I've long been a loyal Windows user, even as I've watched people I know (my wife included) switch platforms over to Apple. They talk of happier times with much less crashing and easier to use interfaces. Yet I still grudgingly hold on to Windows like a dog guarding his bone.

Just because I use Windows as my operating system however it doesn't mean I'm stuck using Microsoft products for my specific work and leisure functions. Quite to the contrary I've found myself moving away from Windows applications of late as I seek more stable and/or interesting products to conduct my business.

I had for a long time been using Microsoft Office - specifically Outlook, Word and Excel. I've also long been a user of Internet Explorer. I've even of late tried Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare for my anti-virus and other security needs. All have combined of course to turn my laptop into a beast of burden.

So out went all of them - replaced by open source and free but extremely well built applications by third party Windows developers. Internet Explorer was replaced by Mozilla Firefox. Outlook was replaced by Mozilla's Thunderbird email client and Sunbird calendar application. The rest of Office was replaced by the OpenOffice.org suite. Windows Live OneCare was dumped in favor of AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition. Hell, I even turned off the Windows Firewall and replaced it with Comodo Firewall Pro.

The end result of this menagerie of new applications? A feeling of lightness, like someone had lifted the veil off of my Microsoft-only eyes and shown me new rays of hope. Sure, it is taking me sometime to learn these new applications but I find them remarkably easy to use in light of the Windows headaches I was having before. And the crash of applications has dropped way off.

No - I'm still not switching over to Apple. I have too much comfort in the Windows world. That doesn't mean I have to be a total slave to Microsoft either though.

Shiny new Leopard seems mighty tempting to me, but I also have to admit that I have both a Windows and a Mac machine feet from each other, and always tend to gravitate towards my Windows box. I have to admit though, my mac is rather old right now (first generation G5, which became antiquated as soon as Apple switched to Intel CPUs).

I was sceptical about going to Mac when i first started working here. You could even say i plain and simply hated them. After i started working here we went out and bought a Mac mini for some light video capture work and i was amazed at how easy everything was to do on it. My supervisor also had a G5 powerbook which started to grow on me. In the end i went out and bought a Mac book pro, a copy of windows and downloaded a copy of VMware and Boot Camp and since then i couldn't be happier.

Most of the time i simply use Tiger and any time (rarely) there is a certain application i need that is only avalible on Windows i start up my Boot camp partition from VMware. If i ever want to play games i shutdown my Mac and reboot into windows. I even think windows runs better on a Mac then it does a PC. Probably because there is no Mix and matching of hardware and drivers and what drivers you do need are written well.

I have the best of both worlds. As for linux it is a planetoid and does not have any advantage for me over its larger better brothers.

Upgraded all the Mac's at work to Leopard on the monday after it was released and i can only say that its brilliant and well worth the $129.

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