5 ways Ubuntu Linux is better than Microsoft Windows 10

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Windows 10 is a pretty good desktop operating system. Unfortunately, that OS is very far from perfect. The most glaring issue, of course, is the confusing privacy settings. Plus, let us not forget the arguably shady tactics Microsoft is employing to get users to upgrade to the operating system. While Windows 10 is more focused than its predecessor, there is still a lack of consistency, such as having a Settings Menu and separate Control Panel menu.

Meanwhile, in the land of Linux, Ubuntu hit 15.10; an evolutionary upgrade, which is a joy to use. While not perfect, the totally free Unity desktop-based Ubuntu gives Windows 10 a run for its money. Does this mean I think Linux will soon rule the desktop? Absolutely not. Windows will still be dominant in number of installs for the foreseeable future. With that said, more does not always mean better. Here are 5 ways Ubuntu bests Windows 10.

ALSO READ: How to: Install Google Chrome web browser on Ubuntu Linux (and uninstall Firefox)

1. Live Tiles stink

Live Tiles are an interesting concept -- rather than offer a static image icon for apps, Microsoft gives the option to display app data instead. While this sounds useful, in practice, it kind of stinks.

The human mind recognizes images, which trigger a memory as to what it represents. For instance, when driving, you see a red, octagon-shaped sign that says "stop" and know to hit the brakes. With Microsoft's design logic, the sign would be a red square or rectangle, and wouldn't say "stop". Instead, it would be give you stats about how many cars have stopped there and you'd have to guess that it is a stop sign.

Obviously, Microsoft's design choice is poor, as the sign needs to represent something very specific, and reaction time is important. The same can be said for application icons and productivity. A blue "e" means Internet Explorer, or Edge. A red, green and yellow circle means Chrome. A parking cone means VLC. This is how it should be; Live Tiles hurt productivity and waste time.

Microsoft's return to a traditional Start Menu makes Live Tiles even more ridiculous. Why would someone click the start button and stare at the tiles to obtain information? It makes more sense to, you know, open the damn application!

Conversely, Ubuntu sticks to traditional icons -- what a concept, right? In other words, with Unity, Canonical has not initiated change for the sake of change. There is also no silly Start Menu, which is arguably an obsolete concept. On Ubuntu, much like OS X, your favorite apps can be locked to the dock, which is on your screen at all times.

Quite frankly, this is what Microsoft should do -- increase the size of the Windows taskbar and kill the start menu altogether. Just pin file explorer, settings and "all apps" to the bar -- let the user pin other apps they want. No start menu, no live tiles. Apple had it right with OS X all along and Ubuntu is smart to emulate it with Unity.

Many wanted the traditional Start Menu back in Windows. Well, now it's here and it is sort of pointless.

READ MORE: System76 Oryx Pro is the Ubuntu Linux gaming laptop of your dreams [Review]

2. Privacy

This is the biggest Windows 10 blunder by far. Not only does the operating system phone home to Microsoft, but it can be confusing to figure out how to turn the data-siphoning off. Actually, it can be damn near impossible to turn it off entirely without the use of a third-party solution. Check out the video from Barnacules below for more information. It is long, but in-depth and informative. The fact that 35 minutes could be dedicated to the subject highlights that there is a problem.

Look, regardless of Microsoft's intent or motive, users should be asked to opt in to all of this creepy sharing -- not opt out. It can be argued that users are partly to blame for selecting "Express Settings" during the initial setup, but that is a bit dim. Not everyone understands these settings and what they mean -- Microsoft can't put the onus on its customers.

Ubuntu is not infallible in this regard either. The Linux-based operating system will send your search queries to Amazon in an attempt to show relative shopping data. The problem? If you were to search for sensitive information -- like an SSN or password in a document -- it too is sent to Amazon.

READ MORE: Did Microsoft choose to appease the Chinese government rather than protect the security of its users?

Luckily, Canonical does not try to deter users from disabling this, although I would prefer it to be opt-in. To disable it, the user only must go to privacy settings and deselect a single option. In other words, Ubuntu is far more privacy-focused than Windows 10.

3. Consistency

Windows 8 had a disaster-level user interface -- a scary mix of old-school and new-school. This terribly inconsistent environment was largely hated by consumers, making the operating systems one of Microsoft's biggest failures.

Windows 10 partly fixes this by making store apps available in a windowed mode. In other words, these apps are no longer full-screen only, and run in the same environment as legacy programs.

Sadly, this only partly fixes the problem. Windows 10 is still extremely inconsistent. The biggest offense is two destinations for settings. There is a new "Settings" menu, plus the traditional "Control Panel". It is never clear which place the user must visit -- very confusing.

Unfortunately, it does not end there. Microsoft offers two web browsers, Edge and Internet Explorer (neither can be uninstalled), and to the average user, it is not clear why. When navigating settings in traditional apps vs. store apps, the experience is very different too. Sometimes there are hamburger menus, sometimes settings are accessed by clicking on something mysterious (the user photo in the store app???) and then in legacy programs, there is the traditional "File", "Tools", "Help" etc.

With Ubuntu, there is a single settings menu, and for the most part, programs follow the design of Unity. Sometimes, like in the case with Google Chrome, you may need to set the program to use the "system title bars and borders". That aside, the entire experience of Ubuntu and Unity is cohesive and consistent. Users should rarely find themselves getting confused over jarring design principles.

4. Security

Let's face it -- Windows has been, and likely always will be, the largest malware target. Sure, you can say it is because of its popularity -- that is partly true -- but it is also due to the nature of the operating system. Microsoft has long made poor choices that has negatively impacted its operating system for home users. Internet Explorer and its horrid ActiveX technologies has put many users at risk. Software can largely be installed without a password, or even without the user's permission, leading to a total mess -- we've probably all experienced a Windows machine bogged down with malware and multiple web browser toolbars.

While Linux-based operating systems, such as Ubuntu, are not impervious to malware -- nothing is 100 percent secure -- the nature of the operating system prevents infections. Actually, with the exception of social engineering and tricking the Linux user into doing something foolish, Ubuntu is rock solid. By sticking to downloads from the Software Center, users of the OS should feel quite safe -- no antivirus, anti-spyware or CCleaner-like utilities needed. While Windows 10 is arguably safer than previous versions, it is still not touching Ubuntu in this regard.

While security can be mentioned as a benefit of most Linux-based operating systems (except maybe Android), Ubuntu is particularly safe by having many popular packages available. For the most part, users can get everything they need without hunting for .deb files on websites or adding shady repositories. The fewer times a user finds the need to stray from the Software Center, the safer they arguably are.

With Windows 10, yeah, there is now an app store, but largely, users still have to hunt for programs and driver packages on various websites. While seasoned Windows experts will know safe download sites to target, many others will be fooled into downloading malware. Hopefully Windows Defender catches it, but if not, the users' machines can be put at risk.

5. Non-aggresive updates

This is probably my favorite aspect of Ubuntu over Windows 10; Canonical does not force, nag, or trick you to upgrade your operating system. Comparatively, Microsoft has been unapologetically aggressive with getting users to upgrade to Windows 10. The problem? Many users do not have the need, nor the want, to move from Windows 7. With Ubuntu, you can stick with the operating system for as long as you want without experiencing aggressive tactics. True, Canonical will alert you to updates, but they are always optional.

If you install an LTS version of Ubuntu -- meaning Long Term Support -- you are guaranteed 5 years of support from initial release. During this time, you can be confident that you can stay on the version and receive timely updates. Canonical will release newer versions during that 5 year span, but never will you receive pop-up messages begging you to upgrade. You can upgrade if you want, but it will be optional and no-pressure.

Canonical seems to respect its users, while Microsoft's patronizing tactics make me question their customer focus.

Thoughts?

OK, folks -- am I totally off-base here? Is Windows 10 actually a better operating system than Ubuntu 15.10 with Unity? Is there a Linux distro that you think is better than Ubuntu? Sound off in the comments and tell me what you think.

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