I started using a personal computer in 1982. It’s now 2006, and for the majority of the past 24 years I’ve used computers running some version of Microsoft Windows. My first experience with Windows started with version 3.0, then 3.1, WfW, 95, 98, 98SE, ME, 2000 and XP. On the server side I’ve used Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Server 2003. I have also been a Microsoft Office trainer, hold a Microsft Office Specialist certification and have even been a technical writer for Microsoft. Professionally, I’m currently responsible for managing a Windows network that encompasses 6 Windows servers and around 300 Windows XP workstations. You could say that I have invested a good deal of time and energy into Microsoft products over the years.
So when the time came recently to buy myself a new computer, it may seem surprising that I bought myself a Mac. Yes, a Mac.
It’s not my first Apple. I started my love affair with personal computers on an old Apple IIe, back in the day when if you wanted your computer to do anything useful you often had to write the software yourself. I also had an old Mac SE30 that I used to just love working with, and even an LC575 back in the old System 7 days. But that was ages ago, and I’ve pretty been in a Windows world now for the past 15 or so years.
So, after all this time, why another Mac? Because when the time came to fork out the hard earned cash to by a new machine I wanted to best computer I could get. I wanted great performance, rock solid stability and value for money. Do the research and you will probably come to the same conclusion. For me, it had to be a Mac.
The decision to switch was not taken lightly. I put a lot of thought into my decision to be a “Switcher”, as Apple calls us. I had a great deal invested into the Windows platform, both time and money. All of my software was for Windows, all of my expertise was in Windows, and to be honest, I was comfortable in Windows.
What I wasn’t comfortable with was the endless stream of viruses and malware that seemed to be attacking the Windows platform on an almost daily basis. I wasn’t comfortable with the inordinate amount of time I seemed to be spending maintaining my computer just I could use it to be “productive”. I wasn’t too comfortable with the way every Windows machine I ever used just seemed to slow down over time, to become more and more sluggish until it ground to a useless halt and the only solution was to reinstall the OS. I was very uncomfortable with system freezes, application crashes, and a system that clearly was not able to cope with the not-unreasonable demands I was expecting from it.
There is an old joke about a dog laying on a wooden verandah floor, howling in pain every few minutes. A man comes by and asks the dog’s owner, “Your dog appear to be in pain. What’s wrong with him?” The owner explains that the dog is laying on a nail which is sticking out of the floor. The man then asks the obvious question, “Why doesn’t he get up and move?” The owner replies, I guess the pain just ain’t bad enough yet.”
For me, the pain of Windows just got too bad. It was time to get up and move.
I made a list of all the things I used my computer to do – from basic word processing, to video editing, to webpage development. I admit, I like trying new software applications and I had a lot of applications on my hard drive, some I only used occasionally and others i used all the time. I listed the tasks – not necessarily the actual applications – that I used a lot and then started to research what alternatives existed in the Mac world. For the tasks that I use my computer for, there was not a single application that did not have a Mac replacement that wasn’t equivalent or better than wat I currently had under Windows.
To be fair, the Mac version of MSN Messenger, which I used a lot, was greatly watered down compared to its Windows cousin. iChat looked great, but most of my friends use Windows so it was not greatly usful to me. Skype was good on the Mac, but lacking live video like the Windows version. Other than that, I had alternatives for just about everything else I needed.
I spent ages looking through the Mac OS X tutorials on the Apple website. I use my computer a lot and I wanted to to be totally sure a Mac would work for me. Would I like the new interface? Could I deal with the Dock? The switch to a new user interface for a new operating system seemed like such a big deal! I had Macs before and really liked them, so I don’t know what I was worried about, but I was. I think it was all about having so much history tied up in the Windows OS I knew so well that the decision to switch seemed so much more important that it ought to have been. I’m sure that’s what keeps many Windows users where they are… the fear of the unknown and the new.
Logically, I couldn’t help thinking that if the Mac OS was anywhere near as good as the user experience I had been enjoying with iTunes and my iPod, then it would have to be pretty good. I mean, if Apple could do such an amazing job with those two things, then why should OS X be any different.
Still, I vaccilated on the desicion. I went to the Apple Store online so many times, loading up my shopping cart with the newest MacBook Pro, only to hesitate when it came to clicking the buy button. I just wasn’t sure that I could throw away everything that I’d worked with over the past 15 years. I watched the videocasts from Mac World and listened to Steve Jobs go through all the cool new features of the current models. I read article after article, blog after blog, review after review, but I just wasn’t quite sure I was ready to finally let go of that Windows lifeline and officially become a “Switcher”…
And then a wonderful thing happened. My Acer Tablet PC broke. Now I had to get a new computer, so I bit the bullet and did it. I bought a MacBook Pro.
That was about six months ago, and all I can say is why did I wait so damn long! When I sat down to write this I was going to make a list of the five things I liked most about my Mac and the five things I liked least. You know what? I can’t even think of five things I don’t like about my Mac. I can’t even think of one thing I don’t like. To me it is, without argument, the best computer I have ever owned. It does everything I could have asked for, and more. The interface, the user experience, of Mac OS X is so far ahead of anything else I’ve used, there is no competiton. It’s sleek and sexy on the outside, it’s an absolute joy to use on the inside, and the stability of its Unix heritage under the hood makes it, for me, the perfect computer.
I feel like I finally have a computer that works the way I work. I don’t have to think about how to make it do stuff, it just does it. It doesn’t fall over, it doesn’t crash, it doesn’t require me to be “the computer guy” the keep it running, it doesn’t need to be restarted all the time or to be updated all the time, it’s fast and stable, it lets me do all the things I like to use my computer for.
To use a well worn Apple cliche, it just works. Thanks Apple.