Switching to Windows

Switching to Windows

Over the last month I’ve done the opposite of many computer users. I’ve switched from a Mac to a PC. Sure, it’s not the coolest thing to be doing – at least if I pay attention to the ads and what the cool kids are doing. But I wanted to see something – is there really much practical difference between OS X Lion and Windows 7?

It’s important to understand what I’m trying to do and what I’m not trying to do. This isn’t going to be a hardware discussion – it’s going to be about software and real-world use. I’m leaving the hardware out of the discussion because the range of hardware that can run Windows is so vast that I think there’s a hardware solution for every type of user and budget. Just so that you know what I am using – in case that’s important to you in casting a judgement on the veracity of my opinions – I will note what hardware I’m using in my transition.

I’ve turned my iPhone off and have switched to HTC HD7 running Windows Phone 7.5 (also known as Mango). In place of the 11-inch MacBook Air I normally carry, I’m using an Acer Iconia W500 tablet. That was the most difficult piece of hardware to choose as the MacBook Air is probably the best mobile computer I’ve found for my specific needs. I’m hoping that the W500 will cover off my iPad as well as the ability to switch between notebook and tablet mode using the keyboard dock makes it quite versatile. That said, lots of iPads are used by Windows users so I don’t feel that I’m compromising the test by keeping my iPad handy.

In the office, I’ve decided to not replace the 27-inch iMac I normally use as I run both OS X and Windows on that already. I work at a client office some of the time and I use a 22-inch HP TouchSmart 9100 there with Windows 7 so I already have a decent Windows environment.

The main jobs I do each week are as an IT Manager and a writer. For that, my main tools are email, a web browser, Microsoft Office and a text editor. My working data is stored in Dropbox so it’s easily accessible as I move between machines and client sites. That means that the migration issues many people face when making the switch between platforms aren’t a big deal for me. I use Google Apps for email so I don’t use an email client at all as I only ever access my email via a browser connected the web, my phone or iPad.

So, the plan for the next few days is to cover the swap outlining the challenges and solutions. I’ll start with the out of the box experience with the Iconia, then look at swapping from the iPhone to Windows Phone, applications, media access and sharing, and finish up with a list of tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.


  • Why did you ditch the Air? I run Windows 7 almost exclusively on a 13″ one (I only boot into Mac OS for iOS development), best laptop I’ve ever had. My setup is actually outlined here somewhere as an edition of What Readers Use.

    I happily use an iPhone in conjunction with my Windows setup. But I am quite curious about Windows Phone, so I’ll be paying attention to your thoughts on it.

    • Hi Shaun.

      Thanks for the comment

      The main hassle was that I didn’t have enough storage space to run the OS. I only have about 20GB free and felt that by the time I installed software that I’d be pushing things a little.

      Also, it felt like a bit of a cheat to not convert completely.

      • Yeah I guess the 11″ is a bit tight for space…

        But you’re missing out on the fun of horrifying Mac evangelists. You should see their faces turn from admiration to sheer disgust when they discover what I have installed on one of their kin.

        • I have been using Microsoft for a few years now but when my XP1330 died just as the 2011 13in MacBook Pro was released. So I decieded to try the green green grass on the other side of the fence. I gave it 1month of trying before Bootcamp was installed and now I am happy again with a rock solid awesome piece of hardware (MBP) matched with a very easy to use and fully functional OS (Win 7).

  • Welcome back to the land of sensible.
    Now you can be just a normal computer user instead of some Apple praising, image status maintaining, fanboi denialist ‘i’ lover.

    I run two Windows 7 PC at home (mine with a 32″ Samsung monitor).
    Windows 7 laptop.
    Windows 8 laptop.
    Xbox (thats why Ive got the Samsung monitor).
    HTC HD7 Mango.

    At work Im running and maintaining about 10 Windows 7 PC’s, all built by me.
    And one lonely little XP laptop.

    Ill be keeping a keen watch for your posts and updates and will offer any advice I have.

        • I might offer, Linux’s real problem has been lack of a program ecosystem, industry wide driver support and the all important marketing department. The kernel itself is very good, as shown by its iron grip on web infrastructure and some of the most innovative UI’s emerge on Linux first (KDE for example).

        • Translated: You haven’t learned to use Linux. There are distros available for everyone from newbies to experienced users. The reason there isn’t one Linux distro that’s been embraced by everyone is that there are enough distros to please everyone–if only people would give it a try.

      • “Enjoy your viruses”

        Criticising Windows because of viruses is like criticising Vegeterianism because of poisonous berries. If that’s the best argument people can come up with, just give up.

        Or just accept that Windows, Linux and OSX are tools, and people can use whatever tools they like to get the job done.

        How much time do you think Rodin and Michelangelo spent flaming other people’s chisels and bragging about how theirs were superior? None. They were too busy using them.

    • “Welcome back to the land of sensible.
      Now you can be just a normal computer user instead of some Apple praising, image status maintaining, fanboi denialist ‘i’ lover.”

      Thats fscking beautiful. Just beautiful.

  • Best of luck, I look forward to hearing all about it.

    Although, to be fair it doesn’t sound like you’re really “switching” much when half your work is done with Win7 anyway. I reckon the experiment would be more meaningful if you were a full-time Apple user who was actually switching over fully to the MS ecosystem.

    IMHO Zune is better than iTunes in every meaningful way (except the store/podcasts).

  • Having used MS for over 18 years the move the other way, to Apple in 2010 was, without a doubt the best thing I did.

    I have respect for the MS world but IMHO, Apple’s ecosystem is simpler and offers far fewer heartaches on a day to day basis.

    Good luck with the experiment. =)

  • I never understood the appeal of paying at least 1.5x the price of a PC. Paying for updates or the fact that Apple blatantly deny any existence of malware that exploit OSX or its components.

    Macs are marketed to:

    How many Enterprises run their network solely on Macs?

    Its a home/studio device not a workhorse.

    • That’s nothing to be ashamed of mate.

      While there are Mac games on Steam now, it’s nothing like the whole catalogue, and as you said, there’s price to consider.

      Just as I’d love to have a Jaguar as my daily driver but choose instead to drive a Mitsubishi and spend the difference on my motorbike, I’d love to have a Mac that I could run windows on when I wanted to, but I just can’t justify the money. So much other tech I could spend that money on.


  • I have recently switched over from Win > Mac for my personal laptop, but maintain a Windows 7 PC. I like both, and both are different in their own way.

    One thing I LOVE about Windows 7 (which I have yet to work out on Mac) is how easy it is to move/relocate windows with simple and quick keyboard shortcuts. I’m talking about the Windows + Left/Right/Up/Down arrow to quickly move, maximise, minimise a window.

  • Admittedly an Ipad has replaced my HP netbook, (which I was thinking about linuxifying anyway). But Ill never fully ditch Windows platforms for work, music or play. Theres some things I like about Apple, IOS specificlally, but I take much more care of something I’ve had to build myself..

    Anthony, really interested to see how you go!

  • I’m currently running Windows 7 x64 on a 30″ iMac with Bootcamp, and I have to say, I’m very, very impressed. I imagine that gaming in W7 on an iMac screen would be fairly sexy, though I can’t really test that at work.

    All the Macs I work with are Bootcamped, and honestly, it’s about 80% Windows usage more than anything else. Sorry, Apple fanboys, but I get much better results when I do my photography and video editing in Windows.

  • Choosing your operating system is a personal choice. I currently run Windows 7, Ubuntu and Mac OSX and I like each of them in a different way.
    I respect your move from one platform to another – that takes guts (or frustration).
    let us know how you go


  • I’ve never had problems with Windows, Linux has great security features that stop morons deleting their OS directory to free up space, but I found I needed to sift through to many forums to get things to work, then the command console… OMG seriously take it out the back and release all your sexual desires on it already then be done with it, it’s not user friendly and that’s the reason we have GUI these days…

      • For you information, there are a host of desktop GUI environments in Linux distros. In fact, the variety of the flavors can be too overwhelming for people like you, who are unfamiliar with how Linux distros are developed and distributed.

        All of these GUIs are competent enough for average daily use and as an ordinary Linux user, if you are a little more diligent and open-minded to learn something about command line, then your Linux experience will be even more greatly enriched.

  • A computer is a computer and generally they all do the same thing just look different. I use all Linux , Windows, OSX for both work and play, OSX is horrid to use for me anyway. Windows is my main OS. Good luck look forward to seeing how it goes for you. DO what you feel is right for you.

  • Might I add to the individual stating how PCs get viruses.
    You only get a virus on a pc if your an idiot that loves to download obviously fake torrents or click on fishy email links, the whole idea that macs are better security wise is also false as the safari browser is hacked year after year in like 5 seconds while all others take minimum of 5 minutes. Essentially macs are for fake hipsters (as real ones couldn’t afford it), children, and people too dumb to realise they are getting ripped off, who remain so dumb that they defend their sub par treatment by a company named after a fruit, where else do you pay $50 for something worth $5. Obviously I like PCs but I also use macs, and I the only thing I like about them is their look, not to mention the problems that arise with my home server with them, don’t get me started on that.

  • Reminds me of that book, ” a year of living biblically” where the author follows all the lifestyle regulations from the bible for a year.

    maybe you could do a follow-up, “A year of living ‘softly “

  • “For that, my main tools are email, a web browser, Microsoft Office and a text editor.”

    Seriously, these can be found in any OS so I don’t know why you opted for Mac in the first place. If you want specific(read: proprietary) effect in you MS documents, then you should always stick to Windows. To be frank, your switching doesn’t make much sense and really doesn’t require much guts.

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