I didn’t mean to ditch my Macbook completely.
I just figured that I’d put the new operating system through its paces on the Lenovo Yoga 12 laptop-tablet convertible that Microsoft sent me as a test unit. I’d use Windows 10 until something frustrated me so much that I went back to the Mac.
I figured it was inevitable. I’ve been rocking Macbooks since 2008 or so, and have so far managed to avoid using Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 almost entirely.
But it’s been a week since this experiment began. And I haven’t gone back to my Mac. Not even once.
There are two big things that Windows 10 has that Apple’s Mac OS X doesn’t.
A solid touchscreen experience
Not every Windows 10 computer is going to have a touchscreen like the Yoga 12’s.
But on this Lenovo, Windows 10 and those scant few apps designed to take full advantage of it are a pleasure to use with my fingers. Grabbing windows, dragging them, switching tabs in the Edge browser, all work beautifully. Maybe it’s just preconditioning from all my time on the smartphone, but maybe not.
And I’ve started using the included stylus (sorry, Steve Jobs) to take story notes with Microsoft OneNote in my own handwriting. Plus, it makes me feel like a nuclear submarine commander when I write a really good Facebook comment and punch “Post” on the screen.
Either way, I’m surprised that adding a touchscreen has made my working life just a little more pleasant. It’s no wonder Microsoft is pushing the first-party Surface Pro 3 laptop/tablet hybrid into the market so hard.
Meanwhile, if I spend too much time poking at the screen of my Macbook, all I get is the exciting opportunity to make an appointment at the Apple Store’s Genius Bar.
Generally speaking, I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface with Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant app that’s basically the company’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Google Now.
I mostly use my laptop at work — you have to unplug sometimes — which means that I don’t really want to talk to her, out loud, within earshot of my coworkers. This means that until Cortana comes to iOS and Android, she just doesn’t have that much of a chance to learn from me.
All the same, though, I find myself pulling up the Cortana interface pretty regularly to check stuff like my next meeting, the weather, or just to find a file on my computer.
Basically, I’ve been using Cortana as an amped-up version of Apple OS X’s Spotlight search, and I know it can do more. It’s getting better all the time, thanks to complicated maths behind the scenes that’s supposed to teach her my preferences.
Meanwhile, Siri and my Macbook don’t really get along at all. There are always rumours Siri is coming to Mac OS X, but nothing’s materialised thus far.
And looking forward, Google and Microsoft are both better at the crucial machine learning technologies needed to make smart digital assistants even smarter.
Siri may have been the original digital assistant, but other than a rumoured feature that would let her transcribe voicemails in iOS9, it’s been a while since she’s gotten a significant upgrade to her smarts.
The most major thing I’ve learned from my time with Windows 10 is that your operating system means less than ever in the age of Google.
I logged into my Google, Facebook, and Spotify accounts in the new Microsoft Edge browser, and that got me probably 95% of the way to normalcy.
The other 5 per cent is a little trickier. I do miss some features from Mac OS X, specifically the ones that let an iPhone play nicely with a Macbook (though an app called Pushbullet has helped with that, a little).
But there are also some gains: Windows 10 is really good at actually managing app windows, and I’m slowly learning to take advantage of the tools it gives you to multitask more effectively.
As it stands today, the Windows Store is a dessolate wasteland of not-very-good or hacked-together apps, but it’s not significantly worse than the Mac App Store, which has had its own issues with attracting developers.
The key difference is that the apps from the Windows Store are also generally designed with touchscreens in mind — though this is sometimes better in theory than practice — which makes them easier to use in tablet mode, too.
And on both platforms, there’s nothing stopping you from downloading apps from the Internet. Generally speaking, the Windows and Mac versions of popular apps like Spotify, Slack, and Steam work exactly the same way.
Ultimately, at the differences shrink and shrink, the PC/Mac divide is going to come down to personal taste.
Once upon a time, I was so sick of Windows XP, and so wary of ever upgrading my PC after the Windows Vista disaster, that I decided to try something new and took a risk on a Macbook.
Now, Windows 10 is giving me a lot of reasons to stay, and not many to leave. And I’m thinking about making the switch official.
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