Have your cake and eat it

No more compromises. Confessions of an Apple fanboy turned Windows lover

Have your cake and eat it

I am a software developer. That has been my role for more than 20 years now. For most of my career, I have been a full-stack web developer, starting in the ’90s when some of my early development was done in Notepad. I have developed in every Windows operating system from Windows 3.11 for Networks through to Windows 10 (and am looking forward to seeing what Windows 11 has to offer). However, I prefer using an Apple Mac.

My journey with Macs started around 2008 (Vista has a lot to answer for), and since then, I have become what some people call an Apple ‘fanboy’. I use an iPhone, wear an Apple Watch and even have an Apple TV.

When I joined Nitec almost nine years ago, I came from a company using an iMac. When I asked, “Can I use a Mac?”, the answer came back as a resounding no. At that time, the Apple OS didn’t play well with Microsoft tools. It was considered impractical. However, around four years ago, the narrative started to change. The one snag is that as we developed in .NET Framework, I would still have to use a Windows-based environment to code. It was also the case that Visual Studio was superior to Visual Studio Code in many ways. Azure Data Studio lacked the functionality of SQL Server Management Studio.

When I first got the Mac, I went the same route as others. I bought a virtualization tool that allowed me to run a copy of Windows 10 on my Mac. I allocated an appropriate amount of resources to it (16GB RAM/100GB+ SSD), and it was reasonably functional. However, there were compromises. Running two entire operating systems on one piece of hardware took its toll – especially when one had maybe 3 or 4 instances of Visual Studio open. The battery lasted barely more than 1 hour, the processor was constantly being hammered, and the fan was constantly whirling. My beautiful Macbook Pro was not singing the way it was built to sing. If you like, I didn’t have my cake anymore because I was eating it.

Some months ago, I was asked if I would be willing to try a new online virtualized Windows environment – what is now called Windows 365. At first, I was a little reticent. But I shouldn’t have been. The journey has been brilliant. I have moved the other members of my team who use Macs over to the same technology, and no one has looked back. Some of the group even now express that going back is no more an extended option for them.

The bottom line is that it just works. For our circumstances, the VMs benefit from an always-on VPN connection back to our office, so as my staff and I work from home, we don’t need to worry about connection problems back to our office network – it just works. Our laptops are not suffering from resources being pulled between two OSes and can now sing – it works. Downloading the software onto them feels like you are benefitting from a connection that is mainlined into the internet backbone – it just works.

We are also aware that if at any point the hardware we are using stops working (or I get the chance to try out an all–singing, all–dancing Apple M1X Macbook Pro when they come out later this year), moving will be a piece of cake. My development PC is unaffected – no tedious setup is required. I can have my Mac singing in the dulcet tones it was built to sing in and my fully-fledged Windows development environment.

I can have my cake and eat it.

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