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5 more killer features Windows 9 should steal from Linux

Chris Hoffman | Sept. 19, 2014
If the latest Windows 9 leaks are any indication, some of the operating system's coolest new features will look a lot like what Linux users already enjoy: Like the virtual desktops Linux users have had since the 90's, and a centralized notification center like the one available in GNOME Shell.

If the latest Windows 9 leaks are any indication, some of the operating system's coolest new features will look a lot like what Linux users already enjoy: Like the virtual desktops Linux users have had since the 90's, and a centralized notification center like the one available in GNOME Shell.

Windows 9 also looks like it'll co-opt Ubuntu's vision of a single operating system interface that can run on all form factors, complete with apps that run in windowed mode when it makes more sense to do so. Who would have imagined? Windowed applications are a big new feature in Windows.

Further reading: Windows 9 rumor roundup: Everything we know so far

But there are other great Linux features Microsoft should copy, too. And hey, I'm not just complaining here — Windows would legitimately be better if they stole these features. As Apple once said: "Redmond, start your photocopiers."

A package manager (a.k.a. desktop app store)

One of the big new features in Windows 8 was the Windows Store. Well, Linux was doing "app stores" since before they were cool, and they were called package managers. A package manager is a centralized place for installing all your software so you don't have to crawl the web.

The Windows Store should have been a package manager, or desktop app store, full of all the desktop applications you'd want. On Linux, you can pop open your package manager and install anything from Steam to Firefox to LibreOffice to the Adobe Flash Player. All it takes is a few clicks — the software is downloaded and installed automatically, with no hopscotching through software installation wizards.

Instead, Microsoft went completely off the rails and invented a new sort of app (first known as "Metro apps" and since called "Modern apps," "Immersive apps," "Windows 8-style apps," and finally "Store apps"). Most Windows users have no interest in using a full-screen calculator app on a desktop computer monitor — something Microsoft is just now finally realizing. To make matters worse, the Windows Store was ignored and left to the scammers. Rather than containing trickster apps that take your money only to guide you through installing free desktop software, the Windows Store should just contain the real desktop applications in the first place. As on Linux, there should be a single place for installing all your desktop apps.

Software repositories (aka an open app store)

On Linux, you aren't just limited to your Linux distribution's own "package repositories" the way you're limited to Microsoft's Windows Store on Windows and Apple's Mac App Store on Mac OS X. Instead, anyone can make their own package repositories.

 

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