A year ago I bought my first Mac. Looking back on the year, my Apple-using experience was not at all what I had expected it to be.
My motivations for moving to Mac were twofold; 1) I was developing for Apache, PHP and MySQL, and 2) I received regular Microsoft operating system betas through my membership of their developers MVP program, and I didn’t like what I saw.
At the time I had struggled for a month to get my wifi network talking to Ubuntu with no joy. Really, had Ubuntu provided a store selling compliant hardware I might not have even tried the Mac. As it is, neither the Linux community (seemingly split evenly between extremely generous and helpful human beings and people who despise n00bs) nor network hardware retailers could help me. For a supposedly free operating system it was becoming expensive in time and money so I shot for the Unix-based operating system and hardware combination I knew would work; the BSD-based Macos.
The Apple Store experience was a joy. Without visiting other stores for comparison I have no way of knowing if this particular store is typical, but it was great going to a computer store with a nice non-pushy atmosphere and staff who actually knew about the products they were selling. Contrast this joyful experience with the grunts and extended-warranty pushing PC stores, it was an early indication that Apple had some things right.
I almost got sucked into the style over substance element of Apple fanboyism. Those iMacs do look lovely, don’t they?
While it took some getting used to the Mac way of doing things, one motivation to stick with it was Vista. Everything I had anticipated in the betas and early conversations came to pass. Vista sucks. My one Windows machine still runs XP. I haven’t even bothered trying to “upgrade”, and it makes me thankful for the Mac.
I had been using PCs since I was 15, I had grown up with the Microsoft way of doing things. Of course it was going to take some adjusting. Having said that, there is a lot said about Macs that isn’t true. While the operating system does seem more stable, software crashes just as often, especially Firefox. I don’t always find it any more intuitive than Windows, some things such as getting peripherals to work are actually easier on Windows as of course the manufacturers will put more effort into pleasing the larger customer base.
Using the Mac has been fun. I have found though many Mac fan-boys are quite strange, as you would expect, but it is funny the negative reaction I get lugging my Macbook around airports. You see, I own the cheaper white Macbook, not the nice shiny silver pro model. At the same time I get snorts of derision for owning an Apple emblazoned laptop, I get the “Oh, it’s only that one” talk from the Apple snobs. I have even been told that the model I own is for girls, whatever that means.
That said, while Vista is still a mess and Linux is beyond my meager nerd skillz I am happy to stick with the Mac. It seems according to CNET I am not alone in jumping ship …
According to a recent study by research firm ChangeWave, Apple’s Macintosh line of computers is well on its way to gaining a sizable portion of the computing market in the coming months.Polling customers about their computer buying preferences over the next 90 days, ChangeWave found that 29 percent of respondents claimed they would be buying a Mac over that period, while 24 percent will buy HP desktops and 31 percent will buy Dell desktops.
Amazingly, just two years ago, only 16 percent of respondents indicated that they would plan on buying a Mac notebook, while 11 percent claimed they would buy a Mac desktop.
But perhaps most important, Tobin Smith, founder of ChangeWave pointed out that, “these are not just the Mac-heads who are buying.” And most consumers (24 percent) are choosing Macs because of Leopard and their distaste for Vista.
The last point is particularly telling in my opinion. As I mentioned before, I grew up with Microsoft software. Microsoft has been a huge part of my career, up until a few years ago their .NET platform was crucial to my employment potential. Now the only Microsoft product I use is Word.
By no means am I a Mac power user. I can still work the PCs most geeky innards far better than I can the Mac. In fact I still feel completely square one with the Apple machine. Tiny issues like inserting a CD but not being able to see it in finder, or finding I can’t pick up a supposedly wide open wifi hotspot, leave me stumped. For all Apples trumpeted ease of use, I find Microsofts help documentation more helpful.
I have to think while many people are pointing to Steve Jobs as the savior of Apple, I think in large part Microsoft handed success on a plate by fouling up Vista. Had Vista launched in a vacuum we would have had to have taken what was on offer, but by launching a sub-par and over hyped OS into a world that was already looking to Apple favorably, it could have been a major blunder.
Microsoft could still reset their course. For all the headlines, Apple hasn’t made that great inroads into the PC market, and for all the hype, the latest upgrade to Macos didn’t exactly set the world alight. There is only the backup software that appeals to me, not that much of a step up is it?
Let’s not forget either the growth of Linux on the desktop and the flood of cheap Linux-based computers threatening to take over the bottom end of the home market, even Walmart got in on the act!
It seems the next decade could be any for the taking. Which is all good. Keeps techy life interesting!