David Heinemeier Hansson

March 7, 2024

Committing to Windows

I've gone around the computing world in the past eighty hours. I've been flowing freely from Windows to Linux, sampling text editors like VSCode, neovim, Helix, and Sublime, while surveying PC laptops and desktops. It's been an adventure! But it's time to stop being a tourist. It's time to commit.
So despite my earlier reservations about giving up on TextMate, I've decided to make Windows my new primary abode. That's Windows with Linux running inside of it as a subsystem (WSL), mind you. I would never have contemplated a switch to Windows without being able to run Linux inside it. But it's still a change of scenery you could not possibly have convinced me was in the cards a few years ago!

Where the original expedition was motivated by Apple's callous call to nuke PWAs in the EU (which they later retracted), the present commitment is encouraged in part by Apple's atrocious handling of the Epic AB situation. I could not believe that Phil Schiller, the Apple executive in charge of App Store policy, would commit the following in writing:
 Your colorful criticism of our DMA compliance plan, coupled with Epic's past practice of intentionally violating contractual provisions with which it disagrees, strongly suggest that Epic Sweden does not intend to follow the rules.
So public criticism of Apple is now motivating grounds for being denied access to the App Store? What kind of overtly authoritarian bullshit is this?
But it's actually time to look past the negative motivations too. That's part of the reason for burning the boat, and committing to Windows for me personally. I don't want to compute purely out of spite. I want to compute out of passion. And, believe it or not, I've found a lot of surprising delights with this Windows/Linux combo that's sprouting just that kind of passion.
Like finally figuring out that fonts can look gorgeous on Window too, if you run it with a great high resolution screen and refrain from fractional scaling. I had this prejudice that Windows simply didn't know how to render fonts, and it turned out to be false. Awesome!

And VSCode continues to grow on me too. The key turned out to resist recreating TextMate, and something as simple has picking a radically different color theme helped break the constant comparison. So too did diving into the configuration, turning off all the IDE-y stuff, code suggestions, and more. Just focusing on VSCode as a text editor rendered in Tokyo Nights.

That theme inspiration came from my ongoing exploration of neovim. It's such a radical departure from editors like TextMate and VSCode, but that's half the reason I've been having fun. Even if the extreme focus on personalized configurations isn't actually well-aligned with my beliefs in convention over configuration.

But in the grand scheme, none of this matters. Windows is great. Running Linux inside of it at full speed is fantastic. Whether I end up with VSCode or neovim here, it's going to be fine.

What's going to be even better than fine is using this personal change of computing to countering the Mac monoculture we'd be running at 37signals. One encouraged and sanctioned by yours truly, mind you, but also one at odds with the fact that more than half the users on our biggest product, Basecamp, live on Windows.

Again, it's not like I'm going to burn the MacBooks that have accumulated at our house. It's still OK to own more than one computer! But one of them has to be the primary one where you're doing your work, and that one for me is now going to be running Windows.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.