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As a .NET developer I have spent most of my computing career with Microsoft at the helm. So here is my journey to this point and why I can’t see myself going back to Windows.
I started coding when I was 10, with a Windows 3.1 machine that my Dad had brought home from work (I assume they were already obsolete at this point). Since then I have used pretty much every Windows incarnation to date. With the revelation that the start menu made with Windows 95 and the stability brought from Windows 98. Windows ME (:shudder:), Windows 2000, XP, 8, 8.1 and now Windows 10.
To be honest, I quite like Windows 10 but the annoyances that existed with the previous versions are still there. Plus, I have had a few unfortunate circumstance over the last few years that have put me off Windows.
It started with Windows 8. The first version of Windows where I have had to Google how to do a shutdown. You can imagine my relief when they made the genius decision to put the shutdown button back on the start screen. However like many, I didn’t have the seamless upgrade to Windows 8.1 that I had hoped. I had some faith, that after Windows had installed the 170 updates I would be up and running with the new version.
So one Saturday I hit the update button and hoped. Several hours later I was greeted by a message that the installation had failed and it had to spend the next 3 hours rolling back all the updates. So Sunday, I went through the painful process of installing the updates 3 at a time to see if I could track down the culprit. This time all worked well but I had lost my weekend and gained a little bit more hatred for Windows.
2 months later and after another Windows update my machine failed to boot. I was given the helpful option to restore my machine to a working version of Windows which I was happy to do. It worked, fantastic. Then I saw it, well the lack of it. No shutdown button, after wasting a whole weekend a few months ago, I was now back on Windows 8.0.
FFS! What I did next was probably a bit rash in hindsight but couldn’t bare waste another weekend upgrading to Windows 8.1. So I did what any raged developer would do. I wiped my laptop and installed Ubuntu. Linux served most of my needs as a developer. I could run a decent light IDE (Atom, Visual Studio Code) and I could run docker. I used Ubuntu as my main OS for 6 months.
I have used Linux a lot over the years and I have tried many different distros. I even did the whole Linux from scratch process by dabbling with Arch Linux. I like Linux but it has always required quite a heavy time investment to get everything set up. Some of that is trying to find decent alternatives to Windows apps, or trying to get a Windows only app to work in Wine. Either way, I am getting to the point in my life where I don’t have the time to “faff” (as my wife calls it) on my computer to try and get something simple to work.
When Windows 10 came out I thought I would give Microsoft another chance. Plus, I had a need to do some development with Visual Studio again. Microsoft have improved a lot with Windows 10. However, there was one key aspect that drove me to the Apple camp, Windows Updates.
I work on my personal projects when I am on the train to and from work. With two young kids at home the 2 hours a day commuting is the only time I get to work on my side projects. With a limited amount of time, I need a machine that is going to allow me to make the most of that time. However, on several occasions when I have tried to work, Windows has had other ideas. This comes in the form of mandatory Windows updates. I don’t have a problem with automatic updates but if they require a restart I should get a choice in when that happens.
Windows has a habit of giving you a 5 min Window to save your work before booting you off your computer to spend half an hour doing an update. At least they give you a warning, however that doesn’t work if you aren’t at your computer at the time. I have come out of meetings and found my computer has restarted and is in the middle of installing updates.
My requirements for a new development laptop were as follows:
- Fast – My old laptop used to take 10 mins to open Visual Studio, which is appalling. I needed something fast with a decent CPU, memory and SSD.
- Portable – Doing my work on the train means I have to carry my laptop round with me so it needs to be lightweight and not too bulky. 13” screen should be large enough if the resolution is good.
- A joy to use – this last one is a bit subjective. However, after a long day I have found myself not wanting to work on side projects because using my laptop was just not fun.
I am sure you have probably already guessed the laptop I picked given the title of this email and the requirements stated above. Yes, I have switched to a 13” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (16GB RAM).
This is my first Apple product, I have never owed an iPod or an iPhone. In fact I used to wonder what the fascination was with Apple products. From the outside they seem underpowered, under-featured poor cousins compared to the competition. You can get Windows laptops with the latest Intel processor and better graphics for less than the Apple equivalent. The reason for the premium is that they just work.
This might be a sign I am getting old but I don’t have the time to spend hours tinkering with Linux or days updating Windows. I need something that works, out the box, no questions asked and Apple hits the nail on the head.
With a Mac I have the best of all worlds as I can also install Windows or Linux on a VM and have all three operating systems at my disposal. So my Linux tinkering days probably aren’t over but I can’t see myself going back to Windows again.
Update: Between writing this and posting it live I went out and bought an iPhone SE, in space grey of course to match my laptop. This was driven by the camera on my HTC One M8 breaking which is the second thing to go wrong with this phone. It took 4 weeks to fix last time so I would rather not go through that again! It has taken a little getting used to but the switch to the Apple side has been quite painless. I especially like the Live photos that you can take with the iPhone SE.