How can I be less annoyed by a force switch to Windows?
September 6, 2018 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Our org is dropping Mac support and forcing us all to Windows - please help me feel less enraged (and yes I realize it is silly how upset I am by this)

I have literally never used a Windows machine in a work environment beyond a couple small freelance gigs years ago. I usually ended up wanting to throw the machine across the room. I am anxious, frustrated and angry by this move. I also will no doubt be afraid of any file, email, etc, I get. I cannot express how much I hate Windows. Please help me feel better about this move. Have you ever been forced to make a similar move? Was it less terrible than you thought? Any tips on making the adjustment?
posted by UMDirector to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
At my last job, we were able to choose whether wanted a Windows or Mac machine, so I had a beautiful iMac during my 3 year tenure there. Then I moved to my current job, which is 100% Windows all the time. I think the clean slate helped; I would have been MUCH more irritated if my operating system changed while I was already working somewhere. I would be anxious and frustrated too -- not just because Windows sucks, but because the decision is out of your control and this change is being forced upon you. That never feels good.

Do you have Apple products in your personal life? I have an iPhone and a MacBook Air, and it really helps that my leisure-time technology is still Mac-based. Windows is just this thing I have to put up with at work, but I don't have to deal with it when I leave the office. I also like to bond with other people in my office who are Mac people at home; lots of good-natured eye rolling when we're trying to shut down at the end of the day and Windows decides to install 20 minutes worth of updates. (Seriously, WINDOWS SUCKS. Fight me.)

Not sure what you do for work and which programs you use, but at least for me, I spend most of my day in Gmail, Chrome, and Word. IMO, these don't feel all that different between a Mac and a PC, so that also helped to soften the blow.
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 4:58 PM on September 6, 2018

This may be an...oblique answer to the question, but as a person who works in IT change management a lot at my IT job, this might help.

Change that you don't initiate sucks. There's no way around it. It's hard, it's frustrating, and it will annoy you a lot at first. But try this: reframe the change for a second. Do you have kids? The day your first kid was born, did you immediately rage against and try to work around the almost complete change to every facet of your life that the newborn brought literally from that first day, or did you just sorta...roll with it and figure it out as you went?

Tech changes need a similar mindset. If your only experience with Windows was a very negative one several years ago, you're absolutely right to be nervous. But guess what? Tech evolves, and is a lot better now than it was. There are a lot of hardcore power users of both systems who will give very elaborate answers as to why Windows sucks, or why Apple sucks, but your reality is now that you're going to be a Windows user. So, instead of bracing yourself for all the ways in which that will be horrible, maybe mentally prepare yourself for the concept that it might not be all that bad?

The harder you look for things that are wrong, the more you'll find them. So I guess my main tip is, just remain open to it not sucking. It will take time to adapt, sure, and there will likely be a handful of things that will land on your permanent "I don't like this" list. But, without knowing what it is you do or how you use technology, I'd be willing to bet that a good chunk of the apps you use for work are either cloud-based or platform-agnostic, so you might not even notice a massive change in most of what you do.

I wish you luck, and I promise you it won't be as bad as you fear it will. Just give it time, and don't give in to the confirmation bias of "I can't do this the way I used to, therefore it sucks". There's always a way.
posted by pdb at 5:04 PM on September 6, 2018 [16 favorites]

If you're a shell person, Windows Subsystem for Linux really helps to ease the transition. If you don't know what a shell person is, you may safely ignore this comment.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:06 PM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

@leftover_scrabble_rack Yeah I am Apple all the way - my wife and I have both had iphones since the first phone, both have apple watches, and Macbooks (she also has an ipad). Also an Apple stock holder for 15+ years. I pretty much still bleed the old colored apple rainbow.
posted by UMDirector at 5:07 PM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Windows is at least not quite as hopelessly insecure as it used to be, so you don't need to be completely terrified of everything. (Such terror would have been justified maybe during certain parts of the XP Years.)
posted by vogon_poet at 5:11 PM on September 6, 2018

At work I usually tell myself that adults are flexible team players who are open to new opportunities to learn, and who clearly and quickly identify potential impediments to productivity, if there are any at all, and who realize a positive attitude is one of the keys to success in the workplace..
posted by JamesBay at 5:12 PM on September 6, 2018 [5 favorites]

FWIW in my opinion Windows 10 is a more intuitive and just better experience than Mac OS. I don't rely on Mac OS for specific tools, though.
posted by JamesBay at 5:13 PM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

When it get's you down remember you're being paid to do this, possibly well, possibly with people you like doing something you like. Seriously that get's me through an never ending pile of shit at work. Now if you you hate everything about your job then your windows hate is just an extension of that & your feeling of a lack of control & might be a sign to look for another job.
posted by wwax at 5:32 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind that this is the operating system you are talking about, not the programs. The OS controls how you move about and how you manage the windows that contain your data. The data itself is another matter. The programs that most people use on a daily basis typically have both Mac and Windows versions which are virtually indistinguishable. And the files produced by the programs can be used under both programs.

I use Windows at work, Mac at home and on the road, and there is never a problem with text files, DOCX files, or XLSX files, or with the OpenOffice equivalents. There are a couple of very useful Mac programs that do not really translate to Windows, but for the most part I can handle both.
posted by megatherium at 6:08 PM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

I use macOS, Linux and Windows 10 at home and I still find Windows to be intolerably shitty and user-hostile in spite of its nominal improvements in that regard, so I guess I think that if you end up still hating it that you shouldn't feel bad or crazy for feeling that way. I'm not sure how locked down your install will be, but I've made it less infuriating to use by aggressively culling adware shortcuts from the start menu and making heavy use of the Windows key to bring up the start menu and use Cortana's search as an ad hoc launcher similar to Spotlight. Also, if you have experience with older versions of Windows, it will initially be extremely confusing that a number of system settings (such as display positioning) are arbitrarily divided between the standard Control Panel and a new Settings dialog. Usually the (as far as I can tell comparatively limited) Control Panel dialog for the setting in question will have a link to the more comprehensive Settings pane that lets you change the things you thought you'd be able to change in Control Panel, and here again the search function is useful for finding your way to the latter.

The one comfort I can offer is that you hopefully won't have to deal with the Byzantine licensing difficulties that Windows still makes you engage with, since your install will be managed by a dedicated IT department. I still harbor some violent intent towards people that tell me that Windows has gotten so much better in light of the fact that a total hardware failure of the computer I was running Windows on meant that I had to first translate a hexidecimal error code on Microsoft's website (0x40BE or whatever means that your license is not transferrable, but we're not going to make it even slightly easy for you to figure what to do about that) and then hand-enter a 256 character code into some dialog (sorry, no cut and paste for such computer criminals as have had water destroy their old laptop) to rectify the problem. The day-to-day annoyances it affords are at least way less awful than that.
posted by invitapriore at 6:43 PM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

FWIW I had to make the exact opposite switch about a month ago - Windows all my life, never touched a Mac, Android phones all the way, now using a MBP and iphone at work. And a) I am infuriated on a regular basis about various UI things (saying this to point out that Macs are not objectively better - it's all about what you're used to) and b) I'm slowly getting used to it, as you undoubtedly will as well. I google "MacOS how to _______" at pretty regular intervals during the day; I suspect you will be doing a similar thing. If you get entangled in some weird edge case OS stuff let the IT folks in your org handle it, it's their job. You will be fine.
posted by btfreek at 10:17 PM on September 6, 2018 [4 favorites]

I’m likely going to be moving from windows to Mac soon and I’m scared as hell. I have never used Mac, except the few times I tried to use my friend’s and she declared me useless. I couldn’t even scroll! I hated every moment of those experiences. I just keep reminding myself that the programs will all be the same. I just need to handle the learning curve of no right-clicking and calling things different names. It’s just a tool. My brain can adjust. You sound smart and I bet yours can, too.
posted by greermahoney at 10:17 PM on September 6, 2018

I’ve been involved with various aspects of computing professionally since the 1980s, including using systems that the general public has never heard of. I currently have in my home & work office installations of MacOS (primary) and Windows 10 (for testing, in a VM) on my desktop, and Linux on my laptop.

Really, mouse-based interfaces are so similar that most day-to-day activities will be fine. Remember all the people you’ve run across over the years with an irrational dislike of Apple? Go with the flow and strive not to be one of those people about Microsoft. (Not that both companies don’t have plenty of things i could legitimately critique.)

[greermahoney wrote regarding Macs:] I just need to handle the learning curve of no right-clicking and calling things different names.

Contextual menus have been part of the Mac operating systems since the 1990s, including support for multi-button mice, even when Apple was still shipping one-button mice (control-click for those mice). Apple hasn’t made one-button mice for a looong time. The last several revisions might appear so, but they sense which part of the mouse surface you are clicking on. Similarly, two-finger tap on a trackpad is the standard way to “right-click”. Go to the Mouse or Trackpad control panels in System Preferences to see and customize a lot of features regarding gestures and clicks.
posted by D.C. at 1:04 AM on September 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

Is it possible to practice with the same system before it gets phased in as your workplace? Maybe just click around a bit and look at the settings and see how you might be able to customize to make it look less terrible? Can you buy something like a windows for dummies book or just print out a few pages of basic of where things are?
When our system suddenly changed at work (without warning!) so we had a ton of new passwords and had to access the internet through some weird ass virtual desktop etc, I wanted to throw the computer out of the window and couldn't get a blessed thing done. I still hate it, but like, low-key hate it, and I can do my job. I think if I had been given time to practice, to explore the system in advance on my own terms, even once, then that would have helped me feel like I had some control over my situation and also help shorten the "I can't do my job and also I will crush this computer with bricks" phase.
posted by sacchan at 1:32 AM on September 7, 2018

Honestly, you'll be fluent inside of a month if you can approach it with an open attitude and a willingness to dig in and start learning (i.e. googling) how to do the things that you have a hard time doing. Get yourself a cheat sheet of windows-specific hotkeys and start using 'em, maybe read or watch a couple "intro to Windows 10" tutorials so that you have an idea of how the basics of the UI fit together and what the major components are called—this will make future googlings more productive. As far as security, just don't do things your IT people ask you not to do and you should be fine.

You can learn this, but you will have a much harder time if you're invested in hating it the whole time you're learning. Think of "using Windows" as a new skillset that you're trying to acquire—which it is—and you'll be OK. Windows is fine, billions of people use it every day and they're fine. I've used it all my life. If we can do it, so can you.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:44 AM on September 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am a dedicated Windows user and was forced to move to a MacBook Pro at work. Except for the usual mental reminder to have to switch between the control and command keys, and the use of the forward slash vs. the back slash in folder locations, the two operating systems behave extremely similarly. Even if you did absolutely no preparation to learn about Windows beforehand, you’ll be functionally proficient within a few days.

It won’t be as bad as you think. I absolutely despised my previous MacBook Pro (2013 edition) and it was easily the worst laptop I’ve ever been forced to use, but I actually like my new one (still wouldn’t buy one though). The evolution of the UX in user interfaces has had a real impact. There will be some things you like and some things you don’t like, but overall it won’t be a huge change from what you’ve been doing.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:20 AM on September 7, 2018

10 years ago, I made the opposite switch. Since I work in design, I used it as an opportunity to evaluate an unfamiliar interface from the point of view of a novice. What's worse about it? What's better about it? I wrote a blog post about the experience.

If you work in design, this can be a valuable learning experience. But even if you don't work in design, keeping a log of differences and annoyances can give you an outlet for your frustration, and when you revisit it, even just a month later, you'll see that the number of things that bother you has decreased.

Of course, some annoyances may never go away. After 10 years, there are still some things about Macs that frustrate me, compared with Windows. Task-switching on the Mac (Cmd-Tab) still annoys me by bringing all the windows of an app to the foreground, whereas on Windows it switches between Windows, as it should. Mac's Finder is far worse than Windows Explorer for file management. (Why it doesn't have a directory tree pane?) Macs lack an equivalent of the indispensable Windows utility Irfanview – Preview is frustrating by comparison. And don't get me started on "click-through" – what happens when you click on a "background" window. On Windows the click will always act on that window as if it was foreground. On the Mac it usually doesn't (requiring an extra click)... but not always. It's entirely inconsistent.

Good luck!
posted by snarfois at 7:28 AM on September 7, 2018

I care a lot about the tools I use. If my work insisted I use Windows full time, I'd likely look for other work.

I mean, life is too short to spend it fighting with shitty tools.

In their comment, supra, snarfois mixes incorrect assertions about MacOS with other complaints about differing base behavior (app vs. window switching, e.g.) but I understand this is not a platform evangelism thread so I'll leave it alone.

Anyway, if leaving isn't an option, I'd make sure that you insist IT solve every problem you encounter. You probably won't have rights to do anything real to your computer anyway, so make them OWN IT if they're going to upend your work life in this way.
posted by uberchet at 8:08 AM on September 7, 2018

Yeah, it'll be shitty for you; it will impact your productivity. And at the end of the experience you'll be more valuable to future employers.

I'd ask for training if I were you (in whatever form works best for you; videos, hands-on, books), and tell your management to expect a decrease in your productivity during this transition. Don't sound angry or bitter when you let them know this, just give them a heads-up and ask them for the tools to make the transition easier for you.

Personally I'd recommend printing out a list of keyboard shortcuts and having it visible to you when you start out.

Yes, ask for helpdesk help if you need it, but try not to over-rely on them if possible; they'll already be overburdened with the work of a switch-over (and supporting everyone else that needs help). Use google to answer your questions if you can. Try to figure out what tools you use on Mac that you'll want counterparts for on the PC.

Yes, this sucks, but you'll have more skills at the end of it, and be a more valuable employee (to future employers).

Personally I'm pretty agnostic; I'm weaker on some OS's than others, but they're all just tools.
posted by el io at 12:42 AM on September 8, 2018

There's a lot of identity marketing behind people's views on technology like Apple and PC. Apple's done a good job of demonizing PC's as pits of hell on the GUI side of things, while Windows works the angle that Apple's are for flakes and 'creative' types.
Both platforms are engines for getting work done. They work on similar principles. There's really nothing to fear other than your own unfamiliarity with a new landscape.
90% of the time you work inside an application that works the same on a Mac or PC (with caveats, nothing is 100% similar). Email, word processing, bookkeeping, whatever. If you know how to do email on an Apple, the same tricks still work under Windows, just have to find them.
Frustration comes into play when you are negotiating the file system to find files, launch apps and move stuff around. I find a Windows a bit more challenging in that regard as the file system presents different finder metaphors in the sidebar depending on some logic that's totally unclear to the user.
The same file system metaphors still apply on both platforms. You have shortcuts/aliases, windows, folders, files and so forth. It's not some giant mystery how this all works, Macs do basically the same thing in the file directory system. Just look for similarities and ways to create short cuts for what you need to find on the Windows side.
Biggest Windows flaw in this respect is the way the file system hierarchy is obfuscated. It's basically a tree right, with the hard drive at the top? How hard could it be? Windows finds a way to make it hard.
Having said all that, I migrated from total Apple devotee to PC user and it's really not that big a deal if you just get over the initial weirdness of the file system.
posted by diode at 6:53 AM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

There's a lot of identity marketing behind people's views on technology like Apple and PC. Apple's done a good job of demonizing PC's as pits of hell on the GUI side of things,
I assure you that, for a lot of very technical people, it's not identity marketing. It's learned experience about long term stability, hardware build quality, and software quality.
posted by uberchet at 9:22 AM on September 8, 2018

Yes, well the OP is not a very technical person, right? They are concerned over switching platforms. There is a lot more similarity between the platforms on the GUI side than differences. People can mince this into oblivion but we're talking about clicking on folders and getting stuff done, not the technical underpinnings of the operating system.
posted by diode at 2:23 PM on September 12, 2018

OP may not be technical, but s/he probably does experience the benefits I outlined.

And I think you know very well that there's materially more to spending 8+ hours a day on a computer than "clicking on folders and getting stuff done."
posted by uberchet at 6:00 AM on September 13, 2018

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