Change platforms. Whenever you can. Ever since I got into computing, I’ve lived according to a very simple adage: change platforms all the time. For reasons I won’t go into, the importance of this adage was reaffirmed today, and I figured I’d share it with you all – and hopefully, get a few of you to follow this adage as well.
Back when there was still a lot of cool operating stuff going on on desktop computers, I switched platforms all the time. I was a drifter. I never stayed on the same platform for longer than a few months. BeOS. KDE. QNX. Windows XP. GNOME. Xfce. E16. Mac OS X. BeOS. Windows Vista. Mac. GNOME. KDE. E17. Mac OS 9 (no joke). Lather, rinse, repeat. In between, I played with everything I could get my hands on. SkyOS. Syllable. Zeta. AROS. Haiku. AmigaOS. MorphOS. And so on.
With feature phones, it wasn’t any different. I can’t recall all of the feature phones I have used over the years, but my favourites were definitely the Sharp TM100 and the ridiculously lavish Nokia 8800 (think your current smartphone has high build quality? Think again). I also recall Samsungs and carrier-branded stuff, and that’s about it.
With PDAs, it also wasn’t any different. I used Palm OS extensively (you don’t say). I used Windows Mobile Pocket PC Embedded Compact SP2 Standard Home Edition Ultimate Premium extensively. I managed to get my hands on a Sharp Zaurus Linux-based PDA, an SL-5500 (thanks Eugenia!), which I proceeded to flash with whatever crazy Linux ROM I could find. And only recently, I plugged a hole in my PDA history by buying two Sony CLIÃ‰s. I’ve also managed to get a Newton and a Psion Series 3a. Just last week I bought a Psion Organiser II, and I’m working on a Psion Series 5mx (and more Psion stuff, for the next big mobile computing article).
With smartphones, it hasn’t been any different either. I started out with a Windows Mobile HTC Artemis – which still works like a charm today. I moved on to a Symbian Nokia E71, a fantastic piece of hardware that I enjoyed using very much. I then proceeded to an iPhone 3GS, which was an absolutely fantastic smartphone to use, and by far the best smartphone on the market at the time. After a year, I imported an HTC HD7 from the US a few days after the release of Windows Phone – and fell in love. A year later, I bought a Samsung Galaxy SII, and loved Android for its versatility and openness. And just last year, I jumped onto the Windows Phone 8 train with an HTC 8X, which is still my daily driver today. If all goes according to plan and my contract runs out come December, I will most likely move to Sailfish.
This hasn’t stopped me from trying out other stuff in between. The Palm article already mentioned webOS – it may not have impressed me, but I still saw a few interesting things it has brought to the table. Last year, I used a Nokia N900 for a few weeks to get a feel for the Maemo platform – and was both pleasantly surprised and disappointed at the same time. Tomorrow (hopefully), the mailman will deliver yet another gift I have been waiting for for a very long time: a very generous OSNews reader from Finland has given me his old N9. Sparkles and sunshine will brighten my day tomorrow, and I can tick off another platform.
It’s a relatively new segment, but with tablets, I moved from an iPad 2, to a Nexus 7, and now a Surface RT. Love and hate each of them.
Windows Phone 8 is my personal favourite smartphone operating system, as it fits my usage patterns and visual preferences perfectly. Yet, I will still move to an entirely new, unproven, and untested platform later this year (if Sailfish is out by then). The reason is simple: always try to broaden your horizon. Never get stuck in one place. Never become lazy. Never settle. Never let the same set of neurons fire. Never come to rely on any one company.
Change platforms. Whenever you can. The moment you stop switching platforms is the moment you admit defeat. I encounter defeated people every day.
I’m excited for tomorrow. A new platform!