Drawing the curtain on Windows

Recently I sat in a downtown coffee shop and flipped open my Windows 10 tablet, thinking I’d start a blog post on a photo topic.  Instead, I spent the next 20 minutes futilely trying to connect to the wifi, thrashing in a leghold trap of arcane settings and options nested like Russian dolls.

That experience changed my life: after 25 years of Windows, I now have a Chromebook.  Flip up the screen and BLIP, there’s Chrome, ready for me to enter a URL without any keyboard lag. The battery lasts for days.

Of course, ChromeOS isn’t a full blown operating system like Windows. Here are some things the Chromebook doesn’t give me:

  • Massive updates scheduled to occur any time I really, really need to use the system.
  • A swarm of faceless background processes sucking the life from my CPU.
  • Bootups that stall out into an endlessly spinning cursor.
  • “Office Updater” running in the background – even though I don’t have Office.
  • Relentless attempts to sell me Office.
  • Generous and repeated offers to make Edge my default browser.
  • A 30 day trial of McAfee Antivirus that’s harder to uninstall than an intestinal parasite.
  • Malware in a thousand varieties.
  • Driver updates like the one I probably needed to get on the wifi in the coffee shop.
  • “Dell Assistant” popping up to offer no useful assistance.
  • “Activations”

I used to be a software engineer and I’ve used every version of Windows since 3.0 . I came to realize that internally, Windows is like the geology of the Grand Canyon: countless fossilized layers going back a billion years.

I did my time, and now I’m free.

Well not totally; I still need a powerful Windows system to run Capture One. But maybe its days are numbered. I’ll bet PhaseOne is already working on an online version. And I know that hotel in South Dakota will be upgrading their cr@ppy wifi… any day now…

Update: A writer for FStoppers praises the Chromebook as an alternative for the traveling photographer. It still needs a serious raw file editor; but maybe someday, if 5G ever really pans out, we’ll be able to do it all online. Even in South Dakota.

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