November 26, 2012, 4:01 PM — Microsoft's Windows 8 dominated countless headlines in the weeks leading up to its launch late last month, but October saw the debut of another major operating system as well.
Canonical's Ubuntu 12.10 "Quantal Quetzal" arrived a week ahead of its competitor, in fact, accompanied by a challenge: "Avoid the pain of Windows 8." That slogan appeared on the Ubuntu home page for the first few hours after the OS's official launch, and attracted considerable attention.
Apparently Canonical decided to tone down its message later in the daythe slogan now reads "Your wish is our command"but it seems fair to say that the underlying challenge remains.
Window of opportunity
Ubuntu is a widely popular open-source Linux distribution with eight years of maturity under its belt, and more than 20 million users. Of the roughly 5% of desktop OSs accounted for by Linux, at least one survey suggests that about half are Ubuntu. (Windows, meanwhile, accounts for about 84%.)
The timing of this latest Ubuntu release couldn't be better for Windows users faced with the paradigm-busting Windows 8 and the big decision of whether to take the plunge.
Initial uptake of Windows 8 has been unenthusiastic, according to reports, and a full 80% of businesses will never adopt it, Gartner predicts. As a result, Microsoft's big gamble may be desktop Linux's big opportunity.
So, now that Canonical has thrown down the gauntlet, let's take a closer look at Ubuntu 12.10 to see how it compares with Windows 8 from a business user's perspective.
1. Unity vs. Modern UI
Both Microsoft and Canonical have received considerable flak for the default user interfaces in their respective OSs. In Microsoft's case, of course, it's the Modern UI, formerly known as Metro; in Canonical's case, it's Unity. Both are designed with touchscreens in mind, and borrow heavily from the mobile world.