Over the last few days I've been looking at the path of leaving Apple and moving to Microsoft's software. Here are my five take home lessons
Windows Phone is damn good
As many readers pointed out when I looked at Windows Phone 7.5, Microsoft's new mobile platform is a huge leap forward on Windows Mobile and its predecessors. However, one of the biggest deterrents in moving to Windows Phone is my investment in apps.
With tethering, quite a few users commented on whether and how tethering is supported with Windows Phone 7.5. Here's an official statement, following an inquiry I made, directly from Microsoft.
“Windows Phone 7.5, as a platform, supports internet connection sharing, in which the phone can be configured to share its mobile network connection over Wi-Fi with up to five client devices or computers. We are working with our device and Mobile Operator partners to enable this feature on existing Windows Phones as soon as possible.”
I'm back using an iPhone at the moment as I'm looking closely at iOS5 but I'll back to using Windows Phone 7.5 soon.
The hardware matters
One of the criticisms often levelled at Apple is that they favour style over substance. In a recent obituary to Steve Jobs, Stephen Fry said that the phrase “style over substance” has always been, as Oscar Wilde observed, a marvellous and instant indicator of a fool." That's probably stronger than I'd say but, other than their desktop keyboards, Apple's hardware is well made and serves its intended function without looking like it was designed by a totalitarian regime.
My job precludes me from being a one-platform man but I could happily run Windows 7 full-time. I suspect that I would run it on a Mac given the choice of hardware. As I mentioned, My 11-inch MacBook Air is probably the best mobile computer I've owned.
For a desktop, the market is much wider although I would stick to an all-in-one design as that suits my needs and office space.
Windows 7 is very good
I really like Windows 7. Aside from the visual parts of it, it's stable and passes the "just works" test. Microsoft has buried the ghost of Vista.
I'd never realised how much faster I can get some things down with Windows as I've learned a bunch of keyboard shortcuts. There's not much I can't do without taking my hands of the keyboard. With a Mac, I find that I'm moving the mouse or trackpad a lot more. That's a huge plus for me.
Security issues are over-emphasised
That's not to say that Windows users should be complacent and not bother with security software. Read any exclusively Mac-focused fanboy blog and you'll inevitably hear about how Windows users require armed guards and barricaded doors to keep the malware out. Funny how PC users often use FUD to talk about Apple compatibility issues but zealous Mac users resort to the same tactic with security.
The reality is that good security software (and lots were pointed out in my post and the comments) makes the task very straightforward.
Mac users should be using security software as well but that's an argument for another day.
By and large, good security software is like a good undercover cop. Until it's needed, you won't know it's there.
The PC Business needs to get better out of the box
There is one aspect where Apple gets it right and is better than most of the Windows OEMs. When you open the box and pull out a Mac, you can be up and running productively in about 15 minutes. There's a single registration process and no annoying pop-ups asking for third party product registration.
I get many calls from friends asking me to "help set up their new computer". All of those calls come from PC users. I've never had someone ask me to do the same with a Mac.
The said, you - hopefully - only have to set your PC up once so it's not a huge issue.
So, there are the big things I've noticed. There were lots of other little things I learned along the way. Many of those were from your comments so thanks for the feedback.