Why The Switch?

So in Windows Mobile and Beyond I explain what led me from Windows Phone to iOS, and in Life Up Until Now I talked about some of the various PCs I’ve had over the years.  In both I’ve indicated that there are reasons for switching from Windows to macOS, but I’ve not gone much deeper. So, at last, here’s an attempt to answer the question: Why the switch?

As my wife would attest, 3 or so years ago I was a diehard Windows fan.  I perhaps should take this chance to explain that I’m a Client Technology Specialist for a large multi-national manufacturing company, and I’m paid for being good with Windows and Microsoft technologies.  Over the years I’ve provided countless hours of support to friends and family, and sometimes even friends of family!  I’ve been the guy who can diagnose and fix your computer across a Facebook thread, who can remote control and fix your computer even though you live 100 miles away, and the guy the technicians turn to when they’re out of ideas. Somewhat to my shame I’ve also been the guy who bashed Google for privacy issues and invasiveness and Apple for a lack of openness and perceived poor working conditions.

Which in some ways makes this experiment all the stranger.

I’m not really going to apologise for my feelings about Google – the idea that they want to know what I’m going to search for, even before I know it just strikes me as chilling – I don’t know why, and I know some of the things they can do are truly amazing…I just personally don’t trust my data with a company who thinks like that.

Which, of the ‘big three’ technology providers, leaves me with Apple and Microsoft.  I know Apple for a long time now has said they’ll make their money by selling devices and services, not by selling advertising – a position I believe and find to be admirable.  Microsoft do sell advertising, but they specifically state in their end user agreements they won’t scrape your emails or documents to target that advertising – which I’ve found to be true too – based on the lack of relevance their adverts have had to me ;-).

But why leave Windows behind, and why specifically now?

In the summer of 2015 my wife changed jobs and we decided to get her a new laptop for the role.  Although classed as ‘working from home’ she spends 80% of her time out and about having meetings in coffee shops, other peoples’ home offices and sometimes the occasional community hall.  Generally, though, she can be found out on the road or on public transport.  At the time Windows laptops that could truly provide all-day battery life (her working day is quite often 9+ hours) were prohibitively expensive, consigned to the premium Ultrabook category.  Given the price constraint there was only one realistic option – a MacBook Air.  We found the previous year’s model on the Apple refurbished site which matched up with the kind of spec we thought she’d need.  Personally at the time I viewed it as a bit of a curiosity but genuinely was pleased that we’d found an ideal solution for her particular needs.  This purchase now dropped my wife fully within Apple’s ecosystem – an iPhone for work, one for personal use, an iPad Mini and now the laptop.

Backing up a bit to the summer of 2014, I’d just bought the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 – and I was overjoyed with it! However when I eventually switched to an iPhone (November 2015) and got my own iPad Mini (summer 2016) the shine on the Surface began to wear off:

I gradually got frustrated that there was no way to synchronise browser tabs across the different OSes (remember my stance on Google – so Chrome is not an option for me);

I was annoyed that my wife would receive a notification that it was ‘time to leave’ to get to her next appointment, but that I couldn’t get those…until we realised it was because I was using Outlook.com for my calendar, where as she had switched to iCloud.  I switched and got the same magic little notifications;

We jointly produced a series on YouTube called ‘Woodstock‘ and regularly we’d go out to our favourite coffee shop to work on the script or production and my wife would open up her MacBook Air and start working, whilst I’d open my Surface, power it up, wait whilst it booted, sorted out a few patches, recovered from whatever had gone wrong last time and eventually got working – usually 5 minutes or so after I’d first turned it on;

I loved that the Surface had a pen, and I could draw on the screen – I’m by no means an artist, but when creating shooting plans and writing directions for Woodstock, the fact I could just flatten out the Surface, draw everything and then mark it up with different colours in OneNote was fantastic.  However I realised that was pretty much the only thing I’d ever used the pen for.  We went on holiday in 2016 and I lost the pen – £50 to replace something I barely used;

You may have also gathered from the previous post that I’m used to switching gadgets quite frequently, and over the last few months there’s been a bit of an itch – not so much the Dell XPS 13 with its strangely located webcam, but certainly machines like the HP Spectre and the x360 have been tempting me more and more when visiting the John Lewis technology department, and window shopping in Currys.

Some of the more frustrating issues have occurred more recently though – a couple of weeks ago I was with my wife and she’d written a document on her laptop and wanted to ping it to me to upload to a website – “I’ll AirDrop it to you” she said, before we both remembered that I was on my Surface, not an iOS device – “erm…I guess you’ll have to email it to me then” I kind of mumbled. Surely there’s an easier way to get a document from one laptop to another without requiring an intervening server…or USB stick?  In the November we’d purchased a new office printer and a home NAS for backups – we got my wife’s MacBook printing ok, setting up Time Machine was an absolute doddle, and I was surprised to discover just how easy it was to print from iOS devices now too.  My Surface? Well I got File History configured eventually (after I’d found a way to assign a static IP to the NAS) But the printer? Nah, it’s still not configured – too much faff so I’m still using the old one in the man-cave!

So why am I switching? Jealousy of my wife’s setup? Frustration with my Surface’s instability? Annoyance with the technicality of things which ought to be simple? (Seriously – throwing a file cross-platform from A to B – there’s got to be an easy server-less, internet-less way of doing it – anybody?). The temptation of a new gadget and boys toys?  If I’m being honest it’s probably a combination of all of these and more.

Regardless of what the final straw was the decision’s made, the order given, and my shiny new MacBook Pro arrives for collection on Wednesday.  Let the experiment begin!

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