Five Months with a Mac
This is a follow up to a few posts I made in Dec about switching to a Mac. I believe I have enough experience now to give a different perspective than I could then. My primary machine has been this Macbook Pro for five months. I can’t say I haven’t looked back because I have. There are some things I like about the Mac and some things I like better about Windows. When I compare to Windows, I am referring to Windows XP. I have not tried Windows Vista yet.
Do I recommend a Mac over Windows?
A lot of people have asked me if I recommend switching to a Mac over Windows. My answer is “it depends“.
If you are a developer or UI designer, “yes“. But even this needs some qualification. I recommend Mac’s for web developers. They can take full advantage of BSD Linux under the covers on a Mac. That is sweet! Web developers can also run Windows within Parallels to test with IE. Running Windows in Parallels is good but not really the same as having a dedicated machine running windows only.
If you are a novice user at home, yes, I would recommend Mac because it is a bit of a smoother experience overall. Applications on the Mac have a very consistent look and feel where Windows is more random. On the other hand, you will have more trouble finding help from someone if you need it … and you will need as much help with the Mac as Windows. With the number of times I have to kill run-away processes or fix some weird hardware problem, I am surprised most people are able to Mac or Windows themselves.
If you have a non-technical job in an Enterprise, “no“, stick with Windows. You are probably using MS Office and Outlook. These are Microsoft products and and they work much better on Windows than Mac. Outlook doesn’t exist on the Mac so you will either have to use Entourage for Calendar and Email or separate programs for each on a Mac. Entourage is NOT a good calendaring program. Outlook wins hands down for Calendar and is a good email client too.
Reliability is no better than Windows. I think I have been around too many people who just love Apple products because of the brand image. I had been lead to believe Macs are more reliable and better in every way than Windows. In my experience, they are about the same and maybe a little worse in reliability. Consumer Reports recently ranked Apple laptops below Sony, IBM, Compaq, Dell, and Toshiba in repair history. But Apple did have the fewest repairs of all leading Desktop manufacturers. Both Apple laptops and desktops are twice as expensive as the Windows equivalents in this same report.
Usability is a little better. OK I haven’t done a scientific study on this. Mac may be earier to learn for a novice because it is more consistent across applications. There are some aspects of the Mac that drive me nuts. Heavy editing is a pain on my Macbook Pro compared to my Dell laptop. The keyboard (hardware) and the key combinations (software) are both cumbersome. Sometimes I start typing and realize I have been modifying a window underneath the one I am looking at.
Hardware and peripherals work much better on a Mac .. until you try to print. Camera, mice, bluetooth, and wifi all work perfectly on the Mac. Bluetooth is almost unusable on Windows. It actually works pretty well on my Mac. I can connect to my phone and sync my address book. Unfortunately, I can’t sync pictures or copy them from my phone as I can on Windows. But it did take me close to a day to figure this out on Windows. Printing is a different story. Finding drivers for your old printer might not be possible. Printing to a network printer can be a pain to set up.
In conclusion, I like my Mac mostly for the brilliant hardware. I also like it as a developer for all it’s flexibility. But I don’t like it as a member of a MS Exchange based enterprise. Am I going to switch back to Windows? Not any time soon. But if my mac was lost or stolen, I would have a hard time deciding if I should get another one.