Twenty years was a fair old time for Windows reign of error, but now with its star firmly in the descendent we can focus on the more fitting alternatives.

Just how poor is the current Windows experience was brought home to me over the last few weeks after being forced to use Windows 8.1. And by forced I mean a loaded pistol was held to my head. Along with a shotgun, assault rifle and climbing axe. Although the primary weapon that stakes out the latest Tomb Raider game must be the hunting longbow, wielded by a young Lara Croft with devastating effect (once I’d got the hang of the long draw technique...).

Back in the ’90s Microsoft manoeuvred shrewdly once it was in its monopoly position, using dirty tricks to squash competition that were legally documented and put on the public record at the time of the US anti-trust trials of 1998-2001. So now we know how Microsoft falsified evidence, bullied PC manufacturers to pre-install only Windows OS, and conspired to ensure rival Apple made Internet Explorer the default web browser on the Mac.

It’s payback time. Now Apple has demonstrated it’s not above some underhand tactics too in order to discourage people from using Windows.

Apple embraces Windows

Since 2006 it’s been a doddle to run Windows on an Apple Mac, thanks to a complete processor overhaul that put an x86 Intel chip into every Macintosh.

Prior to this, you could kind-of run Windows on a Mac using VirtualPC software, but the performance hit of emulating x86 on a PowerPC chip meant this approach was only for masochists – those thick-skinned enough to run Windows, coinciding with those who could tolerate the slo-mo interface.

Thanks to their use of the same Intel chips, and the arrival of the Boot Camp application in OS X, it’s now easier to clean install Windows on a Mac than on any regular Windows PC, with all necessary up-to-date drivers installed by one click.

Apple has made available these required drivers since OS X 10.4 Tiger – extending support first for Windows XP, then Vista, and all the way up now to Windows 8. And this is where Cupertino’s black-ops team really went for the jugular. The Mac Pro was their chosen tool – Apple’s new professional workstation PC now incarnate as gleaming gothic Pepsi can.

Apple extinguishes Windows

Remember, the Mac Pro is an expensive desktop system aimed principally at media and design professionals – but professionals who may be tempted or required to boot into Windows for a particular piece of software that’s not available on OS X, or which won’t run virtualised in VMware Fusion or Parallels.

Unlike all other current Apple Macs though, for this machine of all machines Apple has not released Windows 7 drivers. Instead, it only officially supports Windows 8 on the Mac Pro.

Thanks to that decision, and my need to test Tomb Raider 2013 for DirectX 11 against its new counterpart of Tomb Raider 2013 for OpenGL 4.1, I found myself in the user-hostile world of Windows 8.1, and for far too long given my slow-witted way of playing FPS games.

Contrary to what some authorities told me, the lip-service upgrade called Windows 8.1 is little different to Windows 8. Booting directly to ‘classic desktop’ and adding a button that still zips you off to Metro hell does not a new and improved operating system make.

There’s still the painfully sharp-cornered interface, bereft of subtle depth cues like drop shadows, and with screaming block capitals as a textual interface. Tinkering with the settings and googling for solutions to everyday tasks even kept me from quality gaming time.

Clever Apple knew that by forcing people to use Windows 8, and especially more discerning pros using the Mac Pro, it was a surefire way to keep ’em returning to the OS X fold, probably vowing never to touch Windows again. Even the not-so-horrific Vista 6.1.