No more spinning beachballs

I’ve had my new laptop for two weeks now. Articles on switching from Apple to Windows recommend that you quit using your old Mac cold turkey, and that has been easy. Windows 11 feels very Mac-like, and I’ve had little trouble finding my way around. The new computer is also much, much faster than the aging iMac, thanks to solid-state drives. I can check my mail thirty seconds after turning the laptop on; with the old Mac, I had time to shave and fix breakfast before I could delete the morning spam. Whenever I do use the old Mac, everything happens in slow motion. (I expect that the current generation of Apple computers with SSD drives are as fast as my new Windows machine, but the prices range from Too High to Absolutely Ridiculous, and they generally aren’t upgradable.)

With one major exception, most of the software I used on the Mac has Windows versions which I could — usually — install on the new computer without buying again. (The exception is Logic, the digital audio workstation that I’ve been using for over twenty years. It is Apple-only, and it is the only remaining good reason for using a Mac.) Sometimes the installations went smoothly. Applied Acoustics Systems conveniently assembled all the instruments I’ve bought over the years into a single file to download, which installed everything in the right places and authorized them, all at once. They get an A+. Native Instruments’ installer also got it right the first time, which is important when the total download is nearly 600 gigabytes and needs to be split across two drives (the applications on the main drive, the samples and soundware, which constitute the bulk of the downloads, on the capacious external drive). NI also gets an A.

IK Multimedia, however, gets a D. The installer for their “product manager” would not launch the first few times I tried. Re-downloading it didn’t make any difference. Just before I sent IK an angry note, I tried once more, and this time it worked and installed the installer. The total IK download was about 450 gigabytes, and as with NI, it was also to be spread across two drives. However, the product manager screwed things up. Although I told it that the sounds were to go on the external drive, it ignored me and put most of them on the main drive. Fortunately, it was easy, albeit tedious, to fix: copy all the misplaced files to the correct folders, launch each application one by one and tell it where to find the sounds, and delete the superfluous files.

Embertone gets a C-. Here again you need to download an installer. Unfortunately, the link to that installer goes to “This site can’t be reached.” I finally heard back from the company yesterday and all is now well, but they need to update their website.

Graphics software was more of a problem. If I am going to continue to use Photoshop Elements, I will have to purchase it again (like hell I’m going to “subscribe” to anything Adobe). I think I’ll see if Affinity Photo (cheap) or GIMP (free) will do what I need. Topaz Labs does make their “legacy” filters available for download on their site, but the installers put them in random places. You have to track them down and manually move them to the right plugins folder for Photoshop to find them. I may be looking for alternatives for Topaz. Filter Forge doesn’t offer legacy downloads, and you need to purchase the most recent version to install it on a new computer. Adobe, Topaz and FF all get C’s or worse. Other specialized software vendors are more responsible, fortunately; Helicon Focus, PanoramaStudio and Photomatix were all easily installed and get A’s.

Not everything about Windows is delightful. The task bar is stuck at the bottom of the screen where it constantly gets in my way, and, as far as I can tell, it is not possible to move it to the side in Windows 11, as I could the dock on my Mac. Special symbols like a degree sign or an em-dash are simple three-key combinations on a Mac keyboard, but require either an easily-forgotten alt-plus-(number pad) digits sequence or scrolling down a menu to insert. I use a lot of dashes when I write, and this is a damned nuisance.