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Does anyone still need Windows?

For the past couple of months I have been working from my porch - I enjoy the outdoors when weather permits. In doing so, I have adopted a Chromebook, which gets me by quite well, but leaves me in a quandary - do we still need Windows? The answer to that question is quite a bit more complicated than it seems.

Most people will jump up and yell "yes" - or Microsoft hopes they will. But it really comes down to usage, and for many people out there the operating system is no longer the be all-end all of computing.

This is why Chromebooks are growing and Microsoft is appropriately concerned. The rival platform will not overtake Windows anytime soon, but it also isn't going away, and it's eating into the business of Satya Nadella's company.

Now the software giant has unveiled Windows 10, and apparently in an effort to distance itself from version 8.x, has skipped right over the number nine. The new build is still in early stages, simply a technical preview, but here's the question - do we need it? Or, more accurately, do most people need it?

Get rid of Windows

The average user checks email and browses websites - a cheap Chromebook can get them by just fine. For word processing chores there is Google Docs, but Microsoft has also released a Word app for Chrome - I am writing this from it, as a matter of fact.

Image editing, at least on a basic level, can also be carried out by online apps - I use Pixlr, but everyone will have his or her own preference. Many fine online editors exist.

The Chrome OS also has a bit of resemblance to Windows, so users will be in, mostly, friendly territory. The taskbar and system tray should look familiar, and the usual things are contained in each. Like Windows (now) there's no Start menu, but in its place is a launcher button that gives access to apps - which is more than Windows 8.x provides to customers.

Keep Windows

While for many, including myself as a writer, the Windows platform seems a relic, there are needs for it, but they have become specialized. Let's not take away from those folks who point to the specific needs that some people have.

Both coding and video editing spring to mind, though many actually use a Mac for the latter. Business also has a need for Windows, as many company-specific apps are utilised in the enterprise environment. Professions such as engineering, architecture and graphic are also likely will keep Windows going.

There are other specialised applications - genealogy, for instance. I use Family Tree Maker which, while having some online features, requires one of my Windows PCs up in the office. That is, of course, just one example, but it illustrates the dividing line between those who do and don't need the Microsoft operating system.

There are many other examples, I'm sure. Many of you will point them out to me in comments, I would imagine. But you get the point - you don't need a canon to kill a fly. Many users can get by without the old platform.

Do what's best for you

In the end there is no definitive answer. It simply comes down to personal needs. However, it is becoming clear that the majority of people in the real world don't need Microsoft's operating system. Most could get by with a Chromebook, or even an iPad or Nexus 7. Windows is becoming a specialised tool that likely will slowly fall further out of favour as those other platforms continue to improve and add features.

This is not a future that Microsoft wants to face, but it is slowly becoming reality and the company must learn to move on with other aspects of its business. In other words, the short answer to my question for most users is "no". The weather has cooled in my area, and I've moved inside once again, but I haven't moved back to Windows.

Image Credit: Tomas Skopal / Shutterstock