Monday, September 16, 2013

Windows versus Linux Laptop

Now that the school year has started up again, getting school supplies are a priority for kids, possibly even buying a new laptop.  If I were looking for a new laptop, whether for home use, business use or for educational purposes this is the analysis I would do.  I would settle on the specs for a particular type of laptop, hardware-wise.  Then I would decide, software-wise, which would best fit my needs in the long run.

I took the HP ENVY Sleekbook 15.6" Laptop with Windows 8 and compared it to the System 76 Gazelle Professional 15.6" with Ubuntu 13.04 pre-installed.  The specs did not quite come out exactly the same hardware-wise but it's pretty close.  The HP Envy can be purchased at $549.99 while I adjusted the purchase price of the System 76 Gazelle to $844 to select a 750 GB hard drive.

I did a cost analysis on a LibreOffice Calc spreadsheet comparing Linux and Windows software functionality using Microsoft's 3 Office Suites:  Home, Business and Professional.

After 5 years of using both alternatives, the only one with recurring costs would be using Windows for annual anti-virus maintenance at $24.99.  I used the price for one year of maintenance from Norton for one PC.  On the Linux side, any additional functionality would be free, which would mean zero recurring costs.  At the end of 5 years, it would cost $50.93 more per Business user using Windows than using Linux.  When you tack on a MS Access Database, it would cost $230.93 more per Business user using Windows than using Linux.  For personal use, it would cost $29.07 more using Linux.

As more time is factored in, the recurring cost of requiring anti-virus maintenance would make Linux the best option cost-wise.  By year 7, using Linux would be favorable under all options.  It would cost $100.91 more to use Windows for Business use, $280.91 for Professional use and $20.91 for Personal use.

Here are the results of the analysis:


Business Professional Personal
Product Windows Linux Difference Windows Linux Difference Windows Linux Difference
Laptop (15.6”) $549.99 $844.00
$549.99 $844.00
$549.99 $844.00
Office $219.99



Wordprocessor X X
Spreadsheet X X
Presentation X X
Notetaking X X
Email X X





Anti-Virus $24.99



Total Cost $794.97 $844.00 -$49.03 $974.97 $844.00 $130.97 $714.97 $844.00 -$129.03

Total Cost Year 1 $794.97 $844.00 -$49.03 $974.97 $844.00 $130.97 $714.97 $844.00 -$129.03
Total Cost Year 2 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99
Total Cost Year 3 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99
Total Cost Year 4 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99
Total Cost Year 5 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99

5 Year Cost $894.93 $844.00 $50.93 $1,074.93 $844.00 $230.93 $814.93 $844.00 -$29.07

Total Cost Year 6 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99
Total Cost Year 7 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99 $24.99 0 $24.99

7 Year Cost $944.91 $844.00 $100.91 $1,124.91 $844.00 $280.91 $864.91 $844.00 $20.91

What I am trying to convey is that although it costs a little bit more to purchase a pre-installed Linux laptop for Business and Personal use, over the long run, it's more cost effective to be using a Linux laptop and its products.  With Linux, you can add or remove programs you do not need so that they don't tie up your CPU resources and so that you can make your PC hardware last longer as well.  With Windows, you are tied into using their bundled suites which do take up memory space on your computer even when you are not using it.  Then you also have to be concerned with virus or malware infections, which have the potential to cause some severe downtime.  The fact that you can open and revise most Microsoft File formats within LibreOffice makes it even more appealing to at least give Linux a try.  If you are so concerned with encountering applications which require a Windows desktop, keep your old Windows 7 laptop as a backup desktop.  However, when it comes time to purchasing a new laptop, I recommend giving Linux a try.

As an addendum to this post, please review "Evaluating LibreOffice For Your Business" to aid you in your decision-making process.

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