Purely by coincidence, but with great timing for me, my partner has just acquired a brand new Dell XPS 13 for work and boy has it been an eye-opening experience for both of us.
The hardware is great. It feels solid, has a fine array of ports, and the screen is beautiful with it’s teeny tiny bezel. It’s pretty functional as well, with LEDs to show when it’s charging and sleeping, plus a little battery level gauge.
The trackpad is a far cry from Apple’s current offerings and you need two hands to open it, but it’s still a really nice piece of kit. Nicely presented in the packaging too.
But then you turn it on.
The Windows 10 first-run experience is… fine. Cortana is a bit obnoxious, and Microsoft begged for an online account to be created. It’s very telling that the privacy controls available for review during setup all default to “give us your data” mode as well. It was an easy enough process though.
The next thing we noticed was that the machine was loaded with Windows 10 Home, not Windows 10 Pro as advertised in-store. That’s on the retailer that this was purchased from, and not at all surprising, at least to me. It was a helpful reminder that Windows editions are a thing though. Why?
Next up - bloatware o' bloatware. This is a multi-thousand-dollar machine, which is stuffed with shit like Candy Crush and things that shove Dolby logos in your face. Of course Dell themselves add all sorts of support and maintenance crap. It took a few days for my partner to get through the various Windows updates + Dell updates and the conflicts between them.
Drivers are apparently still a thing, by the way.
None of this was helped by the fact that for some reason, Windows wouldn’t activate. That is also still a thing. Attempting to manually activate didn’t really provide any enlightening information, and the troubleshooter added nothing. And since this was over Easter weekend, Microsoft support was shut down and couldn’t help either. I never found out what the issue was, but it did eventually get resolved by Microsoft.
Aw, and then last night the screen brightness controls stopped working. The on-screen HUD would show the brightness being adjusted (whether by shortcut keys or somewhere in Settings), but the brightness remained steady. So there’s something else that will suck up some troubleshooting time.
The saddest part is that my partner just shrugged most of this off, like it’s normal to have to put up with it all. That right there is perhaps the problem - PC/Windows users just assume that this kind of crap is expected. That’s not okay!
So not a fabulous initial experience for my partner, but it sure helped me form a pretty solid conclusion about my “could I switch to Windows” thing from a couple of weeks ago. Apple can do much better, but it turns out the grass on the other side is a really off-putting shade of brown. It can often feel like everything is broken when I stumble into an issue which affects my workflow, but these past few days have made me realise that MacOS is still head-and-shoulders above the Windows experience.
I’m still pissed off about my MacBook Pro’s keyboard though…