Windows is on its way out

The Swithch to Apple
The computer I use for most of my work at home is about to break down. Basically it’s a windows box that I have built by using leftovers from my various media center projects.

So, it’s time to upgrade.

A little bit of history
My first computer was a Commodore 64. Entering my life back in 1982 or 83. Before that I played around with my father’s portable Kaypro II. The Commodore 64 took me all the way from playing games, programming Basic and eventually hacking around in assembly language.

In 1984 I also started playing around with my father’s new toy, a brand new Macintosh 128K. The C64 was later on replaced with a C128 and the legendary Amiga 500. I ended my Commodore adventure with an Amiga 4000. After that I was entirely on Apple Macintosh. Both at home and at work.

In 1998 I accepted a position as a consultant with Accenture and figured it was time to learn some Windows stuff as well. Doing it the hard way by building a computer from scratch and installing Windows NT. Took me about three months to get everything working. Three months that practically made me a windows expert. After that I have been using different Windows and Mac computers. Mostly Windows. All the way from NT to 2000 and now Windows XP and Media Center Edition.

How important is the operating system?
It used to be pretty important. Hardware was closely tied to the operating system. Most of the work was done in applications installed on top of the particular operating system you had decided to use. Networks, disks and file formats was alone on their different platforms. Once you were locked into an operating system it was hard to switch to another.

During the last couple of years the operating system itself isn’t that important anymore. I do 90% of my work in the browser. A computer running Firefox alone will be able to solve most of my daily work.

Outlook was entirely replaced with Gmail several months ago. Microsoft Word and the simple work i do in Excel have been replaced by Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I do my publishing directly in WordPress. Calculations are done with CalCooLate. I administrate and get my news through Google Reader.

All of this can be done fluently on Windows, MacOS or Linux. The operating system is loosing its importance.

So what’s left?
Why bother? If Firefox is the only thing you need why don’t you simply switch to the free and user friendly Ubuntu? Actually, I have considered it. But I still rely on some applications that are installed on my computer:

1. Image handling
I use Adobe Photoshop Elements to administrate and edit my images.

2. Video and audio editing
I currently use Sony Vegas Video to edit media.

3. Presentation work
This is actually a field where I don’t have a proper tool today. I use PowerPoint, but it is absolutely horrible. And the web based tools like Thumbstacks isn’t there yet.

In addition to this I use huge amounts of small more or less important helper applications to handle various tasks. You find some of my favourites here. And yes, after I wrote that article I have replaced ZoomPlayer with VLC and added Democracy Player to the list of important tools.

What’s important?
Some of the most important stuff that the operating system has to do is to run stable, be clean, uncluttered and fast and take care of some basic safety. I am quite happy with the work that Windows carries out on my boxes, but it is getting increasingly cluttered.

And my experiments with Vista has not been very convincing. They try to add security by restricting the user from doing anything. On one of the Vista boxes I use I am waiting for a security alert that would say something like: “Are you sure you want to type the letter “E”?. It could be dangerous”. I answer “yes”. The next box would say “Are you really really sure? Was it you that just typed the letter E? This is a security question to verify that your computer is safe”. So, when I try to type the rest of my name, “Are you sure you want to type the letter “i”? etc…

This, in addition to the sheer joy of some variation leads me to the temptation of some alternatives. And, it seems like Thomas Hawk has been pretty happy lately.

All of the tasks that I do in addition to what’s in the browser can be solved in Ubuntu, but I am afraid it’s not that user friendly yet, and that I wouldn’t find a video editing suite and image archive that would fill my needs. Please let me know if you have some recommendations. I know that The Gimp would probaly solve my image editing needs, but I also need a system to handle my 32 000 images with tagging and browsing.

So, I am considering to do the switch to Apple. For this house that would be to replace two old windows boxes with two brand new iMacs. And I would also keep my promise and replace my good old Thinkpad X31 with a MacBook Pro when the IBM laptop needs to be upgraded. The Media Center will stay for a while. The only real alternative there would be to install MythTV. Apple have no proper DVR software yet.

My old windows box is still running, but good advice is welcome in the comments! It seems like a 17″ iMac will be the happy and hard working box that will replace the one I am using right now. 17″ because there isn’t room for anything bigger.

Windows is on its way out

23 thoughts on “Windows is on its way out

  1. Hello there!

    It the “room”! Where did you get that handy desk-lookalike unterior?
    Seems like you have spent some time (and money) over at Ikea! Is it all from there? Whats the ting called? Not Ivar this time I belive?

  2. You are referring to this, right?

    It’s tailor made. Our interior designer friend designed it and a carpenter built it. Our home features a nice combination of Ikea, home made stuff, custom built stuff and some nice designer items…

  3. Tomas says:

    That’s the one 🙂

    Ah..good. I was on my way to buy rubber gloves and cleaning supplies…but now my conscience is way better 😀

  4. Josh Thornes says:

    I run a linux box as my 2nd computer and recently rebuilt it to run Ubuntu. It is pretty amazing. After using several linux distros, the simple ability to have my printer work in a couple seconds as well as have the USB card reader built into working with 0 configuration is as good as windows. I’ve yet to try WINE out on the system, but I had it working pretty well in Fedora Core 4, running applications like Picasa for my image archive and simple touchup. Of course, now Google has released linux versions of Picasa which use WINE.

    I’ll have to install LiVES and see if it can handle doing stuff with my DV Camera.

    Really, I would switch to Ubuntu if my computer wasn’t used 50% of the time for heavy gaming.

  5. Taking it Online…

    Each day I’m surprised by how many more people seem to be jumping in and testing out the idea of the “Online Computer”, the idea that your computer is one that does not physical exist in the same room as you but rather spread around on services o …..

  6. Way to go! I’ve been through much the same path myself: Spectrum, Commodore 64, PC, Mac OS7+8+9, Unix, NT, Sun, finally ending up with Mac OS X. And I haven’t looked back for a second!

    I trust you will keep us posted on your progression on Media Center-ish stuff on the mac. I have some experience myself with EyeTV that I’d be happy to share.

  7. Onno says:

    about Apple having no good PVR software:

    Have you checked out the products from Elgato?
    I considered the EyeTV 610 for DVB-C.
    But it’s just too easy to operate 🙂
    Seriously: it doesn’t support h.264 encoded broadcasts (yet).

    Now I play around with FireDTV tuners (same hardware as Elgato) and run a combination of DVB-Viewer, MediaPortal and Microsoft Media Center 2005.

  8. You can’t go wrong with the iMac. I have a 20″ Intel iMac myself, in addition to the 13″ Macbook for school and various web programming.

    The iMac’s display is simply wonderful. The resolution is also spectacular on all Mac’s. I know I’ll never go back to using Windows for anything else than error-testing, and that’s no difficult task when using Crossover. 🙂

  9. Onno: okay, Elgato does a couple of interesting things. And, I am going to play around with the different media center solutions for the Mac platform once my 17″ iMac arrives (yes, I just ordered one…)

    But, I’ll keep my MCE rig and probably start playing around with SageTV, FireDTV and the Mac extender software that they have released.


    You can’t go wrong with the iMac.

    Good! As mentioned, I just ordered one. A 17″ iMac with 2 GB ram, 500 GB disk and 2.16 GHz CPU. Hopefully it will arrive in about two weeks.

  10. I am sorry. I missed that one. Now it’s recovered. I am running both Akismet and Spam Karma. Still there’s spam getting through.

    And, in rare moments real comments get stopped. Sorry about that.

    Lots of useful information in there. F-spot looks good, and so does digiKam, that I found through the link to Cory’s post about switching from Mac to Ubuntu. Over there he is linking to Mark Pilgrim’s very nice list of Ubuntu essentials.

    Seems like he has found most of what he need. I am a bit sceptical when it comes to video editing:

    Kino. It’s just like iMovie except… no, it’s nothing like iMovie. Damn. I miss iMovie.

    This is actually one of the things that I find quite important. Editing of video and sound.

    But I’ll probably go bananas and install several operating systems on the iMac…

    As for presentation tools, OpenOffice is just as good (or was it bad?) as Microsoft Office when it comes to presentations. On my current windows box that’s what I use. I didn’t bother to install MS Office. I am pretty disappointed that OpenOffice have copied Powerpoint. Because powerpoint sucks. The other web based solutions look very promising. I’ll have to check them out!

  11. […] Stor takk til Joakim for Ã¥ sende meg pÃ¥ sporet av denne fantastiske tjenesten! Joakim linka til en fyr som var glad for Ã¥ ha switcha fra Windows til MacOS. Her fant jeg en TrackBack fra en kar som mente at operativsystemet ikke spilte sÃ¥ stor rolle lenger , fordi sÃ¥ mye foregikk i nettleseren. Denne karen nevnte Google Docs & Spreadsheets som et av flere eksempler pÃ¥ hvordan man kunne gjøre seg nytte av Web 2.0. […]

  12. Thanks. Of course everyone can make mistakes, I just thought you got noticed when the comment got filtered, and you didn’t do anything about it then, nor when I told you about it in another comment. Nor did you reply to that comment. I just found that strange, hope you understand. 🙂

    Hope you’ll have another post later on this topic if you find any of the (online) programs you found via my comment useful enough.

  13. Hope you’ll have another post later on this topic if you find any of the (online) programs you found via my comment useful enough.

    I will! Empressr looks promising. If they include Flash, PPT and Apple Keynote export and import it would turn into a very powerful tool.

  14. Seems like you don’t got much feedback on that Mac your thinking of?

    I have never tried og used a Mac! So my question is just: Whats the best reasons to change from Pc to Mac?

    I have just read about the Mac Mini, but it seems like it not very well suited for Media Center? Is it possible to install Hauppauge 500 TV-card in a Mac? For example a Mac Mini?

  15. The first Mac is in the house. More discussion here. I’ll post more info as I get some experience. My main reason was less hassle. It just works.

    For my media center needs I will keep the windows box for a while. I need the TV functionality and that is not completely included in Apples solutions yet.

    No, you can not add a PVR-500 to a MacMini, but you can add an external tuner from Elgato.

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