DEV Community

Cover image for Linux is a bigger threat to windows than you think

Linux is a bigger threat to windows than you think

patrickweb profile image Patrick-web ・2 min read

Why so. WSL that's why. So there has been a lot of excitement in the Linux community over the release of WSL2. Most "Linuxers" believe that WSL(Windows Subsystem for Linux) will help in encouraging adamant windows users to try out Linux whilst at the comfort of their familiar WIN 10. The hope is that many people will realize the benefits and ease of use(YES it is) of Linux and eventually decide to fully dive into a full installation of Linux.

people diving into a pool

But in my opinion I think not. The way I see it windows is trying to demean Linux by presenting it like just some app you can download and install thus prompting many people to just opt using it that way. Well why would you go through the hustle of dual-booting another OS whereas you can just click some buttons and paste some commands and get it.

And its WORKING!!

See Microsoft now recognizes Linux as an actual and worthy contender in the battle of the OSs. Which other reason would Microsoft invest so many resources in WSL? While you are thinking about this question remember that Microsoft is a company, a company that defends its market share and ensures that their profit margins are always rising.

think about it gif

"But surely Linux hasn't reached the level windows is?"

Let's look at the areas that have made windows users reluctant to switch

GAMING (Linux is the Future of Gaming)

There weren't a lot of games supported on Linux in the past, but that was before the release of STEAM on Linux. I'm not going to dive into this topic that much but i'll leave with a few things.
You get waaaay better performance on Linux.
You can play tons of games on Linux, TONS I say. Through steam a lot of games are now available on Linux. Check this out

Video Editing,VFX Compositing, Photo Editing and Graphic Design

I'll quickly list out some linux alternatives to the softwares exclusive to windows

  1. Photo Editing (Photoshop Realm) > Here we have GIMP
  2. Graphic Design(Illustrator realm) > We got two of 'em: Inkscape , Gravit Designer
  3. VFX Compositing(The Kingdom of After Effects) > Nuke,Blender and Black Design Fusion
    1. Video Editing (The great Premier Pro) DaVinci Resolve,Blender and KdenLive

IF Adobe Decided to provide support for Linux, that would be the biggest blow to windows and would for sure cause an gigantic switch from windows to Linux. Just saying 😁.

The Linux market share continues to grow and not just techies are switching to Linux but also ordinary people(none techies). People of all ages are seeing the awesomeness of Linux.
old man realization

Well this is just my opinion. Tell me what you think.


Editor guide
heytimapple profile image
Tim Apple

I moved from Linux to Windows not long ago. I now prefer it. But the path I see Microsoft making is getting out of the OS game all together. O365, Azure, and Developers are their key focus. Everything else is sort of a hobby project for them currently. I can see maybe 10 years in the future them canning windows and having their software completely cross platform.

I don't think Linux is really a threat to Micrsoft at all though. Minus the fact that Microsoft contributes more to the Kernel than any other corporation. Most Linux software on the consumer side still can't hang with what's available for Mac and Windows yet also.

Mind you, I love the penguin and everything he stands for. But until Linux users as a whole decide they don't mind paying for software and pony up some $$$ they will always be behind. Most open source desktop software just doesn't have the financial backing to keep up. This of course could change. I hope it does even.

Either way I have rambled enough this morning.

explodingwalrus profile image
Carl Draper

Why did you move to Windows?

heytimapple profile image
Tim Apple

I think curiosity. WSL had come out and I wanted to see what it was like. I became surprised how comfortable I became in it. I tried the infinity photo software (which I bought). It was still more polished than Gimp, and it is #2 for Windows and Mac behind photoshop. I tended not to screw around with my OS as much (my fault). But I didn't tinker so much. I could do anything I wanted to in it, with little to no limitation. I know it's not the poster child of privacy, but I trust MS way more than I did say 10 years ago...even 5. They're developer community and resources are outstanding. Their hardware is great also. Bought myself a Surface Laptop 3, love the thing.

Mind you, I'm not bashing Linux. I have my System76 Galego with 2 drives, one currently with Ubuntu 20.04 and the other drive I use for hopping. I'm actually really excited to see elementary 6.0 when it comes out and will be running it most likely..been waiting for Dark mode with them.

But I do find myself wanting to use my Windows machine much more, on it now for that matter. All in all, I think they are both great. Just different strokes for different folks I guess.

Thread Thread
explodingwalrus profile image
Carl Draper

I mostly use Linux, but have a separate machine for Windows 10 for a handful of games. I don't like the notification system, i don't like the nagging for reboots or the reboots themselves, updates on sitting down then finishes the update on boot! On Linux updates are far less intrusive.

Thread Thread
heytimapple profile image
Tim Apple

Yeah, your right on updates. To my benefit, on Linux I sudo apt update multiple times a, especialy on arch, I would update all the time. I enjoyed it.

So though updates take much more time on Windows, at least mine are planned. I have never had a surprise update so far. When I get up in the morning and goto my machine I usually

I think the notification system on most everything blows. I survive off peaking at the system tray..mainly only for slack.

srasay2 profile image
Rich Asay

I can tell you that I need Adobe for my workflow. Part of my job is building proofs of concept and the presentation of, lots of image handling for training and documentation and the Gimps and other open source apps just don’t work as well. Everything else worked fine for my life in Linux, but with Ubuntu’s LTS I can do pretty much everything I need to across both. That and I spend much of my time connected to GCP based cloud HPC scientific research tools via CloudyCluster.

smursh profile image

People need to stop thinking like it's the 1980s or 1990s.

No one cares anymore. Microsoft is no longer the big bad evil and Linux is no longer coming to the rescue... because there is nothing from which to be rescued.

I think Microsoft has evolved past this nonsense. Some anachronistic people in the Linux crowd should grow past it too.

orkineric profile image
Eric Christenson

MS is still the big bad enemy to the Amiga crowd. They'll never surrender.

pentacular profile image

The only threat to Windows is Microsoft.

  1. Microsoft Office system: $23,588,000,000
  2. Server products and tools: $19,177,000,000
  3. Xbox: $9,395,000,000
  4. Windows PC operating system: $8,104,000,000


Windows doesn't make that Microsoft that much money.

As soon as it becomes more cost effective to use another OS, they'll switch -- and WSL looks like an exploratory move in that direction.

Just like they ditched IE for Chromium.

So I agree that WSL is an opportunity for Microsoft to ditch Windows, but it's not really a threat by any means -- their lock-in on Office gives them all the leverage they need to get people to use Windows for as long as they want.

j4ng5y profile image
Jordan Gregory

Yeah, they would make a smart move by making the office suite work nicely in Linux. They did it with SQL server and that thing runs night and day better on a Linux box.

seanmclem profile image

Rumor is that the new Windows 10X will abandon win32 support in favor of web apps and networked/streamed apps

ianwijma profile image
Ian Wijma

That would be alright. 32bit support was dropped within the Linux kernel was dropped a while back iirc.

Thread Thread
seanmclem profile image

I think here it's being used like an expression for x86

Thread Thread
thorstenhirsch profile image
Thorsten Hirsch

The linux kernel still supports 32bit. They dropped support for Intel's 386 processor in 2012. Maybe that's what came to your mind.

Thread Thread
seanmclem profile image

In this example, I believe it's referring to all x86 apps for windows

patrickweb profile image
Patrick-web Author

Now that I look at it fro that point of view I do agree on that

denisnutiu profile image
Denis Nuțiu

Sorry but you're way off if you think this is an "OS" war, that kind of thinking is immature imho. The only reason Microsoft embraced Linux is to improve developer productivity and make advancements in Microsoft Azure, which grew quite fast in the recent years.

I've been using Linux on my laptop as well as on my PC but decided to switch to Windows. It offers me more, it's way easier on my eyes and my devices can communicate hassle free.

bradtaniguchi profile image

Linux already won the war that matters long ago.

The war was what servers run on, which is primarily Linux. Microsoft knows this, and realizes that they can make a ton more money building out a cloud service, and integrating all the stuff they have to it to build an ecosystem. Using Linux servers and windows services, or anything in between.

Windows users are still important to Microsoft, but businesses running on their cloud, using their services, are where the real big money is at. Such a market is still growing, and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Its one thing to point to current profits of Azure, its another to point to potential future profits.

WSL is a step toward integrating existing windows developers and users to using their cloud. Buying github, building and supporting VSCode, and integrating WSL are all built for developers, and all sensibly integrate with Azure at some level, either directly or indirectly.

Normal windows users wont need or want to use Linux at any level and will probably go about their day without even knowing what WSL actually is. So the core userbase of windows probably wont change due to WSL what-so-ever.

A better argument could be made that ChromeOS is a bigger threat to the userbase of windows than anything related to WSL. (windows 10X anyone?) This sort of discussion can be dealt with at another time though haha

tehwardy profile image
Paul Ward

People Love to make outlandish statements like this without any real backing because "Linux" is not an OS, it's a kernel on to which there's literally 1,000's of distros built.

It's like claiming "cars are more popular than Ford" ... well duh!

As I pointed out to a friend of mine that likes to bang on about how popular PHP is and points at the number of servers running it, there's likely other reasons for what you're seeing that don't reflect in the stats. The fact that it's been proven you can get more performance from compiled languages (and that companies like Facebook don't just use PHP out of the box, they completely rebuild the compiler) and still get lumped in to the same stat pile speaks volumes to me about how "open source" is viewed in general.

If you want to compare operating systems by all means do that but you can't declare a kernel better than an OS so lets compare shall we ...

Across all Linux distros the total number of viruses / exploits known are far in excess of windows server distributions so out of the box Linux fans age old argument of "Linux is more secure" goes out the window.
Then you have to add in that every distro has it's "thing" that it's good at with some making good web servers, some good for files servers some for scientific needs, ect but none of them are the all rounder that Windows Server is and the bulk suck at the thing they don't do well.

I would rather one OS that does everything even if I have to some concessions than need to individually deploy 100 different distros which I then have to track all the security issues with, learn and manage independently and deal with patching / versioning on independently on my corporate network. I then need to weigh the cost of support contracts and maintenance in terms of my teams skill base, finding wide varied skill sets is pricey. This makes Linux a manpower and costing overhead nightmare unless I specifically get into bed with say Red Hat ... but we aren't comparing them, because if we were Red Hats adoption stats wouldn't be nearly as impressive would they.

Instead Linux fans only have to say "but the 90's happened" like that somehow brushes any argument for consistency away.

And on that point we get to the main reason I avoid Linux:
Yes it can do everything, and yes if you find the right distro it's better at the thing you want it to do.
But the ecosystem as a whole is fragmented, which results in half backed, badly polished software that you have to fight all the time or spend hours in a terminal window to manage.
This is the 21st century, a good OS just works, so well in fact you don't even know it's there.

Some common examples i've seen recently from Linux fans around me ...

  • GPU drivers are a pig.
  • Gaming in general is a badly written joke, yes most stuff will run but it's a battle to setup.
    • Each package store has it's pro's and con's
    • Every UI has hidden problems or concessions or issues.

That's just the last week or so.

bradtaniguchi profile image

Wow this is a lot, like a lot.

Most of the statements are true, but miss the core point of my post unfortunately.

"Linux" is not an OS
Linux distros the total number of viruses / exploits known are far in excess of windows server distributions
This makes Linux a manpower and costing overhead nightmare
GPU drivers are a pig.
Gaming in general is a badly written joke, yes most stuff will run but it's a battle to setup.
Each package store has it's pro's and con's
Every UI has hidden problems or concessions or issues.

The core point of my post, was the first line.

Linux already won the war that matters long ago.

This isn't an opinion, its a fact.
I wasn't pointing to all the amazing advantages of Linux (the name I'll call all distributions that include the Linux kernel, which most people do in fact also call Linux, for simplicity sake) over Windows, or how Linux was X, Y, Z. I only pointed out the fact the current cloud runs on Linux, and been primarily Linux for some time now, and I don't see that changing.

Even Azure primarily runs on Linux ref
This isn't because Linux is inherently safer, provides a better place to game, isn't fragmented, or is inherently easy to use. Its because primarily of key 1 reason.

Its Open Source

I believe "reach" is the key deciding factor of what gets "popular". JavaScript is popular and growing, not because its a good language (its not), but because its the language of the web.

PS. I think your barking up the wrong tree. I'm a ChromeOS fan, but as I mentioned earlier, this can be a story for another time ;D

paranoidnemo profile image
Andrea Calzavacca

Sadly the world around windows software on Linux doesn't stop at the classic 'office&adobe' suite. I, as system integrator, not only use my workstation for development purpose but also for CAD drawings and control system configuration. And literally EVERYTHING only works on windows and doesn't have any Linux counterparts. So the only way is that windows totally rebase itself over Linux or a lot of people will not switch to Linux anyway. (Btw my home laptop is powered by Linux from 2008 and I would love to use it on work as well, just not suitable right now)

pdesjardins90 profile image
Philippe Desjardins

I think they're actually in a multi-year project of rebasing windows over Linux, that's the only move that would truly make sense for them.

lkw23002894 profile image

This is definitely what they're doing. They have already replaced Edge's internals with Chromium & Webkit, not only cheaper to maintain but also more robust.

So why not replace DOS with something cheaper to maintain and more robust?

Less cost, more profit.

dipakbh profile image

I honestly think Microsoft would be happy for Linux to take on the desktop, it's moving to the realm of cost center for the business. Money is made in enterprise products, office and azure, I don't even remember the last time I paid for a windows license, even apple doesn't make money off the OS for over a decade.

So yeah, go linux! - it's kinda showing up to the party suuuuuper late. I just hope windowing is still a thing by the time it's ready for mainstream use.

thefern profile image
Fernando B 🚀

Linux will need tons of work to be mainstream in desktop use. Still king in the server world though.

lkw23002894 profile image

Maybe so, but desktop usage itself is in decline, and Linux underpins many smartphone and tablet devices, it's already mainstream there, it's a matter of time before it converges because companies prefer to maintain their products for fewer platforms.

rolfstreefkerk profile image
Rolf Streefkerk

linux is hardly a threat, for obvious reasons they have incorporated WSL into Windows 10 and it will soon have GUI support. Microsoft is going APPS on all platforms approach with their Azure cloud infrastructure. Windows is just a tool to deliver their software on and Linux is a large part of that tooling, hence it's now integrated.
Windows is integrated in all their hardware offerings except for mobile phones so they have control over their game content business with PC and Xbox running on the same base OS. This also applies to their cloud business with hypervisors likely to run on their own operating systems.

mindplay profile image
Rasmus Schultz

The main reason I don't think Linux is any threat to Windows, and the main reason why I'm personally super grateful for WSL2, is this: the desktop.

Windows is a terrible OS for the server. Linux, on the other hand, is, and always has been, terrible on the desktop.

Every year or so, for more than a decade now, I've installed some Linux distro, in the hopes that "this would be it". My most recent Linux is Ubuntu, about 4 months back, and I will grant that it's become a hugely better desktop OS in recent years - Gnome, for one, has been making massive strides in terms of usability, appearance, stability and features.

Prior to that, I tried Zorin, which is how I became aware of the Gnome plugins and settings that makes the desktop feel really familiar to a life-long Windows or Mac user, and this is really great!

Unfortunately, it's still too unstable, too unpredictable as a daily workhorse. Weird bugs and quirks, daily episodes of freezing or crashing or being unable to reconnect my monitor or some other device after taking my laptop to another room for a meeting. Just not good enough, sorry.

This is one area where I'm afraid Linux will never fully get there. It's partially driver issues - because vendors don't care to support Linux, I guess. Instead of supported, official drives, too frequently, you get "some dude's personal attempt" at handrolling a driver. Similarly, the overall desktop experience is not a concerted team effort, but a combobulation of individual authors contributing plugins that weren't always designed or intended to work together.

Another thing that didn't hold me back personally, but is likely to stop a lot of more casual desktop users in their tracks, is the difficulty of installing programs and figuring out how to launch them. On Windows or Mac, you basically double click an icon, you're guided through setup, and the program appears in the menu or your desktop, often by choice. If the program you want is even available in one of the "software centers" on Linux, it's typically either a bunch of technical messages whizzing by (very disconcerting to casual users) or a silent install with no options and no clear indication of what just happened - often not even with a menu or desktop shortcut being added and no clear way to proceed.

The latter is something I can personally get around, but most casual users cannot. That probably includes many developers, who started out on Windows or Mac and kept a strong focus on software development rather than servers and operating systems.

I'm not convinced these are problems the Linux community can actually fix. It requires resources, and a team engineering effort, but who can mobilize that when everything has to free and open source? And yes, I know there are paid Linux variants, but these mostly seem to be cobbled together from the same Gnome plugins, homebrew drivers and software you can already find and configure yourself, and it doesn't amount to a much better experience, from what I've seen.

I would love to be wrong about all this, by the way. I hope someday I will be. And I will keep trying another Linux every year or so. As said, we've definitely come a long way towards something really useful. I just think there's still a long way to go, and can't really see how we're going to get past the issues that seem to require both industry support (drivers) and a concerted, organized (funded) team effort to refine the overall desktop experience. I'll keep checking back though. 🙂

Meanwhile, I'm extremely happy to be able to work with WSL2 and definitely don't see this as any kind of threat to Linux, quite the contrary.

What would be a threat to Linux, is Windows moving to an actual Linux kernel and becoming a full blown Linux desktop with support for proprietary Windows drivers. Could happen?? I'd be surprised, but who knows. 😏

tehwardy profile image
Paul Ward

Unfortunately, it's still too unstable, too unpredictable as a daily workhorse. Weird bugs and quirks, daily episodes of freezing or crashing or being unable ...

This is precisely what makes Linux a bad server too.
I don't think windows will ever die ... but we could see it become a Linux distro in the long term.

Linux fanbois will then have a dilemma about weather love to or hate Linux since that would represent the merging of the thing they love with the thing they hate lol.

seanmclem profile image

I just recently installed Ubuntu on a separate partition on my windows machine and have been booting it primarily ever since. But I did encounter a show-stopping bug in the first hour that wouldn't let me unlock the lockscreen. I was eventually able to fix it, but bugs like that are embarrassing and major blockers for general Linux adoption by former Windows users.

acook8 profile image
Alex Cook

I think you're right but for the wrong reasons. Linux is becoming more viable for people not because of the native apps but because of the web. As web apps become more and more powerful it doesn't matter what operating system you're running. And because of Azure Microsoft is still well positioned for this in the coming years

ianwijma profile image
Ian Wijma

I been using Linux for the past 5 years professionally. And personally for 7. But always had a windows desktop for gaming. Because I want to have a no hassle experience after work. But recently I decided to ditch windows there too. And it's truly amazing how amazing most games work. Especially with tools like proton and more and more native support for games.

Games work amazing, run amazing and more AAA games work with Linux. It's a great time to be a Linux user.

nikhilpaleti profile image

What's my opinion on this?
OS war is nothing but a stupidity. Only the fools think switching OSes is a great thing. No working professional would switch OSes just to feel cool or something, unless there's a workplace demand or something.
Banks and gov. Organizations still using Windows XP speaks volumes about this statement.
Linux can never replace Windows for homes, considering Linux is playing catch-up at best and Linux for gaming is also a hard thing, because Dev's keep crying to make Console games even for Windows, developing for an OS wiith less than 10% wouldn't quite be economical or sensible

panafsoft profile image

I think Windows OS will end up like VScode. Microsoft will adapt all the good things about Linux Distros and probably open source Windows but under strict control like VScode. As and when they do that, they will take over the OS world, and they should! With the at rate at which internet connectivity is growing, all spears of industrial computing will soon be cloud based and I should say OSs will also go cloud based in the not too distant future!

When that happened, you need an OS that is sever friendly and secure. The combination of Windows security and the Linux flexibility will be perfect.

I will love to see Windows abandon some few UI features like the rectangular scroll bars and adapt the round scroll bars but with scroll buttons like ChromeOS has. The very rectangular nature of windows makes it less appealing.

Should Windows go completely Linux Kennel and abandoned their rectangular UI features, people will have no reason but stay and even some MacOS users will find a new home.

I genuinely think Windows OS will swallow all the big and good things about Linux. I can't wait for that to happen!

koraylinux profile image
Koray Biçer

May be WSL is the beginning of the change of windows core system. In future they could impelement more features in to the Windows and expand WSL universe. I use arch linux in home but Windows 10 in university. If Microsoft change the windows as i like it, i would change my system to win as well.

stephenmurcott profile image

I have been using Linux as my main OS since 2001. It's really helped me as a DevOps working with Cloud and software development. I run Windows in a VM for those edge case scenarios. I like to be in control of my hardware and am really interested in information security so might not be a typical user. I also help to formalize processes for Linux users in enterprize environments because of the developers who also prefer to use Linux.

ixchel_8330 profile image

I think the only reason why people don't move to Linux is because lack of knowledge how to use commands, sudo's... And I can completely understand this. If one day Linux become more automated a lot of people will grab Linux. I meet few users who tried Linux, happy with performance but when they need to use terminal, commands, searching for apps etc...they just give up.

sagarkarn profile image
Sagar karn

I am using windows only for Adobe premiere pro.

thompsonson profile image
Matt Thompson

There is room for both in the world and having them in one system is awesome. It is not demeaning, it'll grow and make Linux on servers and IoT devices so much better. 😃

goshrow profile image

I have gathered that while Linux may endanger Windows, it is not pulling down Microsoft much. They have already shifted out of the only - OS business.

rafaelaybar profile image
Rafael Aybar Segura

Well, the main threat is Windows 10 bugs and lack of optimization.

hdenizd profile image

i wish that one day, windows loses his monopoly and the PC becomes what it should became years before, a "Personal Computer".