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Difference between Linux and Windows

Updated Jan 08, 2020

An operating system is a software application that is developed with the intent of controlling computer hardware. The OS functions as an intermediary between the computer hardware and its users. It provides an interface through which users can exploit the capabilities of computer hardware to get their work done. Linux and windows are two popular operating systems with distinctive features and capabilities. Through this article, we aim to throw light on what is Linux, what is Windows, features of Windows and Linux, key differences between Linux and Windows, etc.

Linux vs Windows

Comparison table depicting the key differences of Windows vs Linux

Basis of Differentiation Linux Windows
Pricing Users can download Linux free of cost. This Operating System is freely distributed and can be availed through books, magazines, online portals, etc. The priced versions of Linux OS are available with advanced features and are lesser priced than Windows OS versions.   Windows OS is priced at $119 - $199.99. $99 to upgrade to pro and $69 for students.
Distribution and development Linux brought to the marketplace through Open Source development technology, is distributed with the help of various vendors. It is made available through collaboration/ sharing of features and codes in online forums, etc. The various versions of Windows are developed and distributed by Microsoft Inc.
Manufacturers Linux kernel has been designed and developed by the community. Torvalds oversees the development process. It is designed and developed by Microsoft.
Users Everyone can use the features and functionality of Linux - from developers to computer enthusiasts and home alike. Microsoft Windows is capable of being used by everyone.
Utility Linux is designed to be installed on different types of computer hardware. The types of hardware applications range from mobile phones to tablets, computers, video game consoles, mainframes, supercomputers, and so forth. MS Windows can be used for powering PCs desktops, laptops, some phones, servers, etc.
Features Linux is similar to Unix-and POSIX- compliant operating systems. It has been assembled as a free/ open-source resource for software development plus distribution. Linux kernel is the primary and defining component of Linux operating system. Microsoft Windows serves through a series of GUI operating systems. Windows was first released on November 20, 1985, in the form of a graphical operating system shell linked with MS-DOS.
Support for File Systems Ext4, Jfs, ReiserFS, Ext2, Ext3, Xfs, FAT32, NTFS, Btrfs, FAT, etc. FAT32, NTFS, FAT, exFAT, etc.
Methods of Update There are several update methods in Linux. Users can update their Windows version with the help of Windows Update.
Interface for Text Mode The default shell for Linux OS is BASH (Bourne Again Shell). It is equipped to provide support to multiple command interpreters. Windows utilises a command shell. Every original version of Windows possesses a single command interpreter that features DOS-like commands. The optional PowerShell has been recently added by Microsoft and uses more commands that are similar to those in Unix.
Preceded by Linux is preceded by Basic Terminal (CLI). MS-DOS is the predecessor of Windows.
Licensed by GNU or General Public License. Windows is a proprietary product.
Availability of languages Linux supports many different languages. Windows is multilingual as well.
The default interface for users KDE, Gnome or other types of Linux-compatible desktops. The user interface for windows is Graphical (Windows Aero).
Platforms supported Mostly all platforms are supported by Linux. The supported platforms are:
  • PowerPC: 1.0 - NT 4.0;
  • DEC Alpha: 1.0 - NT 4.0;
  • MIPS R4000: 1.0 - NT 4.0;
  • IA-32: 1.0 - 8;
  • IA-64: XP;
  • x86-64: XP - 8;
  • ARM: version RT; etc.
Source Model Linux is free software. Shared/ Closed source
Family of OS GNU MS-DOS
OS programmed in C C, C++, Assembly
Target Customers Personal and Linux best supports server-based systems/ applications. Windows and its different versions best support business and personal systems/ applications.
Compatibility The latest version of Linux offers support to diverse kinds of hardware. Windows is capable of coexisting on different local networks along with BSD, Macs, Window versions, and other systems like Unix. In some instances, file compatibility problems may surface.

What is Windows Operating System?

Windows provides a series of computer operating systems that have been conceptualised, designed and developed by Microsoft. The operating systems from Windows feature graphical user interface (GUI) as well as an interactive desktop that helps users access all files and folders from a single location.

Features of Windows:

  • Released in 1985, Window’s first version featured a simple GUI. It was preceded by MS-DOS, which was a disk operating system.
  • In 1995, Windows and DOS were integrated with built-in Internet support to add many more features and functionality to Windows.
  • The latest Windows versions are designed to operate on x86 hardware of the likes of AMD, Intel processors, etc.

What is a Linux Operating System?

Based on UNIX, Linux is a popular, open-source computer operating system. It was created in 1991. The Linux software helps users modify existing codes and develop distributions via its open-source OS. The Linux operating system provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that contains essential daily-use features.

Features of Linux:

  • Linux is mainly put to use as a server. Currently, most web pages are developed on Linux servers.
  • These web pages are useful for gaming consoles, mobile devices, digital storing devices, desktop computers, video recorders, eBook readers, cameras, etc. running on Linux.
  • Linux is portable(multiplatform), multitasking, multi-user OS with a Graphical User Interface (Wayland, X Window System). It offers multithreading, multi-processor support.
  • Linux exhibits Virtual Memory and Hierarchical File System.


An analysis of the main differences between Linux and Windows will help you opt for the operating system that is most useful and feasible for you. The application of Windows vs Linux would depend on the type of work performed daily. Capable of multi-purpose usage, both Linux and Windows have their pros and cons. In case you desire to know more about Linux vs Windows, do write to us in the Comments section below, we will be happy to assist you.