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Linux vs. Windows: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 23, 2023
Linux is an open-source operating system kernel, while Windows is a proprietary operating system by Microsoft.

Key Differences

Linux and Windows are two distinct operating systems used globally. Linux is an open-source operating system, implying that its code is available to the public, allowing anyone to view, modify, and distribute it. Windows, on the other hand, is a proprietary operating system developed by Microsoft. Its source code isn't openly accessible, and any modifications or distributions are restricted.
In terms of flexibility, Linux offers more customization options compared to Windows. Given its open-source nature, Linux allows users to modify its code, leading to a multitude of distributions tailored for various needs. Windows, while being user-friendly and more standardized, doesn't offer this level of customization due to its closed source nature.
When considering security, Linux often boasts a reputation for being more secure than Windows. This is because Linux has a more decentralized nature, with numerous distributions and a community-driven development model. Windows, being more widespread and centralized, often becomes a larger target for malware and viruses.
Cost is another factor where Linux and Windows differ significantly. Linux, being open-source, can generally be downloaded and used for free. There are enterprise versions with costs, but for a general user, Linux is accessible without charge. Windows, conversely, usually requires a license purchase, especially for business environments.
Application availability varies between Linux and Windows. Windows has a broader range of commercial software and games available. Linux, while it has a plethora of free and open-source applications, might not always have commercial software natively available, although alternatives often exist.

Comparison Chart




Developed by Microsoft


Highly customizable
Standardized and less customizable


Mostly free
License purchase usually required

Application Availability

Open-source apps, some commercial limitations
Wide range of commercial software and games

Linux and Windows Definitions


An open-source operating system kernel.
Many servers run on Linux due to its stability.


A proprietary operating system developed by Microsoft.
Many home PCs come pre-installed with Windows.


An OS with various distributions like Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian.
Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions for desktops.


A system predominantly used in personal computing environments.
Businesses around the world rely on Windows for daily operations.


A Unix-like operating system that respects user freedom.
Linux adheres to the philosophy of free and open-source software.


A platform with a graphical user interface known for its user-friendliness.
Windows offers a visually appealing and intuitive interface for its users.


A platform known for its customization and flexibility.
Developers often prefer Linux for its customizable environment.


An operating system with versions like Windows 10, Windows 11, etc.
Windows 10 introduced a revamped Start Menu.


A system commonly used in server environments.
Linux powers a significant portion of the web's servers.


An OS that supports a wide range of software applications.
Windows supports many commercial software titles, from games to productivity tools.


(software) Any unix-like operating system that uses the Linux kernel.


Plural of window


An open-source version of the UNIX operating system


What's the primary developer of Linux?

Linux is community-driven.

Is Linux open to customization?

Yes, Linux is known for its high customization capabilities.

Which is typically more secure, Linux or Windows?

Linux generally has a reputation for better security.

Are there multiple versions of Linux?

Yes, there are many Linux distributions.

Can Linux run Windows applications?

Not natively, but there are tools like WINE that enable this.

Can I run Linux on a Windows machine?

Yes, through dual booting or virtualization.

Do all PCs come with Windows pre-installed?

Many do, but not all.

How does Linux support user freedom?

By being open-source and allowing customization and modification.

What's the main interface of Windows?

A graphical user interface with windows, icons, and a taskbar.

Who developed Windows?


Which OS requires a license purchase?


Can you get Linux for free?

Yes, many Linux distributions are available for free.

Are updates in Windows mandatory?

They are highly recommended, and some versions enforce them.

Which OS is more prevalent in server environments?

Linux is widely used in server environments.

Can you develop software on Linux?

Yes, Linux offers a wide range of development tools.

Can you modify Windows source code?

No, Windows is proprietary and closed-source.

Is Windows 10 an operating system?

Yes, it's a version of the Windows operating system.

Is Windows suitable for gaming?

Yes, Windows supports a wide range of games.

Which is more stable, Linux or Windows?

Both can be stable, but Linux often gets praise for server stability.

Which OS is more user-friendly for beginners?

Many believe Windows is more user-friendly for beginners.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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