Apple’s OS Giveaway Not a Good Sign, But Productivity Software Might Just Make Our Next PC a Mac….

Tearing myself away for a moment from a truly epic e-mail chain with my architect around shower drains  (hint – any product that contains the phrase “Strainer is removable with the use of simple Allen wrench.” is a REALLY BAD IDEA no matter how cool someone thinks it looks).

So the only way to read Apple’s generous decision to give away their OS (instead of forcing users to pay for upgrades) is as another sign that fortress Apple’s user base is slowly crumbling.  I am sure they have pitched this to Wall Street as a way to ensure that people use all their other apps and increase lock in and blah blah blah.  But all that would be true for a paid upgrade as much as for an unpaid one.  What it really tells us is the size of the un-upgraded installed base out there has gotten worrying large.

On the other hand, the free productivity apps on offer are pretty interesting to me for two reasons.

  1. Microsoft’s Windows 8 SUCKS.  We just returned a (balky touchscreen) Lenovo Yoga.  The defective hardware didn’t help, but the Windows 8 user experience unequivocally sucked.  I have read all the “well, you get used to it” reviews and they are totally horse-pucky.  The OS just gets in the way.
  2. Google Apps are dead in the water.  I tried to run this house project on Google Apps.  I was pretty shocked to discover basically zero upgrades or improvements since I last made any serious use of them about 5 years ago.  Simple things like changing the size of bullet points or setting the print area in a spreadsheet.  And the Google Apps forums are full of plaintive multi-year requests for these features to be added.  Who shut the lights off at Google and when?

Put that all in a bag and shake it and we are desperately looking for a workable laptop system.

  • Windows 8 means signing up for real pain but you get low cost and touchscreen gestures (which are useful if only MSFT hadn’t made EVERYTHING touch-dependent).
  • MAC has always been an expensive closed system (with no touchscreen so far) but decent productivity apps might tip us over.
  • I had some hopes for Google’s Chrome, but the moribund state of Google Apps (along with a lot of other fast-out-of-the-gate Google initiatives) leaves me cold.

Actually all of the above only applies to my wife’s laptop needs.  Me?  I have been doing great using Ubuntu Linux for the past 5-6 years.  If you have an old desktop or laptop sitting around you owe it to yourself to give Ubuntu a try.  It works well on older machines.  It is also brain dead easy to install.

  • The OS is rock solid stable, runs well on both my desktop and laptop, and the included office productivity apps are better than Google apps and pretty darn close to MSFT Office.
  • It is MUCH faster than MSFT.  Especially surfing the web and boot up/down.
  • Its largely free of malware.
  • These days it even plays games, with Valve software’s STEAM service largely ported over.

Lets not get into why my wife won’t use Linux.  That would be tough to explain, not very informative, and would probably get me into trouble.

Anyway- back to shower drains….

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