Moving beyond Windows.

/Moving beyond Windows.

From the article “Why I’ve all but given up on Windows“:

But now, other than for test systems and virtual machines, I carry out my day-to-day work on a variety of OS X, iOS and Android systems. I barely giving my Windows PC systems a second glance. My primary work system is a MacBook Pro, and in the ten months I’ve had it it’s flawlessly done everything I’ve asked of it, from run Microsoft Word to render 4K video. I’ve lost count of the number of notebooks I’ve owned over the years, but this MacBook Pro is, by far, the most reliable system I’ve owned, and I put part of that down to the fact that it doesn’t run Windows.

Sure, I’ve downloaded and installed Windows 8.1 onto a number of systems for testing, and I’ve put an awful lot of hours into getting to know this latest release of Windows, but I see nothing in this new version that excites me sufficiently to tempt me back into the Microsoft ecosystem. If anything, the effect has been the exact opposite, confirming my belief that parting ways with Windows was the right thing to do.

I use Windows for exactly two things: my office job, and gaming (given I’m not a console girl). Oh, and also on those very rare occasions when I pick up PhotoShop and do some art. For art and gaming, Windows is fine, largely because the OS is mostly “invisible” to the task. I have two monitors attached to my home PC, and the second one is mostly used to run a VM session of Ubuntu for browsing the internet and watching YouTube whilst gaming/arting in my main monitor. About the only other application I run with any other frequency is iTunes.

For everything else–email, writing, project management-y stuff, programming/coding, et ceteraet cetera–I have a combination of my laptop, phone, and tablet, all of which are Apple products heavily leveraging various (and mostly Google-run) SaaS/”Cloud” offerings.

The first nail in the coffin of Windows’ irrelevance to me as a home user came when I was looking to re-purpose an old PC into a media centre. I had the XMBC install, but needed an OS to run it on. I was halfway through looking into pirating a copy of Windows–because that’s the way we’d “always done it”–when it suddenly occurred to me installing Ubuntu would be, a) easier, b) cheaper, and c) legal.

The final nail will be something like SteamOS. I’m never going to be a console gamer–I play too many MMOs to give up the keyboard/mouse as input devices, for starters–but I’m wedded to the physical desktop gaming experience, not the underlying OS. And it’s been very interesting to watch more and more games port over to OS X and Linux, not to mention the rise of mobile/tablet gaming. The second I can replace Windows with something else–anything else–and still retain the ability to play all my favourite games is the day I say goodbye to the OS forever.

Oh, except at the office. Right.

Speaking of, I have Office installed at home on my desktop, and it gets opened maybe twice a year, to ensure that documents created in Pages look like I expect them to. I bought Office for $50 via a corporate program. If it cost any more than that, I wouldn’t have bothered. I’ve already written before about my general dislike of Word, and I think I must be the exact target market Apple was going for with its redesign of Pages which I much, much prefer.

Word, like all of Office, is clunky and cluttered and awkward and infused with a kind of old-fashioned early-2000s ugliness. For someone used to the retina-crispness of products like GMail and Evernote (or even WordPress), there’s something viscerally depressing about using Office. It sounds silly, but UI design matters. That’s why companies like Apple throw so much money at it, and why customers reward them for it. (Also see: Windows font display, which is miles behind everything else, particularly now retina screens are become the norm on other platforms.)

At work, I resent having to use Outlook. I resent that it’s not Gmail, not Calendar. I resent that SharePoint isn’t Basecamp or Asana or Google Docs or Igloo. I resent that our Evernote-equivalent is OneNote. Do you even know what OneNote is? No, you don’t, because no one does. Because no one ever in the history of the world has ever voluntarily used OneNote given access to the alternatives.

IT departments all over the world are currently at war with their users. Call it Cloud or  BYOD all you want; what it’s really about is corporate rebellion against Microsoft. At the moment, corporate inertia–and, occasionally, data sovereignty laws/paranoia over US government spying–it letting Windows keep its stranglehold in the enterprise. And, when it comes down to it, Microsoft’s server infrastructure–Active Directory, Exchange, and the like–does work and does work well. But business users, and executives in particular, don’t see that stuff. All they see is that SharePoint isn’t Yammer, and that’s what’s going to drive change. (Literally, in this particular case, given Microsoft bought Yammer out in 2012.)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Microsoft is now where Apple was back in the 90s, at least in the home market. It’s not BlackBerry-level dead in the water, but if there’s one lesson to be learnt from that failure it’s that relying on corporate clients to never bow to user demands for the Coolkid Tech is a road straight to irrelevance (see also the fact that Windows was the Coolkid Tech in the smartphone space, circa 2006).

Apple, famously, came out of its slump and went on to take over the world (see also: IMB, HP, etc.). Microsoft will almost certainly do the same. How it does, however, will be the thing to watch.

It’s gonna be an interesting decade.

2018-05-22T08:56:04+00:0018th December, 2013|Tags: microsoft, tech, windows|Comments Off on Moving beyond Windows.