My Attempt to Switch From Mac to Windows

on June 19, 2018
Reading Time: 3 minutes

I recently wrote about my frustrations with my MacBook keyboard due, in my opinion, to Apple’s obsession with thinness. I found my MacBook keyboard to be just too difficult to use and unreliable, as well. Even after a replacement, random keys continue to become mushy and don’t reliably register. In speaking with friends using recent Macs I hear much the same issue.

For the first time in twenty years, it got me to consider moving to a Windows 10 notebook. I never expected that to happen, because I think the MacOS is elegant, easy to use and visually appealing. It also works well with the iPhone I use. The tipping point came with my spending 2 to 3 hours a day at the keyboard working on a new book. But when I casually looked at what alternatives were available, I was surprised by the latest crop of Windows notebooks.

Costco and the local Microsoft Store had computers from Lenovo, Dell, Microsoft and HP that were beautiful, lightweight, with none of the compromises found on the MacBooks. I had been under the impression that thin and light meant limited ports and a shorter battery life, but that’s not what I discovered.

I eventually picked a Lenovo Carbon X1 with its best quality 14-inch, 2560 x 1440 non-touch glossy screen. It’s spectacular – almost OLED like sharp, and intensely bright. The X! also had a full complement of ports, a memory card slot, and that terrific keyboard.

My biggest reservation in switching notebooks was moving from the MacOS to the Windows 10 operating system. It’s taken me almost two weeks to become comfortable doing most things under Windows, including a visit to the local Microsoft Store for a short class. Clearly, Microsoft is remiss by not offering the migration tools that Google and Samsung do to help iPhone users move to Android.

Switching means abandoning some of the apps that I’ve grown accustomed to on the Mac, such as Mail, Fantastical. Grab, and Contacts. I tried using Outlook for Windows, but in spite of watching YouTube videos from third parties and calls to Microsoft, I’ve not gotten it to work reliably.

I was able to access my Apple iCloud web client and its online apps, but they’re not very robust for frequent use. Fortunately, Apple offers a Windows app to access my iCloud drive, so my documents and photos were readily available. Office for Windows seems slightly better than the Mac version. I decided to use Google’s online calendar, contacts, and email clients. They’ve all improved over time, particularly the new email interface. But you’re still limited to Gmail accounts and I wasn’t able to add my Apple email account.

I found Windows 10 to be much improved compared to the last time I tried it using Windows 8. There are still vestiges of the old version with the large tiles that seem unnecessary and redundant, and there are hidden settings that take some searching to find, such as the Control Panel. But Windows OS also has much-improved aesthetics with a clean, clear interface with many intuitive features. The large Cortana search window provides a powerful search for help on the computer and the web.

I still prefer MacOS, which I’d rate a 90 vs an 80 for Windows, using my arbitrary wine rating scale. The Windows computer hardware, however, beats Apple by a larger margin, 95 vs 70. If I were an Apple MacOS software engineer, I’d be unhappy that my fellow hardware engineers are shortchanging the software by offering products that are well behind the competition. There’s no doubt in my mind that Apple has lost its edge with its latest line of notebook computers and is way behind the Windows offerings. I’m likely not telling them anything they really don’t know. Last time I was at the Apple Store to repair my keyboard, they suggested I’d be better off with a MacBook Air.