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Quitting macOS

[fa icon="calendar"] 11-Jan-2017 08:15:00 / by Eddie Vassallo

Eddie Vassallo

So it’s official - I’m quitting macOS.

It’s a painful statement to make, and although I have always ‘toyed’ with the idea of moving to an alternative desktop OS, I have never before made a definitive plan to move off of macOS/OS X for good. Across all machines. For always.

That changes today.

First, some context. I’ve been called a bit of a technology magpie. On any given day you can find me tickling the latest Android or iOS device, Windows PC, or during a brief 6-month bout of insanity, Linux-laptops surfing distros almost daily to find that elusive sweet spot. Needless to say, on Linux (and Windows for that matter) that comfortable sweetspot never came, and these brief dalliances away from macOS have always ended with a reliable return to my trusty iMac.

Sure, I’ve used a ton of non-Mac laptops over the past few years, perhaps even the majority of that time. But I’ve never made a wholesale change to another desktop OS before now (nor performed the fate-sealing move of writing – and shouting - about it!).

Let me explain.

About a month ago I purchased the new MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar (base i5/8GB model for those scoring at home) and was immediately enamoured with the gorgeous display, exceptional build quality, and fabulous polish of several new Mac-specific apps that have been coming from a ‘new wave’ of macOS developers (namely category-changing offerings like Spark Email, 2do task management, Ulysses, and Bear Notes).

The new laptop thus completed a full Apple ‘takeover’ of my tech – including the previously mentioned iMac at my desk in the office, iPhone 7 Plus in my pocket, Apple Watch on my wrist, and 9.7 iPad Pro under my arm - for those ad hoc ‘in between’ and note-taking tasks.

Yep, I was fully geared-up head-to-toe in Apple, and loving how everything played so well together. For good measure, I even surrounded most of my devices in Pad & Quill supplies – a brand name and accessory provider well known to the Apple fanatic. Frankly it was pretty sickening.

And here’s the thing – when you’re completely synced across all your devices the way Apple ties the ecosystem together, you’re living a special kind of balance. I mean, iMessages sync perfectly, phone calls default to the device you’re actually using at the time, and work in apps can be smoothly handed off to other devices. It’s a beautiful thing – and Apple has this aspect of pervasive computing down like no other tech company can (or potentially ever will).

And that ecosystem lock-in had me fully LOCKED in to the point where I was convinced if I couldn’t use Spark email, Bear Notes, or iMessage on other devices, there was no reason to even consider another purchase.

Checkmate, Apple. Well played.

But then something rather shocking happened. Apple kinda cheated on me – and the love affair started to wane. After only 2 days with my lovely new MacBook Pro I got suddenly bored of the (frankly redundant) Touch Bar – and stopped using it entirely. Worse, the low-travel keys on the new ‘improved’ keyboard began sticking to the point that Return key was almost unusable.

After over 20 years of using Apple laptops, I have never had to return a unit – so it was with a heavy heart that I marched back to the Apple Store and returned the machine, knowing full well that a long wait for a replacement device was at hand.

So what did I do? I doubled down of course! Now that I had to re-order a new MacBook Pro, I upped the stakes and maxed out the 13-inch Pro version – i7, 16GB RAM, the works. I figured since I had to wait (yet again), I wanted the top of the line machine this time around. So last week my (new)new MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar arrived and for almost 48 hours it was flawless.

Of course, I was plugged into AC power that first few days.

See where I’m going here?

My first day travelling into London for meetings was a nightmare. Using the MacBook on the 1-hour train journey, I arrived into London with about 68% battery remaining. By Noon I was at 35%, and by about 2pm I was on energy saver mode (or whatever macOS calls it). I decided this could be a blip, so gave it the benefit of the doubt. Next day, the same result – perhaps 4 hours screen-on time at best. Totally unusable for a mobile worker without bringing the power cable wherever you go.

This continued to happen until I decided I had had enough. After paying over £2,300 for a machine with 4-hour battery life, I once again returned to my Apple Store. This time, I was joined in queue by two additional ‘returnees’ bringing back their 13-inch MacBook Pro’s who complained of exactly the SAME issue. Abominable battery life, and buyer’s remorse from spending more money than they had ever spent on a laptop without a touchscreen, no pen support, a maximum of 16GB RAM, no dedicated graphics, and a whopping 4-hour battery life.

In desperation I quickly bought a ThinkPad on eBay (the new X1 Yoga with full touchscreen, pen support, 360-hinge, 4G connectivity, Windows Hello fingerprint recognition, the works) and I have to say as I am mightily impressed. Windows 10 has always felt a little less polished and…well…clunky to me. But as I’ve become more of a digital note-taker the past few years, pen support and a touchscreen is something I can really appreciate – and my productivity has increased markedly because of it.

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As you can tell, I’m a bit of a serial ‘returner’ of items within their return period, so I may well swap the ThinkPad for one of the new Dell XPS laptops introduced at CES, or wait a bit for a new Microsoft Surface Book, but I can definitely say that Windows is – so far - giving me MUCH bang for my buck, in almost every way.  

So yesterday I took the plunge and said goodbye to macOS on my iMac and loaded in Bootcamp. And I have to say, Windows 10 is running like an absolute champ on the Apple hardware. In fact, it’s running so smoothly on my Haswell 2013 iMac that I’m convinced it boots faster and multitasks better than macOS ever did.

So coming full circle – and to the shock of my old ‘fanboy’ self – I am sticking with Windows on both my laptop and desktop machines. Heck, if I can save up enough I may even go for one of the lovely new Surface Studios when they become available in the UK. And it’s not all about my horrible recent hardware experience with Apple – nor is this some kind of fanboy-backlash or disappointment with the performance of the new MacBook Pros, or Apple’s purported abandonment of its professional and creative userbase.

I just kinda like Windows better now. And I needed Apple to help me take the plunge, ‘cause I may not have done it on my own.

It’s simple – Windows 10 is more professional for my needs, continues to innovate with advanced touchscreen and Windows Ink support, provides 4G connectivity on laptops (imagine that!), Windows Hello fingerprint and facial recognition, superior multitasking, and perhaps most importantly - finally has some absolutely beautiful hardware options to challenge Apple’s dominance in top-tier build quality.

My friends and colleagues who know how often I switch devices will think this is just another phase – and it may well be short-lived. And hey, I still love iOS and am eagerly awaiting a host of new iPads this Spring…

But for now, I’m confident enough to print it – I’m done with macOS, and unless things radically change in 2017 (I’m looking at you, Tim Cook), I’ll continue my journey into a Windows-only world…

Topics: Windows

Eddie Vassallo

Written by Eddie Vassallo

Eddie is Founder & CEO of Entropy, former Head of Mobile for Discovery Channel, regular Guest Contributor on GigaOm and has been featured on Daring Fireball, CNN, and Strategy Eye.