confidence that I will be able to make a ghost image of my system and restore it and boot it in a few minutes – a key requirement for when my laptop gets stolen and I have to rebuild to be on-the-air in minutes after buying a new machine.

If Windows 7 was so difficult to get used to, I said to myself, Linux (Ubuntu) must be even worse. I heard the rumours. So very reluctantly (I am now days behind on my customer commitments) I put in a clean hard disk and boot my Ubuntu 10.4 (so now you know why I called it 7 or 10!) DVD. In between doing customer calls, I answer some questions, I re-boot the Ubuntu system … and everything works!

No! Impossible! It cannot be! I try to share a folder … it works! I download a file … I can find it! I try automatic updates … it works! Everything works! Restoring ghost images too … wow.

OK something must be wrong. Try printing on my HP LaserJet 4600 … it also works!

At 9pm that evening I pour myself a glass of wine and sit down to reflect while listening to some music from my Ubuntu machine. I have nothing more to do. It is simply done. My Ubuntu system has gone in effortlessly in 4 hours, including getting used to the new user interface.

  • Cost of Windows 7 including Office, excluding hardware – at least R2500 (ZAR), + 20 of my hours
  • Cost of Ubuntu including Office and all the most important tools I use – z-e-r-o -, +4 of my hours

Both new systems had a steep learning curve. Things are not the way they used to be. You click in different places, you see new terminology. Both are pretty, both struggled with MTU sizes on my iBurst connection. I cannot say the one had a particular edge over the other.

But one thing is certain: Windows 7 doesn’t have any edge over Ubuntu. I cannot give Windows 7 more than 7/10. My recommendation is crystal clear: If you have to choose to upgrade from XP to a new system, don’t waste precious money on Windows 7. Rather use that money for a better sound system, TV or pretty clothes. It will give you more value.

It just proves the old adage: The cost of an item has no relation to its value.


4 Responses to “Seven or Ten”

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  2. name witheld says:

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  3. name witheld says:

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  4. name not published says:

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