My Switch to Mac: Part 2, Operating System

Posted by Minnaar Pieters 09 Dec 2008
Mac desktop
First off: I am not partial to Mac. I actually like Windows very much, even Vista. In fact, I love Vista. Yes it might be slower than XP, but give it enough hardware to work with and it is actually a absolute pleasure to use. I have used it since it was released to developers as a Beta, and I have never looked back. But recently I purchased a new macbook, primarily for the hardware. I just believe Apple machines are better built and look really good. It might sound shallow, but for someone who works on a computer 10+ hours a day, I really dont want to vommit on my keyboard because my computer is so ugly. Case in point - my other machine is a Lenovo Thinkpad Z61m with 4gig ram and a decent fast Core 2 Duo processor. It goes like stink, but looks distinctly ugly. In fact a few people have asked me why I work on such a old computer, even when it was a month old. Doesnt say much.

But back to Mac OSX. I have used it for about a month now. First impressions - its fast. Much faster than Windows. Things actually react pretty quickly, boot up is quick and there is just a absolute feeling of speed, even with 2Gig RAM. Menus react quickly, pop ups occur instantaneously. Multitasking is much smoother - but my biggest issue with OS X is little niggles in the interface that a switcher has to get used to.

First off, closing something doesnt actually close it. You have to manually stop it by quitting. I find it a little quaint, and no, I believe it is a stupid principle to have everything running all the time in the background. Apple really has to identify this as a key issue for switchers.

The dock sometimes also doesnt always make complete sense. Some apps can be restored on screen by clicking its app icon, others you have to actually click on the window on the right side of the dock. I would like more consistency.

Also, the menu bar on the top takes some getting used to. I suppose it is not a worse system, but it can be difficult to use at first for a switcher.

However, most of these issues are negated by other great little features. Something as simple as expose makes a giant difference to yor workflow. Windows Flip 3D is eye candy, but doesnt actually carry much use. Expose is a much better system. Take notes Microsoft.

Unfortunately for Apple, most technical users cant be a complete Mac user in this day and age. I had to get VMWare Fusion, because there are too many apps I cant move away from.I had to install a XP virtual machine, because Vista was really sluggish. Even something as boring as Office 2007 is unparalleled on the Mac platform. I also run Office for Mac 2008, but it is absolutely shocking compared to 2007. Never thought I would say it, but I really miss the ribbon interface. I actually find myself opening most documents through the Windows version of Office. I would actually like to dabble with iWork, maybe its better than Office for Mac. In fact, I even think that OpenOffice will be better than Office for Mac.

If Apple is smart, they would consider making VM a built in feature of Mac OSX Snow Leopard. VMWare and Parallels is currently probably selling like hotcakes.

Overall I am very happy with the shift, but I am most definately not going to make a complete shift to Mac. VMWare is still my friend, and I will definately upgrade to a Vista or Windows 7 machine as soon as I can get 4 gig DDR3 memory. Laptop DDR3 memory is really expensive, so that will have to wait.

I find Mac OSX a very good OS, and I am sure it is a much better OS for someone new to computers. In fact, I wish my parents had a Mac, maybe I would get less tech related calls. I will revisit this topic over time, but for now I am not yet completely sold, but luckily I love trying out new software, so maybe over time I will change my tune.
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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.