The Mac mini transition week four: Saying goodbye to Windows isn't easy

The Mac mini transition week four: Saying goodbye to Windows isn't easy

Summary: Saying goodbye to Windows is harder than you think. Four weeks with a Mac has made me change my habits and the way I view the personal computer. But it hasn't made me leave Windows.


For many years, I've wondered what the whole Apple mystique was about. The Mac-addicted vehemently defend Apple, its products, and their right to use them at home, at work, at school, and in public. I'd be more afraid of Apple zealotry if I thought their sandals could outrun my tennis shoes or if their Priuses could outrun my Cube.  Don't get me wrong, I like my iPhone and I like my iPad but I can't say that I'm in love with them or obsessed by them either. I also can't say that I'm in love with the Mac mini. I like it but that's it. I like it. So, for me, the Mac/Apple obsession is still somewhat of a mystery. It's a computer. Nothing more.

Becoming consumed and obsessed by any man-made object is a little bit of a strange concept for me to wrap my head around. Fanboys, and fangirls, get carried away by gadgets and technology.

Read more

Apple CEO Tim Cook's media tour: 5 takeaways

Apple CEO Tim Cook's media tour: 5 takeaways

Apple under Tim Cook is more approachable, transparent and potentially collaborative. Will that be enough without a new product category?

And it isn't just Mac people.

Mac people might be the least violent, although they do defend their products and Apple at high volume and with much sound and fury. But, in the end, their generally harmless.

Linux zealots, on the other hand, are vile creatures* from another lagoon. I should know—I once joined them in their rants and anti-Windows tirades. I became one of those prideful Linux soldiers who wanted to defend his cause to the end, that is, until one day when I heard my own words reflected back at me during a coworker lunch conversation.

One of my disciples zapped another coworker with one of my now-famous lines** to destroy the wills of the followers of Windows. I heard him with third-party ears. I was outside myself for a moment when I heard those words. Admittedly, I was more than a little embarrassed over it.

From that point onwards, I never (OK, almost never) busted anyone's chops again for his or her operating system choice. Occasionally, there would be some poor soul within earshot who got blasted more for his social ineptitude than for his choice of operating system. I know that I shouldn't taunt the socially challenged but often it's fun to bring them out of their mental basements and into the light of the real world. Yes, I feel like it's my job to do that.

Yeah, I know, I digressed. Seems to be a habit of mine.

My point, in case you can't deduce it for yourself, is that your phone is just a phone. Your computer is just a computer. Your operating system is a lifestyle choice—just kidding—it's just an operating system. There is no single right answer.

You like Apple. I like Windows. Someone sitting next to you likes Linux.

There's no need nor is there a place for a technology superiority complex.

Windows is a great operating system. Linux is a great operating system. Mac OS X is a great operating system. There are no losers in the OS game. They are all pretty much the same. Each has its advantages and its disadvantages. Although Mac OS X seems to meld both the *nix world with the "Windows" world, there still is no clear winner in the OS wars.

I'm using the Mac mini as my primary workstation and I like it. I still kinda prefer Windows.

Maybe my Mac zealotry will come in time. I don't know.

I don't like sandals and I don't think I'd look good in a ponytail.*** I'm also not fond of the Prius for some reason. Perhaps it's because of that SouthPark episode.

Saying goodbye to Windows isn't easy nor will I do it completely. I can't. After all, I am a Windows Administrator. I couldn't very well abandon it now could I? I certainly can't. And why should I? Windows is like an old friend—you know his flaws but you love him anyway.

My Mac is like a hot, new 22-year-old who has temporary hold of my too-short attention span, but so far, I like what I see. We'll see if there's any depth to it and explore some new possibilities for the two of us. The best part of technology relationships is that I can keep my old friend and make new ones too. I'm excited. It's a new adventure and a whole new world for me. Yeah, it's just a computer. It's just a computer. It's just a computer. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Note: This will be the last of my weekly Mac mini updates. I will keep you posted on my progress, interesting apps, and any problems I have during my ongoing transition. Of course, if you find any cool apps, I'd like to know about them.

*I hope you realize that I'm kidding, but just in case you don't, I am just kidding. Linux zealots aren't particularly vile. Rancid, maybe.

**I have a lot of famous lines but this went something like, "When you Windows guys can run your entire operating system, and I mean entire, as in every single aspect of it, from a command line, then and only then can you compete with Linux."

***Yes, I really believe that all Mac nerds have ponytails and wear sandals. They also all drive a Prius or a Volkswagen bus. OK, so I'm kidding but I bet you know more than one of them, don't you?

Related Stories:

Topics: Apple, Mobility, Operating Systems


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • The Mac users of twenty years ago

    Were probably obsessive Windows loathers. I never was, but Apple cultivated that tribalist feeling, and the faithful responded on cue.

    Nowadays most people with Macs are not Windows haters; I'd wager most are Windows users. I know I am. There's nothing about owning a Mac that says you have to dislike Windows or even avoid Windows. Indeed Macs are great Windows boxes; they run it very well natively (Boot Camp), and probably one of the best VM environments there are (Parallels.)

    if you want to be more like the rest of us Mac users Ken, the idea is not to loathe Windows and start needling people who use it.

    The idea is to install Windows and dual boot it. ;-)
    • This is why Apple won't switch MAC to ARM

      You can't buy Windows RT to install yourself.
  • Fun series

    I, too, count myself as one who likes Windows a lot better than Mac. I used it for a year and went back to Windows when 8 came out. I really like the touch screen and no, I haven't developed gorilla arm. Man when you get the ssd these laptops are FAST!
  • How about...

    an article of "gotchas"? In your last article you said something about "thanks to generous vendors" which I'm assuming means you might've gotten free software to make your transition easier. If this isn't the case, apologies, but if it is a) would your statement of not paying too much still apply if you would've had to buy all of that software and b) can you write an article for Joe Average of things to consider before switching? Common apps that they'll have to replace from the Windows world to the Apple world so when they make the decision, they've got a better idea of all the things that may (or may not) change? And maybe things they can do in advance to make the transition easier? I've known a couple of people who've made the change in the past who've been happy, but were unprepared for the true cost of switching.
    • And it might not just be software...

      Obviously soft cost of time "Hey, be patient, it took me 3 weeks", hardware "You really can plug your ten year old Dell USB mouse in, but many upgrade to the new magic mouse" etc. Just seems like while the whole process is fresh in your mind...

      Great series. Glad to see you've become somewhat brand agnostic, I think that adds a lot of value to you as an advisor to the business in your role as a sys admin. If I were your management, I'd feel more comfortable that you're going to chose the best solution to a problem vs. the one you're most comfortable with.
  • Disappointed that there wasn't more about the Mac mini experiences....

    ...and less about "why I'm not/will never be a Mac zealot." But along those lines, it seems that the Mac/PC thing is kind of like David and Goliath. Microsoft has always been Goliath, and Apple, with its measly single-digit market share, David. So it's easy to get somewhat defensive when faced with this humongous corporation that controls the world, and you're the underdog. It sounds, Ken, like you're not turned off by the Mac technically, but more by the Mac "defenders", who, admittedly, are sometimes over the top. Me included. Please---try to ignore us Mac nuts and just enjoy the great combination of hardware and software that is the Mac mini. And let us hear from you a few months from now about how you and the mini are getting on, OK? Thanks.
    • What Mini experience would you have him write?

      I own a Mac's a great system. Love it. What do you want to know about it?
  • Ken...

    I like this idea of yours with trying a new OS that might have a smaller market size. I believe you wrote an article about Windows RT and your son? Why not give that a try next? In my experiences, outside of some desktop games that need a powerful video card, I have found my wife's Surface RT can do anything and everything I need. She currently uses her laptop as storage and to sync her phone as all her music is there. She's had a number of people she works with do double takes and be very interested in her Surface when she goes to meetings, too. I'm waiting to see what the 8" cover will look like before getting one for myself.
  • What is it opposite day?

    Microsoft finally produces a product to win over mobile (since the 2007 debacle), and now is poised to take over the mobile realm. Instead of expanding on the best product with the best integration by switching to windows phone 8 and/or windows RT, you go with a substandard OS that Apple offers on any platform? It was good enough for mobile until Windows Phone 8 came out but now that the gold standard is in place, there is no need to fall back a few decades anymore.
  • Mac owners usually have a Windows machine too.

    It was a surprising statistic that over 85% of Mac users have a Windows PC as well. You are not alone.
    • Probably true

      Again, despite the fact that at dinner sometimes, other techies violently react if it comes up that I have a Mac, I'm not dogmatic about it. I expect most aren't.

      They do neat things. Things that I like. I also have two PCs running Windows. I like what they do too.
  • Had Several

    I've had several Mac's from Mini's to MacBook Air (i5 edition) and I always sold them.

    The biggest draw to the Mac is without a doubt, OS X (really nice, simplistic UI) and that's what kept me wanting another one.

    The reason I sold or returned them all... The Hardware, while nice, was always too slow when compared with my white box PC. I just couldn't get over how slow some stuff ran vs my Desktop PC and Photoshop was significantly faster on my Desktop.

    Of course, I built a Hackintosh and that was quick, because I used my Desktop that was running Windows. The biggest issue, Cannot dual boot Windows 8 so easily so, I switched back. Now I have my Asus G75VW and I can run my software on that so I'll just build a Hackintosh Desktop for that.