The always-polite UPS delivery person woke me up this morning. I couldn’t be too upset about it; he was delivering my new computer. I’m now the happy owner of a surprisingly shiny Gateway notebook, named “Fontina”. Yes, I now have a Windows machine, and am now a tool of the man or whatever the Ufies and Slashdotters are calling them these days. In my defense, I got the machine strictly for work purposes; joyful desktop computing will still occur on my Powerbook (“Gruyere”), and painful server maintenance will continue to take place on my Debian tower (“Manchego”). The new box will be used only for programming, at least until someone reminds me just how many games I’ve been missing out on by not having a PC.

It’s only been a day, but Windows XP is a lot nicer than I expected. Aesthetically, it’s overrated; fat bevels do not an elegant UI make. But it’s still a few steps above the aggressively dull NT and 2K machines I’m used to. Getting up and running has also been surprisingly painless, aside from the usual tweaking of Explorer’s default folder view and Office’s horrendous “personalized” menus.

Wireless networking continues to amaze me; it seems to have gained popularity at the same time that computer and OS vendors figured out that users don’t want to spend all day installing and tweaking drivers; the combination of standards conformance, automatic configuration, and reasonable default settings has combined to make every machine that I’ve used an 802.11b network with a comletely brainless setup job.

Y’know, now that I think about it, this is the first Windows machine I’ve ever actually owned. My 386 ran DOS 5.0, and I never got around to installing Windows 3.1 on it. After that, I ran a succession of Red Hat and Debian Linux installs, usually in some state of disrepair. Then came the Powerbook and OS X and the discovery of non-sucky desktop computing. And now with the new XP machine, I can actually run a Java IDE without spending all day waiting for the screen to redraw. Good times.