Using Windows For A Week

On a MacBook Pro.

Paul Alvarez
Mar 9 · 11 min read
MacBook Pro running Windows 10 VM in Parallels

I have wanted to do a review on a Windows laptop after a comment from a reader suggested the idea on my iPad Pro review. Most of my reviews are on Apple products since that is the ecosystem I am currently stuck in. But before purchasing a Windows laptop, I remembered that I had Windows 10 already installed on my MacBook Pro, which made me wonder:

Did I need an actual Windows laptop to test out Windows 10 and compare it to macOS?

I ultimately decided no. So over the past week, I decided to use Windows 10 running on a MacBook with macOS Catalina installed. Before I go over my experience in using Windows 10, you might be wondering why I had it installed on my Mac in the first place?

Parallels Desktop running in macOS Catalina

Since working with my Dad in his IT business, offering IT services to companies around the area, I have always had Parallels installed on my Mac notebooks with a VM of some version of Windows installed. For many years it was Windows 7, which I enjoyed but honestly just felt like Windows XP with little modern design elements. I preferred using a MacBook as my main computer, but the job required me to have Windows installed since we were continually troubleshooting Windows and Microsoft software and infrastructure.

After leaving my Dad’s business and working a warehouse job at a company known for its boxes with a “smile.” I was provided an HP Windows laptop running Windows 7 and decided to ditch my MacBook Air that I had at the time and go iPad only. So I no longer had Windows available to me at home anymore, but I didn’t need it.

Fast forward to today; my current job does allow me to work remotely when needed. Though I was provided a laptop to assist me on a project that I am on, I still prefer using my MacBook Pro. My work does require me to use a YubiKey on a Windows device though so that I can VPN onto my desktop at work remotely. So, a couple of years ago, I installed Parallels again and purchased a Windows 10 license for the VM.

For the past two years, I hardly ever used this VM of Windows 10. I would occasionally boot it up to run any Windows or Defender anti-virus updates then just shut it down when finished. I had my URL to remote into my PC at work as a bookmark in the old version of Edge, and when needed to work from home would go to that URL, login, use my YubiKey two-factor, and then start working on whatever it is I needed to do.

Other than work, though, I hardly ever used Windows at home. My day job requires me to be in Windows all day, so having a completely different operating system to use at home is very desirable. It helps me want to do things on a laptop instead of feeling the fatigue of work rolling into my home.

So for the past week, I have used Windows 10 exclusively at home. Even though I do use Windows 10 at work all day, Monday through Friday, using it at home has been a surprisingly fun experience. Most of the time at work, I don’t do any personal tasks, so using Windows 10 at home, specifically for my own needs, has been impressive.

I will now go over the apps that I used in Windows 10. Since macOS and Windows are so different, I was wondering how I would go about using Windows 10 without all of the Mac-only apps that I usually use. And again, I was surprised how much this was not an issue.

Apps

Edge

I was surprised when I was setting up Windows 10 for my use over the next week how many apps I didn’t need. Since, these days, I spend most of my time in the browser, I didn’t require very many specific apps to be installed.

Though I do go back and forth sometimes, I can’t seem to stay away from Chrome as my primary browser. The extensions and app integration are better than Safari, in my opinion, and I also feel the app itself has a polish that Safari just doesn’t have.

Luckily for me, Chrome is more than available on Windows, so my first step was to launch Edge and download Chrome. As I did this, Bing reminded me that the new version of Edge was available to be installed. At first, this didn’t phase me and thought of it as just Microsoft’s way of leering you away from a competitor, until I remembered that the new Edge was now running on Chromium.

Chromium is an open-source browser that Chrome is built on top of and is available to anyone that wants to make a custom browser using the Chromium open-source codebase. Chrome, of course, has more features than Chromium and has features that can’t be found in other browsers even if they use the Chromium platform, but there are some similarities that you share with Chrome if you choose to use Chromium.

This is very apparent when opening the new version of Edge for the first time. Though small design details are different when comparing Chrome to Edge, for the most part, it looks similar. It also feels very similar to the speed and fluidness when moving about the interface.

One big bonus of the new version of Edge using Chromium is the abundant extensions that are available to use in the browser. I am currently using 1Password as my password manager of choice, and I use Grammarly for all of my Medium writing.

Having my grammar tool and password manager available for easy access in a browser is crucial. Since Chrome has spoiled me with this for many years now, I couldn’t imagine using a browser that didn’t support them. Luckily I didn’t have to know what that was like since Edge was compatible with the extensions that I use.

The new version of Edge is fantastic to use. It is fast, clean, organized, functional, and a joy to be in. So the app that made me feel Windows 10 is on a whole other level was using the new version fo Edge. I didn’t feel I needed to compromise on anything to get work done using the Edge browser.

So when I go back to using macOS exclusively at home, I am going to go install Edge and see if it would be a suitable replacement than Chrome. I do not know for sure the experience using the new version of Edge on macOS versus Windows 10, but I will most certainly try it out and see.

As for my main app that I use on any computer, a browser, this was not an issue while using Windows for a week. I can say it was a lot more exciting and better than I could have imagined it would be. The new version of Edge has been a delightful surprise and I look forward to using it more on other operating systems in the future.

Excel

I have always preferred using Excel rather than Numbers. But on macOS, it makes sense to use Numbers with the iCould integration that it offers. Excel integrates with OneDrive, Microsoft’s version of cloud storage, but not as seamless on a Mac as iCloud is.

This makes sense since iCloud is an Apple product, and I am using an Apple created software, Numbers, on Apple created hardware, a MacBook Pro. Still, the abilities you have in Excel compared to Numbers is substantial.

My day job consists of me being in spreadsheets a lot. So Excel has become a friend of mine that I didn’t know I needed until I started using it for everything. Pivot Tables, SQL Query integration, Conditional Formatting, and so many formulas that I use in Excel that Numbers doesn’t even offer or are not as robust.

At home, spreadsheets are more of a budgeting ally to my budgeting app of choice EveryDollar. I use spreadsheets a lot to make sense of our finances, especially now in our journey through getting out of debt and saving for our future (thanks Dave Ramsey).

So when I realized in doing this experiment of using Windows for a week that I would have the ability to use Excel instead of Numbers, I was very excited. I realized how much muscle memory I have in Excel compared to numbers in knowing where all the tools I need in the ribbon and jumping around cells quickly.

I am also using a newer version of Excel through an Office 365 subscription that I received a discount for from my work. I am not even using this version at work and have to say it is quite beautiful. I am enjoying Microsoft’s new direction in how they are designing not only there Operation System but applications as well.

I feel Excel, and the rest of the Office apps, share a lot of the same design aesthetics that I enjoyed in the new version of Edge. The vibrant colors, minimalist attributes in using less text and more symbols, and just the refreshing newness that isn’t familiar with other operating systems like macOS.

Honestly, the design of Windows 10, on the whole, feels a bit more exciting to me than macOS and other Apple software, which is starting to feel stale. Since the refresh of macOS and it sharing some of the design with iOS 7, I think Apple hasn’t changed much in its applications or operating system.

Notion

I don’t use a task manager on a laptop as much as I do on my phone, but I do like to have one handy to use if I need it. The integration of Things on macOS to my iPhone is fantastic, and the design of both is a joy to use.

Since AgileBits doesn’t make a version of Things for Windows, I first though about not using a task manager at all for the week. But then I remembered Notion, and it’s availability on every platform that you can think of.

I started using Notion at work as an outlining tool for upcoming meetings and PowerPoint presentations that I needed to work on. I can do a full review on Notion, but I honestly don’t use this application to it’s fullest potential. I just need something that I can be flexible allowing me to create a quick todo list and be able to create subtasks over and over again as my heart desires.

The main thing I wanted to test in using Notion was its ability to sync between Windows and my iPhone. And as expected, it was great. I had no syncing issues and was able to add things to both my phone and laptop and see them on the other.

Scrivener

Windows Scrivener 2.0

Scrivener was a bit of a disappointment on Windows, to be honest. I hesitated in even adding it part of this review since I didn’t use it much at all. While setting up Windows for the week, I planned on using it exclusively; I was excited to see that a version of Scrivener was available for Windows.

I recently migrated my book from Ulysses to Scrivener, and when I saw that there was a version for both macOS and Windows, I was excited to see how the sync between both would work out. To put it short, it didn’t work out at all.

Mac Scrivener 3.0

Since the Windows version was still on a 2.0 version of Scrivener, with 3.0 supposedly coming out soon, and macOS on a 3.0 version syncing could not happen. If I had an older version of Scrivener on my MacBook, I might have been able to sync them, but I didn’t, so my use of the application was minimal.

I copied over a section of my book to test it out for a while but overall decided not to do much book work this week. Not that the Windows version of Scrivener was that awful, but the thought of making all of the edits then having to manually copy them back to the Mac version when I was done felt discouraging.

Conclusion

I can go down many other roads in comparing software or OS features that Windows and macOS do and don’t share. But I will say that, for the most part, Windows has come a long way with Windows 10. I can even say that being stuck in the Apple ecosystem for so long now, and even though I use it at work daily, I did not realize how usable and better Windows has become.

Yes, there are still the continuous and somewhat annoying Windows updates that Microsoft pushes out very often. But now that Defender is becoming the only need for Antivirus and Antimalware software that you need; I am more than welcome to get updates for protection.

I also do feel like the integration between the iPhone and Windows could be a lot better. I am not saying Apple needs to make a version of all its software to be available on Windows, but iCloud could be improved a lot. I wish there were a Messages app for Windows as well that I could sync between my iPhone too.

Overall this experiment has taught me how much I have been missing on the other side of the fence of the Apple-sphere. I have to admit that my positive experience may be a bit jaded due to my testing Windows while still using my glorious MacBook Pro. I do plan on reviewing a Lenovo X1 Carbon ThinkPad and should be able to get a better grasp on using Windows on a machine built for it.

For now, I have to say that Windows 10 is pretty great. I was already pretty impressed with Microsoft, and it’s direction with the tools I use at work all day. But now I know for personal use it is also a perfect contender against an OS I have only used for years now. I still love my MacBook, and it makes sense to use macOS primarily as I continue to use it, but it is great to see that I have options if I plan to move in the future.

Who knows, maybe I’ll test out Android for a week, and will want to ditch my iPhone and MacBook Pro altogether. I am not so sure about the phones, but I can say right now that I wouldn’t be that sad in using Windows 10 exclusively for some time in the future.

Techuisite

Where techonology and society come together.

Paul Alvarez

Written by

Full-time IT Project Analyst, all the time husband, and cat Dad. I also write.

Techuisite

Where techonology and society come together.

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