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.

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