COVID-19 Forced me to Install Windows 10, and I’m Impressed

Avoid the Gates of Hell. Use Linux”

Outside corporate environments, I haven’t used Windows at home for 20 years. I used Gentoo when I was a student (and had enough time to configure and fix Gentoo issues), then I moved on to OS X for 10 years.

Over the last 5 years, I’ve used Ubuntu exclusively at home, after trying pretty much every popular Linux distribution. I use Ubuntu because of its hardware & community support. Likewise, I prefer to use Ubuntu because GNOME is a simple, solid desktop environment. And addons such as GTK Title Bar mean that I can maximise space on a 13-inch laptop screen.

Linux has matured massively over the last 10 years, particularly in hardware support. (And, no, this year or the year after is not the year of the Linux desktop, as technology journalists write every year.) My Lenovo X1 Carbon (5th Gen) works out of the box with Ubuntu, except for the fingerprint scanner.

Hardware support out of the box is important to me, because I no longer have endless time to configure computers and often can’t be bothered with technology since I do technology for 40+ hours a weeks at work. Distributions such as Debian aren’t an option since I need to muck around with wireless drivers and such. I’m not a purist — such as Richard Stallman — and hence I don’t care if drivers are binary blobs, not open source.

Ubuntu was a better option than Windows because I believe Linux is more secure, better for privacy, and, often, a better desktop experience. However, applications in the Linux world are often sub-standard, compared to the Windows world. For example, no Linux email client comes close to Outlook.

During COVID-19, I was forced by my employer to give up my corporate laptop. I didn’t mind, since my corporate laptop was going to someone who deals directly with customers. Customers pay my mortgages; I’m support staff.

I installed Windows 10 and the Office 365 suite on my personal laptop, in order to work from home. Linux wasn’t an option because I need to use the Office 365 suite, including Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business.

Overall, I’m impressed with Windows 10 for the following reasons:

  • Windows 10 is snappy. The desktop environment is faster than Ubuntu, even with Outlook open 24/7.
  • As someone in cyber security, I love using a device without endpoint protection. Endpoint protection software is notorious for slowing down Windows.
  • Windows Settings — what used to be the Control Panel — is surprisingly easy to navigate.
  • The integration between OneDrive, Outlook, Word, etc. works really, really well. I’m even impressed that Azure Information Protection & multi-factor authentication with conditional access work seamlessly.
  • Outlook as an email client is far superior to Evolution & Thunderbird.
  • Using my fingerprint to log in is pretty damn handy.

However, I will uninstall Windows 10 on my personal laptop when I’m back on my corporate laptop. I’d like to try Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

The main reason to switch back reason is no longer a preference for a specific operating system. I simply enjoy not being able to use Office 365 natively on Linux, and therefore keeping good distance between my private and work lives.