Trying The End To End Windows Eco-System
Well, I took the plunge, inspired by Microsoft’s January Launch of Windows 10, I’ve decided that the only way to really evaluate it is to use it. I’m already 2/3 Microsoft. The heart of my home is a HP Micro server running Windows 8, 3 TB of media, backups and Plex. It’s the entertainment hub for my the Home Theatre PCs, Tessa’s Xbox 360 and Anna and Jennie’s Rokus, which also run Plex. Then almost the whole family have Thinkpads except Anna who has a Surface Pro 3. My Desktop is powered by a ThinkPad x220T running Windows 8.1 and my notebook of choice is a ThinkPad x230.
That’s where Microsoft ends though, in the spirit of using the best tool for the job we are all using iPads, iPhones and Kindles in our hands. That’s what I’m going to try and change, for a while at least, I’m moving over to a Windows 8” Tablet and a Lumia Windows Phone. It’s going to be a tough change to make as I’m very invested in the Apple eco-system having owned (and cascaded to Debbie and the Kids) nearly every iPad and iPhone ever made. It’s the apps that will be the issue, I have too many to count and they fill lots of niches that I won’t even remember until that situation arises and I’m stuck. Still I’m going to make the attempt and I’m hoping that it will bring some potential benefits:
- Using a single eco-system should be much simpler
- Massively shrinking down the apps I use will force me to focus more, to depend on the web more, I’m dumping many distracting app habits in this move
- I made some ‘bad’ app choices in the past, investing a lot of time, effort and money in apps that don’t have associated cross platform services
- Fortunately I made some great choices too, using apps like Evernote (my online brain), Twitter (my diary), Instagram (my photo diary) that are wonderfully cross platform
- I get to take my incredibly powerful Windows Desktop environment with me everywhere, including for example my whole eBook library in Calibre and an offline copy of my whole (massive) Evernote collection of notebooks
- I have everywhere access to all of my files, accessible through a real file system (not the iOS crippled version) including my archive!
- I get to take the full offline copy of my Twitter archive, using Twitter’s fantastic archive download, which has been my diary since 2007!
- I’m finally able to use remote desktop to drive my tablet
- I also get a tablet designed for keyboard and mouse
- I’ve found a way to acquire a fast phone, at a price I can afford
- I get to swap my personal Three data contract for a GiffGaff phone contract that provides ‘three’ times the data for only £1 more a week. Which also means I can use my personal phone for work too and avoid the constant nagging that’s associated with the company supplied 1GB a month data plan.
All that said I will be keeping the old iPhone 4S around, because it’s going to be my hiking GPS, it has a full offline copy of most of the interesting hiking locations Ordinance Survey Maps.
So what did I buy? Well true my form I went for a manufacturer refurbished Nokia Lumia 930 32GB with a hip/belt case just like I use with my iPhone and a Nokia car kit. This is the phone Paul Thurrott just bought for himself and there can be no better recommendation. For the tablet I went for a refurbished Dell Venue Pro 8 64GB/3G which I got with two Wacom Stylus’ a 3 year warranty, a 128GB SD card and a keyboard case. I got a years subscription to Office 365 and a free Fitbit Flex thrown in for free! I got everything for the cost of a second hand IPhone 5S, which was my minimum upgrade option from my 4S prior to making this decision.
The big risk in this change over is Instapaper which is at the heart of my reading and research system, a system that I invest two hours a day in. There is an old (poor) third party Instapaper client for Windows Phone and Tablet, but I may need to consider switching over to Pocket, it’s going to be hard! The glimmer of hope is Microsoft’s new Spartan browser (coming soon) which as a built in reading view, a reading list that syncs across Phone, Tablet and Desktop, has full offline support and works with web pages and PDFs! This sounds great, especially if it has good extensions for Twitter, WordPress and Evernote.
Wish me luck, although I doubt I will be selling my iPad Mini for a while!
The photo for today’s post was taken at Cleveleys, it’s the view I was enjoying yesterday as I worked through my decision to make this investment, sitting in the car, parked up at Rossall Beach. I had my notebook on my lap, scouring eBay while also checking out the Windows Apps Store and trying to convince myself that I could conceivably make a successful switch. Only time will tell.