in Projects, Programming, Technology

Why Switch?


I recently bought my first Mac (a MacBook Pro laptop) and I love it. I don’t want to make too much of this, but since my career to this point has been as a Microsoft programmer, this was a big decision. Here is why I decided to switch.

1. No Risk. Mac computers now have Intel processors which means there is little difference under the hood from a Windows computer. There is excellent virtualzation software called Parallels that lets you install a Windows operating system (XP or Vista) and run it as if it was just another program. So, this means I can do my job running Windows on the Mac, and if at any point it becomes to burdensome, I can simply install windows from scratch.

2. Better Hardware. My old laptop is a tank. The fan is noisy, the power supply is a brick. Admittedly, I went for a bigger machine to get more power for less money – but even current HP, Toshiba, and Sony laptops are flimsy and probably loud. The MacBook Pro is beautiful, quiet, and light. It has a backlit keyboard so you can see what you are typing in the dark. It is a little more expensive, but I bought a refurbished model to save money. There is no DVD drawer, just a discreet slot to insert and remove disks (like a car stereo).

3. Windows Vista is a major disappointment. It looks pretty, but there isn’t any other major productivity advantage to running it. You still get the feeling that with each application you install it is getting slower and slower. I watched a friend have trouble with his new HP Vista Laptop – things as simple as system standby didn’t work. It blue screened on him in the first few weeks.

Mac OS X boots runs fast, looks pretty, and hasn’t crashed on me yet. As a programmer, the Linux/Unix based operating systems have all the momentum at the moment.

4. Open Source is catching up. There are free applications to edit Excel Spreadsheets and Word documents on the Mac. No need to shell out $200 for Microsoft Office.

There are lots of tricks to learn when switching to the Mac, but I found this to be more fun than a serious hurdle. More on that to come.

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  1. I’ll second all these points and add a couple more that I’ve discovered after switching about a year ago.

    1) Tons of free or low-cost, software. I know there are lots of Windows utilities, but the Mac development community astounds me every week with at least one new simple, useful, well-designed, and aesthetically pleasing application.

    2) Most Mac software produces great looking output. I don’t understand this fully yet, but the presentations I make in Keynote and the diagrams I make in OmniGraffle look a million times better than what I can do in PowerPoint or Visio. I really have no idea why.

    Here are a couple negatives.

    1) Mac envy. Invariably as soon as you buy an Apple product, they release something you want more. I wish my MacBook Pro had a Core 2 Duo, but I bought it too early.

    2) People get tired of you constantly talking about how great your Mac is, at least until they finally get one. Then they wonder why they waited so long.

  2. Hey Adam

    I purchased my MacBook Pro last December and LOVE IT! As you and others have mentioned, plenty of open source software to use.
    http://www.opensourcemac.org/

    As for essential hardware to purchase, I’d recommend a bag from this company.
    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/retail/catalog.htm
    A see through cover to protect the outside
    http://www.speckproducts.com/
    and finally, a cover for the keyboard so nothing falls between the keys.
    http://www.iskin.com/

    Have fun with your new baby!

  3. I really like Heroic’s 2nd reason. Mac apps make me feel like I’ve got the knack (for creating nice looking things).

    Also, I submitted this post to the macapper contest!