Ubuntu vs Windows 8: Which OS is on Top?

ubuntuvswindows8When Windows 8 was released last year, the initial impression on consumers left much to be desired. The missing Start button, for instance, had many people looking for an alternative solution that worked more like they were accustomed to with traditional versions of Windows.

Fortunately, Ubuntu (a Canonical product) has stepped up its game in recent years to become an alternative OS solution that can complete, and possibly even beat out, the venerable Windows OS. In this article, key features of Windows 8 and Ubuntu 13.10 are compared to determine which OS has shown the most improvement in 2013. Learn Microsoft Windows 8 explains many of the new features that make Windows 8 an excellent choice for many users.


Just like in the Ubuntu vs Windows 7 article, price is a key consideration for any software purchase. Ubuntu always has been, and remains, completely free for residential use. This is a significant cost savings over Windows 8, which at the time of this writing costs $199.99 and the reason why many consumers are looking to less expensive options when it comes time to upgrade.

The cost of additional software is also a concern. In the Windows environment, practically every software program costs money. Even Microsoft Office is $100. In Ubuntu, software is free. LibreOffice, Linux’s version of Microsoft Office, is almost 100% compatible with Microsoft branded products.

Touchscreen Support

One of the best features of Windows 8 is that the new OS has captured the mobile device world by offering seamless integration with hundreds of different Windows 8 powered hardware configurations. Everything from mobile phones to tablets to laptop computers have the Windows 8 OS preinstalled.

Microsoft has also incorporated touch screen technology into Windows 8. Every device works equally well using the touch screen or standard input devices. Unfortunately, Ubuntu has yet to implement touch screen support across a range of devices. Ubuntu Touch is currently in beta but is only designed for smartphones and other small ARM-equipped devices.

There are a couple of PCs coming from the manufacturer with Ubuntu installed, but they are few and far between.

In Ubuntu’s defense, Microsoft has had a lot longer to perfect its market presence. The release of an experimental touch-enabled OS is a promising step toward a device-independent platform capable of competing directly with Windows 8.

Adding New Applications

As discussed in the Ubuntu vs Windows 7 article, one glaring deficiency of Windows is the lack of a centralized location when users can find and download new applications. Ubuntu has been offering this feature since 2009. Known as the Software Center, Ubuntu users are able to find new applications, download and install them using an easy GUI interface.

For Windows 8, Microsoft finally added a similar feature known as the Windows Store. This makes it much easier for Microsoft customers to locate and use more interactive applications than in previous versions of Windows. That said, the infancy of the Windows Store is readily apparent. While Ubuntu’s Software Center provides useful application recommendations, the Windows Store can often leave users feeling more confused than they would be searching for useful applications on the Internet.

For a more detailed discussion of the differences, please check out Ubuntu vs Windows.

So which OS is better in 2013? It depends on your computer usage. If you rely heavily on Windows-specific programs that are not available for Linux, you may still be stuck in Microsoft’s world (at least for a little while). If, on the other hand, you want to save money and don’t mind learning a new OS that is full of useful features, you might consider the switch to Ubuntu Linux.

You can learn more about switching to Ubuntu for your PC in Introduction to Linux.

Microsoft still has the advantage when it comes to cross-platform compatibility, but Ubuntu is quickly becoming a contender that many people are choosing after nearly two decades of Microsoft Windows dominance in the personal computing marketplace.