Even though Windows and Linux target mostly very different types of users, there is no denying that the two share many similar features. Linux fans will claim Microsoft is “stealing” their best ideas, but even if their designers are in fact getting some inspiration from the open source community, Windows 8 still stands on its own. Let’s take a look at some of the features that put Windows 8 ahead of the pack.
Reason 1: File Copy Dialog
Windows 8 features a new and improved file managing system. The copy/move/rename/delete is more transparent, giving the user information and control over individual operations all in a single window. This is similar to the systems used by Linux file managers like Nautilus and Dolphin. An important upgrade is that problems no longer cause the whole operation to crash but simply get listed in an error queue.
Reason 2: ISO mounting
While Linux and Mac users have had the ability to mount ISO files into a new virtual drive straight from the operating system for some time, Windows users have had to rely on third party software like Daemon Tools. Fortunately, this all changes in Windows 8 thanks to a built-in virtual drive system.
Reason 3: Windows To Go
This is one great example of Microsoft outshining the competition. Windows To Go enables a USB flash drive to act as a bootable Windows 8 environment. It even has a fail-safe in case the drive is disconnected, which pauses the system until you re-connect instead of just crashing.
Even though this is nothing new to Linux users, Microsoft has made this work much better through their NTFS file system optimization. The software runs smoothly even on older 2.0 USB ports, with much better performance than the Linux equivalent.
Reason 4: The Metro UI
Despite the classic appeal of the old standard user interface, with features enabled by the improvement of technology, the Metro UI is set to become the new standard. As the default view of Windows 8 will have full support for touch technology, Metro takes the basic design concept Microsoft has been playing with for some time on the Xbox, Zune and the Media Center and puts it in their core product.
There are many Linux versions that attempted to change the basic interface design, most notably the recent Ubuntu updates. While the Linux versions have tried to adapt to the new tablet based user habits, the support for touch technology is not particularly good. Windows 8 on the other hand does an excellent job at this.
Reason 5: Social integration
Fans of the Linux system have had access to social media integration for quite a while now, through features enabling easy update to social media accounts as well as direct feeds straight to the desktop. Even though it took a while, these features have now been implemented by Microsoft in Windows 8.
Reason 6: Native support for USB 3.0
This isn’t really all that important, but nevertheless it’s a notable change by Microsoft towards the standards already used by Linux distributions. The new native support for USB 3.0 won’t make much of a difference, as the drivers provided by manufacturers allow the devices to work well in Windows 7, but Windows 8 developers have now added USB 3.0 native support.
Reason 7: Cloud integration
Linux distributions like Ubuntu 11 already have integrated the option for both free and paid cloud backup services. Windows 8 is now also offering this, closely linking the system with the SkyDrive service to allow for online storage of user data, from account data to rich media like songs and pictures. With 25 Gigabytes of available space the service is invaluable to users who, in addition to being able to access needed files from anywhere, no longer have to fear losing critical data due to a hardware malfunction.
Reason 8: ReFS
As an improvement to the old NTFS file system, the ReFS (meaning Resilient File System) is being first implemented in Windows Server 8, but there is already work done on its implementation in client-side software.
ZFS and B-tree are thought by Linux fans to be the inspiration for this. As the ReFS makes use of principles already tried and tested in the Linux world.
Stealing or Innovating?
Sure, Microsoft may have found some “inspiration” in the open-source community, but at the end of the day, the important thing is how they implement new features. An operating system is made up of more than the sum of its parts, and they have certainly done a great job integrating features in Windows 8, even if some of them have been “borrowed”.