Aside from my first computer (if you can call the ADAM a real computer), I have always been a Microsoft operating system user. Back on my family’s 286 in the early 1990s, we ran MS-DOS; and when we graduated to a 386 a couple of years later, we shifted right into Windows 3.1. I’ve used Windows as my primary OS ever since. But I’ll admit it; only two things are keeping me using the most popular PC OS today — gaming and Photoshop.
A couple of years ago, I bought a Samsung Chromebook in the hopes of using it as a basic laptop when on the road or when I wanted to write from the deck. I expected very little from it. Chromebooks are scaled-down laptops that probably better fit the definition of “netbook” than any of the so-called netbooks released years ago. Without Internet access, its usefulness is limited.
That said, I instantly fell in love with the damn thing. It boots up faster than most tablets I’ve seen and works just fine (not that it doesn’t have its annoying quirks). Because it’s based on a Google OS, it integrates beautifully with my Google account, which I use for pretty much everything (except social networking). There are no drivers to play around with, no concerns about whether a particular ChromeOS app will run on my machine and no bloatware.
It’s the anti-Windows. And I love it.
It’s ChromeOS’s limitations that keep me from ditching Windows entirely … even though I’d really like to. Almost four years ago, I returned to the realm of PC gaming; and that includes games like Counter-Strike: Source, Marvel Heroes, Dungeons & Dragons Online and a host of others that will never be Chrome-friendly. I enjoy PC gaming too much to scrap it in favour of an alternative that may or may not be able to run my preferred games.
The other reason I’m sticking with Windows is Photoshop (Elements, technically). Photoshop is familiar and comfortable. I use it frequently for photo post-processing (not always with great results, but that’s another topic entirely). And like my PC games, it’s not Chrome-friendly.
Now, there are alternatives should I finally grow tired of Windows. I could buy a Steam Machine as a dedicated gaming box, hook it up to the TV and never need another Windows ‘puter for gaming again. But the reviews so far are mixed; and I’m not keen on shifting PC gaming to the living room. There are also perfectly acceptable browser-based photo editing products (Pixlr comes to mind). But I’m used to Photoshop and all of its quirks. And most of the browser apps don’t support RAW files (that’s a huge deal-breaker for me).
For awhile, it looked like there was a bright side to being a Windows user. Windows 10 was a significant improvement over 8.1. When I upgraded, my PC’s performance instantly improved. Until the latest update. Cortana buggered everything up, resulting in a net performance loss (thanks a lot, Microsoft).
Until a better option for gaming and Photoshop comes along, I guess I’m stuck being a Windows user.