Can I be a Windows, Apple, Linux, and Google guy all at once?

Can I be a Windows, Apple, Linux, and Google guy all at once?

Summary: I'm having an identity crisis. Regular readers of both this blog and my Education blog will know that I border on being a Google fanboi and Linux tends to work its way into my computer passions as well.

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I'm having an identity crisis. Regular readers of both this blog and my Education blog will know that I border on being a Google fanboi and Linux tends to work its way into my computer passions as well. I work almost constantly in the cloud and Linux obviously provides a cheap, stable platform for whatever I want to do online. My primary desktop and exclusive web and file server platforms? Ubuntu. Google Apps makes my life easy in my day job and manages virtually all of my communication needs in and out of work. However...

Apple is sending me a MacBook Pro and an iPod Touch to evaluate as an instructional platform and I'm actually excited about it.  I've been tired of my MacBook since about 6 months after I got it, but more than a few Mac fans have told me that's simply because I'm not fully exploiting the software and platform.  Sure, I'm a cloud sort of guy, but how much am I missing in terms of creating rich interactive content for the students and teachers I support as well as for readers? I may find (as I've always expected) that the platform can't justify the cost (and, in fact, that the platform itself may be a problem given its closed nature), but maybe not.  Will the Mac inspire me to create new kinds of content when I've largely stuck with written media for so long?  I may be reading-oriented, but a lot of people with whom I work and interact aren't.  We'll see.

Then, of course, there's the whole regional-content-control, we-don't-like-Google, Adobe-stinks craziness coming out of Cupertino that makes Apple harder to like. But people sure are doing cool stuff with their iPads, aren't they? And third-party developers have come up with all sorts of intermediate Apps that make it feel like Google and Apple can play nicely together. And what's this I hear about almost reasonably-priced Core i7-powered MacBook Pros (of course they couldn't make one of these the loaner they're sending me...)?

And then there's Microsoft. Microsoft was easy to hate a few years back when they were the antitrust bad guys. Then they released Vista and it was even easier to say that they'd sealed their fate. Apple and Linux were going to dominate the desktop! The 3000 pound gorilla was dead! And suddenly, the betas of Windows 7 were stable, fast, attractive, and everything that Vista should have been. Office Web Apps and other Windows Live properties started to appear and mature and were compelling bridges to the cloud. And if the cloud wasn't your game, Office 2010 rolled into beta and was even better than Office 2007. Seriously, have you used the beta? It rocks out loud. I may spend a lot of time in the cloud, but I also often have to produce publication-ready documents. Besides, have you ever tried to do a mail merge in Google Docs? Of course you haven't, because you can't.

It's gotten to the point where I actually look forward to hearing from Microsoft PR since they usually have something particularly cool to tell me about. In fact, Office 2010 just might be one of the more compelling reasons to buy a Windows PC. Then there's Sharepoint 2010, the cloud-oriented meat of which has already appeared in Live@Edu and Office Live Workspace.

So what's a guy to do? It makes it pretty tough to be a fanboi when the competition in so many aspects of the personal and enterprise computing spaces is so fierce and a variety of companies are cranking out really great software and applications. Not that I feel the need to be a fanboi in the first place, but it sure is a great time to be a geek and a pundit.

Topics: Browser, Apple, CXO, Google, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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92 comments
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  • RE: Can I be a Windows, Apple, Linux, and Google guy all at once?

    It's easy Christopher! Use the right tool for
    the job! You're actually quite lucky to have
    access to more than one platform...how many
    of your students have Windows, Linux and Mac
    at home, and I don't mean running in some
    half-baked virtual machine, I'm talking the
    full enchilada!?
    Windows has its place, Mac has its and Linux
    has a spot as well...might as well throw in
    FreeBSD while we're at it!
    Why limit yourself and your students?
    Let each choose which suits their needs best.
    Heck, it could even be DOS...I doubt it very
    much, but I still get emails in regards to
    plain old DOS!
    wizard57m-cnet
    • exactly!

      As well as computers, I also do wood-working. I have a dozen hammers,
      six electric sanders, a dozen powered and unpowered saws. I want the
      right tool for the right job.

      I wouldn't necessarily write a user manual or edit a video in the cloud,
      but its spectacular for some things. I can blog, see my notes, get email,
      etc, from any device. Sync just happens, never any need for hooking
      phone to PC. A superbe tool, when used correctly.

      I have seen many Apple products used as toys, not so many as tools. I
      guess some do find them actually useful. Apple, however, might benefit
      from more tools on their devices, and fewer "tools" trying to combat
      Adobe, Google, and freedoms of their customers.
      Hazydave
  • Solution

    Run Microsoft Office Web Apps on Google Chrome on Ubuntu
    on an Apple Macbook. Problem solved.
    Theli
    • Fatal flaw in the "solution"

      Google Chrome? ROTFLMAO! Yeah, RIGHT!
      SpectreWriter
      • Doesn't seem like a flaw to me

        What do you mean? It's the only browser to not be
        hacked in the Pwn2Own competition for 2 years and
        it's super fast plus it has extensions now
        chrisportela
  • the idiotique preconceptions never end

    "we-don?t-like-Google"
    unless google is the main service provider on the ipod touch, iphone
    and ipad, let alone the search engine to boot on all apple hardware.
    apple obviously doesn't like google!

    and "Adobe-stinks"?
    flash stinks, that's all they're saying. but pundits fight tooth and nails
    over adobe's proprietary crap instead of supporting apple's push for
    an open standard based web (html5). weren't you all for "open"?

    and i guess you can live perfectly fine in a microsoft/linux/apple
    world. just stop the idiotique fud about apple already. closed? how are
    they anymore closed than microsoft, amazon, sony etc.?
    bannedfromzdnetagain
    • Good lord.

      If you don't know how Apple is more closed then MS then you shouldn't even be posting here. Get educated. Its simple and obvious.
      Cayble
      • Umm...

        It's you that needs to grow some brain cells. Apple is 100 times more
        open than MS...
        jf79
        • Not really

          You can only run their OS on their hardware. The only reason you can't run all three OS's on other hardware...is that Apple won't allow it. How open is that?
          bmonsterman
          • Companies are as open as their business models dictate.

            For some it is successful for others a closed model is more successful.
            And nobody really cares about a closed business model being good or
            bad until it becomes popular, then the competition starts whining
            about how closed it is.

            Likewise, Companies will extoll the virtues of the open model until
            they get beat by a closed model and then make their own closed
            model to compete. (i.e. Zune)

            As far as I'm concerned, I don't care if it's open or closed as long as it
            produces a superior product. If it doesn't I go elsewhere (open or
            closed.)
            Tigertank
          • Sure

            My statement wasn't aimed on whether open or closed is good thing for the company, or the consumer. I was just saying that Apple's products are arguably as closed as Microsoft's.
            bmonster
          • As closed is fine. More closed is wrong. Cayble fails. (NT)

            NT
            The Danger is Microsoft
        • Oh really? Care to specify exactly where and how?

          Or are you some feeble brained Apple gullible follower?
          WinTard
          • I'll be glad to

            Being based on an openly viewable unix code, OS X thereby less closed than
            Windows, who wouldn't release their code for review whatsoever until their feet
            were held to the fire--at which point they opened up and provided a couple
            hundred line (a tiny portion)
            lelandhendrix@...
          • Ok, so

            They use Free-BSD as the basis for their OS. That doesn't mean they are releasing thier code for review. OSX still has plenty of code that's closed, it's not open source. And the iPhone OS is completely closed. In fact, I don't think Apple has released one single line of open source code.
            bmonsterman
          • Ignorance is no excuse... <Google />

            There's always something new to learn.

            <b>quote</b>

            Apple incorporates open code from GNU, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and
            FreeBSD into Mac OS X.

            <b>unquote</b>

            http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/RDM.Tech.Q1.07/818DF0CE-
            0BC8-4AE7-9CE9-8033889B1B35.html

            In regards to Apple and open source code:

            http://www.opensource.apple.com/

            or

            http://www.opensource.apple.com/release/mac-os-x-1063/

            or

            http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/unix_open_source/

            or

            <b>quote</b>

            As the first major computer company to make Open Source
            development a key part of its ongoing software strategy, Apple
            remains committed to the Open Source development model. Major
            components of Mac OS X, including the UNIX core, are made available
            under Apple?s Open Source license, allowing developers and students
            to view source code, learn from it and submit suggestions and
            modifications. In addition, Apple uses software created by the Open
            Source community, such as the HTML rendering engine for Safari, and
            returns its enhancements to the community.

            <b>unquote</b>

            http://www.apple.com/opensource/

            Clearly, there are quite a few lines of open source code used by Apple,
            adapted for Mac OS X, and released by Apple.

            Some examples:

            http://www.macresearch.org/grand-central-now-open-all

            http://webkit.org/

            http://open.iphonedev.com/

            http://www.opensource.apple.com/release/iphone-313/

            There's more... <Google />

            This article by Frank Fox at Low End Mac is worth reading in full:

            <b>quote</b>

            We can see that Microsoft has put a toe in the open source water.
            Apple, one the other hand, is swimming around and enjoying the full
            benefits of open source.

            <b>unquote</b>

            http://lowendmac.com/ed/fox/09ff/apple-open-source.html

            It seems to me Microsoft code is much more closed than Apple's.
            smdunn
        • What's 100 Times Worth when it's Near Zero?

          Fold improvement is meaningless, even if true, when the amount is TINY.
          daves1646
      • Great (non) response Cayble the Windows Guy! Guess there is no answer.

        You fail!
        The Danger is Microsoft
        • Look who's talking... {nt}

          :\
          WinTard
    • Judge the Company by its Actions, not its Words.

      Idiotique? Perhaps idiotic is the word you intended?
      Please, for a moment, judge the people (Company) by what they do and not what they say.
      What is Apples corporate policy regarding the use of these services, Flash, Google by application builders?
      Open access? or Restrictive/penalty oriented?
      Cooperative?

      So, not being a Mac user or even a close follower, I can't say whether the price of being restricted from the use of these really pays benefits, but from an outsiders perspective it appears to be CONTROL FOR the sake of PROTECTING Apple Computer Inc's PROFITS.

      Judge by actions and not words and one begins to see the truth of motivations. Words are intended to influence thought, actions show the meaning.
      daves1646