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Five Months with a Mac

Posted in Uncategorized by Alan Keister on May 8, 2007

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.

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11 Responses

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  1. Tom said, on May 9, 2007 at 11:18 am

    I can help with that last part. Just leave your mac around unattended. I’d be happy to force that decision on you. Go Mac! ;)

  2. Chris Bowman said, on May 10, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    There are two measures of reliability, of which you only touch on one.

    Obviously there is hardware reliability, and again obviously some Macs have issues here. My two Macs have been fine, but so have my four PCs.

    The other reliability measure is in stability in running apps. Here there is a BIG difference. I think in five years of owning Macs, and using them on a daily basis, they have crashed maybe a dozen times. My PCs? God, don’t get me started, probably thousands.

    Admittedly I am a developer and tend to push the machines, but there is no comparison between the two platforms when it comes to stability.

    Linux also shafts Windows in this respect. Probably even better than Macs.

  3. Alan Keister said, on May 10, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    I don’t have any numbers about software reliability. In my five months of experience, the Mac has been the same or a little worse than Windows XP. I get app hangs, OS hangs, long beach ball pauses and a few OS crashes. I wouldn’t tell anyone it is more reliable.

  4. Top Posts « WordPress.com said, on May 10, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    [...] 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 […] [...]

  5. Adam said, on May 14, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    You didn’t even mention boot camp. Native running of windows is better than running in a virtual environment but boot camp lets you do that just fine, so you really do get a native windows machine too. In fact I’m using Windows Vista Ultimate as my primary OS on my macbookpro, mainly do to the poor instant messenger support on the mac platform. I use aim 6.1, yahoo 8.1 w/ ytunnelpro and myspace im on windows vista just great. But i have also tried different games, Microsoft office 2007 etc. In fact The windows vista performance scoring gave me a higher score than most of my friends PC’s scored on it. But I do have a highly tuned and upgraded macbook pro with 7200rpm 160 gig drive, 2 gigs of ram, and 2.16ghz Core Duo processor (mines a first gen macbook pro, so using vista 32 bit on the 32 bit core duo, makes me wonder how the 64-bit core 2’s do).

  6. Dave said, on May 14, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    MacPro, 8gbRam,512 video card, 4 sata drives,dual ethernet, wireless, bluetooth, quad 3.0 processors, multi OS boot capable and 23inch HD Display worked out to be 800.00 less than a Dell with as close as possible specs. Sorry I went with the cheaper Apple product

  7. Dave said, on May 14, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Forgot, Xp and Vista installed without error or hesitation, and all drivers loaded and my old printer works like a charm.

  8. Alan Keister said, on May 15, 2007 at 10:10 am

    I admit I haven’t tried running Windows in Bootcamp, only in Parallels. I may get the best of both worlds buy using the Macbook Pro hardware and run windows as my primary OS. I suspect this will make for a very nice Windows machine. Most of my post was about Mac OS X and I stand by my opinions.

  9. Frank Keeney said, on May 16, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Loving Parallels on my MBP, I took a chance and just installed BootCamp on a MacPro with XP… the latest beta of Bootcamp (the process et al) was actually quite smooth. It’s running dual monitors and actually installed (as a test) the ActiveSync package that came with my Treo 750… worked like a charm. But I always seem to come back to the Mac side of it all…

  10. David Park said, on September 18, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    I agree with your assessment Alan. I think people get way too religious when it comes to Windows vs Macs. I’ve been a PC user for years and tried to switch over to a Mac and didn’t find it that much easier to use. It really depends on what you are used to. Macs had their own idiosyncrasies that only Mac lovers would appreciate. As for OS/App reliability, my Mac crashed within the first week of use and had to be swapped out completely. This was way too much hassle and I just went back to my trusty Thinkpad with XP Prof. Still, my next machine is probably going to be a Mac and I’m going to really try to stick with it this time.

  11. East Texas said, on January 9, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Windows XP Pro wins for Web Dev. use Dreamweaver/Flash/Photoshop for the Mac is behind their Windows counter parts. I have thought about coming back to a Mac, but I just love CorelDRAW too much to do… My Shuttle XPC at home is Adobe free and I love it. I use Foxit PDF Reader & a PDF printer; both are free 8)


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