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I had trouble in getting to the Windows stack
Posted on 18-Nov-2013 13:53 by Bill Bennett | Tags Filed under: Articles

I had trouble getting toI was once happy and carefree and young.
And I live in a place call the Apple stack.
And nothing, not anything ever went wrong.

Perhaps the last line is something of an exaggeration, my week working exclusively in the Apple stack went smoothly with only a few minor hiccups.

Hopefully this week will be the same once I get over the hump of switching from the Apple stack to the Windows stack. But 24 hours in to the project and I’m hitting all kinds of productivity hurdles.

Most of the problems are down to the switch. Not all of it was hard.  I put away the iPhone and iPads, dusted down the Nokia Lumia 920 and Microsoft Surface 2. Switching phones was a breeze. Moving to the Surface 2 from the iPad was a little tougher. More about that in a moment.

From OS X to Windows 7

The tricky part of the job was loading Windows on to my MacBook Air, then jumping from OSX to Windows.

Apple makes this process easy, at least in theory, with its Bootcamp software. For this week my MacBook Air will be a Windows 7 laptop. Windows 8 was an option, but the touch screen focus worried me for this experiment and I’ve heard MacBooks don’t cope so well with Windows 8.1. So Windows 7 is my choice.

Going by the amount of pain I suffered, Bootcamp is well-named.

Oh the pain

I walked through the steps – it’s takes about an hour – three times. Each time we got to the end of copying the disk image to the USB memory stick. Then the next part, where Bootcamp partitions the MacBook’s hard drive, failed. Eventually I realised the SSD might need cleaning up, did that, rebooted and Bootcamp worked.

Or almost worked. It failed again because at this stage we ran over our monthly data cap. With two Macs, five iPads and two PCs all getting hefty OS upgrades during the month, our data tank was running on empty.

A call to Telecom NZ support had that fixed. Bootcamp worked, Windows 7 installed then we started destroying next month’s data cap with all the Windows 7 upgrades and app downloads.

Windows 7 isn’t perfect on the MacBook Air, but it’ll do. One irritation is apps – like Word - use different command keys to the same apps running in OS X.

The next problem

I connected up the various accounts so that mail, calendar and contacts synced from Apple’s stack to Windows. This seemed to work fine, only midway through Monday I had a call from a public relations executive asking me if I was planning to make it to a press conference. It turns out some calendar appointments didn’t make the move – confusingly some did. I’ve fixed it now, but there you go. Moving from one stack to another is not trivial.

One reason why I’m OK with Windows 7 and note Windows 8 on the MacBook is that the Surface 2 is more PC-like than the iPad. I reasoned that tasks that would normally be done with the MacBook could work just as well on the Surface 2.

This may be optimistic. While Windows 8 Metro apps do most things and the version of Word is just fine, I immediately ran into WordPress problems on the Surface 2.

WordPress woes

WordPress has a web-based editing screen which works well on a conventional PC, but is not optimised for a touch screen. Editing complex WordPress documents gets tricky on the Surface 2.

There is a WordPress Windows 8 app, but this could not connect to my self-hosted WordPress site. It works OK with the hosted site. The third party blogging apps I tested ran into the same issue.

And anyway, I find the Surface 2 Touch Cover 2 hard going with my touch-typing. I normally crank words out quickly on a proper keyboard. Not only did I make a lot of errors with the Touch Cover 2 – mainly when trying to hit the space bar – but I also find it can get physically painful.

It has to be said that at 9am on Monday morning after 150 minutes of wrestling with the switch-over, I considered bailing out. On the other hand, I’ve invested too much time to stop the experiment now.

The upshot of this is my productivity has been hit hard by the change over – I wasn’t expecting it to be this bad. Let’s see how it goes once I settle inside Microsoft’s world.

[digitl 2013]

digitl on Google+

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