I recently purchased a laptop without touch screen. Which operating system is better for it: Windows 7, Windows 8, or Ubuntu?
Well, OverEdge, the answer to that question depends entirely on what you intend to do with it. If 99% of what you need to do can be done from a browser, the operating system itself isn’t very important. If you do, however, prefer to play DirectX-based games and/or use productivity software such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Photoshop, then you might consider whether or not you know enough about Ubuntu and the workarounds for making Windows applications available on it to make that transition work for you.
The differences between these three operating systems comes down to experience. Do you prefer the traditional desktop present in Windows 7 over the Modern UI of Windows 8? Without a touch screen computer, you might also consider just how useful the new features of Windows 8 will be to you when you’re still using a trackpad and a keyboard. For most users, Windows 7 is still just fine. It will run all the programs you already own on Windows at the loss of the latest apps made for the Modern UI. At this point, those apps don’t exactly make it worth switching over. It’ll take some time before developers shift their focus from desktop programs to the new interface, and it’s more likely that Windows 8 will continue to exist as a schizophrenic environment than something truly based in one environment or another.
Ubuntu shows some interesting promise. While I don’t personally use it every day, I do have it installed through a virtual machine on my iMac and have a large appreciation for the innovation present on the platform. If a love for open source runs through your veins, then the case could be made to make Ubuntu your platform of choice. Be mindful, however, of driver issues brought on by manufacturers not fully supporting Linux. Some of the latest processors and wireless devices out there may still have small compatibility issues that you’ll need to know how to work around. This is much less of a problem than it was five years ago, but it’s worth checking user forums to find out if your laptop will work seamlessly with the OS. The same could be said for Windows 8, which may work differently with existing hardware despite an overwhelming amount of support overlap between Vista/7 and Windows 8 drivers.
As much as I’d like to give you a clear answer, the choice is entirely your own. If you feel that Ubuntu offers you the flexibility and control you’d prefer over Windows 7 or 8, then it may well be the best choice for you. If, on the other hand, you’d rather stick to the Windows ecosystem and either go with the tried and true Windows 7 or the new experience featured on Windows 8, then that could be a better choice.