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

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.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor on

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.

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