Microsoft

I'm not breaking up with Windows, but we're seeing other people

For a number of reasons, which I explain in this article, I've decided to avoid Windows 7 and spend more time with Mac and Linux.

For many enterprises, 2010 is going to be the year they decide whether or not to jump on board with Windows 7, or stick with Windows XP indefinitely until there's a compelling reason to migrate to something new. As TechRepublic's CIO Jury showed, it's still a 50/50 tossup.

Personally, I'm going through the same thing, albeit, on a much smaller scale. While our company (CBS) is still officially standardized on Windows XP, in my work for TechRepublic I test lots of different machines and use multiple operating systems. Last week, for example, I used five different operating systems on eight different computers.

For updates on the latest tech news you can also follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jasonhiner.

Nevertheless, I also tend to have a primary laptop and a primary desktop. On both of those machines I also run virtualization software that allows me to test even more operating systems and software.

For a decade, all of my primary computers have run Windows. While I regularly experimented with Macs and various flavors of Linux at times, when I wanted to get my work done I always went back to a Windows system. That's about to change.

I've decided to avoid Windows 7, whenever possible, and rely on Mac and Linux to power my primary systems (you may have seen ).

My systems

After running Windows 7 on my desktop since its beta release at the beginning of 2009, I'm going to migrate my Core i7 desktop machine to Ubuntu Linux and then virtualize a version of Windows 7 and several other operating systems.

For my laptop, right now I'm relying on a 17-inch MacBook Pro, with virtualized versions of Windows XP, Windows 7, and Ubuntu.

Since a lot of what we do at CBS Interactive is run through Web applications, I can do nearly all of my daily work on Mac or Linux. The only things I occasionally still need Windows for are Microsoft Outlook (for heavy mail and calendaring), a few complicated Excel spreadsheets, and a few Web sites that rely on Internet Explorer (usually because of ActiveX).

And, with Outlook coming to Mac in 2010, more reports moving from Excel to the Web, and many companies phasing out ActiveX in favor of open platform technologies, the reasons to stick with Windows will shrink even further in 2010.

The reasons

So, a lot of you are probably wondering why I'm stepping away from Windows at this point. From a technological standpoint, Windows 7 isn't too bad. As I've said before, the best thing you can say about Windows 7 is that it does a better job of getting itself out of the way.

My issues with Windows 7 are mostly bigger concerns with Microsoft

  • Microsoft still badly overcharges for Windows
  • Microsoft should have made Windows 7 a free upgrade for Vista owners
  • Windows 7 does very little to innovate on the OS
  • Microsoft refuses to change the default installation of Windows for better reliability
  • After so many versions, Windows 7 feels like the Weasley's house in Harry Potter, with stuff bolted on all over the place

Even though I get free copies of Windows software through MSDN, I can't keep supporting Windows when Microsoft is overcharging consumers and business for the OS and still failing to deliver anything innovative with its flagship product.

Final word

I also don't want to overstate the breakup. This is not quite as dramatic as when my CBSi colleague Molly Wood publicly broke up with the iPhone in order to hook up with the Motorola Droid. Mine is not a "take your cat and leave my sweater" breakup. For now, Windows and I are just seeing other people, so to speak.

I'll still be using Windows (usually virtualized) almost every day in some capacity. However, Windows will no longer be the primary OS that powers most of my systems and I will not be making the jump to Windows 7.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

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