Who's designing on Windows. And why ?

over 4 years ago from , Design @Adyax

I wonder what is the proportion of designers that are using Microsoft Windows for designing. Don't you feel reduced by the softwares and ressources available that are not compatible with your OS?



  • Jon BellJon Bell, over 4 years ago

    This is a debate that has raged for decades, but I feel like diving in one more time.

    There is a difference between "technically possible" and "objectively better." People on Linux are quick to point out that they have GIMP, so why do you need Photoshop? They are technically right, and I don't doubt many Linux designers make great stuff. But when the cultural norm is Photoshop, there's a tax.

    A Google search for "how do I work in 3d space in Photoshop" will lead you to a lot of content. Videos, articles, comments in forums. The same search for GIMP shows two things: it turns out GIMP can't do all that stuff. And even if it could, there are far fewer people talking about it. A store with 3 options is different than a store with 300 items. Sure, they both have at least 1. But selection matters.

    So can a Windows computer do design tasks, and perform well? Of course! But there is an objective truth that iOS/Mac is getting more attention from the design community. More protyoping tools, more plugins, more discussion, more everything. So while there's no problem on paper ("I can do all the design I need"), there is a different end result ("but there aren't as many options, especially for stuff outside Adobe's products.")

    But there's a greater issue here that some people call "the emotional immune system." If I come up to you on the street and say "you suck" your brain will automatically try to discredit me to protect itself: "Why should I care what you have to say? Your shoes are ugly." But if you respect someone deeply, and care about their approval, the same criticism stings more.

    So when someone says "Hey, does it suck to be you?" the emotional immune system will kick in and say "Uh, no." Because it's a rude thing to ask. And the very act of asking the question triggers a defensive response. So I'd be surprised if this question gets anyone raising their hand to say "Yup! I made this choice on my own, but you're right, I messed up. It sucks to be me. I'm missing out."

    The people designing on Windows prefer it. The people who don't have switched.

    27 points
    • Andrew ZimmermanAndrew Zimmerman, 4 years ago

      "The people designing on Windows prefer it. The people who don't have switched."

      or, they may be required to use it as part of their employer's technology stack.

      11 points
      • James FutheyJames Futhey, 4 years ago

        Definitely true at certain places I have worked in the past. Fixing this fixed a number of other things as well :)

        1 point
        • Andrew ZimmermanAndrew Zimmerman, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

          : - )

          I believe leadership and our benevolent security overlords will keep things the way they are here until the next mass extinction event.

          I understand their reasoning, just disagree. Glad you got it worked out!

          0 points
  • Chris Basey, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

    We're about to embark on a project that is designing apps for windows 10. As such I'm going to move back to using a PC for the duration of the project. Other than the fact that I can't use Sketch or Xd I'm not sure what constraints there would be. I'll be using photoshop as my design tool, hightail for sharing comps and gathering feedback etc.

    You seem to have a very Mac centric view of the design world. Remember that all the things you use are just tools. Macs are not fundamentally better than PCs for designing. Some apps might be more suited to you than others but the fact you can't use Sketch, for example, really isn't that big a hardship

    13 points
  • John LeschinskiJohn Leschinski, over 4 years ago

    Just started a job that is a windows only office. It's like jumping back in time, and feels like everything is an extra two steps to get things done. I certainly feel at a disadvantage not having my preferred setup.

    7 points
  • Andrew ZimmermanAndrew Zimmerman, over 4 years ago

    I get to use Win 7 at work. It is so awesome using IE9 and a 6 month old, non-supported Firefox browser. I feel so secure being unable to install extensions. No use for ad-blockers as our secure web browser wrapper software lets me experience the web just like our customers! Who needs the most popular web browser used by our customers when I get to look forward to IE11 sometime between now and November?

    I love being able to use Notepad to create/edit web pages and sites. It takes me back to 1994 long before HoTMetaL existed. Who needs a web server, when I can simply ctrl+O files on my desktop or email screenshots? Who needs task runners, preprocessors or other automated build tools? We don't need them to improve workflow since the rest of the project will operate at a similar speed.

    I get to use Photoshop CS6 with Illustrator CC and InDesign CC. I do mockups for iOS devices using Minion Pro. That way I know with confidence how the mockups will look on an actual iOS device that will be built by an outside vendor.

    No need to worry about installing software either. I don't have admin rights so I can't do myself or my coworkers harm.

    This is no April Fool's joke. It does recount my frustrations working in a regulated industry that is a large target for hackers and expects 50% of its workforce to retire in the next 10 years.

    On the other hand, the knowledge I have gained since 1994 still has a place here. Oldies like myself don't have to worry about using cutting-edge tech or applying our agile or user-centric design skills much because so few coworkers understand them.

    6 points
  • Henrique NogueiraHenrique Nogueira, over 4 years ago

    I work on a only windows company and it sucks. It might not suck for you, but for me, it does. I'm used to work on sketch + invision, but now i'm stuck with photoshop CC, since there's no adobe XD for windows yet and invision craft and a lot of usefull tools such as skala view, and others don't run on windows.

    Technically, yes, i can do all the same things i can do on a mac, but it'll take double the time.

    3 points
  • James Young, over 4 years ago

    I work on Windows, switched from Mac about 12 months back.

    It never fails to amaze me what the perception of Mac users seems to be most of the time regarding Windows and what a shallow view most designers have of the OS and what it's capable of.

    I was originally on Windows a few years back but bought a Mac because I felt as a designer, it would be easier to work with (despite the rest of our team and our work - Umbraco/.net - being on a Windows stack) because of the plethora of Mac apps for design.

    To be honest, I found there was nothing at all special about OSX or Mac hardware in general and the only thing I truly miss day to day is Sketch because as a long time Fireworks user it was a really solid replacement so I'm stuck right now using Photoshop for layout stuff.

    It's not exactly a career stopping handicap though. There are literally no other apps I used on Mac that I don't either have a Windows alternative for or found out I didn't need in the end.

    I personally prefer the look and feel of Windows over OSX and always have. I never much cared for the Fischer Price look a few years back and their version of flat just makes my eyes cry so I don't miss that. Using a Surface Pro has been good although there are without doubt things on Windows 10 that annoy and are unfinished, it's no worse than OSX was/is.

    It's also way easier for us to all be on the same OS as a team of 8.

    I wish some Mac users would actually switch over and get over the ridiculous views that have (that weren't even that accurate 5-8 years ago) about how reliable/usable/app filled the Windows environment is. It's every bit as good as OSX has ever been and reliability/viruses haven't been a legit argument for a very long time.

    2 points
  • Giovanni HobbinsGiovanni Hobbins, 4 years ago

    I was a die-hard Windows guy until 6 months ago. Got a MBP for Sketch and I love it. I was a Fireworks guy until then and Sketch legitimately saved my life since I detest Photoshop and don't really enjoy Illustrator either.

    The operating systems are pretty much the same. Negligible differences, really. But the software offering differences are key.

    The best, high polish, bleeding edge design tools are available for Mac (Sketch, XD, Zeplin, Noun Project, etc). That's why I had to make the switch. Apps are more expensive and at times less configurable than on Windows, but the polish and community makes up for it easily.

    2 points
    • Tony Lea, 4 years ago

      Totally Agree with you. I got my bachelors in Software Engineering about 8 years ago and I've been getting into design as well. I was always a fan of Windows and in fact I actually snarked at people who owned a Mac (perhaps, it was partially because I could not afford one).

      After Graduating and working with PC's and windows for only a year in the job market I soon got my first Mac. When I got my first MBP, my skills just sky-rocketed and later I moved on to doing freelancing and had multiple side projects that made some good money.

      Perhaps the fact that Windows might finally get Bash Shell into their operating systems could be a step forward for them, but personally, I would recommend to anyone who has never had a Mac to try it out and be the judge yourself, I'm sure most will find a Mac to be a much more enjoyable experience.

      0 points
  • Chad Bercea, over 4 years ago

    From a non-windows perspective, I'd be curious to learn if there are any TRUE constraints? Not having Sketch app on windows wouldn't matter if you have access to Adobe Creative Suite. You can install Bash and Git and have a 1:1 front-end environment just like any mac, that's just as stable. I mean what are the fundamental differences/issues?

    2 points
    • John LeschinskiJohn Leschinski, 4 years ago

      Not having Sketch app on windows wouldn't matter if you have access to Adobe Creative Suite.

      Except I specifically moved away from Adobe for Sketch for the vast majority of the work I do.

      1 point
  • Ty P, 4 years ago

    I've been a Mac guy fooooorever, but have used PC on & off at different jobs. My current gig is PC based, so my work machine is on Windows, but even at home I just made the switch to a PC. Being able to customize exactly what I want at a fraction of the cost was huge.... another huge point was gaming.... made the move from console to PC. Gaming on a Mac just aint happening, It does drive me nuts I cant use Sketch or XD on Windows yet, but those are just tools, tools that will eventually get to PC (dunno about Sketch, but XD will be)

    1 point
  • Anselm UrbanAnselm Urban, over 4 years ago

    I use Windows simply because I can't afford a Mac.

    1 point
  • Paul MorelPaul Morel, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

    As much as I'd love to try Sketch, I'm pretty ok with using Adobe products on my Windows machine. A lot of apps are cross-platform and those that aren't have alternatives on Windows.

    My main reason for designing and developing on Windows is the cost. It cost my significantly less to choose my computer parts and build my own PC than to buy a Mac with the same specs. Intel i7, 16GB of Ram and a GTX 960 for $1000 CAD.

    Well worth it.

    Linux is always tempting over Windows, Adobe's lack of support of Linux pushes me back towards Windows.

    On the development side of things, all the tools I use are cross-platform. Atom, NodeJS, task runners, Vagrant, Virtual Box, etc. No problem there. Only one that's problematic is Ruby. Rarely use it though.

    1 point
  • Dana (dmxt)Dana (dmxt), over 4 years ago

    Don't you feel reduced by the softwares and ressources available that are not compatible with your OS?

    Actually, no. When I tried OS X, I feel reduced by the available software and resource available.

    • ShareX, which is the most useful software for me. I can take all type of screenshot, video or files and have it automatically uploaded to any host I like, including my own FTP. It also has plenty other tools, such as monitor test, QR code, MD5 matcher, color picker, drag-n-drop upload, etc. I binded shortcut on my keyboard for color picker and have the HEX code automatically copied to clipboard. You can do lots, lots of things with this program.

    I can't live without it. On OS X I can't even find half decent screenshot auto uploader software alone.

    1 point
    • Pol KuijkenPol Kuijken, 4 years ago

      Switched to OS X about a year ago, exact same issue. Nothing compares to ShareX. Stuck with OS X because of Sketch and FramerJS though.

      1 point
  • Michael CookMichael Cook, 4 years ago

    This guy does some nice, polished, technical design work on win:


    1 point
  • Maurice CherryMaurice Cherry, over 4 years ago

    Don't you feel reduced by the softwares and resources available that are not compatible with your OS?


    1 point
  • john Cooper, 4 years ago

    Also, I think this is a pretty US-Centric Question. Outside of the US and possibly Europe, Mac's aren't readily available and everyone designs on PC's. A good designer is a good designer regardless of his setup.

    0 points
  • Beth RBeth R, 4 years ago

    I am fully comfortable on both. At work I use a Mac and at home I use a PC. It's mainly for financial reasons, but I'm happy using both.

    0 points
  • Kevin Snajda, 4 years ago

    So, I grew up in a family with apple computers only, but yeah, I'm designing on windows. If I would use my PC only for work related stuff and some browsing I probably would use a mac too. But I'm an avid gamer (and game support for Mac still sucks) and I'm an hardware enthusiast, I love to build my own systems, I like overclocking and still I'm a designer too. I don't feel like I'm missing out much just because I don't have a mac. Yeah of course, sketch would be something I would try, but I'm quite happy with photoshop too and I believe I'm not really slower than somebody who uses sketch nor that the quality I produce has anything todo with it.

    No I definitely don't feel reduced by windows, as for me it offers way more than OSX.

    0 points
  • Chris Price, over 4 years ago

    Not at all. I have all of the tools I need on my Windows machine, though I am excited to try the Affinity line on Windows (I have it on my MacBook Pro that sits unused unless I'm traveling).

    0 points
  • Sem SchilderSem Schilder, over 4 years ago

    I just love Apple. Bash shell is a nice addition too! But I think there aren't that many big differences...

    0 points
  • Jordan RomanoffJordan Romanoff, over 4 years ago

    I have a PC rig at home but use a mac in the office. I don't think theres anything I do on a PC that I couldn't do on a mac, but I was able to build a tower with the specific specs I wanted for a fraction of the price. As I've wanted to alter the components, I can at will. A lot of this is probably more a comfort thing, but thats worth a fair amount.

    I've been considering going the hackintosh route should I feel so inclined, but haven't really felt the need.

    0 points