I'm going to discuss the costs of Windows and Linux. Windows has a startup cost of $100 minimum. Linux has a startup cost of $0. Now, I can end the column right there, but this would be a disservice to everyone following this column. So let us look at what each has to offer and see what is best for you.
Let's start with Windows. Windows has the biggest following and the largest support system. More software is written for Windows and more software crashes for Windows. Who hasn't experienced a computer freeze or the “blue screen of death” in the middle of something critical? Microsoft does provide some useful programs and utilities out of the box, such as Paint, Wordpad, and a game called Mines. Beyond this what else does it provide? Well, it does provide some extremely useful utilities, if you know how to use them. That would require an extensive knowledge of computers, which this column is not geared towards.
Windows also has a very sleek interface that allows users to do things very easily. Just point and click and, boom, you're doing it. For an extra cost ($100 to $440) you can have an entire office suite that will allow you to create text documents, spreadsheets, manage email, create presentations, and manage a database of sorts. How well you do it depends on how much money you're willing to spend. Doesn't sound too affordable, does it?
Windows has software to do CAD (Computer Architecture Design), which can be bought for $90 minimum all the way up to $3500 for a single license. There is excellent software for as low as $20 to copy DVDs, provided that it's your own content and it's not copyrighted (other countries don't have those restrictions, but that's a column for another day).
Additionally, there is Photoshop, for the artist and photo-bug in all of us. I have sold it for as low as $20 (so basic that even Microsoft Paint looks good) all the way up to $2500 for the pro version. This allows a person to do everything they want to do, but for a price (suddenly creativity is a costly thing, like thinking).
Day-to-day workstations at companies use Windows for their employees, and they are paid according to the commonplace of the Windows system (minimum wage). This is also reflected in their duties. Examples would be low-level tech support (think scripts), data entry, receptionist/secretary, or anyone else hired to just sit behind a computer.
There is real money to be earned with Windows, if you're willing to pay Microsoft or their partners the money to take their certified classes. The classes that will make you the most money in the job force, when you do get a job (and 9 out of 10 people have this certifications), will pay over $50,000 per year. The cost of these certifications is about $5000. If you can afford the certifications then you might get a job that pays off the investment.
Now that I have given you the “deal” on Windows, and all its virtues, next week I will discuss the other side, LINUX.
Robert M. Laine has been working in the IT industry for 30+ years. He has a B.S. in Computer Science. He has worked for the Chicago Tribune IT group and as the in-store technician for Staples. You can email him with questions or comments at BobLaine_sw@mail.com and visit LaineTech.blogspot.com