Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

Summary: Whether you're a Windows user or a Mac user, do yourself a favour and branch out to something different. The ability to change is huge, and it may land you your next job over someone else.


The vast majority of students use Windows, with a small selection using Mac's and a very niche number using a Linux variant. But what good is it if you are going into a working environment and they don't use the software you've always been used to?

It's not what you use; it's how you adapt. In the wise words of a good friend and a PhD student of bio-mechanical engineering:

"Some people are just Windows people. Some people are just Mac people. Of course there are people who get muddled up in between, but there's no harm in not making your mind up. It's pretty much as simple as that".

I can't really disagree with that statement. But the conversation progressed to the working world, in that though she was brought up through school and university to use Windows, within the first few weeks of being in the lab she had to use a Mac.

She had no choice but to adapt. And seeing as she had never used a Mac before, she found it difficult to escape the Windows-mindset.

Within a few days, she got her head around it and could function at full speed, albeit finding new tools and tricks that she found previously in Windows. But nevertheless she adapted - rather quickly and efficiently. In such a short space of time, she realised how similar the experiences actually were, and that the ability to adapt to her new environment was already established from prior knowledge.

Even though I had never used Ubuntu before, or any Linux operating system for that matter, I went 48 hours into an environment I had never been in before, and made it to the end with a great sense of admiration for the open-source competitor.

While I wouldn't necessarily use it as my main production machine for writing essays and suchlike, when you're on a long haul flight from London to New York, running Ubuntu does boost the battery life to hold out for the long run.

My argument is simple. Students of today are usually in two firm camps: Windows users and Mac users. Neither is right nor wrong. It doesn't matter what you use or how you use it. What is important is that the working world may not be so giving to your pre-existing needs.

So though you shouldn't necessarily permanently deviate from your operating system to another, you should branch out. Take the plunge and go and visit an Apple store, or a Microsoft store for that matter. Pick up something you haven't used before and have a play. Take a look, use it for a while, see what you can do with it, browse, write, and experiment.

The same with Linux. If you can, crack open a virtual machine and install Ubuntu and have a root around. Don't be disheartened by the confusing command lines or the weird looking interface. Really give it a go, and enjoy the experience of using it.

The skill you will learn is not how to use another, alien operating system but the ability to adapt. It's like a right-handed person writing with their left hand: the knowledge is there, the skill is pre-existing but the ability to persevere and to adapt to the new way of working is absolutely vital.

Plus - if you have on your resume that you can work with either Windows, Mac or Linux, then that's going to make you far more attractive in the workplace as the skills are there and the company won't have to shell out precious money to invest in training "just another graduate student".

God only knows what you'll face in the working world, so get used to everything you can. Granted, it probably won't be Mac OS X or Linux, but can you afford to take the risk?

It all boils down to experience and the ability to change.

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

    [Plus - if you have on your resume that you can work with either Windows, Mac or Linux, then that?s going to make you far more attractive in the workplace]

    I guess that would depend upon what you do for a living .... As a Windows programmer, I've never been asked if I know how to use a Mac, much less Linux.
    • Bullseye

      Ya gott love how people think their little cocoons are the universe.
      • I know. That's been the biggest complaint with Apple users

        they act as if there is no universe beyond the one Apple created.

        (you walked right into that one, frgough! :) )
        John Zern
      • Little cocoon?

        Have you seen the marketshare numbers? So while I won't argue that knowing other OSs is a bad thing (I'm glad I tried OS X, now I know first hand just how bad it is and that I would never work for an employer who forced me to use it), you have to admit that Windows only people are living in a [b]huge[/b] cocoon! :)
    • Author probably never did any serious job hunting

      I cannot say for Linux but I can guarantee having MAC on the resume helps little if not down right nothing.
      • Well that also depends on the industry your supporting...

        @LBiege... some top end Pro Audio Tools publish their software primarily to MAC. Not to say that there are not professional tools for audio setup on windows, but I know that some schools teach the MAC setup.

        Disney/Pixar used Linux to create animated movies such as Finding Nemo, in that shop it would be a huge benefit to know Linux.

        The Education sector uses a full mixture, depending on the campus. There are some campuses that are primarily MACs, other Linux, and more often Windows.

        But if you are good are job hunting, and if your serious about specific companies, typically you would do some networking to find out what they are using. If they are primarily a Windows shop then anything but Windows will do you little good. If the run a mix, then having the ability to work with multiple OSes is a big plus. If the company is primarily MAC, well then your resume needs to be geared toward the MAC.

        I have talked to several trainers who all say that while Windows is dominate, it is always a good idea to show on a resume that you do have the ability to adapt, should the company decides to change platforms. But again, all of this is information that can be gleaned by making important networking contacts.
      • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

        It helps as much as me putting I can speak swedish on my resume.

        For anyone working in high tech I would never ever recommend avoiding windows. The job opportunities for windows is far greater than anything else. Why would you want to start off limiting your options? Not only work options but salary options as well. Windows developers are paid well and if you don't like your job, its easy to switch to another company. In my 20 years of development I have never had any problems moving from company to company. I even relocated across the country just because I want to live somewhere else. And finding work didn't take more than 3 weeks. If my core skill set was Mac, good luck with that.
      • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

        @LBiege I think it does. Just as @rengek says, it's like speaking another language. If you get through the job interview process and you land yourself the job, and your first day involves almost crying because the entire organisation uses an operating system you have no clue about, then that's going to cause issues.

        Many will know, that speaking another language - such as Swedish, opens up the door to many others. It's not the vocabulary you learn as such, it's the ability to adapt and the ability to learn how to learn - basically.
      • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

        @JM1981: Most high-end audio/video shops aren't going to give much credence to any operating system - OS skill set is pretty easy to train into a person. The more important skills will be either the theory and knowledge behind the art itself (are you a good designer / animator / audio engineer), or the specialized software they will be using (Pro Tools, Logic, Final Cut Pro, Avid, Renderman, etc).
    • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

      @roteague So you wouldn't be interested in a high paying job developing for a Linux platform? I to was a Microsoft developer until a Linux company was hiring and I decided to apply, allowing them to understand that I had hardly used Linux or developed on another OS but was super keen to learn. Two years on I am now lead developer, deploying applications over customer servers (Linux servers) and loving using my Ubuntu desktop over and above Windows ... in fact I no longer use Windows at all. Being able to develop for an open standards system allows you to be capable in others as well.
    • Not surprising

      "As a Windows programmer, I've never been asked if I know how to use a Mac, much less Linux."

      The windows guy doesn't recognise the value in learning other approaches. If more windows programmers had exposure to *nix we would have had the difficulty we did getting their software to work on platforms after XP.
      Richard Flude
    • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

      There are two reasons to have it on the resume.
      First to inform them that you are familiar with the environment.
      Second is to demonstrate your flexibility. You are more valuable if you can deal with unusual situations and are able to think in different ways.
      • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

        I hire developers. If mac skill is on your resume I would say thats nice now what do you know about windows because I need you to write in .net and since apple doesn't have a single web development platform worth a lick and web development is independent of your o/s the mac skills is just a nice to have skills. Of course by spending your time focusing on it, that means you don't have time to focus on .net, IIS, jquery, css, html, php and all those other more important skills.
    • No but ...

      @roteague ... straight out of school ... the more skills you can put on a resume, the better.
      M Wagner
    • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

  • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

    Branching out only works in limited cases. If you are a sysadmin applying at a company with both Microsoft Windows and Macs then yes you will want to know both. But for the most part the employer will look at the resume and ask "Can you work with Windows, Office, and Application X?" If you are strictly a Mac person or linux person then forget it. I've been to the Apple store, not only was it lame in both that I went to, but using the products nothing really stood out at me about them. I thought they were supposed to be speedy and fast so I brought up Garage Band and it still took a minute or so to load. And with linux you might as well forget it because employers are not using it, and most are migrating away from it. You are better off watching paint dry than wasting time with it.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Loverboy, you are really getting depressed these days.

      It seems to bother you that people can use multiple environments, no problem.
      • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

        Doesn't bother me a bit. I even stated it in my post to know Windows and Mac when it applies to the situation. The real issue here is that your depressed that people are not using linux anymore.
        Loverock Davidson
      • @DonnieBoy

        the poor bugger needs to get back on his meds.
        tracy anne
    • RE: Get off your Windows high horse: Try something new

      @Loverock Davidson Linux use has only grown and in fact corporates are more willing than ever to look at Linux as alternatives to the Windows desktop in their organisations, as attested by the fact that our company has received numerous queries by organisations about it.

      In the server space, many organisations are moving away from Windows servers as well which is where our company does its business. If an organisation is moving their servers to Linux I guaranteee that Linux skills in house will be more sought after in the future.