Full stack web developer, interested in all the things, but especially the web, code, design, Linux, OS X, PHP, WordPress, JavaScript & robots.

Switching from Linux to Windows

UPDATE: I’ve since switched to OS X.

My New Year’s resolution was to attempt to switch to a closed source OS on the desktop. No joke. I’m nearly 6 months into this experiment and it is going surprisingly well. I say surprisingly, because I have been a staunch Linux user for the past 10+ years and I haven’t touched Windows or OS X in all that time.

As you can probably imagine, or not, making the switch has not been overly easy, especially in the beginning. Forgetting about the obvious changes to the software, my immediate concerns were more philosophical. As anyone who has been involved with the free software scene will tell you, free software is not about money or cost, but about four essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Now, let me tell you, it is very difficult to willingly let that go. So, why have I?

The primary reason was a very selfish one, I wanted to know if I had been missing out on anything. I mean, 10+ years is a very long time in the computing world, at least long enough for Microsoft to have released 3 (or 4, if you count 8 and 8.1 as differing beasts, and discount the various other Windows variants, such as Server) different versions of Windows, and I really wanted to know what, if anything, I was missing out on. In short, I believe I may have been suffering from a severe case of FoMO.

And had I been missing out? Well, yes, I believe I had. Both Windows 7 (switched to from Debian at work) and Windows 8.1 (switched to from Debian at home) are both excellent operating systems. Sure, I get a few butterflies in my stomach if I think too hard about the four freedoms when I’m using them, but it’s becoming easier and easier to push those thoughts to the back of my mind. When things “just work”, it definitely helps to make it easy to forget about the things you are trying not to think about.

As I mentioned, it really wasn’t easy to make the switch, especially in the beginning. There were times when I longed for my familiar Linux desktop, but after ~6 months, and a considerable amount of bending to the OS, I’m now in a position where I can use Windows and it doesn’t get in my way. In fact, I’m well on my way to becoming a proficient Windows power user — I’ve swapped Bash scripts for Batch files and I’m learning new tricks all the time. And for the most part, I’m loving it.

It’s funny how things change. Twelve months ago, I would have thought twice about even booting a Windows machine, and now look at me, I’m in danger of becoming a Microsoft fanboy. It doesn’t really compute, but there you have it.

P.S. I should state, in case it is not obvious, I still use Linux every single day. Whilst I’m happy with Windows on my desktops, I would not consider switching from Linux on my servers. I’m not crazy (although my mother never had me tested.)

P.P.S A message to my Linux friends: I still love you, so please do not shout at me, at least not too loudly. If you have any questions, please just ask :)

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