After about 27 years of being a loyal PC/Windows user, its time for me to move on.
I have used Macs before, and Im relatively comfortable with OSX command line, so I don't expect much of a change "shock".
Why change? Why now? Why not Linux?
First the Negatives - Why Microsoft/Windows no longer cuts it.
1) Windows 8 is so bad it is unusable,
Most importantly, it is not enjoyable to use.
I won't waste much time beating up Windows 8 here, its such an easy target.
Suffice to say, Ill never knowingly pay for it, or install it on a computer I own.
I could do a full article on it, but the truth is.. its so terrible, I just don't want to waste time on it.
Of course Im not the only who thinks this, PC buyers are voting with their feet....
Decline in PC Sales since release of Windows 8
Windows 8 sales are dreadful, with PC sales actually declining since the introduction of Windows 8.
Follow the growth through NetMarketshare Currently Win8 is at 3.17% that is only just over half of Windows Vista
2) The Microsoft plan is wrong, and they could not make it work even if it was right.
Microsoft seem to have doubled down on the whole "Metro" interface and "touch screen for a desktop" answer to a requirement that no one was asking for...
Don't get me started on "touch screen only" for Server...
Microsoft's main strength for the past 2 decades has been their market dominance.
They have been able to use this market dominance to maintain their market dominance, "King of the hill" as it were.
They didn't really need to do much else, so in a classic case of IBM syndrome have become slow and unwieldy... but NOW their market dominance is coming to an end very quickly.
Tablet sales are about to pass PC sales, and most of them are NOT running Windows
The entire PC industry is being shaken by the burgeoning market of smartphones/tablets, and will soon be dwarfed by it.
Microsoft believes it HAS TO get a foothold in it to even remain relevant.
It seems they have decided to do so by forcing their existing customer base "across platform" into the "phone space", by making the PC OS like a phone OS.
On the face of it, this does not even seem rational, maybe it is to make phone apps work on both platforms, yet any PC can emulate any phone, with greater than native speed, so who cares about compatibility?
Yet there are many signs that this is exactly the thinking - the abandonment of Aero, the adoption of basic colours with solid sides, no start button, ubiquitous touch interface,"Full screen only" apps.
All these are very helpful to a phone, but the opposite for a desktop PC.
The main problem is that rather than making a good product that attracts new users, they are leaning on their existing user base, forcing them into something uncomfortable, still playing the market dominance card, their users have no choice but to jump ship if they don't like it.
Further, they have attracted no new users in the process, other than to the Windows phone.... yet even that is still a distant 4th behind Symbian, and probably would be no different if they had just stayed with WP7
Their implementation of their apps store, is probably the strongest part of their strategy (directly copying Apple), it should have been a slam dunk, yet feels clumsy and forced.
And the $100 incentive to app developers smacks of desperation.
So not only is their strategy wrong, every part of it is failing, and their situation is getting worse every day as they dig themselves deeper.
This is not by chance, it seems the culture at Microsoft renders it incapable of enacting a market dominating plan.
It is all bad strategy, bad tactics, bad implementation, and the signs are it will get worse before it gets any better, especially for Microsoft PC users.
Had Microsoft actually made a great Desktop OS, the tablet/Phone market would still need to revolve around that, they could have maintained that dominance, but by turning their OS into an inferior jumped up phone OS, they are collapsing their own business model from the inside.
Microsoft responds to the dreadful uptake of Windows 8 with patronising adverts implying their users were dumb for not liking Windows 8 simply because they were able to train a child to use it...
This shows the company still thinks it is the users who are at fault for the failure of Windows 8,
not the company.
It also misses the point that if it was a decent OS, no one would need to demonstrate how to use it.
And lets not forget, they got into all this trouble by simplifying the OS, yet somehow that process made it very difficult and awkward to use.
I can't think of a better example of how dysfunctional most things at Microsoft seem to have become.
3) I have been "forced" to upgrade by Microsoft in the past... not this time.
Windows 2000 did not support Direct X 8,
Windows NT did not support USB,
They could have very easily, and there may have even been third party support long after the fact,
but the point is this;
These were cynical moves by Microsoft to force users into their next OS.
I have no intention of being forced into whatever Microsoft comes up with next .
Will anyone be surprised if Windows Blue is even worse than Windows 8?
We can be pretty sure it will not include a start menu, and will include the annoying apps implementation, and it is more than likely that once they get desperate, they will start forcing users into it.
At this point, Microsoft have made so many wrong turns, it would not surprise me if they brought back "clippy". Oh Wait - Too LATE!!
I am jumping now, so when that happens (forced upgrade) It won't happen to me, and I wont care.
4) Microsoft do not have a coherent ecosystem.
It installs "Zune" software on my PC, which of course is entirely out of whack with the rest of reality.
But "Zune Music" has since become "Xbox music" so does that mean I have to use an Xbox to get music on my Windows phone?
Although the Zune login is transferred, it is not a proper Xbox music account meaning I will only be able to access the Xbox music site through a Windows 8 app! (what was I just saying about being forced to Windows 8?)
And remember that "Zune music" was the replacement for "MSN music" which was dubbed the "iTunes killer" when it came out.
Anyone who purchased music through "MSN Music" lost it in the changeover when Microsoft simply withdrew support for "MSN Music" when it no longer fitted their strategy.. too bad for its customers.
Think about that: what a bizarre way to treat your most loyal customers.
People who actually purchased music from the MS Music store with cash had the DRM security authenticators for that music withrawn. Once the last PC they authenticated that music on dies or is reformatted, they have lost that music forever... no recourse.
Does MS expect them to buy the music all over again for Zune?
Anyway - back to the phone.. It insists on registering with a hotmail address, otherwise it witholds certain features, then immediately sends all the spam for that account through the phone (thanks).
I ended up not registering it at all (after factory reset) and now I just use it as a standard phone.
Thats just for starters, but pretty much sums up the "thats someone else's problem" attitude of the whole design.
It will probably be completely replaced by something else in the next few months, and if I'm stupid enough to actually buy any apps or music etc for it, there's a decent chance that sooner or later I might just lose it all...
I can't really attack the MS ecosystem directly, simply because there isnt one.. just a bunch of disparate systems that every now and again share authentication, and maybe contact lists and nothing else.
5) Linux good fun.. but no cigar.
I first used Mandrake (now Mandriva) in 2002, and I gave Ubuntu a good shot a year or so ago,
It is just too much like hard work, with often no result at the end.
I found myself needing to look at the code of the SQL driver, just to get my Squeezebox to play MP3s from it... so much for it taking the simple file server task.
I just don't have the time for that.
Long story short if a problem (like a video driver) would take you a day to fix on Windows, it would take a week to fix on Linux.
Going online for support and seeing the fix is to "maybe write the driver yourself", is a pretty good cure for anything.
It seems having a 'favourite C compiler' is a prerequisite for getting even relatively simple tasks done.
Well guess what? I never program in C, for system stuff I use Assembler, it makes C look like Java, and asking me what my favourite C compiler is, is like asking what my favourite Justin Bieber song is. I don't know or care, and never intend to.
I just want a driver for the video card that can match the resolution of my monitor, its common hardware, it should be a reasonably easy task.... but apparently not...
Its probably some fundamental failure by me as a human being ...
The positives - why its a good time to move
1) The pioneer days of the PC are over
Its like working on cars, except less noise and oil.
It used to be a prerequisite that you had to have a giant video card with a leaf blower fan roaring away across it to run games in an acceptable manner.
Those days are over. With Moores law having topped out about 3 years ago, and modern GPUs barely going above 60 degrees C, most off the shelf PCs will run games well, and this includes most Macs - as long as they have a discrete video card.
2) My iPad and iPhone work well.
In fact I try many different bits of hardware all the time, but somehow, neither the iPad or iPhone have given me any reason to want to use anything else.
iOS gets out of my way, and lets me do what I want.. truth is I forget there is even an OS there, which is exactly what an OS should do.
The quiet truth in this whole saga is that the iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices have been so successful, they completely upended the market/industry and left MS and others stumbling around trying to copy them or cash in on the new markets.
It could be argued that they (iOS devices) have been so successful, they caused Microsoft to destroy its entire game plan.... and in the process... itself.
3) The OSX Command line is as powerful and flexible as anything on the PC
This was a real surprise to me when I started using OSX about 9 years ago.
The OSX Command line is far more powerful than the PC equivalent, with much better integration.
There was always the image that OSX was the "soft option", but with the OSX command line... its as geeky as you want it to be.
4) Steam for MAC
Yes sometimes I play games, mainly Company of Heroes and Left for Dead.
I can continue to do so on a Mac.
In the past, even powerful Apple machines were unable to compete with bristling overclocked, hand made PC game monsters, but as I mentioned above, with the commoditisation of CPUs and GPUs, this is no longer an issue.
5) OSX just works.
No drivers, no viruses, just a computer that works.
The OS already knows everything it needs to about the hardware, and most settings are already at the optimum .
There is a thing I personally call "Mac Moments" where something goes wrong, like a network share goes off the network or DHCP is not available and somehow the OS knows, preempts the issue and politely lets you know.
It just makes you feel good to have the problem fixed in front of you,
and you can continue doing what you were doing,
rather than the semi constant "what has gone wrong now?" feeling that Windows seems so good at summoning.
Its not perfect and the grass is always greener etc, but for now, thats where I am going to be focussing my attention.