From PC to Mac: my opinion, 10-months later

From PC to Mac: my opinion, 10-months later

Summary: 10 months ago, I bought a Mac after 15 years of Windows usage! Did I "switch" permanently, sell the Mac, or something else altogether? The answer awaits herein...

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Last year, I decided to take the plunge into the world of OS X (as well as iOS, for that matter). It's hard to believe that it's been 10 months already, but I figure it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty with an update.

I love how passionate users are about their operating systems, but for all of you OS X users who hoped to see me "switch" after ~3-4 months, I'm sorry to say that I still prefer Windows 7; HOWEVER, don't go lambasting me in the comments just yet! The reason I haven't "switched" has everything to do with why I bought a Mac in the first place: to learn a new skill set.

As my regular readership knows, I am not exactly a fan of brand loyalty, because I feel that such a mentality sells people short on products they might enjoy (see: Thank you Microsoft, Apple, and Google). Instead, I'm an advocate of a much more flexible philosophy: use what works for you. And that's exactly what I do.

Now, 10 months later, here are the things I use my MacBook Air for:

iOS development: As I recently wrote about, I've decided to learn mobile development -- specifically, iOS. At the moment, my MacBook Air is the tool for this job. This isn't a decision I saw coming when I purchased the device, but when I did make it, I already had the right tool for the job.

Writing: Most of my writing is done on my MacBook Air. It took me a while to get used to its keyboard layout and all of the multi-key shortcuts needed to perform tasks that only require one key on a PC (such as the delete key), but, overall, I quite enjoy writing on it -- which is good, considering how much I write.

Traveling: Prior to my MacBook Air, I took my Alienware m11x with me everywhere I went -- primarily, due to its gaming power. Now, when I travel, I rarely engage in PC gaming, so handing over the travel duties to my MacBook Air is a no-brainer. It's lightweight, compact, and plays home to the two most important facets of my work-related life: writing and mobile development.

Ladies: I enjoy walking around with it to impress the ladies.

Though I've long-since adapted to most of the differences between OS X and Windows, it was incredibly frustrating initially -- so much so, that I even considered returning my Mac. But, I persevered, and now, a long-time Windows-user friend of mine is going through many of the same tribulations. As such, I was reminded of the very first application I purchased for my Mac: Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X.

Basically, this little wonder allows you to read/write/modify NTFS partitions (the file system used by Windows in NT, 2000, XP, Vista, and 7). That means you'll be able to freely move data between Windows and OS X. As a word of caution, I should also note that I've seen a number of complaints from people attempting to use Paragon's software; however, my experiences have been 100% painless using it on OS X Lion, but your mileage may vary.

Anyway, I still use PC for gaming, research, browsing, video editing, and far more. There are just too many applications I use for those purposes that are PC-only. The right tool for the job; that's what I'm an advocate of. Why focus on completely "switching" if you don't feel it's necessary to do as such? I was open to the possibility, but I had a feeling the end result would be just as it is: me, a PC user and a Mac user. (And for what it's worth, my phone is an Android-powered device.)

All-in-all, the venture was well-worth the price -- but that's taking largely into consideration the fact that I've recently gotten into iOS development. If you're looking to "switch" completely, I think it would be worth the price, but again, there are many ways I use Windows that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to on any other OS, so be sure to take that into consideration before you take the leap.

Is anyone else out there a fan of simply using what works for them, and not just what works within what a particular brand has to offer? Alternately, have you ever tried to "switch" from PC to Mac, or vice versa? Let me know your thoughts/experiences in the comments below!

-Stephen Chapman

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Topics: iPad, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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134 comments
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  • It is quite alright to like or use more than one OS

    I've been working with computers since 1973. I just love them in every way. I used DOS since v1 and Windows since v3. I used Linux for quite some time and I was the President of a group that received old computers, installed Linux and then gave those away to people in need or community groups. About the same time as you, I changed to OS X on an iMac. As well, I run Windows 7 and Linux on my iMac through Parallels. In my opinion, and I stress that this is merely my opinion based on my experiences, my iMac is singularly the best computer that I have ever owned. Others will say something different, and if that is there experience, then that is alright.

    The critical issue is that we each have differing needs and differing experiences and it is quite alright to chose a computer, OS and associated software that best meets our individual needs. This is one reason why I have little tolerance for flame-baiting idiots who want to try to prove to the world that their preferred OS is the best for everyone. It is, at best, infantile and certainly the sign of an extremely immature mind.

    But to you, Stephen, I say, "Good on you for having a go at something different". It is a pity that many others posters on these fora are not as opened minded.
    Wakemewhentrollsgone
    • My question would be

      What is better on OS X than on Windows? If what he's using on OS X is just as good as Windows and there are things Windows does that OS X's programs do not then why have both? He does mention iOS development and so that makes sense. But how many users are actually developing mobile apps? Why is writing better on OS X than on Windows?

      I don't understand the desire to use both OS X and Windows just for the sake of it. If OS X does everything you need and some of the more important items are better on OS X then by all means you should use it. But if a couple of the things you use your computer for are the same as Windows but you still need Windows to get other work done why wouldn't you just use Windows?

      That goes for Linux too. If Linux does everything you need then by all means use it. But I don't understand why you'd use Linux if it only does a portion of what you need and those things aren't substantially better than on Windows. Why the insistence on a split computing experience? Everything I need is on Windows and the items that are most important are better on Windows so that's what I use.
      LiquidLearner
      • Cost issues.

        I think he would do a lot more with his Mac if not for the prohibitive cost of Apple proprietary software.
        spiceyweasel
      • All depends...

        Computers are like a hobby for me, I am primarily a chemist and haven't got enough free time to devot to keeping up with the computer world. I am in the Windows environment because I prefer that an d build my own computers. I have Linux and Unix at home but never found the time to learn them or see what they could actually. I had even considered tying out Apple's OS but again no time. (However every time I have had an opportunity to use an Apple product I found it to be a general pain). Anyway, the only reason I would even install other OS's is just for curiosity and expanding my computer knowledge. And maybe when I retire (if ever) I will have the time to do that and even to learn a few computer programs. At one time I even started teaching myself assembly language (x86 days).
        I always like to understand how what I am using works and be able to customize it.
        Romas27
      • An Answer

        >Why the insistence on a split computing experience? Everything I need is
        >on Windows and the items that are most important are better on
        >Windows so that's what I use.

        By virtue of the fact that you only use Windows everything you do can be done in Windows. That doesn't mean everything you ever wanted to do could be done in Windows. When switching to or evaluating a different platform there is a need to examine one's goals and the platform's capabilities and one may discover better ways of doing things, things they abandoned trying to do or settled on inferior solutions for, or things they didn't know could even be done. It's just like programming languages; when many learn a new language they simply try to program language X like it's language Y. Taking the time to learn the unique features and design philosophy of language X may open up new ways of doing things that surpass what was available before.
        jgm@...
      • @jgm

        I never said I haven't/don't use OS X. I've used it, I've supported it. I'm just not a huge fan of it. Nothing about OS X made things easier and in many instances made it harder. I'm not saying that is the case for everyone.

        You completely ignored my major point though. Why would you use two OSes when one can give you everything you need and there aren't any significant advantages to using both?
        LiquidLearner
      • @LiquidLearner

        In the exclusive scenario you've set up, there is no reason to use a second OS when the first does everything with no "significant" disadvantage.

        However, that's not the case. For example, 3 years ago I was using Windows XP. In simple day to day usage I would notice my AV catching a fairly large number of hits from malware/viruses/etc. (my own example, not bashing anyone). All the apps I had installed worked fine, though a bit slow at times. There wasn't anything I knew of that I could not do with Windows. I primarily switched because my machine, though labelled as Vista compatible by the tool provided by MS, wasn't AS Vista compatible as I would prefer.
        Once I switched to Ubuntu, I noticed my machine running more quickly. I did a quick search for Linux A/V (Like any good Windows user, I wanted to protect myself from viruses). Though I found a fair number, I also found that they weren't really necessary. I installed one but didn't find anything. Still haven't after 3 years.
        You may be wondering by now what I do with Linux that's significantly better than on Windows. Maintenance.
        While you wouldn't notice just how much less time you spend maintaining your system if you only used Linux a small percentage of the day, it would begin to become very obvious if you used Linux a more significant portion of your time on any public network.
        For others, using Linux may not be an option but for myself, the lowered maintenance workload is a very significant improvement on my day to day life.
        tmsbrdrs
      • Right tool for the job, regardless of platform

        It's all about using the best tool for any individual job. If your computing experiences are really that "separate", perhaps you should consider moving more things to the cloud? (or networked server/device)

        I prefer the PC for heavy word processing. I find the keyboard shortcuts for very general text manipulation to be much faster and easier than the Mac allows. I generally prefer the Mac for browsing, not just because it's a safer, more malware-free experience but because the instant-on of my Mac laptop compared to my Windows 7 laptop makes it more enjoyable to reach for. Firefox syncs my browsing history and bookmarks to all of my computers, so I'm free to use any computer I happen to reach for at any given moment.

        I use Thunderbird for email and have my mail on IMAP servers so the email experience is pretty close on both systems.

        I prefer to host my iTunes library on an iMac at home, and sync my iPhone and iPad to that library, because it's the most stable experience and means I don't have to leave iTunes running all the time on my PC.

        I usually use my Mac laptop for consulting and troubleshooting, but I also carry a Windows laptop for working with clients in a Windows environment where I need access to Windows apps. (At some point I'll get around to setting up a Windows partition but at the moment I prefer having dedicated machines.) For more general needs, the interface to deal with network configuration is easier and faster on the Mac, so unless I need to interact directly with a Windows server management snap-in, more general networking tasks are faster and easier on the Mac laptop.

        I have a large desktop PC with multiple large monitors used for CAD applications that are Windows-only. Said desktop PC ends up being my default Photoshop machine as well, simply because of the screen real estate, else I'd rather do it on a Mac but don't feel strongly enough about it to invest in a Mac Pro and more large monitors (or high end KVM).

        I spend more professional hours on the PC, but more personal hours on the Mac (yet there is cross-over in both directions).

        Right tool for the job. There are things that Windows just doesn't do as well, or as comfortably, as the Mac, and there are things that Macs don't do as well as Windows. Both OS's have shortcomings that the other can compliment nicely. I'm happy that I have the means to use both, so I can select the best tool for the job at any given time.
        kalani@...
      • @spiceyweasel

        Cost prohibitive due to proprietary software? Have you ever looked at the cost of software for a Mac? Almost a year ago I replaced my Windows laptop with a MacBook Pro to see how much I liked it. One of my concerns was all the Win software I had that I would need to replace but I quickly found that not to be an issue. Apart from the cost of Adobe CS which I was going to upgrade anyway it has been cheaper for me to run OSX than Windows from a software standpoint. About 4 months after getting the MBP my home desktop died and due to my experience with the MBP it was a no brainer to replace the Win desktop with an iMac. After using my iMac for a bit my wife decided she wanted to to replace her Win laptop and netbook with a MacBook Air. I even found a deal on a MacMini to be our living room media server and we have not looked back since. I have nothing what so ever against Windows and use it daily for work but overall my experience with all of our Macs has been better than the experience I have had with any of the Win systems I have had. One thing I find very humerus about he cost comment is that anything I buy on the Mac App store (which is extremely cost effective) is licensed for all my Macs (up to 5 if I recall correctly).
        non-biased
    • Been there done that

      I was in a similar position five years ago. A Custom Gaming PC running Vista, and an aging HP Laptop on Win XP, I thought there has to be something better then Vista on a laptop, and a better design. I worked in a second hand store so got to play with a Macbook Pro every now and then - such an awesome experience. So, I took the plunge and bought a Macbook 13" in Black. Best laptop I've owned, more reliable then my own system (no down-time - always worked and in the best style too!).

      Unlike most other folk I was never sold on the iPhone, and I guess that was part of what pushed me away. Apple's closed eco-system was becoming claustrophobic (look out for upcoming versions of OSX to see what I mean) and their "do-it my way or the highway" approach annoyed me. I don't want or need an iPad, but I do want a tablet (confused ? Well I'd rather a multi-function device, Apple don't do one, and they won't until they see $$$ to do so).

      So, much as I love my Macbook, I sold it on eBay last week after 4.5 years valiant use and bought a Asus Transformer Prime, not as capable as that or a modern Macbook Pro, but suitable for my needs - Email, Facebook, light gaming, doing most things I don't need the power of a Quad-Core gaming PC to do. Also, a hacked eReader which Apple haven't ventured into as yet, and with an Android mobile I purchased 2 years back, all 3 work well together. Maybe it's not the solution for you, but it's working well for me and that's what's important isn't it ?
      Graham Klerks
      • Re: Been there done that

        May I suggest a Modbook Pro or a Modbook (https://www.macworld.com/article/1137878/mwvodcast86.html), which is a modified Macbook with a Wacom digitizer and Parallels Desktop as well. It will run both OSX and Windows 7 at the same time. It is a fully capable and powerful tablet PC, not a tablet (pseudo computer) device.
        Kieron Seymour-Howell
  • Mac a relatively poor gaming option

    I'd be interested in an expansion on "there are many ways I use Windows that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to on any other OS".

    Personally I require Unix, making the choice a no brainer.
    Richard Flude
    • I'm PC gamer

      I think the landscape is changing, more and more game are being released with a Mac version. You won't see them on store shelves but who buys games from brick and mortar store anymore? Steam for Mac has tons of game, Windows still has more but it wasn't that long ago there was not Steam for the Mac at all.
      voska1
      • You have to remember though

        on a Mac the same game, say Diablo 3, will have substantially worse performance under OS X than on Windows on identical hardware. Sometimes as bad as 50% of the framerate. That's a fairly large gap. Until OpenGL is actually competitive with DirectX then Windows will remain the gaming platform of choice.

        Of course I really wish OpenGL were more competitive as it would drive development of both platforms.
        LiquidLearner
      • they still exist?!

        no, but seriously, that's semi-great news. It's great to hear steam is offering games for Mac now, it's not so great however they've likely decided to shove their DRM crap in with it though. I hate games that require you to be online to play so it can "check in" and make sure it's legit. being on a dialup connection myself, it bothers me a great deal.

        @LL
        you should consider having more RAM in your Mac system then, because from what I've seen the opposite is true. I'm running an older G4 based eMac, and Neverwinter Nights & Diablo 2, run a good deal better then on my Windows laptop...with the same amount of RAM and much slower processor speed(eMac:1.25ghz single core, Laptop:1.6ghz dual-core) and one less core :P the main difference between OpenGL and DX, isn't really quality. it's what Microsoft has convinced game makers is the better standard. I'm sure you've seen as I, and many others have seen, OpenGL can more the compete graphically, and almost never crash. I've seen one instance personally, and it was just a crappy video driver(ati 9200) version. You have to ask yourself though: what are they more likely to use, DX which is backed by a multi-billion dollar company, or OpenGL which is backed by a ragtag team of programmers, who just do it in their free time? It's a sad truth, but it is what it is. Naturally they go where the money is. . .now if they'd just use some of the money to actually support their product. . .that's a rant for another time though ;)
        sir_cheats_alot@...
      • @LiquidLearner

        You have it half right. It's not OpenGL that isn't competitive. If you've played any games programmed directly for OpenGL, you'd notice they can be quite beautiful and have extremely good framerates. The problem tends more towards the inability of many game developers to develop for OpenGL properly. DirectX runs on Windows only and, since there are more Windows computers available currently, developers tend to program with them in mind.
        tmsbrdrs
  • Fair article

    I know both Mac and PC well. I have both and have supported both for years. Macs are great for web development and graphic design. All my developers and designers have overwhelmingly demanded macs as their machine of choice. From a support standpoint, there is a significant less concern over viruses and we've slowly begun to replace our pcs with macs for just users who need Internet and word/excel. There is a lot more software for pcs and server or active directory management pretty much require a Pc. Outlook works 10 times better on a Pc and calendar management is also better on a Pc. I've always preferred drive mappings over mounts.

    I switched my parents to a Mac recently because I needed the piece of mind. They click on everything and I felt safer with them on a Mac.
    cesardlg@...
    • Added security for the Mac

      Sophos anti-virus for mac home edition. It is free so nothing lost and a little more security is never bad.

      Just beware. Some reports on problems in Lion and Sophos v8.0.1c.
      wackoae
      • Unfortunately, "a little more security" is bad, as it becomes part of many

        ... more little additions to the system that all together make it crawl.

        For Macintosh, anti-viruses, for now, make no sense. Not a single one could prevent your Macintosh from getting infected from poorly-secured third-party software such as Java -- as in the significant case of trojan/malware spread via crooked Internet sites month ago showed. Obviously, you would never get infected if you only visit reliable sites, not those the link to which promises nonsensical Flash update, but still anti-viruses proved to be useless.

        So the only thing that makes sense on Macintoshes now is keeping autoupdates for Java, Flash, OS itself on.
        DDERSSS
      • The autoupdate for Java

        is controlled as part of OS X updates. Flash too. So you can't enable them to update on their own. Java was fixed for over 3 months before Apple got around to releasing a patch.

        Way to try to spin it though.
        LiquidLearner