Things That Are Driving Me Away From Windows

I have been using Windows ever since I had the mental capacity to move a mouse. I’m 20 and I’m pretty sure the first computer I used had windows 95 on it. Since then I’ve been through XP, managed to dodge vista, enjoyed 7 for a long time, and I’ve been on windows 10 since the beta. Computers are my life, and my operating system is the tool that lets me accomplish a lot of the things I need to do in my day to day life, so I take this stuff very seriously.

Let’s just get right into it

I loved Windows 7, it had a good run. It was my favorite version of Windows to date. When it was new, no other OS could touch it in my humble opinion. Then the fiasco with 8 happened. Some people liked Windows 8… I didn’t. Probably because I’m neither blind nor do I have a touchscreen/tablet monitor, so I have no need for that gigantic new start menu. Things slowly got better and then finally Windows 10 came along. It was basically the answer to the Windows 7 users’ prayers. In theory, it was the best of 7 & 8 all in one.

The initial release was something very close to that. It was nice, smooth, new and exciting. It wasn’t exactly as polished as 7 but hey, it worked… most of the time. Then the updates started coming in, and with every milestone update, I started noticing a pattern. They would usually add something really cool, and then make another part of the OS worse. And when I say worse, I mean they fundamentally screwed something up. It’s as if the Windows dev team is split into two groups; one os focused on making the best possible OS and listening to community and developer feedback. Then there’s the team who’s got their balls in a vice by corporate and their sole purpose in life is to

  • make the OS profitable outside of selling liscences
  • replace all the old chunks of the OS with newer, simpler, prettier versions of said chunks

Those two things aren’t bad goals, in fact, they’re paramount if Microsoft wants to use the whole “Windows as a service” thing they seem to be going for, but they are going about it in an awful way. I’ll elaborate on the individual things that bother me the most down below

Back in Ye Olde days of Windows XP and 7, the entire OS had a unified theme and feel. In windows 8, this theme evolved to be flatter and sharper but it stayed mostly consistent. When windows 10 started updating, Microsoft started relpacing these old assets with new ones. Examples would include the volume slider, network options popup, system settings, notifications, etc.

The problems are:

  • They are updating individual chunks of the OS at separate times, leaving a messy mix of old and new UI elements
  • These new elements are often more than just aesthetic. They fundamentally change how we interact with the system. Windows update and Programs & Features is a great example which I’ll dive into later
  • New elements are added but old ones are left behind, which is confusing as hell. For example, there’s two menus to see and uninstall all your programs. Why?
  • The new versions of the legacy elements are usually grossly dumbed down and they generally just don’t function as well as the old ones (the replacement for programs and features is a great example)

This is probably one of the two most widely criticised aspects of Windows 10. If Microsoft wants you to have that security update, you’re gonna get that security update if they have to tube feed it to you. One day you’ll wake up and your toaster will be running the latest build. No, but seriously, I understand the importance of updates. I also understand that the general public thinks updates do nothing but slow your computer down and let the CIA spy on you with your tinfoil hat on. But there are times when an update is just plain unacceptable. One day I went to class with my laptop, opened it, and it proceeded to force update for the entire class period. I needed it to take notes, and furthermore it didn’t give any warning. It just did it. I need my computer when I need my computer. If I need to postpone an update, then I need to postpone it. Furthermore, I should have the right to just straight-up just not update if I want. That would be dumb, but I want the right to be dumb.

Before Windows 10, bloatware was never an issue, I mean, what company would be stupid enough to bundle apps and games from third parties into the main official builds of an OS for the sake of profit? Yeah.

To be technically correct, these programs aren’t directly bundled into the install media, but they will automatically install themselves the moment the machine is connected to an internet source, and furthermore, if you uninstall/disable them through scripts or debloat programs, they will usually find their way back with the next major update. If you don’t need the App Store, disabling the app store itself before connecting a fresh install to the internet might resolve the issue, but that’s just way too involved to have a decent OS experience on a system that you paid money for.

Lots of people are concerned about these apps as well as Microsoft collecting data… I’m not so concerned about candy crush knowing when I use my computer, but it’s an annoying prospect nonetheless. On a professional level, it’s insulting that a company with the recognition of Microsoft would make these kinds of moves. These things drives me away from all of their products.

Installing, managing, and uninstalling stuff on Windows PCs is quite a mess. That’s not as much of a stab at Windows 10 as it is an illumination of other systems like Linux and MacOS (which is just privatized Linux). The management of software on Windows hasn’t improved since… well, not since I’ve been alive. Windows 10 made things a little worse with the introduction of the sketchy Program manager that’s built into the metro settings. The Windows store is trash, and there’s no repository based way to install things. Everything has to be installed with “wizards.”

Full disclosure, I own a custom, high-spec PC that I built myself, but I’m writing this article on a MacBook. It’s the first Apple computer I’ve ever owned, but astonishingly to me, I’ve come to be quite fond of MacOS.

Here’s why:

  • I can choose to update whenever I want
  • There is no bloatware of any kind on the system image
    (unless you count Apple apps that you don’t use)
  • The UI isn’t very customizable, but it’t remarkably consistent and very pretty in my opinion
  • The UX is simple, but powerful depending on how you choose to use it, it’s not just an “old man’s OS” like I thought it would be
  • Most modern programs and professional suites run on MacOS
    (games are making their way over too)
  • Installing a program is literally as simple as dragging a .app file into the programs folder (and that’s if it isn’t in the App Store). To uninstall it, just delete it
  • MacOS and Windows are the two main consumer OSs. It’s a lot easier to make a Mac work with Windows stuff than vice versa. Every Mac can natively boot Windows through bootcamp if you need/want it
  • Mac is a privatized linux distro, and as such, it’s generally less prone to malware or general problems than Windows

I’m not saying go buy a Mac. They’re stupidly expensive, but you are paying for build/service quality as well as the experience of opening your computer and knowing the damn thing will actually work.

I’d also encourage taking a look at Linux. I would love to use and learn Linux but I have to have things that just won’t run on it. MacOS is my medium ground. I use my PC for CPU heavy tasks but my MacBook has taken over a lot of my general computing because it’s just enjoyable to use. Using Windows is starting to feel like work. Sometimes I just want to relax.

Let me know what you think!

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