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Head to Head: Windows 7 vs Ubuntu 9.10

Windows 7 turns to face its latest challenger in the form of Ubuntu 9.10, the latest and greatest flavour of Linux to be released.

Interface

After your brief installation process you'll arrive at the Ubuntu desktop to find a smart, sleek operating system interface that has shades of both Windows and Mac. A bar sits across the top of the screen with icons at the top right for date and time, email notifications, wireless, audio and battery. Menus to get to applications, folders and system preferences are on the left.

Open files and folders and applications appear in the task bar at the bottom and there are some nice touches, such as the minimise-all button at the bottom left and the recycle bin located at the bottom right. Just to the left of this there's a virtual workspaces tool, as there is on the Mac.

The File Browser interface will also be fairly straightforward for Windows users with default folders for Documents, Music Pictures, Video and Downloads. It's clearly based on Windows XP and is perfectly effective but, the forward, back and up folder navigation may seem a little dated for anyone now comfortable with the Windows-style breadcrumb approach that was introduced with Vista.

It also seems quaint to have to point and click to launch applications. Where's the system wide search as in Windows 7?

Linux many have a reputation for leanness and efficiency, but Ubuntu can do whizzy too. In System Preferences you can adjust the visual effect and while it defaulted to Normal on our test system, pushing it up to Extra gave us Windows that stretch and wobble when they move. And if you want to really go to town on the effects you can install an app to give you more.

It's impressive but there's no doubt that Microsoft has done a great job with Windows 7, with Aero peek, jumplists and and its highly colourful array of icons making for a much improved task bar. And we would be averse to living without Instant search. Now rivalling Mac OS X, Window 7's interface is the very epitome of modern computing.

Winner: Windows 7

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