I spoke last week of the end of the free upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to the much improved Windows 10 (see full article here). However it has also come under scrutiny from users that are concerned about data privacy.
So why not opt for a free Windows 10 alternative?
For Vista and XP users who want to change things up, and even Windows 7 and 8 users who are just sick of the Windows experience for whatever reason, you have options. Here are four free alternatives to the Microsoft Windows operating system.
Known for its dependability and simplicity, Ubuntu is a Unix-like Linux OS that is free to download to your laptop or PC. It’s an open source software, meaning that users of Ubuntu are encouraged to use it, study it, improve upon it, and share it. Unity desktop, the default desktop interface, is straight-forward; no bells and whistles, just a simple UI.
If you want to get a feel for Ubuntu without committing to it just yet, then have a look at Ubuntu’s online demo.
The interactive tour loads in your browser, so there’s no need to download anything. In the demo, you can browse email, surf the web, view videos, create spreadsheets, and find apps.
Ubuntu is one of the most popular of the PC OS alternatives out there. Initially released in 2004, it’s gone through a number of face lifts and releases, winning awards along the way. The current release is Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.
If you’re concerned about security, PC-BSD is one OS you might want to consider. Known for its stable and secure nature, PC-BSD is a user-friendly desktop operating system based on FreeBSD (a server OS).
The goal of PC-BSD’s creators when they envisioned PC-BSD was to create a free and complete desktop OS that is lightweight; one that doesn’t require resource-intensive protection against malware, viruses, or spyware; one that will never have a user run aground of driver issues, or anything that would hamper ease-of-use and general reliability.
With PC-BSD, you know what you’re getting right off the bat. The graphical installation program makes the install process a breeze, and the family of graphical user interfaces come ready-to-use so you don’t have to wrestle with functionality.
Essentially, PC-BSD is simple, reliable, and secure and it’s free to download.
Linux Mint is a free-to-download Linux operating system based on Ubuntu OS. It’s the most popular desktop Linux distribution and the third most widely used home operating system behind Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS.
While it uses Ubuntu as its codebase, Linux Mint has differentiated itself from Ubuntu, offering a slightly more “mainstream” take on the free OS.
Most notably, included in Linus Mint is a handful of proprietary software such as Adobe Flash and Java, making it a more familiar desktop environment for users switching from Windows or Mac OS.
If you’re like most casual PC users, chances are that the application on your computer that you get the most use out of is the web browser. Google, as part of its open-sourced Chromium OS project, decided to embrace the casual nature of most users and do away with the resource-heavy tools that users rarely employ by releasing Google Chrome OS, a specialized desktop OS that can only run Chrome browser and Chrome apps.
While Chrome OS is only available preinstalled on specialized PCs known as Chromebooks, Chromium OS is an open-sourced development version of Chrome OS that can be installed on a number of PCs.
For the user who just wants to stream Netflix, post to Facebook, and read the news online, Google Chrome OS (with Chromebook) meets those needs to a T.
For advanced users – the developers of the world who want to modify and build – joining the Chromium OS project is a worthwhile option to check out. (Only free on Chrome hardware eg. Chromebook etc)
Tell us what you use, have you tried or use any of these regularly? Comments open for 3 days below.