When contrasting Linux and Windows, one frequently hears the fallacy that Linux is not an OS anyone can use. Read this reaction about it. That recurrent argument is based on several misconceptions that I would like to discuss but, first, let us clarify something: there exists no such a thing as an easy, perfect OS. There is always a learning curve when using a system and the more you get exposed to an OS, the more "manageable" it seems. But easiness of use is only a perception, a mirage. Now, let us take a look at the misconceptions.
Some people believe that you need to know many of the hidden arcane secrets of computer sciences to be able to operate a Linux system. They say "You must know command line to use Linux". That is not necessarily true. I will present you two cases in which Windows cannot beat the simplicity of Linux:
1. Erasing USB viruses
Those pesky .exe files become a real nightmare in Windows once they jump from your USB stick to your hard drive. Talk as much as you like, but neither MS Security Essentials, nor antiviruses beat the two-click solution in Linux to get rid those annoying viruses. Yes, in Linux, you just select the virus and delete it from the USB drive and the problem is gone forever. You need no scans for reassurance, with the implication of the waste of time. Clean and fast. A simple five-second operation...or maybe less than five seconds (that depends on your trigger-happy abilities with the mouse).
In Linux, you install only once and you get pretty much everything you need: the OS, the Office Suite, and a good assortment of useful programs, not demos. After installation, you just have to start using your system. No need for entering long strings of numbers to activate anything... In Linux, you forget about registering software, or unlocking, or downloading additional programs to unlock the OS features that you were supposed to get in the first place.
It is true that you might need the console if you want to do something additional with your system. However, that depends on two factors: what you intend to do and the Linux distro that you are using. About the former, most people I know only use the computer to do simple things, like browsing the web, making documents, and keeping in contact with others. All Linux systems excel at that, with the additional plus of security. Concerning the latter factor, if you use Mandriva, Mepis, Pardus, or PCLOS, chances are that you might not need to use the console. I'm not sure about Ubuntu, as it is based on Debian testing, but if you do not stumble with your hardware while taking your first steps, I think that even Canonical's distro can work for you.
Who hasn't heard "Windows is backed up by Microsoft" as some sort of unquestionable guarantee of support? Linux, some say, does not have a company behind to help you when you have hardware problems. Now, we have to be open minded here. Who says that Windows will not give you hardware-related headaches? Remember that Windows produces the illusion of being efficient on hardware BECAUSE of the drivers released by hardware manufacturers, not because of the OS itself. What if your shiny Windows 7 lacks the driver to use, say, your scanner? That being the case, your scanner becomes an expensive piece of garbage in Windows. If there is no driver, then you either have to get new hardware or to downgrade. Do you remember Vista and its infamous hardware incompatibility? Many people were furious because, after paying for Vista, their printers did not work. But, if there IS a driver, (and you are sure because you had it on the DVD that you lost) then your option is to go driver-hunting online. If you are lucky and find it, then you have to install it... Going back to reality, the vast majority of people are so uninformed that will end up depending on a technician (who will rip them off) or on a friend who has more experience. I wonder how many of them actually depend on Microsoft every time they have a problem with their computers... I challenge you to try it: Next time your computer breaks, instead of calling a techie or a dependable friend, call Microsoft for support...as in the case of Windows 7 and the laptop batteries that has been discussed to exhaustion...
I would like to finish with an anecdote. Last week, a person came to my office because he wanted to show me something online. I let him use my computer, which was running Mandriva 2010 Spring and, after ten minutes of use, this person realized that he was not using Windows because the ALT+64 keyboard combination did not give him "@"...He used Mandriva Linux for ten minutes and did not notice it was not Windows!
If Linux is not for anyone, I guess Windows domestication is not for all of us, either.