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I'm a Human and both Mac and PC were my Idea

October 26, 2010

I have a personal Mac and business PC (and a personal iPhone and business Windows Mobile, for that matter), and lately I’ve been massively of two minds about which I like better…

I’ve only been a Mac user for just under a year now.  Ironically, Windows 7 has been out for just over a year now and for literally that entire time one could argue that my career (as a Systems Management specialist) has soared to new heights because of it.  Not just because I’ve been working with it so heavily (in terms of strategies, deployment methods, migrations) but mainly because the excitement Windows 7 generated has given my area of specialisation a real kick along.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, I’ve also been traveling for a large part of the last year and for a lot of it I had only my MacBook Pro with me.  I take lots of photos in RAW and crunch them through Adobe Lightroom, play with a lot of media and generally customise what little settings are available to death.  So it’s safe to say that I am an extremely heavy user of both Mac and Windows.

Recently I’ve been given a brand new fancy Core i7 laptop from work.  It’s this sleek, sexy little number with plenty of grunt and, of course, Windows 7 and Office 2010 and I’ve got to say; it’s absolutely fantastic.  Normally when I get home from work I don’t touch my work laptop and prefer to bring out my Mac and use that for play time.  But I’ve found myself missing my Windows laptop.  Curiously, when I’m using my Windows laptop I can’t help but miss my trusty MacBook Pro.

Why is that, I wondered.  So I decided to have a little think about it and summarise this phenomenon in a few points:

  • Windows 7 is awesome and Office 2010 is awesome.  I’ve always known this so why is it suddenly an issue?  Well, I don’t think I gave it a real chance.  Scarred from the fiasco that was Vista, I was left a little weary of new versions of Windows.  Office 2007 wasn’t much fun when it first came out either.  I used this and the fact that I was ‘bored’ of Windows and seen all it had to offer to help me justify jumping across to Apple in the first place, but perhaps prematurely.
  • The huge multi-touch trackpad on MacBook’s is really awesome.  I find a PC painful to use without a mouse plugged in.  I find a MacBook highly efficient and easy to use with only just the trackpad.  I never plug a mouse in.
  • I’m a big fan of Windows keyboard shortcuts and keys like ‘Home’ and ‘End’ and CTRL+C and CTRL+V.  Mac’s don’t have those keys.  That sucks.  COMMAND+C and COMMAND+V may well do the same thing but you then have to do some finger gymnastics and use your thumb and forefinger to hits the keys rather than pinky and forefinger.  That may not seem like a big deal but old habits die hard.
  • Battery life on a MacBook Pro is fantastic.  Usually I don’t plug into a power source all night while slouched on the couch after work.  In many cases I will get through a whole Saturday or Sunday of intermittently using my Mac without having to plug into power.  And that’s keeping it on standby when not using it, too, so it’s instant on.  I never actually shut down.  So a year in and I’m still getting 5 – 6 hours of use.
  • My life is becoming too Windows-centric to rely purely on a Mac.  I have a Windows Live Skydrive backing up files to the ‘cloud’.  It doesn’t play overly nice with the Mac… yes, even with Office 2011 for Mac, which I’ve been trialing for some time now.  Dropbox is cool, but lacking in some of the features I like on Skydrive/LiveMesh.  Also, I love all the new Windows Live Messenger integration etc.  Also not Mac-friendly.
  • I love the simple mail, calendar and contacts apps on my Mac.  They integrate seamlessly with Gmail and I never have to use a browser for Gmail when on my Mac.  But on Windows having Gmail delivered to Outlook makes it horrendously slow and there is no simple or elegant mechanism for sync’ing contacts or calendars.
  • Finally, I’m tired of managing different sets of applications and two different OS’s.  I know it’s just for home use but maybe I’m getting old and I don’t want to deal with or think about what version of what app I run where.

It seems I’ve ended up with one extra point for Windows than for Mac.  And I still have a final point for Windows that’s too small to put up there with the big boys but still worth mentioning – Windows Phone 7 only has ‘limited support’ for sync’ing with a Mac.  I’m not sure exactly what means but I don’t like it.  I have no immediate plans to get a Windows Phone 7, but if I do I don’t want ‘limited’ functionality.  Meanwhile, the iPhone and Android phones can be sync’d the same with both Mac and PC.  It would seem that in this world one can get by without a Mac, but not without Windows.

So what’s your point, I hear you saying.  Well, it’s simple – if I didn’t get a Mac it wouldn’t have made a difference in the world to me.  That’s not to say I regret getting the Mac because I would have always been left wondering what the big deal was.  And besides I absolutely love it.  It’s like buying a luxury sports car.  It’s not my daily-driver and is often garaged.  It’s expensive and it’s not always practical, but damn it’s beautiful, fast and a real head-turner!

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