Since 2010

Switch to Windows?

Monday 8 April 2019

There are a few things to consider in this disappointing saga.

Now, I already use Windows daily and Windows 10 is fine. Granted I run it in a virtual machine, so whenever it bugs me I can just close it. And running virtually probably eliminates a whole bunch of hardware driver issues that I hear are still a thing in the Windows world.

While we’re here, let it be said that Linux ain’t gonna cut it. I use a few modern desktop Linux distributions fairly regularly in virtual machines and the reliability and experience just isn’t where it needs to be for me. Hell yeah for servers, but not for desktop computing.

All that aside let’s see what else I’d need to consider.

Well, it has to be a laptop. I travel for work, and I don’t want to maintain and synchronise a portable and a desktop. Been there, tried that, and it’s not happening. So a portable which will be quite happy to be docked for 70% for the time.

Also, I have a small collection of peripheral hardware. Mice and keyboards won’t be any trouble. I’ve got an external monitor which will work with anything. But they’re all hooked up to a stupidly expensive ThunderBolt 3 hub which I suspect will not work particularly well with anything that’s not a Mac. That could be an issue, as my partner and I will still be using the same docked setup at home. I’ll revisit that, but in theory any decent not-designed-for-Apple ThunderBolt (or USB Type-C) dock/hub should work, it just means more $$$.

But here’s where things finally get interesting: there are a lot of really great looking PC laptops out there. I’ve read gushing reviews about Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon and Dell’s XPS range. Microsoft’s Surface line-up looks nice and presumably plays really nicely with Windows. Every day I see a review of a new laptop which packs the latest hardware, tiny screen bezels, nice keyboards, and they’re all cheaper than Apple’s outdated offerings. And none of them have that stupid fucking Touch Bar.

13 inches is a nice size to travel with, and I’m not looking for something much bigger than that. I’m also not particularly bothered about internals beyond about 512GB of solid-state storage and at least 16GB RAM. Graphics could be anything (but want a high resolution display), and I don’t do anything that would tax any modern CPU. As mentioned above ThunderBolt/USB Type-C is essential - we spent a few bucks a while back replacing USB cables and it’s amazing to be able to plug anything into anything without a second thought.

And I’d like something a bit more… utilitarian than I’m used to. I desperately miss status lights. Is the charger turned on? Is the computer asleep or powered off? Useful features like that.

That’s all I can think of to say about hardware at the moment. In some ways being in the Apple ecosystem can be nice as there aren’t many decisions to make, but as I’m finding out it can also lead to nasty lock-in. I truly am jealous of the bewildering array of PC laptops out there.

I’m saving the tricky part for last: software.