I’ve been using Linux since the end of 1996. At first, like everybody else, I dual-booted between Windows 95/98 and Linux; however, when I bought a new computer back in 2004 I only installed Linux in it (even though I had set aside some room for a Windows partition, in the end I never got around to installing it), so I used Linux exclusively until I bought my new computer, one year ago.
This computer came with Windows Vista. I briefly thought about emptying the hard disk and installing Linux alone, but in the end decided to just reduce the size of the Windows partition and install Linux alongside it. This partition remained essentially unused until a couple of months ago.
A couple of months ago I noticed I had been bored when using my computer. After all, even with an Internet connection, there’s a limit to the number of LOLcats one can look at in a day. So I remembered I had a Windows partition, and ordered the Orange Box. The Orange Box is a box, coloured orange (duh), containing several games (three episodes of Half-Life 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2, as far as I can remember). I completed Portal in four hours, tried Half-Life 2 (didn’t like it very much, so I never got very far in it) and then started with Team Fortress 2, which I play and enjoy quite a lot.
Right before that, I had also bought a HD camcorder, to make all those little videos I post every once in a while. It turns out that all free video editing software for Linux sucks, but there was Microsoft Movie Maker in my Windows partition, which also sucks, but at least it works, so I could edit my videos, even if I could not do a lot of things.
Between those two things, I found myself using Windows quite a bit. Not quite a lot, mind you, but a fair bit nevertheless, so I wondered: “What would it be like using Windows more?”
One of the things I would like to try is Windows programming, so for an “authentic” experience I went and downloaded and installed Visual C++ Express, which is free (as in beer). In search of a tutorial to get me started, I opened the online help and clicked on a link promisingly titled “create your first Windows C++ application”, and sure enough, it was a page full of instructions on how to build a program that displays a window and shows “Hello, World!” However, the link for “Next step” wasn’t titled “Add a button to the window” or “Make your application interactive” or something like that, which would be the obvious second step for a tutorial, but something like “Use the CLR from C++”.
I think I hit one of the differences in philosophy between the “Free Software” camp and the… well, the rest of the world. I’m assuming that there’s a lot of companies publishing books with titles like “Learn Windows programming in 24 hours” or “How to study for your MSCE exam”, and they would get mightily upset if Microsoft included a comprehensive, free tutorial in Visual C++ Express.
So I caved in and bought two books: “Windows via C/C++” and “Windows Internals” (I’d prefer to do systems programming). I haven’t opened them yet (there are still 350 pages left to finish “War and Peace”), but soon will.
I’ll report back when I have more experience in this Windows thing.