Windows and Linux work on completely different architecture and offers a whole new user experience. With Windows, you can find an extensive user base and stock Windows experience, Linux offers you more than that “open source operating system” which it’s popularly known for. Let’s discuss top 10 key differences between Windows and Linux operating system.

Differences between Windows & Linux Operating System

Access to Source Code

This is the important difference between Windows and Linux. Where Microsoft Windows works on a series of graphical interface OS, developed and marketed by Microsoft. It does not allow public access to its source code of the program. Contrary to that Linux is a POSIX-compliant and Unix-like computer operating system. It is open source software development program and allows access to its source code. It is related to GNU Public License which allows users to have full access to source code to each kernel (Linux kernel). Where Linux kernel is the foundation of the Linux OS, this access becomes important.

No Registry in Linux

Windows stores all its programs, settings, apps and hardware information in its Registry. Whereas Linux doesn’t have something called registry as a master database. It stores information on a program-by-program basis under the hierarchy of users. It doesn’t offer centralized database in the form of registry thus you need not clean registry very often to keep your system working well. 

Licensing Options

Microsoft offers its products based on the license. You can buy licenses of Windows according to the number of machines you have to install on it (ex 3 licenses for 3 machines). Whereas with Linux, you can install Linux app on multiple machines with one single copy of Linux distribution (or Application). Its GPL-licensed OS even allows you to modify the software, use it or even republish or sell it until you make the code available. 


With Windows, you can store information (files and settings) of the program anywhere on the system. This setting makes it difficult to transfer or backup user data (files & settings) from one machine to another. With Linux, it stores used data (files & settings) in the single home directory of the computer, which makes it easier to backup or switches data from one machine to another.


Windows usually boots from a primary partition of the system or first hard disk. Whereas Linux can boot from primary partition or a logical partition inside an extended partition. In fact, Linux can boot from any hard drive in the system.

Proven Security

Windows is developed, tested and distributed by one team from the company, which constraint the chances of fair testing of the software. With Linux, it is open source which allows access to its source code. This single reason has allowed numerous users to try and test its source code, which helps find exploitable holes in Linux instantly. Thus, it is more secured.


Windows doesn’t allow user access to its source code which makes it impossible to customize the software. Linux is an open source software which gives the full user access to its source code of the program. It helps users edit the code as per their needs.

File Structure

 On Linux system, you can find a whole new architecture and file system compared to Microsoft Windows. You can’t find My Documents on Ubuntu or Program Files on Fedora. It works under a single file tree where all your drives are mounted into that single tree.

Package Manager

To install any program on Windows, you need to visit any website or its download section from where you find some EXE file to run. Once you run that EXE file then only you consider your program been installed. To remove these programs, you need to mess with Control Panel. In Linux system, you find a whole different process to install a program. Here you find a Package Manager, which allow you browse, install or remove any programming package. To download or remove any program on your system, you need to search for your package manager’s repositories. 

Interchangeable Interface

Windows usually offers classic and similar user interface on most of its versions. You can’t find much difference in the system tray, start menu, taskbar, Windows Explorer or other settings. In Linux, the interface of your system of completely segregated from the core system. It allows you to switch to another interface environment without reaching out to reinstallation things.

Reviewing these key and fundamental differences between Windows and Linux can help you have a better idea of both the operating systems. You can look for many other differences between both two operating systems if you are planning to switch any of these operating systems.


Windows and Linux both work on entirely different architecture and software and offer completely different user experience. 

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