A Windows guy switches to Linux

Why I chose a Linux life after being wedded to Windows for years.

by Pete
Published: Updated: 9 minutes read

You’ve probably seen or read about a Mac user switching to Windows, or a Windows user switching to Mac; well, this time it’s me switching to a Linux desktop. 

Operating System Market Share

Before I get into why I moved, it’s important to know who is using what. Okay, the numbers below are industry-specific, but they provide a glimpse into the future.

  • Statisa – as of June 2022, Windows has a market share of ~76%. Linux, has ~2.8%. Not bad considering Mac is around 15%.
  • w3schools.com – as of October 2022, Windows reigns with a combined share of 70.4% and Linux in third place again with 4.0% It’s worth noting that Linux in this report has gone backwards with Mac and Windows gaining.
  • Steam Hardware & Software Survey – Let’s be honest, the survey we really care about: Steam. Windows has a whopping 96.5% market share as of October, 2022 with OSX with 2.23% and Linux bringing up the rear with 1.28%. BUT, OSX has gone backwards by 0.13%, where Linux has gained 0.05%.
  • Stackoverflow Survey – This one surprised me. In May, 2022 – > 70k developers where surveyed on various technologies. You’ll see that most people use Windows (62.33% for personal use) then Linux based systems, with a convincing 2nd place, with 40.23% (personal use) – not bad.

Overall, Linux is making gains at the desktop – baby step by baby step.

Just for Context

O365 Web App List

I use Office 365 for home use

Now, context is everything. Personally, I primarily use O365 Business for email and files (OneDrive for Business, Sharepoint Online). I used to run a local file server with a share for my family to store documents, but I switched to SPO and never looked back. OneDrive is used for syncing pictures from various devices instead of iCloud or some other random product, and it works great— one place for everything consumable.

O365 is, in my view, a clever solution for home use because it is an integrated solution that just works.

My current workplace uses Microsoft Products for everything except collaboration

My current workplace, as well as virtually every other workplace I’ve worked in, all use Microsoft backoffice systems. This includes Exchange (or Office 365), traditional File Servers (ie: SMB Shares), OneDrive for Business, Sharepoint Online, PowerBI, Teams, Citrix, Webex, Windows, Office Desktop versions, and so on.

And another thing …

Microsoft, as previously stated, permeates both my personal and professional lives. My “content” at work is business cases, presentations, budget spreadsheets, and design documents; having a Windows SOE laptop provided by an IT Department alleviates the stress of that ecosystem.

What happens if you bring your own device? I use a Lenovo laptop with Windows 11 that I own, so I have complete control. I refuse to be bound by corporate policies, so I chose not to be on the corporate network in order to have my own way with the understanding that I support myself. Fine. But being able to access a “Microsoft” ecosystem in some way is 100% required for my workplace, and as a “power user,” I can’t use web apps for everything because their web apps have limited capabilities.

My Desktop PC

… is my daily driver when I work from home, as well as where I do all of my personal business. Everything personal, such as using my O365 subscription applications, editing videos, and managing my daily life. But I don’t need the “full” Microsoft experience to do that anymore, nor do I need expensive software packages, as I’m incorporating more and more Open-Source products into my workflow (more on that later).

I’ve been using a Windows desktop since Windows 95 and have used almost every version since then.

Some standard apps I use :

  • Microsoft has built a ton of functionality into web apps. Enough so, that I can use OWA for personal use and not need the Outlook desktop version. (I hear you GMAIL / GSUITE zealots scoff!!)
  • A lot of O365 is web native – eg, Planner, Yammer, PowerApps / PowerAutomate, Stream
  • I don’t use Teams to talk to my family – no need. I walk over and talk to them :) Therefore, teams isn’t needed on the desktop.
  • PowerBI – this is tricky as I use PowerBI for personal financial reporting and dashboards. But I can do certain things in the web version
  • OneDrive / SPO Libraries – these two integrate beautifully into Windows. This was the biggest challenge to overcome – and I have – thanks to RClone.
  • Gaming: I don’t do a lot of it – but I do play the same games over again. So this was a requirement to some extent. Most of the games I play are on Steam …. And Steam plays relatively nicely on Linux with a lot of native games (and growing) and also the Proton library making playing Windows only games a treat on Linux
  • BUT Origin, Blizzard and Epic I still need Windows for …
  • Oh, and my PC is not new – it’s >5 years old so when I upgraded from Windows 11 from 10, I noticed some performance hits. (Not to mention changes to my workflows which annoyed me – those below)
  • Discord – fortunately has both platforms covered
  • I’ve been using Windows for years and years – I know it so well I could operate it in my sleep. If I changed to something else, I want the learning curve to be minimal (or at least fun)!
  • Microsoft Edge came along and helped me move from being tied to a specific desktop platform. I was free to choose what environment I wanted to use

Was Microsoft to blame for my move?

Yes, to a point. In a good way, I reasoned. I can still access O365 from Microsoft Edge and reap the benefits of the Microsoft ecosystem. O365 provides the majority of what I pay for, albeit without the desktop versions. But, as you can see, I can do the majority of what I need to do using their native web apps. I wouldn’t have switched to Linux if Microsoft hadn’t adopted a more agnostic approach to product consumption.

Then there’s Windows 11. Big UI shift from Windows 10. And some of their UI changes and choice frustrate me – such as:

  • Not being able to ungroup taskbar icons. I get Microsoft’s idea to group them, but it adds too many clicks to my workflow
  • Bolting a new “App” UI without replacing the legacy context menus and not providing the same level of functionality to the control panel as Windows 10
  • While I really like the way Windows 11 looks over 10, but looks isn’t everything (I’m also looking at you Apple)
  • And the requirement for a baseline CPU and TPM, just tipped me over. At the time of writing, to upgrade my PC right now is not something I want to do.

Don’t get me wrong, if and when Microsoft fixes these annoyances, I’ll feel happier using Windows 11, but right now, I sought an alternative that satisfied my normal usage (as much as possible), my existing knowledge of Linux, and provided me with a base level of knowledge enough that I was able to move away from Windows 11 (i.e., the Windows Desktop Environment) for KDE.

Microsoft: I think I’ve moved on

You’ve read the title, so you already know where I’m going. KDE Plasma is where I ended up, and I love it for a variety of reasons, but that’s a topic for another day, so let’s take a break for now.

This article was written with love on Wordpress with Microsoft Edge running inside KDE Plasma.