The Windows Conundrum
There are a few moments in my life where I've had the wisdom or clarity of mind to take a step back from a task and really try to understand what it means to succeed in it. One of those times was Monday. I was handed a computer with Windows 10 and asked to review it for Popular Science. I'm still thinking about it, but spoiler alert, I wrote the article and you can read it here. I'm writing this because I think it's important to have a public record of my mindset in this case, and if someone takes the time to come to my blog in this odd corner of the internet from that article, they deserve to know what I was thinking.
I use a MacBook Pro most days. In a stroke of irony, I write this from my Microsoft Surface, and wrote my review from my Mac. While I'm familiar with the Windows operating system (in the article I list my Windows chops, including building a computer with Windows 8 and crashing Windows 95 by deleting System32) but I don't use it every day of my life. Sure, I use it most days, the aforementioned Windows 8 computer is my gaming rig, and I love my Surface. But I wondered if I would be doing a disservice to readers by not giving them a review from someone in the trenches of Windows 8. I'm really good at Mac OS X. I know so many shortcuts, and I'm quite zippy. I'm proud of that. I don't feel the same way about Windows. Maybe it was a Windows 8 thing. I have a theory, that has no real evidence behind it besides testimonials that I've read, that Windows 8 was so widely panned because there was no sense of permanence-- no feeling that you were at home or comfortable. It's because you were forced to hover between two screens (home and Metro), and I never felt like the controls were consistent.
That's the biggest fix with Windows 10 that I could see. You feel like you're home. I can't really describe the feeling I got when I booted Windows 10, popped open the Start screen, and scrolled through the application bar. It was cathartic in a way I didn't think software could make me feel. I felt like I had been unease for years, but now things were back to normal.
I had a lot of questions to ask myself, writing a fairly visible piece for potentially hundreds of thousands of readers who wanted to know if their computer would be better served with an free operating system upgrade. Could someone who was a Mac user properly review a Windows OS? Would my personal bias enhance the clarity my observations, because wonky features would stand to be more noticeable coming from a very refined OS? Or my perception of what an operating system should be (because my contentment with OS X) be skewed? And on a third hand, I had no choice.
That feeling I had when I opened the application bar, as silly as that sounds, validated the fact that I could be impartial when testing the system. While I am more comfortable in OS X, I do have a deep understanding and history with Windows. I think success in this case was being able to put out a piece of text, that as someone with a reasonable amount of self-awareness I could send to my editors and not feel a sense of unease. Honesty, in other words. I think I reached that goal. A review is only a review, my opinion. I read about Windows every day for months in preparation, and I like to think my opinion is relatively valid. I liked some things, and truly disliked others (Cortana). I think it's important that people have access to the basis of my opinions, so I wrote this little personal post. If you have questions, I implore you to reach out. I'm always looking for discussion on your experiences.