I know I’ve mentioned this before, but Microsoft Windows and I have had an argument. After many years together we’ve now gone our separate ways.
Quite some time ago, when I first started messing around with PC’s, Windows 95, Windows 98 – they were the operating systems you’d use. I even installed Windows Millennium Edition which was also known simply as Windows ME. When we got to Windows XP I was quite happy. It became a rock-solid OS which performed well. It had a lot of support from manufacturers and peripheral manufacturers alike.
Then Windows Vista happened and things started going downhill. Bear in mind here that Microsoft was, and still is, weaved tightly into my day job. Active Directory, MS SQL, .NET – I’m all over it. However, when I got home I’d open my laptop and be met with a Windows Update or some random driver requirement that seemed to take a lot of my free time up. An update would download, then you’d have to reboot, then perhaps you’d log back in and – surprise, surprise, find another update and another reboot.
Thankfully, Windows Vista was resigned to history. I upgraded to Windows 7 and, I have to say, it’s another brilliant OS. I get the same performance and sturdiness that I got from XP. It just….works.
This, through reviews, hands-on tests and previews, is always my key decider when looking at gadgets and phones. Does it perform? Is it quick? Does it quietly do the job you want without faff? If it’s a yes then I’m happy.
One day though, I noticed that my blogging, my picture editing, browsing, Office work and tweeting really didn’t need a Windows laptop. I didn’t really need any locally-stored applications either. Sure, I needed a way to SSH into the servers we have and I perhaps needed an RDP and VPN client so that I could do some “day job” work, but I found that a Chromebook could do all of this for me. The OS is fairly simple. The Chromebooks themselves are cheap too. Oh, and if you need an update then it’ll quietly tell you. It won’t bug, it won’t take ages and you can do it when you want – just click “Update”, reboot and you’re done.
Very quickly, my daily driver became a Samsung Chromebook 5 550 that I’d purchased for just £100 off eBay. It wasn’t supposed to be my main laptop – I’ve actually got a Windows laptop which I thought I’d still need, but I’ve not opened the lid on that for over a year now.
The only minor down point about the Samsung Chromebook (and a lot of Chromebooks) is the screen resolution, which is usually 1366 x 768 pixels. It’s a perfectly usable resolution, but if you want more then you’ll need to get the right Chromebook. I’ve been using the lower resolution on the Samsung for a good while now. I’ve also benefited from a 1-second wake time, brilliant battery life and an OS that just .. works. A lot of Chromebooks will be getting Android apps soon too.
To boost the screen resolution I’ve recently moved to a Toshiba CB30-B-104 Chromebook, which has a 1920 x 1080 screen. It’s another eBay special, this time costing just £140. It means that I can fit two browsers on the screen or have an RDP window to an old PC running Windows 7 if I ever really need it.
If you, like me, have had a “bit of history” with Windows, this infographic goes through the best and worst versions of the Microsoft OS. It’s interesting to see how the hardware specs have changed too :)