Microsoft Windows: A Love Story

I still remember my first reaction to installing the Windows 8 beta when it was first released in early 2012. Upon seeing the lack of a Start Menu and no File Explorer shell I panicked and uninstalled the beta and installed Fedora Linux. After about two weeks of using Fedora I realized that too much of what I did on my computer relied on applications like the Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office (not to mention gaming on Steam) and Fedora was not compatible with any of it. It was at this time I decided I’d have a new rule when trying something out: use it for two weeks before forming an opinion.

I re-installed Windows 8 and got to know the new operating system and, admittedly, it had grown on me over those next two weeks. It took seeing Windows 8 and the Windows Phone together to not only see but appreciate the direction Microsoft wanted to take Windows. Seeing Microsoft’s Productivity Future Vision video also clued me into the future that Microsoft had envisioned for its products. I began championing Windows among my friends and clients and continually expressed, “The future is really cool!” At the time it was.

A series of updates were released for Windows which only made the OS better and better over time. I continued to update to the most recent OS on the PC and kept updating my phones to the newest Windows Phone when the time came for me to upgrade through my carrier. Eventually, I fell out of love with my Windows Phone for the simple fact that while many of the apps that I used were available for it, the apps I wanted to try were unavailable on Windows Phone. Over time my love for Windows would fade as well.

Where I was originally excited by the direction Microsoft wanted to take Windows, it turns out that the road getting there is at odds with what I want in my OS. The company’s focus seems to be more cloud-centric and heavily pushes users to save data in OneDrive (which requires an Office 365 subscription for any reasonable storage space). Microsoft collects telemetry data on your computer in order to improve the Windows experience for all users which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there’s no switch for me to turn this completely off if I chose. Additionally there is now the integration of Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri, which comes integrated into the OS and can’t be removed with anything short of a Group Policy edit.

Another frustration comes with installing Windows 10 Professional and finding apps like Candy Crush installed by default in an image that I received from Microsoft! This is okay in a Home version of Windows but in a Professional version that is used by businesses? Really? This is nothing short of native advertising in my Start Menu/Screen which begs the question, “Will we have advertising anywhere else in the Windows shell?” Wait! We already have Microsoft advertising Office 365 in File Explorer so maybe the answer to the previous question is, “Yes.”

The final nail in the coffin to my Windows 10 fears has less to do with the new OS itself and more to do with Windows as a whole. Given its vast market share it has always been a target for malware the most terrifying of which, to me, is ransomware. I’ve seen firsthand what happens when a ransomware infects a network and no backups exist and this singular experience is probably the biggest reason I want to move away from Windows: I want to move my data somewhere with less of an attack surface.

I maintain backups of my data (the most important of which is backed up in triplicate) but even so I find myself wanting to move away from an OS that susceptible to malware. Admittedly this may be flawed thinking in that Microsoft has worked hard to mitigate the malware threat and tends to get infected mostly based on user error. Therefore any risk to my data on Windows is that which I myself cause. Even with this taken into account, however, the other issues I spoke of with Windows had left me wanting to try new things which, close to a year ago, I did. They say you always hurt the ones you love and by that reckoning I love Microsoft and Microsoft loves me.