A few months ago when Microsoft released their new Windows Phone 7 mobile OS, I knew immediately that somewhere along the line, I was going to own one. Despite personally stating many times before that I don't see the need of owning a smartphone, I knew that WP7 would be the system that I would cave into.
So less than a month ago, I became one of the early adopters for a WP7 system (specifically the LG Optimus 7). Less than a week ago, I finally put my money down to buy myself the precursor to WP7, a Zune HD. Some people have long pointed out that I am a fan of Microsoft. Normally, that's grounds for an argument but in this case, they are right, however I am by no means a fanboy.
I guess it's natural that I am a fan, given that I have been using Microsoft's OS as my primary system for a good 2 decades. All the way from DOS, Windows 3.1, 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista and now, Windows 7; I know where it excels and most importantly, where it's crap at. Where people have complained about how it never works for them and the constant Blue Screen of Deaths for no reason, I only really get it because I know I caused it. It has never occurred to me to shift to other systems because Windows has always worked for me in the way I want it to work.
So how is it that I've devoted myself to using Windows all these years? The answer would be that I am a hardcore gamer. We're not talking about the games like Bejeweled, Minesweeper and Solitaire here, the casual stuff. I rely on Windows solely because most games are designed to run on Windows so as such, most of my extreme geekiness was born on that dependency as well. Never having enough money to get the bleeding edge stuff, I learned to maximise what I had in order to keep up with the burgeoning PC gaming industry.
From there on end, I would build my own systems and mod my Windows OS so I can squeeze just a few more frames per second on Quake 2. This is why, while I'm not at the level of programmers, I still can understand and deal with any problems or shortcomings that Windows had and still has. Where people have given up and started using other operating systems, I tinkered with it enough that it works the way I want it to. I have no complaints and I'm proud of the Windows based computer I built and modded.
At this point, some people would cry foul and start calling me a fanboy, but there is a fair distinction between both. While it is true that I would be biased towards using any Windows product, it doesn't mean I would defend it to the death, neither does it mean that I have to have it like most fanboys would. While Microsoft products may be the software of my choice, being a geek meant that over the years I've dabbled in other things. I've used Macs from their PowerPC iterations to their intel based OSX incarnations simply because I want to know what I may be missing. My HTPC is powered by Ubuntu and I dual boot my netbook with Windows and Ubuntu as well because I like the flexibility (not to mention the geek cred) that it offers.
On a whole, as much as I despise Apple products because of philosophical and reasons, I still recommend its products to people that I know would appreciate it more than they would other products. As much as I rely on Windows as my primary machine, I still learn and share as much as I can about using Linux because it's a fun thing to do. I prefer to see a product put to good use rather than being stagnated by someone who can't figure out heads or tails of it. Putting my own prejudices aside, I prefer to show people just what Windows can do than to engage in the age old PC vs Mac argument.
I think most importantly, what separates me from being a fanboy is that I also criticise Microsoft's shortcomings. I love what it's done over the years and I know that as a corporation, it could do so much more to revolutionise the way we deal with technology, so that's why I've always been critical of its failures. I want them to succeed, but they can't do so when I think that half their products and strategic decisions are stupid. It's why they now lag behind the marketing image that has catapulted Apple to success with Android trailing not far behind. It frustrates me as a long time user, but fortunately none of those decisions impact the way I've always been using Windows, so my experience has never been detrimental.
So for now, I'm cautiously optimistic that Microsoft does have what it takes to make something good. It's got a lot to prove to the public that what it produces is worth it. Personally I'm waiting to have the Kinect added straight onto my PC and doing all the insane things that it's perfectly suited for doing (like the Minority Report hand-gesture-interface-thing). However, as with everything that is Microsoft, I'll wait till they actually market it than rely on hopes and rumours. That just leaves me with my WP7, my Zune HD, my Windows 7 Professional…and all the crazy mods I learned to add over the years to make my user experience one hell of an enjoyment.