Linux Mint Maya vs. Windows 8!

Linux Mint Maya vs. Windows 8!

Microsoft has shortly released the consumer preview of its flag ship operating system, Windows 8, that is evidently re-skinned to better suit touch-screen devices. Unfortunately, in attempting to revamp the OS, Microsoft has done some serious damages to it’s self and more importantly to the end-users. The post compares Windows8 to Linux Mint 13.

The User Interface:

This is where Windows has done major make over. The UI is completely re designed, as they call it “Metro” UI originally developed for Windows phones ( can a UI for mobile serve as the UI for your desktop?) when you launch a Windows 8 machine you will enter the Metro UI that runs in full screen by default. The Metro UI has large icons ( called live tiles) that update information such as weather and calendar. Sounds not so bad till yet? The bad part comes when you have to scroll with your mouse sideways for panels like arrangement of The UI.  Having to slide from panel to panel ( much like you do on your Android phone ) may be easy with the swipe gesture but it is a pain on the desktop. Scrolling side-ways has never been any ones favourite move even with a mouse ( naturally, scrolling up and down is earlier, remember how eagerly we want a word wrap feature in browsers and text editors). Even when showing off the new OS in the official video, the demonstrator swipes from panel to panel, and doesn’t scroll. This clearly depicts that Windows8 targets the touch interfaces.

In contrast, thankfully Linux Mint Maya has not attempted to imitate any UI, remaining simple and just as required. Linux Mint comes with 2 desktop options, Cinnamon  and MATE. Cinnamon desktop is sleek and clean with not much (undesirable) glamor like the Metro UI. however, it does have some decent animations when closing, restoring,minimising and maximising windows that gives you a feel of excitement, yet keeping you focused in work. On the other hand, MATE has tremendous resemblance with  Mint 11. It is elegant with only two desktop shortcuts by default. A familiar notification centre on the bottom right and Mint menu and Show desktop icon on the left. You won’t find yourself lost or struggling once you launch Linux, a feeling so intense when once you launch the new Windows.

But the point remains that does a desktop user need a revamped user interface? For about decade at least, we have witnessed minimal changes to our desktop computing habits. We have a very same monitor, CPU and peripherals like mouse and keyboard. Re-designing the UI may be a candy of your eyes but it certainly does not address the problems of end users. In fact, the new metro UI is much more complex.Would you do your work or figure out how you will work?

The main menu:

Interestingly the Metro UI is just skin deep. At heart lies the very same Windows 7. The Metro UI has a tile titled as desktop. Once you click or tap that tile you will be taken to the traditional desktop. But wait! It doesn’t have a Start Button on the bottom! Yes! Yet again a pain. Start button that has been so native to Windows Operating system ever since the OS debuted. It has been cruelly washed off, instead now the Start menu has taken the shape of the Metro UI. doesn’t that sound awkward? Instantly the feeling of relief I had when viewing the traditional desktop environment vanished. I had so many times when I unconsciously clicked the desktop where the start button ever existed. Hitting the windows button on the keyboard  took me again to the Metro UI increasing my frustration.

In contrast, the Linux Mint Cinnamon has a perfect three columned menu that has just about anything you desire.  In the first column you can pin shortcuts for your most frequently used programs, the second columns is for softwares and the third is for program’s in that category. There is a decent search bar on the top that is extremely handy. One thing that does not exist on the new windows.

Accessing apps: 
In Windows, the applications developed for Metro UI launch in full screen by default with no “x” button to cancel the application. It’s yet again a pain to find how to quit the application. Launching application in full screen by default has two disadvantages. Difficulty in quitting it, no minimising or even watching two applications work in parallel. You can split the screen between two apps using snap though but it has little point as only two application can be seen at a time. You wont even find the traditional taskbar for applications. For closing the application you have a procedure to follow that is quiet a secret. In order to close application you have to move your cursor to the top edge of the screen, click and hold until the app screen becomes a thumbnail and then drag that thumbnail image to the bottom of the screen. Launching applications designed for previous versions of OS will take you to traditional desktop. In later case Metro UI is unnecessary barrier that further delays your task and nothing else. There are no such hassles with Linux. Log into Limux machine and you are up and running !


Windows gives some options to change the color scheme of Metro UI but no way to completely abandon the UI. It is forced on you and you have to face it. Unfortunately there is no obvious way to customise the metro UI. on the other hand Linux Mint has some decent options for customisation simply from the settings. You  cannot only change the look and feel of desktop but also the visual effects.


Multitasking is in a mess. The cruel but perfect word for Windows 8. In order to minimise the application you are currently running you have to take your cursor to the bottom left corner. There is nothing at all on that corner, no single indicator! Clicking there will bring you to the famous Metro UI again. Now to go to the app you were in you have to move your cursor to the top left corner. Yet again you don’t have any indicator for this too. When you keep clicking in that edge you will be shown thumbnails of the apps you were in. I am used to extensive multitasking, having at least 10 windows open at a time, can you even imagine clicking the corner ten times to go back to the first application? There is a simpler but less obvious way. You can click under the thumbnail of application and you will come up with a list of thumbnails of all applications. even that is not very clever.

Thanks to Linux who has kept the tradition  of desktop computing facilitating multitasking in a traditional way that is so easy to get along.

The learning curve 

Change is indeed good. But change must be for betterment. Windows 8 is a bad combination of new and old styles. I personally feel if they wanted to design OS for tablets they should have opted for a completely Metro like OS instead of merging the two. MS Windows has been the most prominent OS of Linux in business sector. Now I see only a fraction of people upgrading owing to the steep learning curve the new Windows poses. As MS has complete redesigned the OS , desktop users will definitely miss features that have been part of Windows since it debuted. Linux on the other hand remains simple and productive. On desktop, users of desktop want a desktop like experience not a tablet like experience, in attempt to re design Windows for mobile devices and specially tables Microsoft has taken OS far from being practicable in traditional desktop. Linux is still the same fortunately. No additional UI hinders your way to run your application. The interface is simple and yet reliable and therefore does not pose any learning curve.
I strongly feel that the user interface of desktops has attained a level where no major changes should be done. Only what can be improved is the stability, support and security. That is what Linux is up to. Android is based on Linux  and takes a completely different and correct course for mobile devices. Linux distributions for desktop never wanted to clone Android.

That’s not to say that Windows 8 is completely crap there are some good things too  like the simplified task manager ( one that Linux already has) , synchronisation capabilities, incorporating skydive, Flicker and facebook etc. and live tiles but the cost at which these treats are available is certainly great. Indeed MS is out of ideas and out of technology. MS clearly cannot understand that the OS for tablets cannot be combined with the desktop one. The technology and requirements of desktop computing vary largely from tablets and therefore they must’ve different OS too.

Here is where Linux wins! Linux knows what users need because ultimately it is not developed by any arrogant company unwilling to hear the end users, it’s developed by users like us! .

  • Yuriy Istochnikov

    A Little question: Would you mind comparing Metro vs KDE, Unity, Gnome Shell/Panel, XFCE/LXDE, Fluxbox and Openbox?  It would be interesting how the *.nix desktops environments DESTROY Metro :P

  • Le W

    This is like comparing a minivan with an F150

  • NishantAgrwal

    as you said, I think with more specialized devices like smartphones and tablets coming out, manufacturers should be looking to specialize their OS’s UI for different devices instead of generalizing it, or as they say, ‘unifying’ it. If I wanted to use one (or two) applications at a time with nice big fluffy buttons and no multitasking, I would have bought a tablet. But I’ve bought a laptop and desktop because I want to multitask efficiently and use a physical keyboard. Different devices are suited for different tasks, and need different UIs to take advantage of their strengths.

  • Sugadevan

    “not developed by any arrogant company unwilling to hear the end users” haha what?? comeon just visit building windows 8 blog, oh man if u want to hail Linux mint, then just do it!! comparing it with win8?? I installed release preview on my desktop. I love it, its amazingly fast and improved. regarding metro, its ur choice to accept it or not! im loving it and metro is already a success. haters gonna hate, wait and watch.

    90% of supercomputers?? what abt 85% usage share of operating systems??  
    my mom, my dad, my grandma are not in need of “supercomputers”!! got it?? stop trolling!!

  • sola

    I also very much doubt that Metro is any good for non-touch oriented devices.

    I just cannot imagine why Microsoft is forcing Metro on desktop users. This will cost them dearly since only MS fanboys will accept the serious degradation of their productivity without question. A lot of people will switch to Linux and MacOS.

  • Bob_Robert

     Naa, just like with Vista, Microsoft will quickly publish an apology (Win7) that puts back functionality people missed (the start button) without actually doing anyone any good.

    The MS fanbois will continue to buy MS, and the few Linux converts will go back to Windows to play their games.

  • ArchaicReality

    windows will eventually die out

  • Wendell Anderson

    While I agree with many of the comments about the Linux Mint versus Windows 8 comparison, in that the Windows Metro GUI can be fairly bad against Mint Gnome for Desktop PC users, there is one reality missing from the commentary and general thought process.

    No matter how horrible Windows 8 may be for the vast majority of Desktop PC users, most will loyally remain with Microsoft even in desperation and despair. Why?  Because human nature dictates that people by and large, particularly in USA culture,  will tolerate any level of abuse and discomfort simply because they are familiar with and have grown dependent on Microsoft. There may even be a bit of the “Stockholm Syndrome” in play here.

    Therefore GNU/Linux users can rejoice in the superiority of their favourite OS, but they should not expect any significant change in the ration of usage, or large amount of Windows users to migrate to Linux. It simply will not happen in reality.

  • AmbroseFahrenheit

    Is it bad if I use XP for my games then just run mint for the rest?

  • Jwendel

    Substitute GNOME3 for WINDOWS8, and your review is still valid.

  • Gevorg Harutyunyan

    Here is the similar great article named “Comparison Ubuntu 12.04 vs Windows 8 [Review]” 

  • Nigger

    wtf are you talking about half the article sounds as though you are comparing mint with mint then some random comments about windows 8 are thrown in…. n00b

  • Lortemail

    NO android is not based on linux. It runs on linux kernel.

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  • Yadavshahaji2012

    where we find software

  • Yadavshahaji2012

    i am studing in diploma computer technology so which os best to use me

  • Paul

    Apple wins too YAY for Apple!  The BIG MIGHTY APPLE rises again!  Apple wins all the $$$ and gives users best OS technology, best Tablet technology and best for Phones, Music Players, Televisions, yay for Apple!  APPLE APPLE APPLE is also CERTIFIED UNIX!  Yay for Apple!

  • Pan Łukasz

     YES, Android IS based on Linux, because it runs on Linux, which is a kernel, not an operating system. But NO, Android isn’t a GNU/Linux distribution, because Android is Android, not GNU.

  • Luke Robbins

    You couldn’t possibly be biased by having the Linux penguin on your site?

  • Bojan Markovic

    O rly?

    I do agree Win8 is generally a big fail (at least CP so far). But come on Mint, which prides itself on being the sane choice, newest technology paired with CONSERVATIVE UI, and then compare it to Metro.

    A Gnome Shell vs Unity vs Metro would seem like a sane comparison. In which case Unity wins hands down, although they’re all far, far from being the way to go, and not because they are not the traditional start-on-the-bottom-left desktops but because, in my opinion:

    * The ideal tablet/phone UI is allready the flipchard/tabbed icon grid with larger applets for stuff you need immediate access to. Microsoft is all that on paper, but in practice, due to constraints on how it lays out the interface and the whole scrolling concept (vs flip/tab) Metro is so cumbersome it hurts.* Desktop is not a phone, a panel on top or below with common stuff is absolutely essential — ergo Metro loses
    * I want that gridded interface on top of my desktop wallpaper – why would I want to be faced with an empty screen when I start. If I want empty space to feel neat I can make a flipcard / tab that is empty — so they all lose apart from Metro — which also uses since it has the Desktop applet that’s every bit as bad as Nautilus -n based desktop on Gnome Shell and Unity.
    * Again, desktop is not a phone/tablet. I have a keyboard, I want to be able to find stuff fast by typing — which is why Unity with HID wins hands down.
    * I want every aspect of the UI customizable to the bit.. which si why Unity is the least bad of the three options.
    KDE Plasma has a lot of this done conceptually properly, but whenever I use KDE it feels like all other interfaces are made of thin sheet aluminum and plexiglass, and KDE is made of lead-glass and thick steel profiles — so heavy and slow and unresponsive that it feels like I’m doing heavy lifting all the time.

  • Hotroxy777

    You are nothing more than a fanboy. Apple wants to be best but they had their good times and now it’s a history. Bugs, crashes, viruses on their software comes every day. Their hardware is overpriced with the same quality like in good “PC” brands eg, MSI, Lenovo, Dell, Asus. They build their good name on the mobile devices but PC’s and Laptops are just simply bad. Also they are like a fashion where most of their users are noobs because Apple is dedicated to noobs. And OS X isn’t Unix! Is Unix like just like Linux is. 

  • Eisenwyrm


    Tron Lives!

  • Brad Sims

    Although I agree with you,
    I just have to say this is a horribly biased and pointless comparison, as the two are nothing alike aside from the fact that they both can be installed on desktop computers…. 

    That being said, you are correct. The Mint GUI (same goes for most linux GUI’s) is definitely more practical for a desktop environment than windows 8’s metro UI.

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  • Andrea Borman

    But you can get back both the start button and Windows 7 start menu on Windows 8 by installing Classic Shell or Start Menu 7 or other start menu software. And Classic Shell and all of the other third party start menu software works on Windows 8 RP. Andrea Borman.

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  • phil

    I love the simplicity of Mint its both elegant and not a head banger. I have compltley removed windows and have only Mint and Zorin 

  • Dyrver Eriksson

    Microsoft has for a long time felt like a secondary dog, to Linux distributors, an OS filled to the brim with hacks that cut corners, create instability and introduce mechanics that are multi-task unfriendly or just plain badly designed. (Window manager and UI framework has been the same griefull crap since 1985 IMO). Never got why it gained so much popularity and respect among the enterprise, true, I could be just a man sick and tired of Microsoft software products. Let’s not begin with how some(read most) metro apps waste screen estate. If the WM allowed more tiles it would not be such a headache to use Metro… but at least it’s stable.. I think.

  • Linux Wins

    Linux Min 13 is really a great os  it can’t compare to Windows 8, some times ago linux was not powerful as windows at gaming and drivers but now its a history.

  • Dwayne_009cool

    seriously rite now im usin ubuntu 12.04 whic is pretty cool and ive use linux mint maya  and quite a few other linux distro’s but for sure ubuntu 12.04 is the best ive come across and ive also use windows 8. People keep saying that the ui is for touchscreen pcs or tablets. But really guys its not so hard to use with a mouse and i would preffer windows 8 over ubuntu 12.04 but just a small margin but still windows 8 is an awesome os

  • Krzysztof Sibiński

     you mean Windows 7 right ? that would be truth, but they just broke it with this Windows 8 skin which we should be able to uninstall.

  • Ibrahimovic

    I helped my friend get win8 because we both thought it looked great but it’s a pain, I tried getting it on my computer and it didn’t work so I got linux instead and now he wants linux too instead of w8, so linux clearly wins. Win 8 is really difficult and weird.

  • Robert Pratt

    I find it strange that Microsoft did not tweak down or abandon the Metro style when they released the preview version last year. In my personal experience with W8P it was clunky, and 9 types of ugly. I deleted the partition completely wan went to Win7. …

    Now, I have read a bit about MS Store coming in, and the possibility that MS will make the W8 platform more difficult for online stores (like Steam) to use. Valve Inc has stated they’re seriously looking at Linux development. As someone who does not now use Linux I can only say that I am happy to see a major developer get interested in Linux. If Steam and major popular games throw support to Linux then the world of computing for the end user will be a much better place. I will start looking at Linux Mint. Maybe I can use, maybe not.

  • RationalUser

    OS X is certified UNIX. Linux on the other hand is Linux, not Unix. Refer to “Scali’s OpenBlog” for correct info. on this, particularly the article called “OS X is not Linux.”

  • RationalUser

    OS X is certified UNIX. Linux on the other hand is Linux, not Unix. Refer to “Scali’s OpenBlog” for correct info. on this, particularly the article called “OS X is not Linux.”

  • RationalUser

    OS X is certified UNIX. Linux on the other hand is Linux, not Unix. Refer to “Scali’s OpenBlog” for correct info. on this, particularly the article called “OS X is not Linux.”

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  • Chris Bordeman

    “particularly in USA culture”

    It’s an OS review, so what the heck, lets throw in a little anti-Americanism. After all, you have research studies to back up such a ridiculous, xenophobic assertion, right?

  • Chris Bordeman

    On W8, the desktop is still there for you to multi-task your heart out. Stop FUDding.

  • Chris Bordeman

    And what the hell advantage do you think being “certified” Unix compatible gives you, dummy? Be specific. I bet $1B you can’t.

  • Enzo

    Most of this review is pointless, as you aren’t comparing, just bashing what you clearly don’t understand… and you are comparing an unfinished beta version of win8 at that!… To close a full screen app simply hit Alt+F4. It will close any full screen app you have open, no need to worry about all the other confusing steps you mentioned.. To navigate the Metro “start” screen simply use your mouse scroll wheel to scroll the menu side to side.. unless you are using a mouse from 1998, that is….. As for managing multiple tasks or screens.. You have heard of Alt+Tab, right? it will quickly switch you between apps and programs. I’ve always dual booted OS’s between Linux Mint and Windows. Most of your win8 complaints are completely mute and a far stretch… Win8 is a much improved version of win7, most of the improvements have been done under the hood and they are very noticeable. if you hate metro so much, then fine install one of the third part Start Menu shells, problem solved.

    Finally – stating that Linux has no learning curve is another stretch, every OS has a learning curve. Have you ever tried teaching someone how to run terminal commands to a non technical user… They quickly find the task overwhelming and ask why things has to be so complicated…

  • CSCI_Student

    No it is not bad, every person is entitled to run whatever OS they please. Preferably the OS that gets the job done. For games, sadly it is mostly windows, but hey at least people do write games for *nix. :)

  • Selena Texana

    Linux is far superior in fact is light years ahead of w8 my friend .

  • whoopla

    Since when has Microsoft stopped at doing half harsed things? windows 8 is a disaster on a desktop with keyboard and mouse and more than half the things are in completely counter-intuitive places.

    wth want a touch interface when large desktops dont have one and you would have to fork out $4000 to get a 22″ touch screen, to replace a $5 mouse.

  • Drug

    This comparison was similar to the Ubuntu vs windows 8 right here:

  • JM

    hahaha this is one of the most biased articles I’ve ever read. Big Linux fan myself but this is clearly a load of crap from some guy too lazy to adjust to a new Windows. Computing has to change, and I guarantee that in five years Mint or the next popular Linux distro will be modeling itself after Windows, just as it has done before.

  • Qus

    M$ is doing to windows exactly what ubuntu did to itself. They are trying to turn their desktop OS into a tablet OS and lure their users into believing it’s great on desktop machines. Like ubuntu, M$ will find a great crowd of people totally dissatisfied with their roadmap and many in that crowd will filter away from windows or will utilizes older windows versions as long as they possibly can. Seeing that M$ is a money organization, we can expect quick changes to their roadmap. But is it already too late?

    Fortunately, in linux, users simply have to find a different flavor that meets their needs and there’s ‘always’ one out there. Now, ubuntu is even giving in somewhat and is releasing a full Gnome 3 spin, exclusive of unity. Unfortunately Gnome 3 is as much of a cancer on the desktop as Unity is.

    We are so fortunate to have Linux Mint. Life is good with it whether one uses Cinnamon, MATE, KDE, or Xcfe, and we cannot discount Mint’s LMDE offerings either. I do Maya 13 MATE with a Linux Mint 14 backport and also have LMDE MATE boxes.

    I’m more than a happy camper and so are all my users. That speaks volumes.

  • Joseph Upton

    I am telling everyone I know to stick with windows 7 and put Mint on older computers but stay away from windows 8. Last year I got my daughter a laptop with windows 8 and it now has the 8.1 update but it is still not easy to use. I do believe that when MS comes out with windows 9 they will go in a different direction…perhaps giving the user the choice of a “windows 7” experience or a “metro” experience.

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