Using a Mac…why oh why?

As some have noticed, and others have gloated about :-), I’ve been using a Mac (specifically a Macbook Pro) as my primary machine for about a month now. I’ve been a died-in-the-wool Windows guy every since Windows 3.0, and scoffed at all of the people playing with their silly Macs. Well, I guess they showed me, because now I’m using one. I’m even writing this post in MarsEdit.

Don’t get me wrong – I still like my friends in Redmond…but this experience has opened my eyes to some extent to how the “other half” lives.

I thought as a Windows user for so long, I might have a different perspective on the Mac…so I’m going to write a few posts (well, at least one – lol) talking about the whys and hows of my experience. So let’s get to it…and this post will be about “why oh why did I switch to the Mac?”

It all started with Windows Vista, actually. As a Windows guy, I was all excited when it was released, and installed it on my work laptop as soon as I could. Hmm…didn’t seem to get much faster, and I didn’t have a cool enough video card to run Aero, but hey, it was shiny and new. And the power management worked way better than XP ever did.

But then I got home, shrink-wrapped copies of Vista Ultimate in hand, and contemplated upgrading my home machine (which was running XP). This machine was the one I use for my photography, and it’s running Lightroom, Photoshop, and some other apps. Vista wasn’t such an obvious choice here, specifically for three reasons:

1. There were no Vista drivers yet for my Epson R2400, which I use for proofing and some print jobs. Eh? When is the last time a currently-available Epson printer didn’t have drivers for the latest version of Windows? Hmm.

2. The Spyder color calibration device I was using didn’t have Vista drivers either, and the manufacturer wasn’t planning to support it. I was less upset about this, because I was thinking about replacing this device anyway.

3. Color management on Vista – and this is the biggie – is apparently totally broken. From an article on Digital Outback Photo:

As you use Vista, you are occasionally interrupted by the OS as it confirms you have the admin-level privileges required or confirms certain actions. As a user-interface effect, Vista dims the screen slightly while offering the user a password dialog. Unfortunately, this dimming of the display clobbers the calibration curves in the graphics card and they are not replaced.

Are you kidding me? This is a total show-stopper. Combine this with the fact that it’s never 100% clear in Windows if your display profiles have been loaded (since only color-aware apps use them), and it seems it’s a total crapshoot.

Hmm. My photographer friends with Macs never seem to complain about their color management. Something about “I don’t know, I calibrate it and it just works.”

So I filed that away, and decided I’d just live with XP for a while.

But then I found myself with a shiny new iPhone, which I got for free at the Office 2.0 conference (and subsequently fell in love with, much to my surprise). Suddenly I started seeing Macs everywhere – conferences, coffee shops, you name it. I’d ask people about them – and every person I can remember said they loved it. I’d turn on my Vaio, and wait a couple of minutes for Vista to boot, and all the while admire their fancy Macbook Pro awaking nearly instantly from sleep (because I’ve rarely seen anyone actually turn off their Mac).

Then I stumbled across the page on the Apple web site where they have all of the Mac vs. PC ads, and (I can’t believe I actually did this) I watched the whole series of them. And you know what? They were fun. And Mac is clearly much cooler than PC.

So I thought, what the heck, and pulled the trigger. I knew lots of people who could help me if need be, and I figured worst case, we’ll use the machine for testing and such at NewsGator. So the evening Leopard was released, I cruised over to my local Apple store, and went home with a shiny new Macbook Pro, and a Leopard t-shirt.

And the moment I was sure I made the right decision? Right after I calibrated my monitor, created a profile, and selected it in OS X – and the whole screen updated immediately to reflect the new profile. Ahh…confidence.

Since then, I’ve observed a great many things…and I’ve got a few blog posts in the back of my mind about these:

  • Macs sell themselves, and Mac users sell even more
  • It’s totally possible (even advantageous) to use a Mac at work
  • Mac apps are different
  • Apple stores are different

I’m writing this in MarsEdit. I’ll preview it on the web in Safari. I’ll then get back to my email in Apple Mail. And you know what? I don’t miss Windows. At least not yet.

37 thoughts on “Using a Mac…why oh why?

  1. Andy Lee

    People still power-down their Windows laptops? I remember years ago (like year 2000) they were a little flaky about sleeping when closed and waking when opened, but I thought they had gotten better.

    Anyway, a nice article. I hope you’ll keep us posted.

  2. Daniel Jalkut

    Wow – what a great post. I think your motivations for trying the Mac and “getting it” are reflective of a lot of other “dyed in the wool” Windows users.

    The momentum right now towards accepting the Mac is really encouraging for those of us developing for the platform. And for the Windows developers reading … don’t worry, we won’t take ALL the users… just give us 10% :)

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  4. Chris

    Awesome. Don’t let anyone too scared to even try something different make you feel bad for giving it a try. Most Windows people that complain about Macs have either never used one or used one in its pre-UNIX days.

    Congratulations on your eye-opening experience.

  5. Tom B

    I’m a scientist. Most Scientists love Macs, due to the reliability and lower number of “gotchas”. Unfortunately, in big companies, PC’s dominate. WHEN that changes– and I mean WHEN– we humble Users shall rejoice. Macs are far from perfect, but they are much closer to perfect than Windows. And better suited to the connected, multimedia world we are increasingly living in. Running routine office applications, like MSOffice is not the focus of my life(and, you know, I think MS Office for Mac is actually better, anyway).

  6. portorikan

    Sweet! Welcome to the Mac world. It definitely sold itself to me after I started using them in that art computer lab 7 years ago, and I’ve certainly sold some to my friends between now and then.

    Hope the transition continues to go smoothly for you.

  7. Tom Walker

    In the past the only reason I hadn’t switched from PC to Mac was first because everywhere I’ve worked uses PCs, and second, the apps I needed only worked on PC (case in point: Solidworks 3D CAD). Well now that my new Dell laptop, with an Intel Core 2 Duo has been lying around useless with Vista on it for a couple months, all I’ve found is that now Solidworks doesn’t work on PC *either*. Solidworks 2007 (which is what I currently have) is just flat out not supported. It will install, but it won’t run. The 2008 version which is “Vista compliant” runs like a sloth on heavy sedation, and chances are the high end graphics card you have to get the full 3D rendering and analysis use out of SW isn’t supported and won’t ever be. So my Core 2 Duo is basically like having a Ferrari engine stuffed into a Ford F350 truck with inadequate ventilation, weak brakes, and 2 tons of bricks in the bed. It kind of runs, but who’d want to drive it? Vista is so ponderously slow, so intrusive with it’s Are You Sure You Want To Do This security dialog boxes, that Microsoft should just admit it’s a load of offal and rev up XP. Of course they won’t, because security and safe browsing are much higher priorities than, say, functionality.

  8. jaded

    Putting PCs to sleep…useless, you need to restart on the regular to clear things out and make sure your applications work normally. You absolutely need to restart outlook daily if you maintain large IMAP mailboxes, and many other applications seem to load faster from a fresh start. Contrast with my mac…I leave applications open for months at a time, and the computer sleeping for the bulk of the year.

    I use windows at work and my office isn’t there yet on becoming mac friendly so I can easily switch: with reliance on great Microsoft technology like sharepoint, that day will never come.

    So I’ll join the club with the MAc at home and Windows at work. I have been a full-time OS X user for about 5 years now, and it has been a relatively pain free experience. Enjoy your new computer!

  9. Paul Greatbatch

    People need to worry less about the Mac vs. PC battles and just start using the Mac as a competitive advantage over other companies and/or users.

    I never cease to be amazed at people who literally refuse to consider the Mac because they do not want to “learn” something new, or utilize a better tool, even if you can get them to acknowledge that learning something new might be advantageous to them.

    Microsoft counts on the general apathy of the average computer user, CIO, and IT department to maintain its monopoly.

    So go out and get a Mac, compete head to head with these guys, and prosper.

  10. veggiedude

    I’ve been using Macs since ’89. I can’t understand why Windows is big in business or in the Corporate world. It makes me less productive in my work, and I’ve had to use PC’s for nearly 9 years in various jobs. It gets in the way all the time – I just want to do my work and it seems to be in the way – kind of like how the keyboard was designed to slow down a typist from using a typewriter because the keys would get jammed but its still in use even though no one uses them for typewriters today. That’s the best analogy I can think of.

  11. Michael Linehan

    “I never cease to be amazed at people who literally refuse to consider the Mac because they do not want to “learn” something new, or utilize a better tool”
    EVERY person (over many years) who I’ve ever persuaded, educated, supported or (as I like to joke) cajoled and blackmailed into actually trying a Mac has been kiss-the-ground-I-walk-on grateful.

    “I can’t understand why Windows is big in business or in the Corporate world.”
    The biggest scam put over on gullible customers ever, I think. One survey of over 30,000 businesspeople by Gistics Report found an average of 234 prime time authoring and composing hours for the Mac user compared to the Windows user and that the Mac user generates 7.14 times ROI over three years, while the Windows user generates 2.02 ROI.

    The report concluded that for profit oriented firms, deployment of Apple technology constitutes a fiduciary responsibility!!!

  12. Curious L.

    Ah, the outpouring of love and fellowship that any post praising the Mac generates. It’s touching, in a kind of scary cult-like way.

    But I have a question (sincere, surprisingly) and I wonder if you fanbois can help a brother out here. Is it even possible to set up a whole corporate IT infrastructure using Macs? When I think of the typical Windows setup it involves AD and Exchange. They handle basic things like authentication, authorization, policy management, print service, email, and file storage. If you’re desperate for community information sharing there’s SharePoint (WSS) which is baked into Windows 2003(8) server, or has a more complex implementation in MOSS. Throw Office on each desktop and pretty much everyone is happy and your IT department has amazingly granular control over rights and policy.

    Can we do that with Macs? Or (and this is going to be troll bait) is it just that OS X is really good at the easy stuff?

  13. gregr Post author

    Curious L – I’m the new guy here, but I think I can answer. Leopard Server has a built-in directory, mail server, and also a wiki-type thing for collaboration. All of that comes with the $999 unlimited-user server license, I think.

    On the client, you could use Microsoft Office if you wanted, or I’ve been using iWork myself and like it so far.

    So I think it could be done…but I don’t have a feel for how mature the server stuff is since I haven’t used it myself. Maybe someone else will chime in on that…

  14. Joe S.

    “But I have a question (sincere, surprisingly) and I wonder if you fanbois can help a brother out here. Is it even possible to set up a whole corporate IT infrastructure using Macs? ”

    I think Apple does that now.

  15. Joe S.

    Can we do that with Macs? Or (and this is going to be troll bait) is it just that OS X is really good at the easy stuff?

    What do you know about pushing graphics & color managed systems?

    Who exactly is happy the IT dept. or the end user…I’d say pretty much everyone could either give two shits or they are not happy from an end user standpoint.

  16. Curious L.

    Chris: I love shiny marketing pages as much as the next guy, but didn’t find the answers I was looking for. Got any white-papers or case studies? And you don’t get to claim UNIX as a Mac network, sorry.

    Joe S.: I TOLD you it was troll bait! ;-)

    Let me rephrase my question: Have you worked for a company of reasonable size (let’s say 50 or more people) that uses an all Mac infrastructure? And if so, did you have to meet any arbitrary info-security requirements (be they SOX or government or whatever?)

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  18. oomu

    os X client can connect in an active directory network and be authentified on it

    it can connect to windows shares

    and it has a microsoft exchange client.

    without windows, you can create all of this in all os X technologies (mostly all open/unix technologies in fact : kerberos, ldap, and so on)

    yes I’m working in a company (I’m sys admin/network manager) with 50 macs and 200 linux and hundreds of windows
    our network is mostly what you would call AD but entirely created in linux stuff. I could do the same simpler with Os x Server in fact.

    mac are all in good shape in it.

    there are White-papers studies but I am not your dog. you can fetch google or come to Paris one day, in France.
    Apple has a “pro” section with many links, you can start from here.

    you will found also many studies and report of industrial use of all linux network alike.

    >Joe S.: I TOLD you it was troll bait!

    no, it’s a uneducated post.

    you should not try provocation or to be on the defensive attitude because some guy bought (gasp!) a mac.

  19. BC

    Let me start by saying that I’m as big of geek as anyone; I have been looking at Macs for a long time and would gladly dump Windows if it made sense in the bigger picture.

    I always have the latest phone, TV, Etc. However, this feels different to me. Alone, the Mac is probably the coolest device you could own. And if all my apps were on the Internet, I would not think twice, but this seems to be like traveling back in time with a really cool computer.

    I’m interested to see how this fits into the overall technology timeline. Is this an early adopter thing or the maturity of the Windows market?

    More importantly; what would cause users to jump from a safe cozy integrated and supported world into a build everything from scratch and deal with integration, connectivity, synchronization issues?

    Would I willingly go back to the Palm with Palm sync? What do you mean I can’t do over-the-air sync? What about auto update patches and the thousands of applications available for Windows? I really want to know… is it THAT cool?

  20. gregr Post author

    BC, you’re making the assumption that Mac users live in the dark ages in terms of things like integration, connectivity, synchronization, etc. I can tell you that that’s not the case. Believe it or not, I’m typing this on a Mac, and I’m even connected to the network! ;-) And my mail and calendar apps talk to each other. They even sync with my phone.

    And on the software side, what do YOU use every day? I’m guessing it’s software like Office, Outlook, things like that. They all exist in some form on the Mac. Photoshop? Check. It’s not as bad and unsupported over here as many Windows folks assume.

  21. Guntis

    BC, Macs have many really good apps which are only for Macs. For example, Keynote (iWork suite) for presentations. PowerPoint is a baby comparing to Keynote! And iWork suite costs 1/5 of the MS Office price. And I think Macs have far less sync issues than Windows. When a few years ago I saw how my boss tried to pair his mobile to his Dell laptop and then configured ports to sync them, I was horrified! On my Mac I just clik on “Set up Bluetoth Device”, find it, pair, then sync with iSync. Much easier. Plug in USB printer and … it just appears in the printer list, ready to print. No need to install drivers. Maybe that’s not the case for the brand new models, but if you happen to have any 1-2 years old printer, this is how it goes. Problems? Yes, in 4 years I had a few, but those were minor. Few visits to Apple forums and they were solved. So…

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  24. Brad Jasper


    I had a similar experience a few years back. I was a long time PC user who never gave Mac’s a chance.

    I finally decided to take the plunge and I’ll never go back.

    Sure, Mac’s have their set of problems–they’re just much less frequent and annoying than in my PC days.

    I found the Mac community was very passionate and willing to help switchers get to know their Mac’s.

    Good luck with your endeavor.

    – Brad

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  28. Eugene

    Very nice post! The story is quite similar to mine. For myself I figured out that PCs are mostly for those guys who love work with computer, spend hours playing with settings etc, and Macs are for those who use computers for something else – to get a result in their work or hobby, be it a photo, blogging etc.

  29. Glenn

    “Chris: I love shiny marketing pages as much as the next guy, but didn’t find the answers I was looking for. Got any white-papers or case studies? And you don’t get to claim UNIX as a Mac network, sorry.”

    Curious L.: Sure he can! As per Apple’s website:

    Leopard is an Open Brand UNIX 03 Registered Product, conforming to the SUSv3 and POSIX 1003.1 specifications for the C API, Shell Utilities, and Threads. Since Leopard can compile and run all your existing UNIX code, you can deploy it in environments that demand full conformance — complete with hooks to maintain compatibility with existing software.

    Mac OS X Leopard *is* UNIX.

  30. KBG

    Great piece. My thoughts exactly when I became a former Windows user, ie “Switcher”. It truly is a completely different life and I’m so glad I’m apart of the Mac family and welcome to you too! camxso


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