are there easy to work alternatives to Windows?

I have a laptop and a desktop. I pretty much just use my desktop computer for storage purposes but I sometimes use it for general use as well. It is running Windows ME and I hate that version. Are there any alternatives to Windows for someone who is somewhat computer illiterate?

I looked into all kinds of Linux programs but it’s a different language to me (no pun intended) I’m really just looking for something that I can download on this laptop, burn on a CD, then easily run it on my desktop computer to install.

is something like this out there?

To better answer your question: What, specifically, don’t you like about Windows?

The newer Windowses, like XP, are a lot better in some regards but overall usage is similar so they may or may not seem like an improvement to you. Your hardware might also not be powerful enough to run it.

If you’re willing to buy new hardware, Macs are a lot safer from Windows problems and they’re generally better-integrated. They may be a bit easier to use, but not by a whole lot. Apple does have pretty good support that’ll get you through any problems you might encounter, and they also offer all sorts of in-store training events if you want to learn. You do, however, have to pay a premium for all this.

Linux… eh. Maybe you’d want to give Linspire a try, but for the most part Linux on the desktop is more effort than it’s worth in terms of ease-of-use, compatibility, and (this is important) finding somebody who can help you.

If you don’t have any Windows-specific applications to run; you just want a machine that can browse the web, receive email, create and view wordprocessor documents and spreadsheets - those kind of basic functions, and your internet connection is provided by an enthernet connection to a router or LAN, then you could easily install Linux; Ubuntu Linux is no harder to install and use than Windows.

It gets hard if you need to install certain extra bits of software (although a lot of extra stuff can be installed with ease). If you need to run something that is only available for Windows (such as MS Access), then you’re stuck with Windows.

If you mean “is there a free OS which is identical to Windows”, then forget it. All OSes, and indeed all versions of Windows, are different from one another to varying extents. The advantage of Linux is that many distributions (another recommendation for Ubuntu) have live CDs, which you can boot from directly and experiment with while leaving the permanent setup on the hard drive untouched.

And if the desktop has nothing important on it, there’s nothing stopping you trying installing various Linux setups one after another and seeing if you like them.

(Regarding Linspire and Ubuntu)

One of the problems with Linux on the desktop, IMO, is that it’s hard to find additional resources beyond what’s included with the CDs.

Everything that comes with Ubuntu, for example, should work – but when you want to find more software, it’s difficult to know even where to start. You can’t go to a retail store and buy Linux software. Most of the big download sites on the web don’t have Linux programs. The open-source sites are confusing, slow, decentralized and disorganized. It’s nearly impossible to find a good program unless you already know its name. Then when you find the program, you have to make sure you know what your hardware is and which Linux distro you have so you can get the right kind of installer. Bleh.

And when you need support, you’ll have to find a usergroup or forum somewhere that can help you, and that’s not always easy.

That’s why I recommended Linspire instead of the other distros: Click-N-Run, their download service, supposedly gives you a large library of programs that are easy to find, download, and install. In terms of support, I think they offer both web forums and email support directly from them, a rarity in the non-enterprise Linux world.

Are these thoughts accurate? I haven’t actually used Linspire before, being the cheapskate that I am, but it seems to be designed from the ground up with the beginner in mind – essentially marketing itself as a low-cost alternative to Windows. It doesn’t really emphasize its Linux roots, whereas Ubuntu clearly aims to be just a “better” Linux distro and doesn’t really seem to offer any more ease of use than Fedora.

Anyone familiar with both and can compare them for us?

Ubuntu has something called Synaptic Package Manager (it’s actually just a GUI front end for the apt-get installer) - this provides a service that sounds quite similar to click-N-run - you just choose what you want and it finds it and installs it.

Win Me is perhaps one of the worst OS’s that ever came out of Bill’s garage, no wonder you don’t like it. If the laptop had the balls, upgrade to XP, but it will need some really big balls. If not you may try going down to Win SE, both are a huge improvement to ME. It issue w/ downgradig is finding drivers for your laptop’s hardware, which may not be easy.

And Windows computers are a lot safer from Mac problems :stuck_out_tongue:

To clarify:

I don’t hate Windows… in fact I like Windows XP… I DON’T like Windows ME, that version is horrible IMHO.

I’m just looking for something easy to install basically. I looked into linux and saw lists of 10 files .iso…I had no idea… I’m pretty illiterate when it comes to that.

I’m not looking for an alternative to Windows specifically, maybe I should have worded it differently and said ‘a good desktop, point and click, perhaps icons, runs applications, program.’

Does that help?

Ah, OK. An ISO is just a single file which contains everything needed to burn onto a CD. Open whatever CD writing software you have, and look for a menu option saying something like “burn image”. This will take an ISO and create a whole CD, which you can then use either to install Linux, or to run Linux directly from the CD (depending on which CD you’ve created!)

Go to a page such as this, download the first link, burn the ISO to a CD, and boot from it. With a little bit of luck, it’ll load Ubuntu straight from the CD.

Well that is true-but with the MacBook we are gaining on you! Pretty soon Macs will have all the troubles of WinWorld, but probably few of the advantages. Sigh.

In your opinion, is Windows 2000 Pro better than ME? (Question to anyone)

Yes 2000 would be a better choice IMHO then ME.

Well true, but it will get some of the advantages when they finally run a AMD cpu instead of the Intel one.

I think almost anyone would say that it is much better. To give a reason, Windows used to be in two family branches. The first was the Windows 95-98-Me branch which amounted to piling fancy code on top of DOS until the whole thing was about to collapse in on itself. The second branch was the Windows NT family that was originally designed to be a rock-solid corporate server OS. Microsoft realized they were going to have to do something drastic with the desktop market so they developed Windows 2000. It was originally designed for corporate desktop use but plenty of people used it for home use as well and it works fine for that and it is very stable. Windows XP was an attempt to make Windows 2000 have more bells and whistles for different markets but they are very similar under the hood. Microsoft abandoned the Windows ME line for good so that is all over with. Windows Vista is coming out in a few months but there should be no need to adopt that anytime soon.

I would say so, but then being hit in the head with a spade is better than Windows ME.

Win2K is guaranteed to be more stable and secure than ME, because it’s in the NT family, which is a whole 'nother operating system and handles hardware and misbehaving applications more cleverly.
BUT… Win2K has trouble running some applications and was ignored by some hardware manufacturers when it came to releasing drivers, so while it’s technically a fairly good OS, it can be tricky to set up and use.