Rokus, tablets, Sonos, smartphones, gaming consoles, Chromebooks – there is so much choice on the market that it’s now possible to make a coherent argument against even needing to own a laptop. I’ve made this point myself on this very site. However, in this piece, I’m going to make the opposite argument.
Why do you still need Windows? What makes a 30-year-old operating system so special? Why is it so integral to our daily lives? What would happen if you walked away from Microsoft tomorrow?
Here are my top five reasons why you still need Windows:
1. To Act as a Central Hub
And how did you set up those services in the first place? Almost every time, the answer will be “on Windows”.
Yes, it’s possible to get your Sonos working without installing the desktop controller. Yes, your photos and videos could be stored on a network attached storage (NAS) drive and viewed on a tablet. And yes, your Xbox will work as a standalone console without the need for further integration.
But the fact remains that Windows makes setting up almost anything faster and more straightforward, makes long-term management of those services much easier, and normally improves your user experience.
With the steady growth of Cortana, this trend is only going to continue. It’s time to stop thinking of Windows as merely being an operating system, and start thinking of it as a centralized hub to your technological life.
2. For App Compatibility
This is linked to my previous point and is also part of a wider argument about why Windows is the most useful operating system out there.
Almost every app, device, or game works on Windows; the same cannot be said for other operating systems. For example, Chromebooks still don’t have an official Skype app (though there are workarounds), Macs cannot write to NTFS-formatted drives without some third-party tools and tweaks, and Linux – while popular among certain groups – lags way behind in terms of the amount of popular software available.
The same point can be extended to Android tablets and iPads.
Ultimately, if you’re a jack-of-all-trades computer user who likes to dabble in a bit of everything, owning a Windows machine is a vital part of your armory.
3. Full-Featured Apps
Make no mistake, cloud computing has grown at a tremendous rate during this decade and will continue to grow long into the future. However, at the moment, the online versions of most apps lack many of the features of their desktop counterparts.
Just look at some of the differences between the OneNote web app and the desktop version: In the web app you cannot mark notes as read, sort notes by number of edits, take screen clippings, insert or edit symbols, link notes to files, search across all sections, use the format painter command, or find tags.
The same story is repeated across products from Adobe and Google, among others. And, of course, lots of the most widely-used programs don’t even have web versions.
Bottom line: If you’re a power user of a certain app (perhaps you need it for work or school), you unquestionably need a traditional PC, rather than a web-only device like a Chromebook.
4. Ports and Peripherals
Apple created a storm last year when it announced the new MacBook would have just one single port. It’s not even a commonly-used port, with the company opting for the new reversible USB-C option.
I’m not here to argue about the pros and cons of Apple’s decision, but the consequence is clear: If you want/need to use multiple peripherals (wired printers, a USB mouse, SD cards, USB flash drives, high-end webcams, external hard-drives, HDMI-out cables, etc.) you’ll either need to spend a lot of money on adapters, spend a fortune on a more expensive Apple product, or turn to Windows.
As with my point about app compatibility, the point extends to tablets. The iPad only has a charging port and a headphone jack and Android options will typically include a single USB port at most. The only exceptions are Microsoft’s range of Surface Pro tablets, which come with a USB port, SD card slot, and a mini-display port.
5. File Type Support
A key part of using a Windows machine (or a Mac), is that it will support practically every file type imaginable. If it’s not done natively, you can almost always download a codec, app, or plugin that’ll solve the problem.
If you only use other devices for your services and media, this won’t always be the case.
For example, Google Docs will frequently scramble complex Word formatting, Sonos will not support 48 Hz AAC audio files streamed from an iOS device, DRM-protected content is not supported on Roku and nor are AVI files, and tablets might not able to download the necessary apps to open a particular file type.
If you always want to be able to open any document, presentation, music file, or image that comes your way – stick with Windows.
Why Do You Still Need Windows?
Everyone is different; no two people will use their computers in the same way or rely on it for the same things. Nonetheless, I’m confident enough to say the vast majority of people still need Windows, and will probably do so for a long time to come.
We’re curious about what makes you so reliant on Microsoft’s flagship system? Could you ever see yourself giving up Windows? What would need to happen for you to turn your back on it?
Tell us all about your unique situation in the comments section below.