The most prominent difference between the two is the accessibility of their respective kernel codes. Supported by the GNU Public License, Linux provides full access to their users the entire source code of the operating system. For advanced users, this helps analyze and work on possible bugs. Windows codes, however, are not available to the public. There are risks in attempting to get through codes of the OS; its inaccessibility is to avoid abusive developers who find weaknesses within the system. This is connected to another distinction between the two: licensing and modifying conditions. A Microsoft license is allowed to be used for one hardware or application; also, home, professional, and school licenses are available to fit specific programs. Updates and bug fixes are done by Microsoft with their updates. With Linux, all users are allowed to create modification and republish their own solutions. Its single copy may be used to several hardwares.
The exclusivity of Microsoft applications and their support are limited to license holders. Paid tech support can provide specific solutions and troubleshooting right away. Some Linux distributions have paid tech support as well, however, most users seek assistance thru online community. Although there are chances wherein inquiries get responses right away, some more difficult cases take hours or days to be resolved. With the openness of Linux OS, problems may not be resolved through same methods done by another. Other factors pertaining to modified structure of the OS add up to the challenge in Linux; that is why only experienced developers should work on major changes in the kernel codes. Nevertheless, the online support for Linux is more active technical support.
Another specific between the two popular operating systems is its security. Windows, still being the most popular OS around, is the target of majority of viruses and malwares. The security measures to avoid this gets massive attention from Microsoft and Anti-virus software providers as well. Monthly patch updates are downloadable for bug fixes and virus database. With Linux, there is not much cases of viruses and malwares like with Windows OS. If so, these issues may be solved pronto; the openness of the OS helps developers see and detect what may the problem be. It may only take hours or days to find patch updates for viruses, unlike Windows' monthly patch updates.
Each operating systems have their own pros and cons. Take your time in deciding if you would like to jump into the Linux bandwagon. If you are still a little undecided, some users prefer to dual-boot so they can try Linux without removing Windows just yet.