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People who use Windows, what does your set-up look like?

over 2 years ago from , Product Design & Research

I’ve been a macOS/OSX user since 2009, but I’m thinking about jumping to Windows in Q4 this year. My main concern is Sketch – it’s become a huge part of my workflow, but I’m aware that restricting myself to an entire ecosystem because of a $100 app is narrow-minded.

  • What applications are you using to design?
  • What does your development environment look like?
  • How do you get around Mac / Windows incompatibilities?
  • Why are you using Windows over Mac?

Please don’t turn this into a Mac vs Windows circle jerk. Assume that I’m a 26 year old person who can make his own decisions without being patronised.

37 comments

  • Luis La TorreLuis La Torre, over 2 years ago

    lol Hopefully this doesn't feel like I'm trollin

    46 points
  • Dylan FieldDylan Field, over 2 years ago

    A sizable percentage of Figma's user base is on Windows. If you are coming from Sketch, we even provide Sketch import. (Not perfect, but ~98% correct.)

    (Disclaimer: I'm the CEO of Figma, highly biased, etc, etc)

    18 points
    • Luke Jones, over 2 years ago

      First of all, how dare you be biased. (Joking).

      What’s the trajectory of Figma looking like? The surge in usage of Sketch was quick and it’s moving towards industry standard in UI design. Honestly? Sketch import / export isn’t a huge deal to me as long as I can communicate design to stakeholders.

      1 point
    • Ktrn DsrsKtrn Dsrs, over 2 years ago

      My main concern with an early adoption of dogma is the price that have not been announced yet. But Figma still a pretty awesome app I often suggest to use apart from this little downside

      0 points
  • Weston VierreggerWeston Vierregger, over 2 years ago

    At my last job I had a PC rig (alongside my Macbook Pro):

    • Adobe Suite, Maya/C4D/Modo, Unity, Affinity Designer (Beta at the time, don't know current dev status), Substance Suite. Affinity Designer, which has been plugged here recently, is a pretty good Sketch replacement on it's own but for Windows it's a must-have since Sketch doesn't exist in that world. Highly capable for interface design.

    • VSCode or Atom, mainly. On Mac I do a ton of prototyping in Framer, so I missed having Framer Studio on Windows.

    • Didn't encounter any to speak of... do you have examples of incompatibilities? Generally, all my apps were cross-platform and we weren't writing OS-specific code.

    • We had to use Windows for VR.

    (Specs: GTX980, i7, 1TB HDD + 256 SSD, Windows 10, 32 GB RAM? maybe 16... Two 2K monitors)

    Windows has some serious pros if you are working in 3D. The fact is that today's best renderers focus solely on nVidia/CUDA means anything with a AMD GPU right now is getting seriously left behind. In VR, we did mainly realtime rendering instead of pre-render, but we still used render pipelines for creating specific assets that are just unreasonable on Mac (also, we didn't have a true renderfarm so we rendered locally). Win 10 OS is decent. It actually feels snappier, to me, than OSX a lot of the time. I sorely missed the terminal, but with the new Linux sub-system on Windows that will be less of a concern. However, most interface design still happens on Macs in this industry, so it will be frustrating not having all the new shiny toys...

    7 points
    • Luke Jones, over 2 years ago

      do you have examples of incompatibilities?

      Off the top of my head, did you experience issues with colleagues who wanted to use Mac apps (e.g. Sketch) or do you use iMessage to communicate?

      0 points
      • Weston VierreggerWeston Vierregger, over 2 years ago

        We were not a Sketch studio, per se. Some designers used it, but handoff pretty much always consisted of PDFs. Since PC's were a required part of the workflow, our team accommodated that facet. Also, the beauty of Affinity Designer is that it can (with some caveats) read and export PSDs – if Photoshop is common but you prefer something more Sketch-like, AD is a good substitute (and is on OSX as well).

        We never used iMessage to communicate, we used either Hangouts, e-mail, or face to face chats.

        If your team's process is heavily reliant on Sketch and iMessage, it's not reasonable to introduce a PC.

        2 points
        • Luke Jones, over 2 years ago

          Your responses have been very helpful, thank you Weston.

          Many engineers use (and require) Windows machines, yet the majority of designers are set up with Mac systems and Sketch.

          0 points
        • Jesse PenicoJesse Penico, over 2 years ago

          There is also Adobe XD, which I believe will get better over time. Seems to be a solid Sketch replacement for use on Windows.

          3 points
    • Jesse PenicoJesse Penico, over 2 years ago

      Wow, I wonder what working with you would be like. Seems fun.

      0 points
  • James Young, over 2 years ago

    I use a Surface Pro 3 + external monitor with:

    • Adobe Creative Cloud
    • Affinity Designer (replaces Sketch which was the only thing I miss from Mac)
    • Sublime Text

    Most of my visual work is done in a mix of Affinity Designer and sometimes Photoshop then for things like wireframing I use Moqups in a browser so no issues there.

    We primarily use Kiln for version control as we're an Umbraco CMS dev company so one of the reasons for me going back to Windows was because working in a Windows VM on a Mac to avoid file versioning conflicts/issues with version control was a pain.

    Your concern about Sketch is pretty much the one thing I really missed when I switched a while back and it was a problem for a bit but to be honest Affinity Designer on Windows has improved significantly in the last few months where I'm happy for it to do the work I'd have used Sketch for.

    The jump between Windows and Mac isn't that big anyway to be honest. How come you're pondering not making a switch until Q4?

    3 points
    • Luke Jones, over 2 years ago

      How are you finding text rendering on Windows these days? One of the main reasons I switched to Mac in the first place was that type and colour display was so wonderful by default.

      My most recent experience of Windows was a gaming rig I built with Windows 8 about 2 years ago. That was one heck of a jump, but I imagine this one to be a lot more work-focused so shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Especially with Windows 10.

      Most of my visual work is done in a mix of Affinity Designer and sometimes Photoshop then for things like wireframing I use Moqups in a browser so no issues there.

      Is there anything in particular that AD does well that Sketch doesn’t, and vice versa?

      The jump between Windows and Mac isn't that big anyway to be honest. How come you're pondering not making a switch until Q4?

      It’s to do with finance received for hardware.

      0 points
      • Jaron SaturninoJaron Saturnino, over 2 years ago

        One of the main reasons I switched to Mac in the first place was that type and colour display was so wonderful by default.

        This is the biggest reason I design in Windows, interestingly enough. I have to cover all bases or else I might as well be throwing sand in people's eyes.

        1 point
      • James Young, over 2 years ago

        The Surface has a really nice retina screen so everything looks good for me although on the external monitor it's not as sharp as something like a big iMac would be but on the Surface itself I'd imagine you wouldn't notice any significant difference between it and a retina laptop.

        It's worth taking a look at Windows 10, the jump from 8 is significant although tbh the tablet mode on Surface is a bit of a clusterfuck but I use it on normal desktop mode as a work machine so not too bothered about that.

        I don't really push AD or Sketch far enough to find myself troubled by any significant limitations but from what I can see Sketch does look to have a pretty good ecosystem growing around it for 3rd party plugins etc which I think AD would need to catch up with.

        I was also massively disappointed with the Windows Beta of Adobe XD which on the promo videos of the Mac version looked a really useful tool but on Windows it's almost entirely feature-free beyond being able to draw a few shapes which is a shame.

        0 points
      • John PJohn P, over 2 years ago

        How are you finding text rendering on Windows these days?

        It has only improved slightly tbh, but hacks like MacType exist to improve it.

        Honestly though these worries all fade away once you see what a real GPU can do and build a machine that outclasses Apples entire lineup for less than a base iMac 27

        1 point
  • Timothy McKennaTimothy McKenna, over 2 years ago

    I have a Windows setup at home, but I am on a Macbook Pro at work. Here's my setup.

    Design: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign (waiting for Affinity Publisher so I can leave the Adobe ecosystem altogether), Figma (huge fan) and Proto.io.

    Development: Atom, WAMP.

    Incompatibilities: Beyond wanting to use Framer Studio on Windows, I found way to configure Atom to do prototyping with Framer here. Beyond that, I haven't run into much.

    Why: Mostly because I didn't want to spend an exorbitant amount of money for Mac at home...that and Steam.

    Rig: Custom build...another reason I went Windows, I wanted to build something cool. Two ASUS MX279H 27" monitors

    3 points
    • Luke Jones, over 2 years ago

      Out of interest, why have the two separate systems for work? Why not have a dedicated computer for gaming and a dedicated computer for work?

      0 points
      • Timothy McKennaTimothy McKenna, over 2 years ago

        Couple of reasons... 1) Because I didn't want to spend the cash honestly. 2) I like the ability to update my components on a PC. I mostly play a modded version of Skyrim and with the occasional free games on Steam, so there isn't much dedication for games on my system. 3) The biggest reason for the two separate systems is because of legal reasons. Anything I do on my work macbook is my company's property.

        0 points
  • Richard BallermannRichard Ballermann, over 2 years ago

    I had to find a way around this issue recently. A remote job I had required me to use Sketch, but my Mac laptop was woefully out of date and couldn't run it. I was in a bind and really had to find a solution quickly or I'd be without a job.

    The choice was either spend $2k+ on a new iMac , $1200ish on a very low-spec Mac Mini, or upgrade my current pc and build a hackintosh. I was a little worried as paying my rent depended on this to work but I honestly couldn't justify the price/performance ratio of an apple machine (I also don't mind living on the edge sometimes).

    So, I bit the bullet and followed a guide on https://www.tonymacx86.com/. I bought only the specified hardware listed (important) with the exception of the video card that I already had on hand. Long story short, in a single evening I had a computer up and running that dual-boots Windows and Mac and has performed flawlessly ever since.

    No word of a lie, I've had zero issues and it's the fastest machine I've ever had the pleasure of working with, all for around $1000 in upgrades on a 6 year old PC. If you're building from scratch, you could probably make it work for about $1500 +/- a few hundred.

    I do prefer working with the Mac UI but their hardware is seriously overpriced and underpowered, not to mention lack of gaming potential. I never need to worry about cross-compatibility, I simply jump into the ecosystem required.

    Needless to say, I doubt I'll ever buy another piece of Apple hardware again. If anyone wants specs I'll post but, simply put, its streets ahead of anything you can buy in that price range from Apple. The only upside you may find with buying a new iMac is the very, very nice monitor but honestly most of the people you design for are not using a 5k apple display and I see no reason to fool yourself while you work. I'll take performance over display quality any day.

    3 points
  • Kunji Meena, over 2 years ago

    Here's the answers of your questions 1. Application for design -> Axure RP, Adobe Photoshop, Balasmiq 2. Development environment -> WAMP Server, Sublime Text 3. Mac/Windows incompabilities -> There's no problem, windows is enough for my web design and development work. 4. No reason just bought PC some time before and now i have no issue with windows.

    http://www.kunjimeena.com

    2 points
  • Dana (dmxt)Dana (dmxt), over 2 years ago

    What applications are you using to design?

    Adobe softwares

    What does your development environment look like?

    Brackets, cmder (conemu) terminal + npm, gulp. I wrote a guide about it here.

    How do you get around Mac / Windows incompatibilities?

    ShareX is Windows software that I absolutely cannot live without and refuse to use Mac without this piece of gem. I don't care about any Mac software because I never used them.

    Why are you using Windows over Mac?

    I used Windows since I was 3 years old, using Mac is like I don't know how to into computer, also it doesn't have ShareX. Mac is also so limited in comparison with GNU/Linux, you can't customize anything on Mac.

    Disclaimer: I do not own ShareX, but I always mention this program to someone new because there is always someone who does not know this piece of gem. It doesn't support Mac, ha ha, losers.

    1 point
  • Chris KeithChris Keith, over 2 years ago

    Luke, your only real point of resistance will be finding a replacement for Sketch. You should check out Affinity Designer and learn to use it to help make your decision. Adobe XD is your other option. I don't count photoshop/illustrator as alternatives to Sketch.

    Do you do any prototyping? Do you use a design/dev handoff tool like Avocode or Zeplin? Those would be two other areas to consider how a switch to windows might impact your workflow.

    1 point
    • Luke JonesLuke Jones, over 2 years ago

      Do you do any prototyping? Do you use a design/dev handoff tool like Avocode or Zeplin? Those would be two other areas to consider how a switch to windows might impact your workflow.

      Yes, these will impact that somewhat. I’m hoping whatever I use will have plugins that allow me to hand off designs to development in the future.

      0 points
  • Willy Mena, over 2 years ago

    Hackingtosh?

    0 points
  • Mick NMick N, over 2 years ago

    I've been using using adobe's stuff for a long time so I'm still firmly entrenched there but I'm making efforts to expand to other options.

    With that said I use a lot of different programs for design depending on the purpose, so Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom and Animate. I've been playing with XD a fair bit and really like where it is going, once there's more features there I'd like to incorporate it more in to my work flow.

    Affinity Designer is excellent and I've been enjoying getting to know it. I also use Mischief a lot (as I don't use a mouse any more, just a Wacom Pro + Keyboard).

    Development side I use WAMP, Sublime text, VSCode, cmder (for node, bash, git & whatever else), JPEG Mini & PNGoo for batch optimisation of assets (those not managed by gulp).

    I've never really noticed any win/mac incompatibilities. Only time I've had an issue was when a really weird bug was only presenting in ios safari, so I just borrowed a mates phone to nix that.

    I use Windows over mac because of the flexibility of the build & productivity. This is personal of course, I'm sure others may say the same for mac.

    0 points
    • Dana (dmxt)Dana (dmxt), over 2 years ago

      Just asking, why don't you use more known XAMPP over WAMP?

      0 points
      • Mick NMick N, over 2 years ago

        Personal preference more than anything I believe. I started out with WAMP so it is what I know. I've given XAMPP a shot a few times before but just found myself going back.

        0 points
  • Tom GantzerTom Gantzer, over 2 years ago

    I've just moved from Mac to Windows, and my biggest hurdle right now is animation prototyping tools. I used to use Framer Studio and Principle for prototyping and testing animations - but my current workflow means going back to After Effects to get the same fidelity and control (it's such a time-sink).

    Any suggestions for a Windows animation tool are greatly appreciated!

    0 points
  • John PJohn P, over 2 years ago

    I use both currently only just got the PC, haven't used a PC since Win 2000 been 100% mac but their recent floundering and lack of power has pushed me away. The Mac is still used for low intensity work like web browsing, coding (web) and UI design.

    The PC does the heavy lifting for AE, 3D, GPU rendering, VR, coding (Games/installations).

    0 points
  • Ian GoodeIan Goode, over 2 years ago

    I'm literally in the process of setting up a new custom-built PC, having switched my home setup to Windows to learn VR development. Still use Sketch in work but will be trying Affinity Designer at home for any vector needs. As far as web development is concerned, Windows now has a built-in bash shell, which is a huge step forward. That said if I wasn't switching for VR and gaming I probably wouldn't be switching at all to be honest.

    I was thinking of doing a blog post on this aimed at designers & web developers, but this thread will probably be a better source of information.

    [edit] I will also add that you've no idea just how much markup you're paying for the iMac form factor until you build a PC.

    0 points
    • Luke Jones, over 2 years ago

      Windows now has a built-in bash shell, which is a huge step forward

      Damn! That is amazing. This was a huge struggle for me back when I was trying to set up testing environments with Windows + VirtualBox.

      I was thinking of doing a blog post on this aimed at designers & web developers, but this thread will probably be a better source of information.

      I would find this hugely helpful in blog post format. Even with the small number of responses this has had so far it becomes a muddle of information.

      0 points