For nearly two decades, I made my living writing computer books on topics such as “Visual Basic For Dummies” and “Microsoft Office For Dummies.” Like many computer book authors, I had every incentive to stay within the lucrative world of Microsoft because books on Microsoft products sold like crazy. Then something changed.
In 2007, Microsoft released Vista, a product that even Microsoft’s own executives couldn’t get to work right. Even worse, to enhance security, Vista was purposely designed to annoy users whenever they did something risky. Rather than make products that made the lives of their customers easier, Microsoft chose to release a buggy operating system designed to generate more revenue for the company through upgrades while simultaneously reducing productivity for its users.
Any time a company thinks only of themselves while ignoring the needs of their customers, that’s the time its customers should think of themselves and ignore the needs of that company.
Despite earning my entire income through Microsoft products, I decided Vista was a dead end. That’s when I purchased a Mac mini and slowly transitioned my daily work from my old Windows PC to the Mac mini.
Was it easy? Not really. Learning anything new is often frustrating and confusing simply because you’re used to one way of working while being confronted with a different way of working. Given the choice of going back to Vista or sticking with the Mac mini, the choice was easy though. After Vista basically killed my PC by making it unusable, a piece of paper and a pencil was better than relying on Vista.
I did investigate various flavors of Linux but due to the wide variety of distributions competing for attention, I decided my best option was to use a Mac mini and run Linux as a virtual machine. That way I could have the best of both operating systems. Later I transferred my old Windows XP PC to a virtual machine on my Macintosh so I could run OS X natively and Linux and Windows virtually. That gave me more flexibility than any Windows PC could have ever done.
The more I used OS X, the more I learned its quirks and nuances until I became just as proficient using OS X as using Windows. About that time, Microsoft finally released Windows 7, which was a decent operating system, but for me it was too late. I could simply stay with my Macintosh and run Windows 7 virtually while still doing the bulk of my work on OS X. When updating my “Microsoft Office For Dummies” book, I simply ran Microsoft Office and Windows as a virtual machine while writing the actual book using Word for the Mac on OS X. Since I always work with a beta copy of Microsoft Office when updating “Microsoft Office For Dummies,” this insured that if Microsoft Office crashed Windows for some reason, it wouldn’t affect my document created in Word for the Mac.
Does this sound like a cook who doesn’t eat his own food? Maybe, but if you ask every computer book author who wrote a book about Vista, most of them stuck with Windows XP rather than relying on Vista. Ask every computer book author who wrote a book about Windows 8 and you’ll find that most of them either still use Windows 7 or modified Windows 8 through programs like Start8 or Classic Shell to make Windows 8 look and behave more like Windows 7. The big secret is that many Vista and Windows 8 computer book authors don’t even rely on the products they wrote about, even after the product is officially released.
Do I use Windows any more? Yes and no. Initially I used Windows and OS X in roughly the same proportion, but then I found myself relying on OS X more and more and Windows less and less. Today I use OS X because I want to and I use Windows because I have to.
I may have still bounced back and forth between OS X and Windows until the day Apple introduced the iPhone. Before the iPhone, I had a mobile phone that stayed plugged into the wall at home most of the day because I hated using it. It was so clumsy to use just to make a phone call, let alone to send a text and forget about getting on the Internet. Given a choice between using a lousy mobile phone or nothing at all, I preferred using nothing at all.
When Apple introduced the iPhone, I immediately saw the potential as a portable computer you could put in your pocket. When Apple introduced the iPad, I started carrying an iPhone and iPad around all the time. If I didn’t carry my iPad, I always had my iPhone.
As the App Store exploded in popularity, I could already see the future as a computer book author and programmer. That’s when I decided to pursue computer book projects only if they were about Apple products. As a programmer, I decided to focus solely on OS X and iOS development through Xcode and other programming tools. As a professional writer, I latched on to the possibilities of interactive e-books through iBooks Author. Compared to the world of Windows that was growing stagnant, the world of Apple suddenly seemed so much brighter, more exciting, more fun, and more importantly, more profitable.
Don’t get me wrong. I still use Windows but now I run Windows on a separate laptop to conserve space on my Macintosh. I eventually upgraded from a Mac mini to an iMac and switched all my work to the Macintosh. I actually tried using my Windows 8 laptop every day for a year, but couldn’t take it any more and installed Classic Shell to make Windows 8 look and behave more like Windows 7.
For my work, I still need to use Windows, but I never enjoy it. Compared to OS X, using Windows is like taking a step backwards. When the greatest feature of Windows 10 is that it brings back a Start menu that Windows 7 had years ago, you know there’s little hope that Windows 10 will magically make a come back and dominate the computer world like it did back in the 90’s.
The fun and money lies with Apple. The drudgery and frustration lies with Windows. Like many people, I may still wind up using Microsoft software for both OS X and iOS, but the last thing I ever want to do is rely on Windows again.
The Windows era is over, but there’s a bright future ahead for everyone willing to embrace the new world of mobile and wearable computing. As long as you don’t remain stuck in the past, the future will always be more promising than you might think.