In the past few years, computers as we know them have undergone a colossal shift, not only in technology but in mentality and approach. Just a few years ago, modern technology we take for granted was a far-off dream, but more interesting is how making that dream a reality has changed the major computer players and how they develop, release, and maintain their products.
In just the past few years, I’ve bounced between Apple OSX, four major incarnations of Windows, and a seemingly endless torrent of Android revisions. As a tech junkie it’s a natural interest to play with all of my OS options and find the best fit for me… My recent revelations drove me to share this article, and explain why in the past few years I’ve changed from one of the hardest Apple fanboys to a Windows user through-and-through.
And yes, Internet – before you call me on it, I know that’s the Android up there… But look at it. Isn’t that awesome?
Windows as the only option
Growing up, we had Windows computers. My first experience was playing Wolfenstein 3D on a giant, slow box – the internet was slow and pretty much useless, so I spent plenty of time shooting Nazis and sweeping mines. For most of my life, I didn’t really know there WAS another operating system – I’d only been exposed to Windows and Windows users, so the first Apple OS I saw was a strange experience. I wrote it off as a weird thing I wouldn’t have to worry about again – but it was the 90’s, so I was occupied with the Ninja Turtles to care.
Here Comes College
Years later, I was lucky enough to get accepted to a great program – the University of Cincinnati’s Electronic Media program. There, I would study graphics, web, and video production – the catch was I’d have to get a MacBook Pro. Reluctantly, but with a bit of excitement, I bought a shiny new monster of a laptop – a 17″, dual-core, super-high resolution video editing machine. It came in a great, beautiful box and was somehow lighter than my old 13″ Dell notebook – smooth corners, pretty keyboard, and that screen! Something to remember.
From the moment I heard the boot chime and saw the familiar desktop and dock, I was in love. I remember in the first few days thinking that this was how computers should be, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I’d experienced something I couldn’t go back from… I’d be a Mac user for life.
At this time around late 2008, Apple was just starting to hit its stride. With the awesome success of the iPhone and the increasing market share for OSX, it seemed an inevitable takeover that I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor – MobileMe was a great feature, and with the user-friendly and powerful operating system I could be way more productive than I was with Windows. New ideas of cloud computing were taking over and it was just… awesome. It’s hard to describe this sort of excitement to non-techies, but I assume if you’re reading this then you can understand. 🙂
Success, it seems, leads to complacency. With Apple riding the high of OSX and iOS, they kept ‘innovating’ with incremental improvements to their platforms and hardware. While they definitely did make some great improvements like the pioneering of Siri, the domination of Final Cut, and new options like the MacBook Air, something changed. Instead of working to expand new markets and create a niche like they did with the iPhone, they enjoyed their reign with a loyal fanbase and unreal demand. Blogs and papers across the world cried the ‘end of the PC’, claiming things would prove to be increasingly mobile-centric.
Even Windows seemed to buy into the hype – they went through a large revision, and after more of the same with Windows 7 they put into motion the first step of their plan. Windows 8 came around as a critical flop, with an awkward step in the mobile direction.
In seeming response to Windows’ failure, Apple came back by claiming their way was the best way – they knew the ideal way users could interact. By ‘optimizing’ their platform, users were increasingly forced to play by Apple’s rules… But hey! I had a MacBook. I was one of the elite, the enlightened. What other options were there? Go back to Windows 8’s Metro? Not a chance.
There were two defining moments that changed my opinion of Apple. After graduation in 2012, I needed a video editing powerhouse to replace my aging laptop. I shopped around for months, waiting for the newest options and comparing with an unhealthy obsession – I’d make spreadsheets of prices, ideal components, and various configurations… And every single time, the result was the same – by buying an Apple desktop, I would spend on average 40% more for about 20% less computing power. Money was tight – I couldn’t justify an additional expense for something I:
- Couldn’t upgrade
- Couldn’t play games on
- Was unhappy with in the recent few months
The solution was to build a Hackintosh – OSX running on third-party software. It was incredibly difficult, but eventually successful! I had a running Mac with minimal caveats, though maintenance was trouble at best.
The second, truly defining motion was when I finally purchased an iPhone. Before then I’d been limited to Android due to my provider, but when switching to Verizon I had the chance to get the phone of my dreams – I bought a shiny new iPhone 5 and took it home to give it some love.
Never before have I had such quick buyer’s remorse. Switching from Android 2.2 felt like a step backwards – suddenly I couldn’t modify my homescreen, easily customize ringtones, or even run Apps the way I wanted. Instead of using the already successful Google Maps, I had to use Apple’s version. Instead of integrating with Chrome, I got stuck with Safari. Instead of using Swiftkey, I had to use the god-awful, cramped, and correct-happy text keyboard. Luckily, I was stuck with a two year contract, so I have plenty of time to get used to it!
The Step Away from OSX
Once again, I was in the market for a computer. My desktop was wonderful for working from home and video, but I needed a laptop to replace my MacBook when I was on-location with clients or traveling – I wanted something light, sleek, and enough to fit my demand. Determined to ‘try before I buy’, I installed Windows 7 on a separate partition of my desktop and booted up.
Since then, I’ve hardly turned back to OSX. Although it was an awkward transition, there hasn’t been a single thing I can’t do on Windows, and for once I have options. Don’t like this program? No problem! Use the dozen free alternatives. Want to take advantage of some great Office products? Perfect, because you can use the entire updated suite! Once again, I found myself thinking that this was how computing should be, and to be honest, it is.
As I type now, I’m typing on my Windows 7 desktop, formerly Hackintosh. I haven’t had to mess with a kernel panic or a faulty USB port in over a month, and it’s a huge weight off my shoulders – instead of worrying if After Effects is going to boot on my ATI graphics card, I can worry about what filters to apply. Instead of worrying if the wrong filetype is sent my way, I can just open its native program. Currently, my tech lineup is very different than what I expected just a couple years ago –
- A Windows 7 Desktop
- A Windows 7 HTPC/Gaming Box
- A Windows 8 Laptop/Tablet
- An Android 4.4 Nexus 7
- iPhone 5 (the outsider)
Surprisingly, the only change I want to make is my phone… I hear those Galaxy 5’s are supposed to be really something!
Computers are no longer a universal platform – you will rarely find two people who use them the same way anymore. From phones, to tablets, to desktops, to convertible-touchscreen-dualOS hybrids, there’s a million ways to use a computer, and it seems like none of them are the current Apple way. This restrictive approach is what drove me away from my formerly-favorite Apple and into the warm, loving arms of Windows, with their advancing free services and incredible performance all-around.
Is all hope lost for an Apple/Danny reunion? Of course not – what I detailed above isn’t a permanent issue, and I hope it doesn’t become one. Apple should embrace the future of computing that they love to tout and make their platform more open, not more restricted – but that doesn’t quite fit in their current strategy… Which I’ll have to cover in another post for another day. 🙂
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