I was discussing, OK, maybe arguing, with my Windows/MS centric colleague the merits of Ubuntu v.s. Windows the other day. I know... it's an age old debate, but fun nonetheless. He made the statement that Windows is easy to use and that's what users want, they don't want to struggle with Linux. And I don't disagree with him, at least on the point that an OS must be easy to use, but where I don't, is that Ubuntu isn't user friendly. (I won't comment on other distros as they admittedly can be very difficult.) The one point that I will generally concede is that the standard look and feel of Windows beats Ubuntu hands down. OK, maybe this is an unfair comparison as Ubuntu is intended to run on a very wide spectrum of hardware and therefore they deliberately excluded the eye candy. But, it's relatively easy to transform Ubuntu to pretty much anything you want. Ubuntu is pretty easy to use, but because it looks different from Windows, this can lead to resistance to change.

This got me thinking a little... Well, what if the system looked and for the most part, functioned exactly the same as some given version of windows? This would negate the argument of which OS looked better as they would both be virtually exactly the same and to some degree which is "easier" to use. The look of the OS to some people is important. Admittedly, I do care that it looks "right" even though this isn't the only reason for my use of Ubuntu. Up to now, I'd been pretty much of the "Linux isn't Windows and therefore shouldn't look like it" opinion, but I started looking at how to transform my OS into a Windows clone, just to see how close I could get it. With a quick search, I found a set of scripts that made Ubuntu look virtually exactly the same. I even ran a "test" against some chosen subjects, showing them my new "Windows 7"... As they all know me as being a total Linux convert, they looked a little suspiciously at my screen and took a few moments to realise that it wasn't Windows 7. The give-away was generally the application names in the menu. But, nonetheless it was kinda hard to tell. Ok, I admit there are still differences that a user would have to get used to, but nothing rocket science.

So, if my Ubuntu looks virtually exactly the same as Windows 7, is Windows "easier" to use?


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