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.