Apple vs. Dell/Microsoft

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27 July 2012

I have a MacBook Air that I used as my work (consulting) computer for 18 months or so. Then my new job gave me a Dell laptop that feels seriously inferior, but as with all things Windows/Dell, it is sufficient.

So yesterday I did something I’ve done hundreds of times before with my Air, but never before with my Dell: I closed the lid at the end of the day without shutting things down first, stuffed it in my bag, and went home. (I was in a hurry.)

On the Air, that reliably sleeps the laptop, and I can always trust that everything will be exactly as I left it when I reopen the lid, and the battery won’t have drained at all.

I knew not to trust the same thing on Windows, but I was in a hurry so I decided to risk it, and maybe if it turned out well I’d adjust my opinion about Windows.

So what did I see when I opened it this morning? A boot-time message telling me that the laptop had shut itself down because it was overheating, which usually happens because it is in a tightly enclosed space with the fan vents blocked. Like, say, a laptop bag. And by “shut itself down” they mean “hard power off, no saving your work”. And they mean that they waited until the battery was half drained to do that.

Now, I checked and I do have the laptop set to sleep when I close the lid. So it should have just slept, and it shouldn’t have been generating heat (although I’m not certain if the Windows sleep really does go that far), so it shouldn’t have had this problem. But it did. I’m guessing the culprit is Outlook, which often prevents rebooting because of third-party integrations that aren’t very well-done, so maybe it also prevented sleeping.

But then of course, the culprit is Windows for actually listening to Outlook and not putting the laptop to sleep.

And then Dell is really the savior here; faced with Windows not sleeping when it was supposed to, Dell’s choice was either to let the laptop overheat (and break permanently), or build a feature to shut it off when it begins to. So, thanks, Dell!

But more than that, thanks to Apple for making devices where I just don’t have to worry about crap like this!

  1. mattmc3 says:

    I know, right? The thought of ever going back just doesn’t cross my mind. But, as a counter-point, I did have the exact opposite problem today in fact. I wanted my laptop to stay on while I updated the maps on my Garmin and the Mac insisted it follow the energy settings which meant that the Garmin was 1/2 updated when the laptop force ejected it as part of its sleep routine. The default behavior is certainly what you want 99% of the time, but for that 1% I wish there was an easy way to say “delay sleep” for x minutes because I know what I’m doing and after that return to my prior settings automatically.

  2. Nathan Arthur says:



    (And Caffeine for non-lid-closed cases)


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