I just switched to a MacBook Air as a hardcore Windows user of over 20 years — here's what happened

Apple’s MacBook Air 15-inch M2 shown on table
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I think I’m more than a little bit in love with the MacBook Air 15-inch. That should hardly come as a monocle-dropping shocker, considering we rate it as one of the very best MacBooks you can currently buy here at Tom’s Guide. 

And yet, I’m still slightly surprised that the 15-inch version of Apple’s brilliant, M2-powered laptop has won me over so quickly.

Recently, Apple was kind enough to loan me the new MacBook Air 15-inch M2. If I’m being totally honest, I went in with reduced expectations and lingering worries. This was due to a couple of key factors. 

Factor No. 1: up until last week, I hadn’t used any variety of MacBook since ye olden days of 2019, when I was working for a (now sadly defunct) Xbox magazine.

Factor No. 2: I’m an apologetic hardcore Windows fan. Alright, I might not be as slavishly committed as that adoring dork who relentlessly stalks your hero in Starfield. Yet I’m fairly confident I’ve used every version of Microsoft’s iconic OS since Windows 95. And yes, occasionally I do still wake up in the night, my brow sodden with sweat after suffering another particularly bad Vista-based night terror. 

Up until last week, I hadn’t used any variety of MacBook since ye olden days of 2019.

That OS aside, I’ve never had much issue with using Windows systems over the years. Windows 10 Pro treated me just fine, and as an early adopter of Windows 11, I’ve always found the constant flack it seems to receive online a smidge harsh. Microsoft’s latest OS powers my desktop rig, one of the best gaming PCs you can buy today, and I can count the number of blue screens of death I’ve encountered with it on one hand.

By contrast, in the four years since I’ve touched a MacBook, I feel like I’ve forgotten even the simplest aspects of navigating macOS. Refamiliarizing myself with a MacBook hasn’t exactly proven to be a pain-free process. I swear it took me about 14 attempts until I could get Touch ID working — which probably says more about my stupid sausage digits than it does Apple’s fingerprint-verifying tech.

Even after spending a full weekend with the MacBook Air 15-inch M2, I still get the feeling Apple’s laptop harbors a deep-seated disdain for my right index finger.

Dock to the system

Apple’s MacBook Air 15-inch M2 shown on table

Despite not having an OLED panel, black levels on the MacBook Air 15-inch's screen impress. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

After just about hurtling over that stumbling block, I started coming to grips with Apple’s gorgeous device quicker than I anticipated. I’ll admit I still don’t love the Finder, and downloading then pinning Google Chrome to my Mac’s Dock was a bit of a pain — sorry, but I’m just never going to use you as my default browser, Safari. Yet on the whole, relearning macOS wasn’t quite as daunting as I’d feared going into this experiment.

As much as I love that crystal-clear 15.3-inch Liquid Retina Display and all the crispness that comes from its 2880 x 1864 screen resolution, I do still wish Apple would hurry up and make a MacBook Air OLED. Still, it’s a gorgeous display and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Sex Education Season 4 (still one of the best Netflix shows in my book) and one of my favorite movies of all time, Heat, through the streaming service on the 15-incher MacBook Air.

Though the fact I had to watch said content through a Chrome browser because Apple won’t let you download the likes of Netflix or Disney Plus through the App Store on macOS is a decision I find both equal parts odd and annoying. After all, I watched a good amount of this past weekend’s Ryder Cup through the Sky Go app, which I had no problem downloading on Apple’s svelte laptop. Also, get in Team Europe!

Battery bliss

2023 MacBook Air 15-inch M2 shown open on a surface

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Over a weekend where I clocked up a dozen hours of usage on the 15-inch Air, I didn’t have to charge the battery once.

The absolute star of the show is the battery on the MacBook Air 15-inch, and its performance is so impressive, it makes me far more open to forgiving the quibbles above. 

Our Tom’s Guide battery test when writing reviews on the best laptops involves continuous web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness, where Apple’s laptop lasts for an average of 14 hours and 59 minutes. That’s simply epic battery life. Over a weekend where I clocked up a dozen hours of usage on the 15-inch Air, I didn’t have to charge the battery once.

And while I appreciate how portable this Mac is, weighing in as it does at just 3.3 pounds, I’ll fess up and admit I barely moved the latest Air over the course of the weekend. 

Instead, I plonked it down onto a laptop tray, laid said tray on my L-shaped sofa, then paired Apple’s portable PC with the awesome Creative Pebble V3 desktop speakers and the awesome Logitech MX Master 3S. The trackpad on the MacBook Air 15-inch is responsive, no doubt. But c’mon, you just can’t beat one of the best wireless mouse options on the market.

Bottom line

As much as I dig the 15-inch Air, I don’t think it’s going to completely displace my beloved iPad Pro (2021). Watching the best Disney Plus movies is just easier via the app than viewing in a browser. I love interacting with its lush 12.9-inch touchscreen. And that slightly more coffee table-friendly form factor means Apple’s tablet is probably going to remain my go-to device for web browsing or falling down YouTube holes for the foreseeable future.

With that said, the sheer quality of the MacBook Air 15-inch M2 has at least partially converted this lifelong Windows user.

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.