red when excited

Switching to Windows & Sony: Day 1

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Don’t panic. Well. Perhaps don’t panic. 

Back in 2005 I happened to be in San Francisco just as the Mac Mini was launched. I arrived there after driving for two days with my first iPod as my only source of music. I had been impressed with the iPod despite years of disappointment with other MP3 players and enormous skepticism about Apple and its products. 

So I decided to pick up a Mini. 

The rest is history really, a few years later I had a first generation Core 2 Duo iMac on my desk and I had, in my heart, switched. 

Now, with the development of Blitz Bombers on Sony’s PS Vita I have an excuse to do two important things: 
  1. Look at the revitalised Sony gaming platform: How does it compare (from a developer perspective) to Apple’s iOS developer tool suite? What’s sign up like, what are the tools like, how does the publishing experience compare? 
  2. Sony’s tools run on Windows. I’ve just picked up a Lenovo Yoga 13 touch-enabled laptop, now seems like a good time to give Windows 8.1 a go. It’s not like I haven’t used Windows in the last 5 years; I have. It has however been a “classic” Windows experience. I haven’t played with 8 in any way at all, and now with the first iteration on the 8 metaphor released, it seems an oppertune moment to emerse myself in the platform again. 
Now, please note that I’m doing this from an Apple user and developer perspective. I am going to be drawing comparisons between Apple experiences and Sony/Microsoft ones. What many Apple supporters don’t realise is… most Windows users don’t have the vaguest idea how things work over in OS X land, and they don’t care. If they have used a Mac, it might not have been an “open the box and boot up” experience. They may just have been droppped in the uncanny valley of OS X where things look a lot like Windows but don’t work the way they expect. That’s often not a positive experience. 

Here’s a great example. Some friends of the family picked up a Mac for the family this Christmas. They picked a 27’’ iMac with blue-tooth keyboard and touch pad. They did this largely because their son is a big Apple fan, and the family computer was due for an update. They are loving it. Set up could not have been easier. The cables have gone. They love the gestures on the touch pad. 

Did you get that last bit? They love the gestures on the touch pad? That’s one of the things that drove me nuts when I did throw an early beta of Windows 8 in a VM to try. I couldn’t figure out any of the gestures. Apple has an advantage. They shipped the hardware, with the gestures printed on the box. The box is sitting next to the iMac, with the gestures facing the user. Software doesn’t come in boxes any more, but hardware does. Apple’s combination has allowed them something physical to print them on, and these new users are using that, and loving it. Does it mean the gestures and swipes in Windows 8 aren’t as good? Does it mean they aren’t as intuitive? No. It just means they aren’t as discoverable, and there isn’t a damn thing Microsoft can do about it in software. 

So. Let’s get started. 

  • The Yoga arrived in a lovely box, well thought out unpacking process, absolutely on a par with Apple’s experiences. All good. 
  • The initial boot of Windows 8 (the laptop doesnt ship with Microsofts latest version, but I know I can upgrade for free) was smooth. No scrolling text showing BIOS checksums or such nonsense. The initial text introducing Windows seemed overly chatty, but Im a nerd. Thats probably just me. 
  • Entering login details is as smooth as you would like. Curious reboot occurred, during which I am “taught” the various gestures. See note above, I’m well aware I need to remember these. I don’t. 
  • The combination of touch and mouse is REALLY interesting. I kind of love it whilst also being aware of the fact that I’m having to decide how to do things. Every time I’m forced to stop touching and use the keyboard, I’m resenting it. Every time I can just jab my finger at a button or do a swipe I’m enjoying it. 
  • I have no idea how to update to 8.1, so I bumble around looking for update or Windows Update. I find something, but it says no updates required. 
  • I head over to the “Store”. Nothing there either. 
  • OK, I can use Google as well as anyone else. Oh, I have to chose my browser. Seriously. EU. Stop making Microsoft do this. It’s not giving me the consumer a great experience, and they are no longer the same company they were 10 years ago. 
  • I pick IE, I want 100% Microsoft. Bing results point me at a page that explain a (it appears to be different) path to the right update options that should cause 8.1 to appear in the Store for me. I follow those steps, it’s now downloading 138 updates. It provides no indication of when this will be completed. It has been sitting there for an hour, still no progress bar or estimated time to complete
Not a win, but I’m going to leave it overnight and see where we are in the morning. 
Please wait...