This article has been edited and updated from the original 2014 article. For 2019, I still recommend Zorin Linux as a Windows OS replacement and now as a MacOS replacement. Five years later and I’m more confident about this recommendation.
You’ve probably heard about or been affected by the retirement of Windows XP support on April 8, 2014, or that after January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer support PCs running Windows 7. Much like Windows XP’s slow death, this wasn’t Microsoft’s first attempt to retire Windows 7. It’s just that with many users still using Windows 7, they have been putting off the inevitable for quite some time. But this time, all indications point to Windows 7 hitting end of life (EOL) on the aforementioned date.
I’m not going to dump on Windows today but I won’t be encouraging anyone to continue using Windows-anything either . There are already articles explaining how to er’ safely?’ continue use of Windows XP. Also, articles explaining how you can pay to continue use of Windows 7 past it’s EOL. Web analysis shows significant variation of Windows XP usage in different parts of the world. For example, in North America usage of Windows XP has dropped to 2.06%, but in Africa it is still at 11.02%, higher in China, but down to 18.21%, tied with Win10. Conversely, macOS in North America claims 16.82%, whereas in Asia it is only 4.4%. Microsoft’s Windows trends page shows Windows 10 hit 50 percent in the US (51 percent in the UK, 39 percent globally), while Windows 7 was 38 percent (36 percent in the UK, 46 percent globally). (Source)
After hours of testing and comparing Linux distributions, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best Linux Distro when specifically trying to replace Windows with something similar is, Zorin Linux.
Zorin Linux: Windows Replacement
Zorin OS is a Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, designed specifically for newcomers to Linux. It has a Microsoft Windows-like graphical user interface and includes many programs similar to those found in Windows. In fact, you can choose (Start -> System tools -> Zorin Look Manager) between Window XP or Windows 7 desktop look. Zorin Linux also comes with Wine, which lets users run many Windows applications on Linux. The distribution’s ultimate goal is to provide a Linux alternative to Windows while allowing users enjoy Linux within a familiar desktop environment.
Zorin Linux: MacOS Replacement
Sometime after this article was originally published, Zorin Linux has also focused on offering their OS as a MacOS replacement. Have a look at the screenshot below and notice that it’s very similar to MacOS. On the other hand, the above screenshot is very Windows-like. Zorin OS is great for users who prefer to keep a similar Windows or Mac experience while benefiting from Linux’s stability, security and low cost (often free) to maintain.
Maybe you are looking to distance yourself from Windows OS or MacOS? Then, have a look at my guide to Choosing the Best Linux Distro.
Posted: May 15, 2014 | Last Update: June 10th 2019