David Heinemeier Hansson

March 2, 2024

You can own more than one type of computer!

I probably wouldn't have done a deep dive on Apple alternatives without the announcement that they were killing progressive web apps (PWAs) on the iPhone in the EU. Most people don't switch operating systems willy-nilly, and for good reason: They're different! And different is weird at first! But I'm actually glad Apple gave me the final push to venture outside the walled garden for a longer stroll, because the expedition has been a delight.
And now that Apple has done a complete 180 on PWAs in the EU – they're not going anywhere, the company announced today – I'm even happier with the way it all worked out. Apple gave me an excellent reminder that having all your computing eggs in one basket leaves you mighty vulnerable to predatory behavior. Because what are you going to do? If you're ALL-IN on Apple hardware, software, and services, you're as good of a captive consumer as it gets. You might complain, but you won't leave.

So with that timely reminder, I did a complete exit from Apple services. Apple email+calendar had already become HEY, but since then, I've also moved my photos to Google Photos (a breeze – the auto-importer on iOS does all the work automatically!) and my notes to iA Writer + Dropbox. Leaving nothing on the service side tying me to one platform or another. Everything important is multi-platform, which guarantees freedom of movement.

I'm still undecided on the future of my programming editor, but it's been overdue to have a look and see around anyway. From VSCode to neovim, there are plenty of compelling options out there. Many of which run as well on the Mac as they do on Windows as they do on Linux. Enough to make me give up TextMate? I don't know.

But it also doesn't even really matter, is what I've learned. It's OK to own more than one type of computer! I love computers! So having Android in my pocket, Windows on my desk, and Apple in my backpack? That would be totally fine too!

Better than fine, actually. I make multi-platform software for a living. Basecamp, the most important product we sell at 37signals, has Windows as its #1 platform. It's kinda embarrassing how little we've paid heed to that fact over the years. 
I'm already seeing the dividends from spending a few weeks using Windows in anger: We're improving the design in a variety of ways. From better scrollbars to reconsidering our fonts. There's a lot of little things we can do to improve the look and feel of Basecamp (and HEY!) on Windows, but it requires we actually live there for a while.
I think it's fair to say that within certain parts of the web communities, the Mac has become an echo chamber with both designers and programmers. Understandably so. Apple makes some really, really good laptops these days, and the Unix underpinnings were far superior to anything Windows had to offer until recently with WSL2. But it is a blind spot. I can see that clearly in our own products.
So even if you love the Mac, I think you owe it to yourself and your customers to have a look around, if you make software for people on other platforms. You'll go through 24 hours of withdrawals switching to Android or Windows for a while, but it's remarkable how quickly it all subsides, if you take care to use comparable quality hardware.
🎶  Reebok, baby, you need to try some new things? Have you ever had shoes without shoe strings?  🎶

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.