This is genuine question. I don’t mean to start a ‘comparison war.’
I switched from Windows (+ Android) back in 2018. At first I didn’t like the Mac at all. I put my MacBook Pro back in its box and continued using my Windows laptop instead because I couldn’t get work done.
I was regretting my purchase.
I then purchased an online course to learn more about macOS. I would go through it when I could: at night. That’s when I ‘fell in love’ with the platform and the ecosystem in general.
Ever since, I’ve been really passionate about technology. I strive to use it in a way that enhances my life and want to help other people too. I’m learning new things most days.
So, I wonder. Is Windows also a really cool OS but I simply wasn’t educated enough to see its possibilities? Not that I’d want to switch back any time soon (or ever?), but I’m curious to know if it can also be used in very powerful ways.
Yes! And I’m a die-hard Mac user, but I’d nearly argue more people on Windows use the system as power users. In fact, ‘‘power user’’ level knowledge is probably what one needs to make Windows work well.
Things like the PowerShell, command prompt commands, new virtual sandbox environments. Then there’s the gaming section. People with a decent understanding of nearly every component in their machine as well as the fine tuning of these to alter performance / BIOS configurations / custom overclocking software and truly pushing systems to their limits.
Windows also has the same level of shortcut keys, deep, deep settings one can dive into. The Registry and other ways to truly customise and change how it operates. It has to be that way by design for all of the corporate use the same base system gets.
I’ve probably butchered my examples here and there are probably much better examples of power use on Windows. But certainly, it exists and there are a lot of them out there.
I think what you’re getting at is maybe how Windows is less intuitive than the Mac. Most of the cool things I know about the Mac including shortcuts stems from my first Mac at the Apple store. One of the workers sat with me, unboxing it and setting it up. He gave me a bunch of keyboard shortcuts and tips and it grew from there. My PC buying experience has never compared. They vaguely ask me what I’m looking for, suss out that I know what I’m talking about, go and check the stock room, hand me a brown box, take it to the till, done. I skip past all the annoying Windows set up features etc. Maybe that’s why I haven’t had the same experience on Windows. It’s very much you need to know that you want to learn it, then the information is there (but you need to seek it out yourself) and have patience to learn it I guess
Windows is the most used desktop/laptop operating system in the world. And yes, like all operating systems it has “power users”. It also has the widest selection of software available on any platform but that is becoming less important as more software continues to move to the cloud.
Bottom line, everything we do on a Mac can be done on a Windows computer. “Cool” is in the eye of the beholder
I was a windows user for the first ~18 years of my life; I dropped out of college in my first year, and put the remainder of the my little savings for school towards a 15" Macbook Pro. I’d been lusting after a Mac for a few years by that point, but couldn’t afford one. Arguably I still couldn’t afford one, because that first one took nearly every penny I had. Thanks for letting me keep living at home while I figured out my life, Mom and Dad.
Anyways – I was probably a “power user” of Windows up until that point; not necessarily in a product way as I wasn’t using it professionally, but in a hobbyist way – tweaking the system to work and look the way I wanted for every day use, reading Paul Thurrott’s blog (one of the OG Windows enthusiasts!), etc.
When I finally got to the Mac, it was like a whole new world opened up. The system largely just worked the way that I felt it should, which allowed me to spend more time discovering the wide world of apps. In fact, I think that’s the difference in my experience as a power user of both platforms that I expect others would agree with: being a power user of windows is more about being in the system, whereas being a power user of the Mac is more about being in the apps.
I think this comes from two places: first, as I said, the Mac as a system seems to “just work” in a way that Windows doesn’t, for more use cases. Second, being “in the apps” is a much more pleasant and useful way to spend your time on the Mac than it is on Windows. In my experience, Windows doesn’t have nearly the same ecosystem of apps as the Mac. Sure, Windows has more apps, but the “ecosystem” – all the other factors" just isn’t there. The apps don’t have the same level of polish, the community isn’t the same to help you discover them, etc.
I definitely get the question! As I have learned to use Windows for work over the last few years, I’ve looked for similar communities/podcasts for Windows world and really haven’t found one. I enjoy reading about the PC gaming space, but there’s just not a community focus on productivity and apps like in the Apple world. That said, I work in an IT department and know some pretty awesome Windows power users! I’ve written Powershell scripts to automate SFTP file transfers so I guess I’m probably one too by now.
I think it is easier to be a Mac power user than a Windows power user. I fumble around in windows because if my lack of familiarity, but I still do better than most of my colleagues because of general computing knowledge and vaugue memories of windows 95. I shudder at figuring out autohot key.
However with keyboard maestro, Hazel, Alfred, shortcuts, creating workflows is much easier and less work for my brain.
I am using a web based app(EzyVet) at work(recent change). It is platform agnostic. It is remarkably automation resistant. There is an API, but these are deep waters were I don’t travel. I have been using typinator and keyboard maestro for customized text automatons.
I’ve been thinking about this as an academic-design science question for a while, actually!
My sketch-theory of “power use” is that it’s a relationship between the design of a tool and the extent to which a user can leverage that design to gain advantage in the completion of tasks. The “power” of tool use is therefore a relative measure of the advantage granted to a user by a tool.
A tool’s power depends on (1) the tool’s design, (2) the tasks the user wants to use it for, and (3) the user. Factors like functional fixedness come into play, because a power user who deeply understands a tool can think of ways to use it effectively far beyond the tool designers’ intentions.
For a terrible example … say someone owns a conventional claw hammer.
If they use their fist to bash in a nail, they’re not gaining a lot of power from that hammer.
If they use the hammer to bash in a nail, they’re using the hammer for ~1/2 of its features.
If they use the claw on the hammer to remove nails, they’re using all of the features of the hammer as they were designed.
By extension of the above, a power user is probably also good at knowing when to stop trying to use the hammer to do things it wasn’t intended, and to go select the right tool for that task instead. So a fourth factor in power use is the other tools available to the user.
More on-topic: I thought of myself as a Windows power user before I’d ever even touched a Mac! But, as others have noted, it was easier to be a Mac power user then than it was to be a Windows power user. macOS’s features and rich app ecosystem afforded me more flexible ways of getting more out of the OS.
These days I think it’s different: Windows has a unix shell, Powershell exists, Power Automate exists… I feel like I’d like the OS more if I used it now.
My “power user” days of Windows (quite a while ago) was pre-occupied with wrangling printer drivers, IRQ conflicts, config.sys problems, and tip-toeing through regedit as the last resort to keep the ship floating and not sinking into the hell of freezes, lock-ups, and blue screens.
So yeah, didn’t leave much time for actually using it to get anything done.
Oh, and let’s not forget using Trumpet and other add-ons to force Windows to talk Internet until Microsoft finally took that over themselves with native TCP/IP finally built in.
AutoHotKey was so helpful back in the day. Similar use cases as KeyboardMaestro or maybe Zapier, stitching together data from multiple applications to automate a ton of schlep work. Plus any other little convenience you could conceive. It’s still around and recently had a 2.0 release that made script building more accessible.
Agree with others - the power user hobby and/or work skill was a mix of keeping the computer working well, maxing system and program performance, scripting/schlepping data and knowing all the right third party apps and the best places to get them.
I wouldn’t say the three main desktop OSes are just different strokes but the skills you use to master each one make you better at the other two, and that includes knowing when you don’t need to do anything special or spend time on system repair, as is increasingly the case on Windows and macOS.
After coming off mainframes, Dos and it’s flavors, I started using Macs in 1984. It was immediately easier than anything else I had ever used, even in its infancy. I believe that the implementation of OS and logic of how things “should or are expected to work” just resonated with my brain. I went through the Windows development and popularity, and always felt it was left-handed (no criticism intended to lefties) and awkward in how it worked. I think that the basic wiring of our brains and experiences have a lot to do with what we see as good or beautifully crafted. Others love Windows. More power to them! It’s always more fun to work with what comes easier to you. For me that’s Mac.
Yeah, a few months back I watched an episode of Windows Weekly with Paul Thurrott and Leo Laporte. I really enjoyed it and have been watching/listening ever since. I don’t use Windows at all but for some reason find it enjoyable. And I have no idea what he was like years ago but in this show and on his blog/YouTube channel he’s really focused on Windows and often very critical. He doesn’t seem inclined to cut Microsoft any slack! And when he does mention Apple he seems pretty fair in whatever comment he has.
I got a late start, we only had one computer at my university. An IBM 360/40 mainframe. But ever since “personal computers” became available I’ve enjoyed working with technology. And I got paid to it full time the last half of my career. I don’t own a Windows machine these days but I enjoyed working on them as much as any of the other platforms we used.
A lot of apps provide a way to automate them via AppleScript (or at least did it back in the days). That is not the case on windows. This makes it possible to automate your work/what you do on a Mac, vs just some system stuff.
On Unix most programs are command line friendly, so similar there, but on mac you can automate a lot of GUI apps.
This is not only about the OS but the ecosystem you create, by giving developers a scripting language they can provide an API for.
To me beauty was the trick of making power users. A beautiful tool made me desire to master it, so I dove way deeper than with any tech before. Windows always felt like a typical ugly 20th century tool, a practical thing that is abhorrent, like a factory chimney blowing out brown soot.
As a former luddite, sharing JRR Tolkiens critique of the industrialization, seeing it as a power of making ugly things and stealing meaning from activities, I always just tolerated using a PC. When the iPhone came out something in my brain began to switch. I saw Apple as a kind of redemption of the industrial age, making beautiful things in an industrial way. Of course, that is kinda hippie non-sense and ignores the very real problems of mining resources and manufacturing in China under horrible circumstances. Even though, it points the way to a more “elven” technology/magic for me.