Good links. I suspect you are more interested in the technical merits of one over the other but this is difficult to quantify on an ongoing basis as each system is in a constant state of leapfrogging over the other in technical issues. From a technical aspect, Windows has the upper hand in the area of a small handful of applications such as CAD, personal finance and some multimedia formats, but this is changing.
Linux is an operating system kernel that was inspired by UNIX (through minix) but optimized for the small personal computer market. UNIX has been around for close to 40 years and is considered the "big guns" of computing by everyone who's anyone in industry, medicine, academia, space travel, air travel, research, finances, etc.
The problem was that UNIX costs money and lots of it (way more than Windows) ...so Linus Torvalds and others opted to design something for the home user that was free or next to free. Linux today refers to Linux the kernel and a group of software applications based on opensource software correctly known as GNU/Linux.
Unfortunately the perfect OS hasn't been designed yet. Each has its place. The above posts are correct in that Linux has inherently better security designed into the system whereas Windows has it as an add-on feature (although MS is now "borrowing" some of these features from Linux and of course claiming them as their own innovations).
MS's contribution to computing has been making it available to the masses. MS's damage to computing has been that in order to make it ubiquitous, it has turned the PC into an "appliance" much the same as your toaster or lawnmower. You don't need to know or care about how stuff gets done. Just press a button and stuff gets done. In reality, having used Windows for W95 through Wxp I can tell you that ease of use is more a marketing whitewash than reality. I've had plenty of problems with drivers, incompatible formats, forced upgrades, viruses, reinstalls and EOL'd products using Windows.
Although it DIDN'T used to be, nowadays In Linux, you can either choose "press a button" or you can dig deeper into the guts of your system if you wish. Linux does have some challenges ahead of it mostly due to an ingrained infrastructure and psychological momentum garnered by Windows over the past 20 years. Basically, the Winapp model (MS and others) allows a small handful of vendors to control just about every aspect of the user experience based on what's best (financially) for those vendors. This results in forced upgrades, end of life or support issues, and unhealthy hardware alliances.
Linux has some of the SAME issues. The difference is that in Windows, these problems are ARTIFICIALLY created to maximize profits. In the opensource community these issues exist for more benign reasons. But they still exist. The technical comparisons between the two Os's can change on any given day. Sometimes Linux is ahead of Windows and sometimes vice versa. For me the opensource model has some strikes against it from a business perspective, but in total has the best prospect for being an all 'round higher quality operating system. If you measure quality only by the number of installed systems then Windows has the upper hand.
The rate of progression in Linux has skyrocketed more in the past 18 months than Windows has in the past 18 years , but the infrastructure favors the Winapp model so for now, Linux is a niche market. Having said that, I have used Mandriva for my business for the past three years and all the contractors and clients I do business with are none the wiser. Linux and its community has the desire AND ability to be interoperable with as many hardware and software platforms as possible with an eye towards OPENNESS. MS also wants interoperability....but on its own terms, using its own closely guarded and hidden formats , specifications and protocols. Which do you think is better for the consumer?
Hope this helps
Edited by Trio3b, 24 August 2008 - 04:57 PM.