Using Windows

In this series I want to share my experiences of using Windows on a private device again.

The new semester in university started again and I'm using Windows for university things now. Yes, excuse me, I said Windows. I'm using it on my new Microsoft Surface Go.

I try to find a workflow that works best on Windows. In Windows some things need to be done differently, but I think so far I'm ok with it and get used to it.

Just a few days ago, I found out about Chocolatey. It's a package manager for Windows. One thing I find really annoying in Windows are installers. Every program needs to be downloaded manually and then installed by clicking through an installer. Chocolatey helps doing it the Linux way. Just do choco install vscode to install Visual Studio code. It's really slow, but at least it doesn't require so much downloading and clicking. It can also do updates for the programs.

In one lecture I need to learn C++ and instead of Visual Studio (which requires at least 5 GB - my storage on the Surface Go is very limited) I'm using CLion by JetBrains with MinWG. I didn't try using Visual Studio at all, but what I saw, it seems like CLion is much more intuitive. I'm also a big IDEA fan for Java and Go development, so I'm already very familiar with JetBrains IDEs.

And of course I'm using OneNote to take notes. I don't like that Microsoft removed the option to save notes locally. Everything needs to be synced with your OneDrive storage now. It's nothing private but only lecture notes, so I need to be ok with it. Otherwise OneNote is a great piece of software, which allows text input but also handwritten notes.

I want to get things done, so I probably need to accept compromises.

Although Windows still has many weak points (like the horrible update situation - updates take ages and sometimes can also break installations), some things keep improving. The Microsoft Store is a nice thing. A lot of popular softwares can be installed by just selecting them from the Store. I can install iTunes or Spotify using just the store. And nowadays Microsoft is also using the store to distribute updates for parts of the system. A lot of the system apps (like the now open source calculator) can be updated via the store.

Soon Microsoft will publish WSL 2, which runs a real Linux instead of just an Linux abstraction layer. Therefor they are also developing (open source) a new terminal app which allows multiple tabs, for CMD, Powershell and WSL. Did you see its promotional video? It's probably the most fancy video ever done promoting a terminal.

Oh, I almost forgot mentioning it, but I disabled Cortana. Because I use Windows 10 Pro, I was able to disable it using a Group Policy. Normal Windows search is enough, I don't need to talk to my computer.

Jan-Lukas Else
20 years old student who writes about everything he cares about.