Some months ago, I migrated from PCs running Windows 7 to OS X running on Mac hardware. I bought a Mac Mini and a MacBookPro with a 13″ Retina display. I don’t use Windows for any personal computing at all now, and I don’t miss it.
Why did I switch?
The change was driven by three things. One was seeing many, many people in my line of work (networking professionals with a creative bent) using the Mac platform. That piqued my curiosity; in talking to folks, they described speed and ease of use when compared to Windows. The idea was that the Mac just gets out of the way and lets people get things done.
Another driver was my own distant appreciation for Mac hardware. Their gear is beautiful – compact, clean, minimal and perfectly functional. My theory (which has proven true) was that if the hardware was that excellent, the OS would be a parallel experience.
The final driver was already being in the Apple economy. My iPod is one of the best pieces of consumer electronics I have ever owned. My iPhone just works. And until Apple more or less ruined iTunes with the recent changes, it was my favorite music management tool, and software I used every day. So hey, iTunes…no one’s perfect.
How hard was the transition?
The transition wasn’t hard at all. Some thoughts.
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get all the software I might need, since my world revolved around Windows for so long. I have had no issues, and in fact I’ve run into some wonderful software that is only available on the Mac platform. Here’s a mix of cross-platform and Mac-only tools I use all the time: Evernote, Safari, YoruFukurou, Adobe Audition, Dropbox, Skype, CloudStation (a Synology NAS app) and Audio Hijack Pro. In addition, Mac OS X comes with a mail client, contacts database, and calendar app that integrate with Gmail pretty well; I use them all the time, too. If I wanted MS Office, it’s available for OS X (including Outlook), but I just haven’t needed it thus far.
I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to print to my Canon Pixma all-in-one. Wrong. Drivers available – downloaded, installed, and I can print like a champ from the Mac.
The hardest thing was (and continues to be) converting my fingers to the Mac keyboard. Typing is typing – that part is fine. But the control sequences to do things like moving the cursor a word at a time, beginning/end of line, etc. seem hard-wired in my brain to the Windows way, and it’s been remarkably hard to retrain my fingers. Part of the challenge is that I still have to use Windows systems at work. Meh.
But you still need to do Windows stuff, right?
Well, yeah. From time to time, I still need to do Windows stuff because of work…rarely, but it happens. Lots of options here. Microsoft offers a free Remote Desktop client for Mac that works with .RDP files you might have had from Windows. There’s also various virtual machine containers that you can use to boot up another OS – VirtualBox, VMware Fusion, and Parallels. You can also configure a Mac to dual-boot Windows, as it’s Intel architecture.
I use the MS RDP client to hit a Windows workstation that lives at my day job. That’s good enough for me, although it implies that I have that luxury…a standalone Windows machine at my disposal.
What are the downsides?
You pay a good bit for Mac hardware. All that handsomeness comes with a price. Also, if you compare hardware specifications between Apple and other vendors, you’re going to get more bang for your buck with something from Dell, HP, Asus, etc. Plus, if you’re a hardware customizer, the Mac is not your platform. What you can specify is limited, and depending on the hardware, a permanent commitment. For instance, in some of the Macbooks, the memory is soldered on the board. You can’t upgrade it. You can’t change it. It is what it is.
The Apple idea seems to be that you order it the way you want it, then leave it alone…which isn’t to say that you can’t do upgrading on your own in some cases. For example, I bought 16GB of RAM for my Mac Mini from crucial.com for $100, when that same upgrade would have been $400 from Apple. But if you’re the person that wants to spec out custom video cards, a RAID controller, tons of memory & storage, etc. then Apple is not where you’d want to be. I used to be that guy, but I’ve moved out of that sort of hobby.
When you just want it to work…
My Apple experience is that the system just works. I don’t think about when I’ll have to reboot it because it’s acting weird. I don’t wonder when it’s going to start pausing for no obvious reason. I don’t fret about whether a software upgrade is going to hose me. I don’t have to set the machine aside because it’s gotten too slow due to a scheduled virus scan. Yes, I’ve had to reboot my Macs for OS X upgrades, don’t get me wrong. But generally speaking, OS X just works. And that means I can just work. These days, that’s what I like to be able to do. I don’t want to spend time tweaking my machine to keep it working.