Why I switched to a Mac after 20 years of Windows PC

I’ve been a Microsoft Windows fan since 1987 and have used Windows 286, Windows 386, Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 2003 and Windows Vista. As you can see, I have a long, loyal history with Windows. I pride myself on my deep understanding of Windows and have mastered tweaking everything from network settings (MTU, TCP-Window, etc.) to maximize high-speed broadband, to customizing cache settings to maximize I/O performance. I can fix nearly any Windows-related problem you can throw at me. This familiarity has given me great comfort over the years.

Windows 3.1 Desktop

Windows 3.1 Screenshot

During the past 15 years, I’ve consistently made fun of anyone around me that uses a Mac and brushed them off as a “non-serious computer user”. I made exceptions in this humor for artists and writers but everyone else was fair game!

Macintosh System 7 Desktop

Macintosh System 7 Screenshot

Recently, I started noticing some of my friends defecting to the Mac, including friends that are extremely technical and very hard-core software developers. This opened my mind a bit and got me exploring. Meanwhile, I continued to get frustrated by little things in Windows and found myself asking the following questions version after version:

  • Why does it take so long for Windows to boot?
  • Why does the boot duration increase over time, even though I don’t install new software often and regularly defrag my hard drive (including MFT, swap file, folders, etc.)?
  • Why do most serious Windows users accept the fact that at least once a year (more often for some of us), it’s necessary to do a complete re-install of Windows to regain performance and stability? (I call this a Windows enema!)
  • Why does my machine work one day but have problems the next day with NO software changes. What happened!?
  • Why does it take so long to shutdown Windows? Like boot-up, this seems to get worse over time.
  • Why does standby not work consistently? I have tried it ever since it was introduced and have yet to get consistently good results. For some reason, the stability of Windows decreases quickly every time standby is used.
  • Why did 64-bit take so long!? It’s not even fully realized yet for most of us.

I could go on and on…. device driver crap, conflicts, corrupt registry, adware, random blue screens, blah blah blah.

Don’t get me wrong, there are good reasons for some of these challenges – Microsoft has worked hard to maintain backward compatibility and it’s a miracle IMO that things run as well as they do considering the long history and customer demands. We’re all screaming for 64-bit yet Microsoft needs to also support a few 16-bit leftovers! Also, when you buy a Dell or IBM or HP or whatever, you are not only getting Windows, you are getting device drivers written by multiple companies so the complexity increases exponentially. Because Apple is a bit more proprietary, they can focus more on stability with their finite mix of hardware devices. I’m typically very against anything proprietary when it comes to technology, but in this case, it does make some sense.

About 11 months ago, to my dismay, and against my advice, my wife bought a classic white MacBook. I told her that she was terminating our support agreement that had been in place for 20 years and that she was now on her own! For several days, I would walk by her and ask, “how’s your new iPod doing?”. With very few exceptions, she’s done just fine without me. She takes advantage of the Genius Bar at our local Apple store, and signed up for Apple’s $99 One-on-One training program. Basically, you pay $99 per year for weekly one-on-one training on practically any Mac-related topic. At first, I couldn’t figure out how Apple could provide this level of support for only $99/year. If a customer takes full advantage, they can get 52 sessions at about $2/session! I quickly realized how Apple was able to pull this off when she kept coming home with new Apple accessories, software, etc. Clever marketing huh? Weekly up-sell opportunity! They actually do a great job.

After several more months of investigating and interviewing friends, I took the plunge. I was comforted by the fact that underneath the slick Mac OS exterior was real Unix….including Perl, Vim, bash, X11, etc. I spent many years of my career neck deep in Unix so it did help to see some old familiar things. Oh, and by the way, don’t tell me about the various Windows Unix-like shells – it is not the same! I can’t do “real” unix stuff like named pipes and I can’t do things like, “runapp | grep -i error | tee error.log” or run programs in the background (&), etc.

The Transition:
A few years ago, Gartner published an article titled, “Understanding Hype Cycles”. It was written to describe the maturity and adoption cycles of new technology in general, but I’m going to use the same phases to describe my experience – I think it fits well.

Phase 1: Technology Trigger
For me, the trigger was the fact that several friends that I have huge respect for switched. I knew there must be something to it. Another trigger was that my Windows machine was starting to show performance degradation– it was almost time for my semi-annual Windows enema and I was tired of doing this! I needed 64-bit so I could use more memory so I was already facing a few minor software compatibility problems.

Phase 2: Peak of Inflated Expectations
I heard from numerous friends and co-workers that Macs never need rebooting, are always fast, never get a virus, never lockup, etc. I have to admit, I was getting a bit excited about the concept. I had only experienced this type of stability with Unix and Linux.

I got advice from several co-workers on which machine to get, what software to install, which accessories to add, etc. I then ordered my new machine, a fully loaded MacBook Pro with 4GB of memory, 200GB 7200RPM drive, Mac OS X Leopard, extra battery, etc.. When the machine arrived, I quickly pulled it out of the box, plugged it in, turned it on and stood in awe of the incredibly bright LED-lit screen, simple back-lit keyboard, fast boot time, etc. Things were good!

Phase 3: Trough of Disillusionment
After I got through playing with my new MacBook, I needed to get back to work. This is when the frustration kicked in and the honeymoon abruptly ended. It started when I configured Entourage (Office 2008’s equivalent to Outlook) and started catching up on some email. I immediately felt unable to type! The following keys were missing: PgUp, PgDn, Home, End, Ins, Backspace and more! These all have easy equivalents but I didn’t know what they were! I hit the maximize button (which was on the “wrong side” of the window border by the way) but it didn’t maximize the way I expected. Later I closed the window but I noticed that Entourage was still running. I didn’t know how to “right-click”. I didn’t know how to switch programs at first and when I finally stumbled on command-tab, it didn’t work the way I expected. I was lost! What the heck was Apple thinking when they designed this interface? It ain’t right!

I then installed Flex Builder 3, copied over my projects and was relieved to see that they worked as-is, but navigating the IDE was very clumsy for me since I didn’t know how to do some basic keyboard stuff. I didn’t even know how to take a screenshot. I didn’t know how to install new software (what is a .dmg file!?). I knew at this point that the transition was not going to be trivial.

Phase 4: Slope of Enlightenment

I took a step back and decided to approach this with a little more structure…hacking was only leading to frustration. I found Apple’s “Switch 101” page at http://www.apple.com/support/switch101, which offers some very good advice to get a PC guy started. I also picked up a copy of “Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual Leopard Edition” by David Pogue. This is a MUST-HAVE book. I read it cover to cover and started feeling much more comfortable. Don’t try the switch without this book! I finally got my head around some of the important shortcuts…such as command-Q to quit a program, command-H to hide a program, command-tab to switch applications, command-~ to switch between windows of an application (very cool once you are used to it). I learned how to use the dock, how to quickly get to my applications, how to open a terminal window, how to use spotlight (VERY cool feature), how to boot from a USB device, etc

Phase 5: Plateau of Productivity
It’s been two weeks and I’m completely moved in. To my surprise, I’m finding that I’m more productive than before. The machine boots incredibly fast. Network connections occur almost instantly, including wireless connections. Sleep mode actually works so I rarely shutdown. The keyboard is incredibly responsive and well laid out. I think I’m at about 90% efficiency on it…. but I still find myself occasionally forgetting how to move the cursor to the end of a word or sentence, etc. I think I’ll be at 100% within another week.

Microsoft Office 2008 – I was using Office 2007 on my PC and had only recently adjusted to the dramatic difference from Office 2003. I was disappointed to find out that I was going to have to go through another major adjustment. I am able to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage (Outlook’s replacement) but it takes a bit of hunting through dialogs to find things. This will take a bit to adjust to.

I’m very frustrated by the differences between Outlook 2007 and Entourage 2008. Each has features that the other product does not have. Do these development teams ever meet? The needed features are there…but…well…it’s just different. One huge disappointment is that Entourage will NOT import a PST file! How can this be!? I had to purchase a 3rd party converter to make this happen. I was starting to feel a bit alienated by my good ol’ friend Microsoft.

VMware Fusion– I spend a lot of time talking about and demonstrating Adobe LiveCycle ES, which does not run on MacOS (at least not as a supported environment). However, it runs very well on a VMware image. I have three VMware images that go with me everywhere. Image 1 is a stripped down Windows XP image that I use when I absolutely have to have IE. Unity mode lets me run Windows XP programs side-by-side with Mac OS programs. Image 2 is a Windows 2003 image with the full LiveCycle ES install. This is my demo server image. Image 3 is a Ubuntu Linux image that I’m using to test AIR apps. See my earlier post, “1 MacBook running 3 OS’s and 3 AIR Apps simultanously” for a good example of the power of VMware Fusion.

Adobe Creative Products – I’ve installed the entire Creative Suite 3 on my new MacBook. There was very little transition time required for these since they basically work the same. I have noticed that Lightroom is much faster on my new MacBook, even faster than my dual-CPU Dell workstation. Both versions are 32-bit so I suspect that available memory is part of the reason it runs faster. Photoshop is basically identical with one exception. Over the years, I’ve developed a habit of using the keyboard to open menus. For example, to open the highlights/shadow dialog box, I simply hit ALT-I for the image menu followed by “A” for adjustments menu followed by “W” for shadow/highlight… never touching the mouse. This doesn’t work on Mac OS. Menu items don’t have this type of selection shortcut. There are shortcut keys to many dialogs, but you can’t navigate menu structures this way.

What I like:

  • Awesome keyboard (now that I have figured it out!). The back-lit feature is great on night flights.
  • Multi-Touch is incredible and very addictive. Also, I’ve configured my touchpad to do a “right-click” when I hit it with two fingers (eliminates having to control-click)
  • LED screen is incredible – very “white” – perfect for photography work
  • Having 4GB of addressable memory is nice. Caching seems to do a great job utilizing it.
  • Networking is very fast, especially when establishing a new connection.
  • Boot time and shutdown time are very good
  • Sleep/Standby works with no apparent impact on stability
  • Battery life is great so far. The website claims 5 hours but, as expected, I got about 4, which I’m happy with. Ask me again in a year
  • The power cord is nice – comes with an extender. The connection to the MacBook is magnetic.
  • It’s easy to create a clone of your hard drive to a USB drive…and it’s bootable! This is great if your hard drive crashes 5 minutes before a presentation. You can simply switch to booting from your USB copy. I use Carbon Copy Cloner (free!) to do the cloning.
  • Spaces is awesome – gives me multiple desktops – easily switched by hotkeys. There are equivalent Windows utilities but not as solid as Spaces.
  • Exposé is very useful, especially when I’m dealing with 10+ open applications.
  • The graphics card (NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT) is fantastic – 512MB of memory – incredible 3D performance. But, this is a work machine… so I of course never play games on it… so who cares <cough 😉 >
  • Software install and uninstall is cleaner. Many programs are just a simple .app file.

What I don’t like:

  • I miss Outlook. What I really want is Outlook with a few of the Entourage features added. For example, in Entourage, when I view an email that I’ve replied to earlier, I can quickly jump to my reply by clicking a link. When viewing the reply, I can quickly jump back to the original. Entourage global address book lookups are much faster than with Outlook. One big frustration with Entourage is the inability to convert text to a hyperlink. I often send emails with links to articles, etc. but instead of writing out the URL, I keep the email clean by saying “click here” and then convert it to a hyperlink. Amazingly, you can’t do this in Entourage! Do the Entourage developers not use the web??? Also, Entourage does not let me edit server-side/Exchange mail rules. I rarely need to change these so it’s no big deal. I can do it from the webmail client using IE under my VMware image.
  • Safari – it’s a nice browser but not as fast as advertised in my opinion. Several websites are still incompatible. Firefox was the first piece of software I installed! I’m not thrilled with any browser choices but I’ll get by.
  • Time Machine is a great backup solution with a very cool interface but it lacks the controls that it needs. I would like to have it turn off automatically during work hours. I have to switch it on and off manually. I’m sure there are ways to hack this but it hasn’t been important enough for me to investigate.
  • Microsoft Excel 2008 is a bit sluggish when moving from cell to cell. All of the features seem in place and many of most complex spreadsheets (with pivot tables, charts, etc.) work as-is.

Software Replacements
As expected, many of my every day utilities don’t run on MacOS. I was able to find alternatives. Here is a short list:

  • CuteFTP – replaced with Transmit – very similar features – I’m satisfied
  • Miranda and Trillian (IM Clients) – replaced with Adium. I actually like Adium much better and highly recommend it. It supports Jabber, AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, MSN, IRC and more
  • IE – mostly replaced with Firefox and Safari but for those few websites that insist on IE, I boot up my Window XP VMware image.
  • Microsoft OneNote – replaced with MacJournal – it’s not an exact replacement but it has everything I need
  • Windows Media Player – replaced by QuickTime for some formats. I installed VLC to handle the rest.
  • FeedDaemon – my favorite Windows RSS reader – replaced by NetNewsWire – very similar functionality but it’s missing the ability to download full content for offline viewing. It does stay in sync with FeedDaemon running on my PC and my mobile RSS reader (NewsGator Go).

Overall, I’m glad I made the switch. I do think it’s a better OS for most things. I could have easily stayed with Windows and got the latest greatest fastest 64 bit laptop and maybe found the stability and performance that I’ve wanted all of these years….or maybe not. I haven’t abandoned Windows. I still have a very nice Dell workstation running both Windows XP and Windows Vista 64. I’m now able to switch back and forth between my workstation and my new MacBook easily.

I’ll post another update in a few months when the newness wears off. 🙂

Windows Vista / Mac OS Leopard

5/8/2008 – Very good article in Business Week titled, “The Mac in the Gray Flannel Suite” – about the growing demand for Macs by Office workers.

~ by Greg on April 30, 2008.

55 Responses to “Why I switched to a Mac after 20 years of Windows PC”

  1. Outlook’s proprietary PST file is a nightmare, and part of the whole data lock in thing perpetuated by MS. Address Book, Apple Mail, and iCal are all integrated, which gives you most of the Outlook functionality, PLUS each is open to use by other applications. If MS had not bastardized the Exchange file formats (like the hacked IMAP format for calendar items -one of many data lock ins engineered in MS products), or at least published the formats, then integration would be far easier. But then, as a non-benevolent (read: consumer harmed) monopoly, this would be normal behavior.

    You may find Office 2008 limiting, especially since MS chose not to support VBA and Macros. This negatively impacts cross-platform sharing of Office files – at least the most complicated ones. Thank goodness for NeoOffice, the OS X Aqua port of OpenOffice. It works with all the Windows VBA/macro stuff that I have thrown at it.

    The one thing you might be missing is Keychain – this most awesome Apple background tool manages passwords and certificates, across a broad range of applications. Firefox, last I checked, does not support integration with Keychain, and therefore, you end up managing these things in multiple places (no one version of the truth). Try Camino – it is the same rendering engine as FF, with OS X integration.

  2. For your quicktime needs, download flip4mac and perian. You’ll never need VLC or to download another codec ever. Works smooth as butter!


  3. Try OPERA for the Mac as a rep;lacement for IEE. IT r works great getting into a MS rempote set-up. And I hate this reply window. Wht a joke!

  4. Hey Gregory –

    Nice write-up! Welcome to the Mac.

    I find Apple’s Mail a good deal better than Entourage, but it’s not perfect either.

    re Time Machine – check out the free Time Machine Scheduler – http://www.klieme.com/TimeMachineScheduler.html

  5. “Menu items don’t have this type of selection shortcut”. Actually they do. Check out the Keyboard Shortcuts under the Keyboard preferences pane. It’s all shown there. Help is also available. Cheers

  6. As an avid reader of your blog, I’m glad to hear you like the switch. You’ll find more and more reasons to love mac (I switched from Mac to PC at OS 7.5 and back to Mac for OSX). P.S. Now that you have a Mac, go get TextMate, the best text editor ever!

  7. Great article – really in depth. One additional thing that might help your switch – Flip4Mac has a free set of Windows Media components that allow you to open and play 99% of Windows Media files natively within Quicktime. Check it out: http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/17787/flip4mac-wmv-player

  8. To use the keyboard to open menus, hit Control-F2. The Apple menu is first highlighted, but you can then navigate through the menus!

  9. Thanks for the great article – I have recommended the “switch” to a lot of people and will be pointing them to your article so they have a better idea of what to expect ;-]

  10. You should try Perian for WMV, FLV, etc compatibility. It basically adds almost all of the formats that VLC supports directly to the Quicktime infrastructure. Thus making it so that every quicktime compatible application can use almost any video format.

  11. May I suggest getting the Perian and Flip4Mac codecs? … so you can use Quicktime player for all your media. You don’t need Windows Media Player on the Mac (argh).

  12. Try Circus Ponies NoteBook as your OneNote replacement or AquaMinds NoteTaker. Add the paid version of Flip4Mac to your QuickTime for WMA/WMV support through QuickTime.

  13. After I installed the Perian.org plug-in, I found myself using VLC less and less. Check it out.

    Safari is much better with Saft and PithHelmet. I keep Camino for my Gecko based browser needs.

    Beware Carbon Copy Cloner. It doesn’t make an EXACT clone. Take a look at SuperDuper. The freeware version is crippled nagware, but it does exact cloning. Many people say it’s worth the registration price to get all the nifty features (like automation), but the freeware version works for me.

  14. Hi Gregory, thanks for a very interesting and even-handed critique!

  15. Have a nice time using your Mac!

  16. Welcome. I was using Win 286/386, as much as that was possible. I switched to Mac around system 6.0.6. Long time ago. Instantly people treated me as if I was a newbie, but I was the PC guy all over campus.

    Mac is the way to go. IMHO, it’s always been better. Was better then, and it’s WAY better now. Mac lets you do anything. Windows? Well, a lot if there for it, but they like to pretend there is nothing else…

  17. Safari: Unless Apple pitches in to the Wine project and finishes up the clone for Win32, Safari will never have 100% compatibility with sites that use ActiveX. IE 6 is very non-standard. Apple and Mozilla have worked very hard to get their non-compliant modes to work. Microsoft is having the same challenges with their own work for IE8 and they’re losing the battle. At least you have many choices. Did you try Camino? It’s Gecko based with a Mac UI.

    Time Machine: It is supposed to be ultra simple and save your bacon when you need it. Therefore, why turn it off? Supposedly, it’s intended to be a low impact on the system so you ought not notice that it’s working. If you haven’t already, make damn sure it is NOT backing up your VMWare images. Each time you use the image, it changes the timestamp and gets backed up. Instead, exclude those and set up file sharing (not sure in VMWare) so that you store all your important files on the Mac disc via sharing. Then, manually copy each image once (preferably just after setup).

    Multitouch: I adore scrolling with two fingers on the trackpad.

    RULE NUMBER ONE: never do an upgrade on a major OS release. Do an Archive and Install preserving settings. Apple never quite gets the upgrade script right. Even then, my network settings didn’t transfer correctly from Tiger to Leo. An A&I also is a breeze if you somehow manage to hose the existing OS like my install of a crappy VPN. Something in the receipt changed the permissions on a critical OS file (after running repair permissions) and that was the end of booting that Mac. A&I never requires a reinstall of Apps except maybe Adobe and their draconian anti-piracy locks.

  18. The thing that always bugged me on safari was lack of adblock – but then someone decided to support it, since then I don’t use anything else. You can find it here: http://safariadblock.sourceforge.net/

  19. Forgot: The Keyboard System Pref also lets you assign keyboard shortcuts that are either Universal or app specific. That might help with CS and reduce keystrokes vs ctrl-F2 etc.

    There is a hibernate mode if you want to preserve your environment. I presume VMWare handles it gracefully. Apple first saves the RAM to disk then enters sleep. You can tell it to power off instead of sleeping via a script. Alas, it’s at home. I got it from MacOSXhints.com and saved it as a Hibernate\ Now.command granting execute to it.

    Hope that’s it…

  20. Just wanted to make a small correction on Adium. It actually doesn’t handle IRC, and they adamantly maintain that they never will because they are not a chatroom client. Frustrating as hell!

    http://colloquy.info/ is a good IRC client that I use now that I’ve switched from Pidgin.

  21. For times you just NEED IE try using it directly with Codeweavers CrossOver. It is based on WINE, so you may be familiar. Works great for IE6. =] good luck and welcome

  22. I like that Understanding Hype Cycles breakdown. Perhaps you’ll reference that again in 20 years when you blog about how you’ve switched to Linux.

  23. Very interesting post.

  24. Microsoft did make a PST Import Tool for Entourage. Latest version is v1.0.1 from 2005, but it still works with Entourage 2004/2008… You can download it from their MacTopia site. (Too late for you, but may help someone else.)

  25. The Develop menu in Safari 3 allows you to select a user agent to mimic IE or several other browsers, which will work with most sites that “require” IE,

    As mentioned, Opera and Camino are other good broser options.

    The two finger scrolling is great, but I like setting the right click to be holding two fingers on the touchpad while clicking even better than the two finger tap.

  26. Great article and very insightful: stuff that I haven’t seen before in lots of similar articles.

    BTW, CuteFTP has had a Mac version for awhile. I actually prefer Transmit myself, but if you want to stick with CuteFTP, the Mac version is there.

  27. Thanks to everyone that commented – VERY GOOD tips!

    A few quick things. There is an old PST to Entourage converter but it only works for Office 2001 😦

    The fn-F2 is a huge help – thanks!

    I already have CrossOver (eval copy) – I haven’t tried it with IE 6 – but I will!

    Keep them coming – you’re helping a lot of people 🙂


  28. I have been using Camino instead of Safari for awhile now. It’s faster, and I have no problem accessing any website. Welcome aboard!

  29. Exceedingly well written article, technical but easy to read. A couple additions: Download Camino and don’t look back, just turn on all the blocking and you’ll enjoy the “web” like never before. Download “Typist” to auto insert commonly used Text into any field. Hold down the control key and click on a misspelled word, and OSX will fix it for you. OSX gives PDF output to every application, just say Print, and it’s in the lower left. Spend some time in the Utilities Folder. Study up on the Dock, there is a lot of power there. And lastly, if you can, also switch from MS Office, Apple’s equivalents are generally better and certainly more standards based. Welcome to the bright side…

  30. Two weeks? You’re doing awesome! Congrats and welcome to the world of Mac.

  31. have you tried vienna for rss?

  32. Nice to see another individual recovered from the collective. 🙂

    With respect to browsers on the Mac, any modern browser is going to be fast; in fact, people say all the time that “browser X is faster than browser Y” and they swear by X because of it.

    The simple fact is that the network conditions and load on the server fulfilling the request are a far more important factor on the “speed” of a browser. I’m a perceptual psychologist who has done UI testing and design work, and I can show that under identical conditions, no human being will be able to perceive a speed difference between different browsers.

    That said, pick the browser that has the features you need and works for you; don’t base your decision on “speed”. Speed kills after all you know… 😀

    If you like Firefox, that’s great, but I’ve always found it to be a red-headed step-child… It is the best browser available for Windows (that’s not much of an endorsement when you think about it really), but on OS X it’s a primitive also-ran. Try OmniWeb; it is simply the best browser available for the Mac. It’s just like OS X; elegant and intuitive with all the features you need, but you don’t have to think about them unless you want to. It also has some fantastic features for setting preferences on how it handles individual sites.

    Welcome to the fold.

  33. You can drag ‘n drop in the Terminal window too!

  34. […] I switched to a Mac after 20 years of Windows PC « Greg Wilson’s Ramblings Why I switched to a Mac after 20 years of Windows PC « Greg Wilson’s Ramblings: […]

  35. @flintwall/all,

    To clarify, the Terminal accepts files/folders for pathing, but it also accepts text. I love being able to write code in TextWrangler, cmd-a, and drop on a SQL (sybase in my case but any will work) session to execute. I cannot do that on XP at work so I’m constantly stepping on my clipboard.

  36. After using a PC for over 16 years, my wife and I brought Mac’s in January and I now know what all the hype was about. I look forward to reading your next post and welcome to the “darkside”

  37. […] I did on a computer could be THAT much simpler. My experience was pretty similar to that of this guy. Slowly, I stopped using my desktop. It wasn’t much fun anymore to use a system that […]

  38. Sounds like the switch is going very smoothly. As far as sites that insist you have IE installed, it is mostly bogus. Switch on the “Develop” menu in Safari (Preferences ->Advanced), and you get a neat option that lets you spoof any site with the user agent of your choice, including IE. On top of that, you get the awesome new “Web Inspector”, which has been a massive productivity booster, at least for me.

    GREG: The sites I have trouble with want to install an ActiveX control so I’m forced to use IE. I’m testing Crossover which is working great (installs IE6). Thanks!!

  39. Greg,

    Nice post. A couple of comments. First you said “Because Apple is a bit more proprietary, they can focus more on stability with their finite mix of hardware devices. I’m typically very against anything proprietary when it comes to technology, but in this case, it does make some sense.”

    The second sentence to me is a bit of an oxymoron. You claim to be against anything proprietary and yet for years you used Windows, a very predatorially proprietary operating system. You really can’t escape a certain measure of proprietary-ness, especially in technology. Apple is more proprietary in hardware, while their OS is bulging with open source elements. In fact, the core of the Mac OS is open source with their UI remaining primarily proprietary.

    GREG: I Was speaking mostly of the proprietary hardware. My point is that Apple only has to worry about a finite set of hardware. Windows developers have to worry about openess so that tons of other vendors can make their drivers/SW work.

    With regards to Time Machine, if you want it to stop backing up during working hours, simply disconnect the back up drive. Time Machine’s background processes will still check and monitor changes to the file system and will resume backing up when the Time Machine drive is reconnected.

    GREG: My drive is a network drive so I’m always connected as long as I’m around my office. I just turn it off during the day and on during the night

    Also If you really need Outlook, since you’re already running VMWare’s Fusion for times when you need IE, you could also just install Outlook.

    GREG: I miss some of the features of Outlook, but not enough to always have another OS running in the background. You are right, this would be a solution for the Outlook die-hards. Thanks for your comment!!

    Just my two cents

  40. I have been thinking of making the switch also. The MAC AIR has caught my eye. I find myself thinking about it often but making the switch and taking the first step into a new territory is the most difficult.

  41. Very good article in Business Week titled, “The Mac in the Gray Flannel Suite” – about the growing demand for Macs by Office workers – http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_19/b4083036428429.htm

  42. Greg,
    I switched about a year and a half ago and I’m never going back. One recommendation I make is to download Quicksilver (http://www.blacktree.com). It is a giant time saver and my favorite app on my mac. I love it more than Flex Builder 3 😉

    Love the blog, keep it up.

  43. I beg introduce Website shopping apple mac laptops – http://astore.amazon.com/apple.mac.laptops.discount-20

  44. as for mail, thunderbird is the only way to go.

  45. Great write up, I am adding this page to the list of favorites. I bought my first mac about a month ago. Sad to say, I have been too busy with work to really enjoy it the last few days. From what I did get to use, I found that I could dump most of my Windows software because everything I need is built in. I am running Parallels for those MS platform products that have no mac equivelent. I have made mac my first choise as a home PC and will never go back to Windows for personal use again (Unles Apple does something totally stupid). thanks for adding those other applications listed as I may be able to switch off MS more and more. I wish my work would convert to MAC. We do most everything over the internet anyway.. As someone who generally has 10-15 apps running at a time, the Expose on a MAC is essential. Also, now that I own a Mac, I ask myself why I spend $100’s for software when you can get a good equivelent on a Mac for much less. Best of all, most Linux freeware apps will run on it, making mac an even more wise choice.

  46. one thing I found tough to get used to was the lack of a right mouse button. I had a USB mouse laying around, plugged it in and simply got over it. Now I am flying around with my mac.

    I found an interesting tidbit about how to download videos. On the Windows side, you have to find software and pray that it works.

    On the mac, all you have to do is openthe activity window in safari, open the download window, find the largest file size in the activity window copy/paste that line to the download window. Once the download is done, you will have a file called get-video (no extension), simply rename it to what the video is and add the .flv extension and play it in VLC (or what ever you use to pay flash videos).

    it may sound like a lot of work, but it is not. takes a couple of seconds (well, except for the download depending on your internet connection). It sure beats having to buy software or have trial versions that do not capture the entire thing as the “alloted time” ran out.

    I also found a lot of good information on:


    For recording sound, I also suggest Audacity.


    I take a y connector and plug my headsets into both the audio out and mic jacks – this causes a loop back into the mic port. Start up audacity and set your preferences and you will be recording streaming audio in no time. I also found it to be crystal clear. It even sounds better than what I used to used on the Windows side (MP3 My MP3). Audacity also gives you more options.

    I am also finding that mac has some need software available that could not even dream was possible on the windows side.

    Even my Quickverse software, I use for my bible studies and ministry is available on the mac. since the mac version is completely written with mac people in mind, itfunctions nothing like the windows version (it is better and simpler to use and does not keep prompting me to insert the CD, and it does not error on me). Besure to download the update patch since leopard made a couple of changes for safari over tiger. Quickverse uses Safari as its display to make it totally native on mac.

  47. Sorry for the typo above, I had a late night at work – up past midnight with an interface issue

  48. “I got advice from several co-workers on which machine to get, what software to install, which accessories to add, etc. I then ordered my new machine, a fully loaded MacBook Pro with 4GB of memory, 200GB 7200RPM drive, Mac OS X Leopard, extra battery,”

    i found this line a bit odd for a long time PC user such as yourself.

    anyway, still a well written piece about your switch:)

  49. Many people have complained about office for the mac not having access. well, I have tried office for the mac and found it has many issues. In looking for a database to use natively on my mac (I was looking for simplicity, collecting data quickly, and having nice forms, without having to program – like as required with MS SQL and .NET), I have found two nice apps:

    File Maker Pro – if you want to do robustness.
    Bento by File Maker – if you want elegance and simplicity.

    this post is about Bento, since that was my choice to buy. For $50, it is very nice and simple to work with. It is a nice addin to a missing product that was desparately needed in iwork. It lacks a little with custom defined reports and SQL queries, but for what most small busniesses or home users need, this product far beats my expectations for the price. If you need to export your data to something else, you can export to a CSV (comma delimited file) and import it into another app rather easily.

    Bento also has another nice advantage, a field called file list. Here I add this field to my database, and then drag the file on my hard drive to that field in bento. when I want to use like information (ie, I have a table that tracks all my python [programming notes). I just double-click the file in the file list, and it opens the file in its native application.

    Creating forms is also easier than in MS-Access too.

    I can see very quickly where Apple will start making in-roads into major businesses. Price alone is the reason to use Bento over MS access.

  50. Great post! I recommend the Belkin Flip so you can switch back and forth between your Mac and PC (if you want to share the monitor, mouse and keyboard)

  51. I switched also after 25 years of programming on Microsoft platforms. I use Parallels for XP stuff when required.
    The reason was because of Vista.

  52. Cuteftp is available for the mac, too, but I will check out Transmit! (LOVE cuteftp though.)

  53. Kenton , i had never thought switching to a Mac, before i bought
    my vista32 laptop.I have had problems with the installation of Mingw compiler under Netbeans, problems with visual studio 2005 and CUDA compiler and the last thing with my firewall advanced features which are configurated that i couldn’t connect to the internet.
    I hate vista and I’m fully convinced that mac is better in design(macbooks) and in features.

  54. hi
    good luck

  55. I replaced OneNote with EverNote and have never looked back. EverNote has a built in Migration Wizard to migrate OneNote 2007 data to EverNote. If you are still using OneNote 2003 install the OneNote 2007 trial version then migrate to EverNote. I started using EverNote about a year ago and have gone through some of its growing pains but their support has been phenomenal.

    EverNote is a Mac, Windows, iPod, iPhone and Web application. EverNote syncs to the web which allows internet access to your notes from a browser. EverNote has a web clipping feature that makes it easy to save information found while surfing the web. It has many other features so I suggest going to http://www.evernote.com to check all its features plus view its videos and tutorials.

    Oh, and did I mention that it is FREE. The Free version limits the amount of data you can upload monthly to the web. They have a Premium version which greatly increases the amount of data you can upload monthly to the web. The Premium version costs $5 monthly or $45 a year.

    The product is rapidly being upgraded plus the company just announced that it has received $4.5 million of additional VC funding. EverNote recently won the Crunchie award for the best 2008 Mobile Startup and the Open Web award for best Mobile Application.

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