This week I did the unthinkable. After 10 years using iMacs and Macbook Pro’s for WordPress development, I purchased Microsoft’s newest Surface Laptop 3. Part of the move was to downsize from a 15″ laptop to a smaller 13″. However that’s not really what this purchase was about. It’s a big deal to switch OS platforms. Or is it? Let’s talk about that.
This new little laptop is going to be my primary computer for the foreseeable future. As a web developer, MacOS has been crucial as I rely heavily on the Unix terminal. Windows was not a viable option until recently when Microsoft added the Windows Subsystem Linux (WSL).
WSL grants developers freedom to use Windows once again.
Prior to WSL it was really annoying to use Linux commands on a windows computer. Running a virtual copy of Linux on Windows is slow and disconnected. WSL is Linux running natively on Windows without virtualization.
How you setup WSL for development will vary greatly depending on your preferences. My development setup involves Hyper, Git, VS Code, ZSH + Oh My ZSH, HeidiSQL, Insomnia, Valet WSL and Ubuntu. With this setup I can spin up new WordPress sites locally nearly identical to my MacOS workflow.
Getting WSL setup can be a bit of an undertaking. Just plan a day of exploring options before settling on a workflow that works for you. I’d highly recommend checking out a few of these setups as good starting points.
- Hyper.js + Oh My ZSH as Ubuntu on Windows (WSL) Terminal
- Setting Up A Windows 10 Development Environment with WSL, PHP & Laravel
- Install WordPress on Windows Subsystem for Linux
- My Windows 10 dev setup — the tools that make my life easier
- How to set up the perfect modern dev environment on Windows
The Surface Laptop 3 feels like a machine made for hackers.
As a long time buyer of Apple products, it felt like I did that very thing I wasn’t suppose to do. That is purchase a Windows laptop. This machine feels like some futuristic Linux/Windows hybrid that shouldn’t exist, yet it does.
If you’re a developer, then take notice. Windows is doing an awesome job at attracting developers back to their platform. If you’re not developer then the choice is not as clear. You won’t be able to as seamlessly go between MacOS and Windows. However where the developers go is a good indicator of things to come.
Microsoft has outdone Apple at their own game.
Many of the changes Apple made to Macbook Pros within the last 3 years have been mixed. The Surface laptop feels like a refinement on the mistakes Apple has been making.
- The keyboard is pretty standard, no fancy touchbar and it just works. 👍
- The screen has touch so anything missed from the touchbar can easily be had with the screen itself 👍
- Face ID and the new instant on feature is lightning fast 👍
- The magnetic connect power adapter with LED light is a welcome throwback to the now demised propriety Apple power adapter. 👍
- It’s lightweight and portable but not at the expense of lost durability. 👍
Developers, use whichever platform you’d like.
I’m not set on using Apple, Microsoft or other platforms. I’m excited to see a future where you can just pick a platform and be able to start creating. For now, developers are in the best position to switch between platforms. In time hopefully others will be able to switch ecosystems without all of the hassle.