Giving up on Windows: A Q&A session

Is OS X better than Windows? Is it expensive to switch? Is there a cheap way to test-drive OS X before taking the plunge? These are more questions answered.

My revelation the other day that I'd all but given up on Windows generated considerable commentary. Surprisingly, most of the feedback I got was positive, which took me by surprise, which is something I'd not expected, and I take this as a sign of how much things have changed, and how Microsoft's monopoly on the concept of 'operating system' has been eroded by the like of iOS, OS X, Android, and even Linux.

Some comments, predictably, came from people who felt scared or threatened by my choice, as if me choosing something different as an impact on them. I suppose the idea of change frightens some people, especially if they've turned their choice of operating system into some sort of ideology.

The day I turn my tech choices into a religion will be the day I realize how empty my life is, but each to his or her own I suppose. Whatever floats your boat.

I also received a lot of questions, and it is these I want to address in this post.

Let's get going.

Q: Is OS X better than Windows?

A: It's all subjective, and rather than promote one thing over another, what I'm doing is highlighting what works for me. And that's what you should be focused on – what works for you. While I've heard from countless people who's experiences parallel mine, I've also heard from people who have gone the other way – OS X to Windows – for reasons that sound similar to mine.

At the end of the day, it's about what works for you.

Q: Is it expensive to switch?

A: It depends. Beyond the hardware, you have to think about the software that you use. Unless you're going to run Windows on OS X then you're going to need OS X-compatible software.

If you use suites such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite, then switching is going to be pricey (although some licenses, such as that for Adobe Creative Cloud, allow you the option to choose Windows or OS X).

But yes, this is not going to be cheap. The hardware alone is going to be hundreds of dollars, if not in in the thousands. 

Q: Is there a lot of learning involved?

Depends on your exposure to different platforms. The more you're used to exploring, the easier it is. Those who have seen a few different version of Windows come and go and who have used iOS or Android will find the process easier than those who have only ever used Windows XP.

I didn't find the transition that bad, but others have reported to me that they found switching more jarring, and that their productivity took a hit initially.

Q: Is there a cheap way to test-drive OS X before taking the plunge?

A: I can think of a few:

  • Ask someone you know who uses OS X if you can take a look.
  • Go to an Apple Store and play with the demo systems.
  • Buy a cheap Mac mini.

Q: Aren't you just an Apple fanboy telling us what to do?

A: I'm sharing my experience. It doesn't bother me in the least what you do.

Q: There's a lot you can do to make Windows 8/8.1 better/more palatable/more like over versions. Why not spend time doing this?

A: Yes, I know there's a lot that can be customized and tweaked, but the long and the short of it is that I'm no longer interested in futzing around too much with an operating system, even less interested in repeating that on multiple platforms, and less interested still in having to do that regularly as new versions are released.

On my main OS X system I performed a few small customizations (mostly to the Dock) when I got it and I've not had to touch these settings since, even following the transition from Mountain Lion to Mavericks.

I've got better things to be doing that playing with my operating systems.

Q: Windows doesn't crash. Maybe it's you/your system that's to blame?

A: I've handled too many systems for this to be the case (unless I'm jinxed!).

Q: Doesn't OS X crash just as often?

A: Not in my experience.

Q: What about gaming?

A: I have consoles for that.

Q: What about PC gaming?

A: I still have PCs … it's not like I took them all to the tip when I switched!

Q: Might you go back to Windows?

A: Anything might happen.

Q: What would it take for you to switch back to Windows?

A: This is a tough question because the automatic answer would be to say "be more like OS X" which isn't really useful. Breaking it down, I guess I'd need to see a few changes:

  • Better focus on reliability, especially when it comes to third-party drivers.
  • Less change for the sake of change.
  • Less change, then change back. The changes introduced in Windows 8 were bad enough, but the backpedaling demonstrated in Windows 8.1 underlined how ill thought out the changes were.
  • A desktop OS for desktop and notebooks systems. Touch needs to be optional for systems with touch.
  • Less focus on wallpapers, themes, sounds and other distractions. I really couldn't care less about this nonsense.
  • Realistic pricing. A $100 to upgrade a system already running Windows is insane.
  • Branding is all over the place. Dumping Messenger in favor of Skype is just one example of this. Rather than improve offerings, Microsoft is constantly rebranding and chopping and changing stuff, creating a hellstew of confusion.
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