Don't suffer from 'Microsoft-trained brain syndrome'

If you find Linux scary, then you’re one of many victims of this widespread phenomenon. Never fear, though--help is at hand.

Windows users have many, many reasons to consider switching to Linux, as I've pointed out on numerous occasions already. For many, however, there's one big, fat obstacle standing in the way: "Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome."

That's right: It's the simple fact that most of us "grew up" on Microsoft products and so have trouble imagining any other way of doing things.

In fact, that term--Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome--was widely introduced back in 2009 by a blog post from Tennessee firm ERA Computers & Consulting (ERACC). It was recently brought to light again, however, in a Linux success story this week from First Arkansas News.

"The problem is that people who have lived, worked, and played in a homogeneous Microsoft computing paradigm are lost and confused when they encounter a different paradigm," explained the original ERACC blog. "These people have only seen the flawed Microsoft ideology for how computing systems should work and so have a difficult time with more elegant systems based on Unix.

"They see the Linux system with its own paradigm and ideology and try to force it into the only paradigm they know, which is Microsoft's," the blog adds. "This will always cause the user problems."

50 Million Viruses

Indeed, problems are the primary result of using Windows, I believe--problems with (un)reliability, (in)security, (high) prices, vendor lock-in and rampant malware. Just yesterday, in fact, IT security lab AV-Test registered the 50 millionth new entry into its malware repository, according to a report on The H. What a milestone!

Linux, on the other hand, offers myriad advantages for both business and individual users. It's free, it's reliable, it's highly secure and it's increasingly the choice of businesses large and small.

This revived discussion of Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome, however, underscores why one of the classic mistakes of Linux first-timers is to give up too early. That happens simply because Linux is different from Windows, and so can feel scary to some new users.

Help the Afflicted

Most of us can no longer remember the days before we were used to Windows, but you can be sure there was a time when that was the case. Back then, we persevered and got used to it, and now it's difficult to remember anything else.

Does that mean we should stick blindly with what we know? Not if we mind limping along on a fundamentally handicapped technology. There are many strategies that can help ease the transition to Linux--follow them, and there will come a day when you can no longer remember why you ever used Windows.

Do you know someone who suffers from Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome? Don't let them suffer in silence. Help them give Linux a try, and put their suffering to an end.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

This story, "Don't suffer from 'Microsoft-trained brain syndrome'" was originally published by PCWorld.

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