Why I Didn’t Buy A Mac

Why I Didn’t Buy A Mac
When I decided to purchase a new PC for the Hand Luggage Only project, I had a pretty open mind about what I might get, but I must admit there was one decision already made: I definitely wasn’t going to buy a Mac.

I was whining on Twitter recently about yet another annoying Windows bug when my brother challenged me: “I still wonder why you put up with it. Vista, I mean.” My brother is an Apple convert of a few years standing, so there’s an implied challenge in here: why haven’t you got yourself a Mac yet?

There are some pragmatic considerations involved (a conservative 90% of the Australian PC market uses Windows, so running a Mac immediately puts you in a minority, which isn’t great when you write about tech for a living). But the answer to that question mostly comes down to a perennial Lifehacker obsession: productivity. I might be inclined to whinge about how Windows works, but I do understand how it works pretty well.

At the very broadest level, if I decided to switch to Mac, I’d be spending a lot of time learning where different features and tweaks were hidden. That certainly wouldn’t have made sense while I was planning to be on the road non-stop for a month (my temper is short enough as it is), and I’m not convinced it would make sense even if I had more time to devote to it.

The Mac is also a very mouse-centric environment, and my work style is designed around using a mouse as little as possible. Yes, I know there are keyboard shortcuts on offer if you choose to dig them up, but the entire platform is still fundamentally based on the notion that drag and drop is a useful way to get things done. That’s not a vision of the world I share at all — pretty much the only time I use drag and drop is to file messages in Outlook, and even that I tend to leave and do in batches. (The same issue is one of the reasons I think iTunes bites.)

I’m also a great believer in working with applications maximised, and that’s pretty much impossible on the Mac because of its “size the windows to the content” philosophy. I realise lots of people like this approach, but for me it just means a screen full of distractions.

A more specific objection to the Mac is that I wouldn’t be able to run Outlook. (Before you say it — no, I’m not prepared to use Parallels or Boot Camp to get that done. For day-to-day work, I want to be running just one OS, thank you.) I’ve written before about how Outlook is an essential element of my day-to-day work, and I’ve yet to see evidence that the various Mac alternatives would meet my needs as well in a single product.

And finally there’s the simple matter of size. Even assuming I could get over all those other objections, there’s no Mac notebook on the market that remotely comes close to the power/size/price combination offered by my Portรฉgรฉ R600. The Air is probably a tad thinner, but it has fewer USB ports and the screen is too big.

So what it really boils down to is a bunch of reasons not to shift versus a lot of enthusiastic claims that “everything just works”. I have a reputation amongst friends and colleagues for being able to find the flaws in pretty much any tech (translation: everything I use tends to crash pretty quickly), and I doubt the Mac would be any different. So it’s really not a difficult decision.

My initial experience with Windows 7 suggests that it may have eliminated some of Vista’s more intractable annoyances. However, even if it turns that Windows 7 also can’t remember folder settings and often treats Wi-Fi as a joke for its own personal amusement, I don’t see myself embracing the book of Jobs any time soon.

Throughout May 2009, Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman will be travelling throughout Australia with just one carry-on bag for the Hand Luggage Only project.


  • In my experience, I’ve found the R600 thinner than the Air. I suspect the Air just looks thinner because of the curves Apple have used.

    The Air is nice… but the R600 is an excellent piece of engineering that is a hell of a lot more practical.

  • You also shouldn’t knock something until you’ve tried it. There is such a thing as VMWare Fusion so you can run Windows, and I used to use it ALL the time when I first bought my Mac, but I haven’t used it now for a few months. I read that you only want one OS but there are better things out there than Outlook as well. What browser do you use ? I’m guessing IE.

    • No, Firefox. Presumption can be dangerous ๐Ÿ™‚ Which “better options” than Outlook would you propose?

      My hands-on Mac experience in recent years has been limited, but not non-existent. But I don’t see how that would address any of the objections I’ve raised (using an Air isn’t going to make it any smaller, for starters).

      • You say “….(translation: everything I use tends to crash pretty quickly), and I doubt the Mac would be any different.”
        and yet “….Presumption can be dangerous :-)”

        • (In response to Brad:) I’ll cop to that. But my reputation for making apparently stable devices crash is well-developed. (When Apple sent me an iPod touch to review, it flat-out refused to connect to my PC at all, for example. General consumer experience would suggest that’s not really the norm.)

  • I grew up with a C64, Apple IIe’s and Mac Classics in school, and eventually a 486 sx25 with Windows 3.11.

    I loved using the Mac at school, and loved using Windows at home. I once thought I might buy a second-hand Mac classic because it would be less prone to crash than 3.11 and 95 (back in the days of horrendous driver support and dial-up internet which made finding drivers a teeth-grinding chore). I forgot this notion when we had broadband combined with more solid versions: Windows 98, XP, and (call me a heretic) Vista.

    I’m happy with my Windows XP / Vista / 7 systems – they work great and because I’ve been using Windows for ages, I find the improvements with each iteration help me work even better.

    I don’t see the real benefit for me to change my OS – however I’d gladly suggest a Mac or Ubuntu system for my folks (just because they’re not too good at spotting potential trojans etc.), but for me, I don’t have the passion to move. I’m happy with what I have – I’m constantly being told to ‘switch’ by friends who have used Mac’s their whole lives and suddenly believe my system crashes every other minute.

    Having said all this, if someone brings up a debate about it, I just shrug and change the topic – there’s 3 things I don’t like discussing – religion, politics, and OS preference… (even though I just did!)

    • Would love to give OSX a full run on my PC. It’s kind of annoying that you can install Windows on a Mac via bootcamp etc. but not the other way round (at least not officially). I’ve gone down the hackintosh route and played around, but it’d be awesome if there was a legit version that you could install under a virtual machine in Windows. I don’t really want to have to muck around getting the hackintosh to work, you know?

      I know it’s a pipe dream, and can fully understand why they don’t do it – it’d just be nice…

  • well done, im sick of all this apple fanboism circling around lately. “everything just works” is absolutely not true, for any system. for non techies ubuntu’s “everything just works” is closest to true because it comes with everything they would need. but for techies apples just are not customisable anywhere near enough

  • About 1 year ago I had enough of windows crashing, system instability, ugly apps, and vista and so went to a mac. I was frustrated at first – few weeks to learn OSX basics, new apps etc – but now find it very hard to use a PC running windows without wanting to throw it out under a train. Vista was a huge disappointment for me – I still prefer XP and when I boot my Mac in Windows, it is XP I run.

    Macs increase productivity, they make so very many things so very very easy to do. Apart from the issue of smaller size, I would disagree with all your reasons for not using one. My MBP is small enough for travel (and I regularly write on economy flights without a problem), powerful enough to run video encoding, GIS and 3D software (some of these in parallels) plus anything else I throw at it, and has the advantage of being OSX. It just works, no headaches.

    Of course, they’re not for everyone and obviously not your thing, but I think they’re great. You should really use a MBP for few weeks intensively and compare with your PC then!

  • I’m glad I never read anything like this before I decided to take the leap and buy an iBook (many years ago). Comments like “embracing the book of Jobs” sound like cult references, and the line between hardware and software is blurred.

    Yes everything was foreign to me when I first used OS X, but change is good, and the change to compare OSes with major usage is a huge plus. After using all three major platforms (Windows, Linux, OS X), I can easily say that OS X is the best OS of all three. Everything does “just work”, and action work flows are straight forward and intuitive, compared with the other two OSes.

    I don’t feel like commenting on the rest of the mute points in your post, but it seems to me like somebody is scared of change. Ignorance is bliss.

    • I’ll assume you meant “moot” points — but then you are singing the praises of ignorance.

      I don’t think anyone could sensibly deny that there’s a signifcant cult aspect to the Mac user community.

      If I was scared of change, frankly I wouldn’t have been writing about tech for this long!

      • the truth is when people give macs a chance they are shocked at how much better they work. the learning curve is rough. but it genuinely will make you mad how long you waited to make the transition once you’ve done it.

        i was a hardcore windows fan until 4 years ago, finally since XP was getting so old and I wanted a new computer i decided to try it out. it took a bit. but life changed.

        quicksilver is your keyboard answer to anything drag and drop.

        mac osx is your answer to anything windows.

        i know you aren’t willing to try it. i’m just sorry that when you do you will be so very sad at how long you waited.

        but until then, enjoy your vista/windows 7

  • Hi Gus, Just wanted to correct you on one point: Mac OS X and most Mac applications provide extensive support for keyboard shortcuts. Given a choice between gliding around TextMate using the keyboard on my Mac and kludging through Word 2007 using a mouse on Windows, I’ll take the former any day.

    • What’s the Mac equivalent for Alt-Tab (ie keyboard only switching between apps)? I’ve always wondered that, never got round to finding out . . .

      • Command-TAB.

        I’d agree and say most of your Keystrokes would have a very similar equivalent in Mac OSX.

        Actually one of the things I really appreciate about OSX is the standardness of Keyboard shortcuts across just about every application. And when I say “just about” – I mean every app except Adobe stuff.

    • Indeed, as a general rule I have found keyboard shortcuts in OSX to be far superior ( “Cmd + ,” as a system wide, global Preferences/Options shortcut, for example).

      I also can’t think of any shortcuts on Windows that aren’t also in their Mac equivalent. It’s just that OSX generally swaps “Ctrl” with “Cmd”.

      • I find keyboard shortcuts one of the best things about the Mac.

        You can assign (or re-assign) almost any keyboard combination to literally ANY menu item in ANY application. If there’s a shortcut you’re used to in Windows that would like on the Mac, just add it via the keyboard and mouse system preferences. I rarely need to use the mouse at all (which is fortunate, as the supplied mighty mouse with desktop macs is rubbish)

  • Doesn’t Entourage replace Outlook on the Mac? I honestly don’t know as I have not used it (or another bits of Office) on my Macs since switching 4ish years ago. Personally I gave up on Outlook long before that – first moving to Thunderbird but then GMail etc which has done me well pretty much since GMail was available as a private beta.

    Switching did take some work. I’d say it was at least 6 months before I was as comfortable on the Mac as I was on the old XP environment. But that is me using dozens of programs to get my work done. Others I know who just use Email / Web / Office switch almost immediately without much hassle. Like me they don’t miss the constant little hassles of trying to keep Windows going and bug-free.

    But I have looked at Windows 7 and find it very frustrating and clumsy to use. Maybe if I spent a lot of time on it – but I really don’t want to bother when my productivity on the Mac is so much better (Warcraft and Twitter aside). It might be the Best Windows and Look Pretty, but its still Windows underneath the lipgloss.

    Windows did me well for the best part of 10-12 years, but I wouldn’t go back to it anytime soon.

    • Macs look good. And that’s about it.

      My school just got two 24″ iMacs – 2.66GHz dual core, 4GB DDR3 RAM and an nVidia 9400 graphics card – why a high school needs that much RAM is beyond me – single button mouse and the most retarded keyboard I have ever seen. I don’t think there are any laptops that have so few keys. So we open up random programs, and try to maximise them. “Why isn’t it maximising Joe?”, we ask our friend with the MacBook. “That is maximised. It doesn’t get any bigger on a Mac”. Multiple “WTF”, “How retarded?!” responses followed.

      So basically we end up sitting around playing on them. There’s a sheet taped to the desk saying shortcut keys, like Screen -> File – surely everyone is going to spam that, and by everyone, I mean me. I expected it to be disabled at school, but that’s more them than Mac’s.

      Surely even the Mac-enthusiasts (read fanatics) realise that half the replies out there to ‘Program X doesn’t have an equivalent on Mac’ is to use Bootcamp or Parallels. Does this not entirely defeat the point of getting a Mac for OS X? And given the already ridiculous price for Macs, users must pay even more for a copy of Windows to install on their Mac?

      Macs fail because of the lack of software available for them. Surely, if Macs are so great, more people would use them, particularly software programmers and other IT specialists, and consequently, there wouldn’t be such a lack of useful Mac programs?

      Its Mac-enthusiasts themselves that put me off Macs the most. Rarely do you encount Linux or Windows enthusiasts more aggressive than mac enthusiasts. Don’t get me wrong, I like Apple, and love my jailbroken iPod Touch 2G, but OSX is NOT an alternative to Windows, and based on the ‘bootcamp for it’ attitude of Mac users, it never will be.

      Before I go, my buddy Joe with the macbook – it boots into Vista, not OS X. And Windows 7 Beta still hasn’t crashed on me, which is remarkable given I’ve been using it consistently since its release, and yet somehow while using OS X the very few times I’m at a friends house or at school, they manage to crash doing simple things like installing programs or just running multiple programs. How the top-end Mac lags more on the school network than the 1GB RAM PC’s is beyond me. Particularly when the price difference is around the $1,000 mark.

      • Sorry, entirely forgot the main bit of my reply –

        Its amusing that you say Windows 7 is “very frustrating and clumsy to use” when Mac fanatics around the world screamed copycat upon seeing screenshots and lists of new features. While the differences are still there, the general aura of the Mac community is that Windows 7 stole so many things from OS X, and yet is WORSE than XP? Maybe there’s a link there.

      • Sorry mate, professionals do use macs – been to the cinema in the last 20 years? Seen some great special effects? That industry runs on mac as well as many others. They call the PC guys at Industrial Light and Magic the ‘rebel alliance’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Having said all that – I’d agree with you that the Air is probably not the best for “traveling”. 13″ still makes it a big thing to carry about, regardless of its thickness or weight.

    I chose a MacBook over a MB Pro not because of cost – but because the 15″ is just too big to be portable for me. Something smaller would be even nicer if I was doing it all the time.

  • Ive worked at several publicly listed companies around Australia & of all the servers & pc’s I saw & worked with, I could count the amount of Macs on one hand that was employed in these places. Macs are fantastic to look at, for web design, graphic design, photo editing, video editing etc. But for your bread & butter day in day out work , microsoft does it cheaper & has more compatability, its that simple. I love it when a novice mac user comes to the office & wants to connect to a printer without realising that MAcs have very little software or device compatabilty & discover there is no driver for their MAC. The more intermediate & advanced users can get around it. But your basic users, which are 90% of users cant. The ONLY time a MAC “just works”, is at home.

    • Printer drivers? Really? That’s your argument for Windows over Macs? I guess you have never been through a Windows upgrade then because guess what’s the first thing to break?

      Macs come with a nice little service built in called CUPS which can hook up to pretty much any printer you throw at it. Being part of the OS it’s updated regularly and always part of a new OSX. It’s not left up to the printer manufacturer to try and work out why the old drivers are broken and make new ones for each version of the OS.

      If they have trouble connecting to the office network then its more likely the IT Dept has turned something on or off they shouldn’t have, probably trying to block another virus.

  • I think the fundamental problem with the Mac vs PC debate is that Macs are reported to “just work”. They don’t. They work well โ€“ much better than Windows in my opinion โ€“ but OS X still has its problems.

    Where I think Macs have the upper hand is in ease of use. Sure, outlook is far superior to Mail in that it also manages contacts, calendar and ToDo lists in the single program (rather than having 3 separate programs in Mac, but for most people, the three programs work well enough. To get the most out of Outlook, you really need to know what you’re doing, which most people don’t.

    Of course, the Lifehacker readers (and Gus, obviously) do have that more in-depth knowledge that means they can leverage more from Windows than most regular folk.

    For the record, I use a Mac, and every attempt to try and use windows ends in tears โ€“ either mine or the PC’s (little virtual tears). Usually mine though. I think it’ll be a long time before I switch to Windows voluntarily, although I have to say that I do like the R600 from a hardware perspective… Hmmm. Hackintosh?

  • I’m sorry Angus, but most of the reasons you provided were completely spurious.

    I switched from win to mac at home about a year ago (I still use win at work). While I had the same concerns, I was open, I found the learning curve much quicker than I expected. The first few days were a little rough, then I got a little phrasebook and I was pretty much as quick as I was on my old win machine.

    Regarding mousing around, I’m the same as you, I hate using the mouse, but after a few weeks and a little research I found I don’t have to use the mouse any more than I do on windows, and I also find that there is actually more standardization in the hot-keys on mac than there is on windows so I need to memorize fewer of them than on win.

    I won’t fault anybody for choosing windows over mac for legitimate reasons, and the price/performance ratio is one of them, but the arguments you gave are basically excuses for your real reason: fear of change.

    You explicitly stated that you are unhappy with Vista, but you chose to stay with windows because something MIGHT be a bit of a pain (which you’ve exagerated).

    The only argument of yours that I give believe is credibile is the comparison of the two different machines. I’m sure the price/performance of the r600 is superior, but one thing people overlook when making that comparison is stability. I’ve found my mac to be way more stable than any windows machine I’ve ever owned (and I’ve owned a lot). My work computer still requires a reboot about every 2-6 weeks, whereas I’ve only needed to reboot my mac for stability reasons once in the last year. I’ll pay extra for that.

    • Care to elaborate on _why_ they’re completely spurious? (I notice you say nothing about the size, maximising, or Outlook arguments, which are a fair part of the article)

      I’ve never had any trouble memorising shortcuts, and I can’t think of any notable examples of where they’re not consistent between the Windows apps I’ve used.

      • Hoo boy, OK, I’ll bite. You did ask…why are your arguments spurious? Do you need to know why labeling a Mac as mouse-centric is spurious? It’s spurious for the same reason that you use a mouse in Windows, All. The. Time!

        Tell us all how using Outlook without a mouse is an argument for using Windows over Entourage on a Mac?

        This argument and most of the others appear to be spurious because you are not even willing to try out the alternative and provide informed comments with their own supported reasons. All this from a web site that consistently provides high quality advice.

        Are you prepared to ignore 10% of your readers? If you run a Mac and Windows, then you are qualified to comment. Otherwise, don’t start a discussion you are not qualified to participate in.

        Agnostic Windows user.

        • If we followed your “logic” that only people who run both a Mac and Windows machine should offer a comment and you really are an agnostic Windows user, you’re not qualified to participate either ๐Ÿ™‚

          And as I’ve said here now a few times: Mouse or not, Outlook provides features in a single package that don’t get replicated easily in a single Mac app that also syncs well with a BlackBerry. And while you’re dismissing my comments, anything to say on the size issue?

      • “The Mac is also a very mouse-centric environment,”

        How come? Admittedly I use my Mac more than a PC and I’m used to it, but I opened up a text editor and worked on this reply without using the mouse. I agree that a mac is very mouse friendly. I also concede that I use the new multi-gesture track pad, which I much prefer over any regular mouse.

        You didn’t have to dig up the windows keyboard short cuts? Oh that’s right,
        you knew them intuitively. ๐Ÿ˜›

        “Iโ€™m also a great believer in working with applications maximised, and thatโ€™s pretty much impossible on the Mac because of its โ€œsize the windows to the contentโ€ philosophy

        Um.. I’m using full screen’d apps. It’s about choice- you can have big windows
        or small windows. (The green “max” button) Admittedly you might have to resize the window manually sometimes.

        Of course, there are other reasons why you wouldn’t prefer a mac, (the size stuff, for example) But it comes down to that- personal preference, not an inherent flaw in the system.

        But it’s not professional to spread false information, Angus.

        • Which “false information”? There are certainly Mac apps that you can’t manually resize or maximise to the full screen. And I don’t see that I described any of these issues as “inherent flaws”, so that’s pretty much a straw man argument.

          There are specific reasons why a Mac wouldn’t suit _me_ (just me — I’ll emphasise that again because people seem to ignore it in order to argue with a position that no-one has actually taken). Why would someone would think that an article entitled “Why I Didn’t Buy A Mac” wouldn’t describe those?

  • Interesting article although I’m not sure I agree with all of it. I actually find OS X less mouse-centric than Windows now through the use of quicksilver (for which there is no adequate Windows substitute that I have tried yet and I’ve tried a lot). I do agree that a month on the road is not an optimal place to be acclimatising to a new OS although I would have thought a tech writer in general would find it useful to be comfortable on each of the main platforms). I find loyalty to Outlook personally mystifying but each to their own. I simply find myself less generally frustrated working on OS X and that is for everything from office tasks to media creation to command line server management but it is nothing if not a personal choice (and usually fueled by familiarity which will always favour the incumbent). Still always good to debate and discuss…

  • My computer is a tool, not an altar. I have some frustrations with Windows over the years but these reduce over time. I have spent time on Macs over the years and never found it more “intuitive” than the Windows interface.

    All my Mac-using buddies call me to help them out of a pickle on their Macs. When I ask them how to do something their intuitive knowledge goes completely out the window.

  • But your Twitter whinges were about… how Vista affects your productivity… which was what I was commenting on.

    That having been said, I do wish Apple did a modern version of the iBook. I’d buy one.

    (and for the record, while I like my Macbook a whole lot, I also run XP, Vista, Win7 and Ubuntu. Not sure if that makes me a “convert” or not. Best tool for a given job, and all that.)

  • “The Mac is also a very mouse-centric environment, and my work style is designed around using a mouse as little as possible. Yes, I know there are keyboard shortcuts on offer if you choose to dig them up, but the entire platform is still fundamentally based on the notion that drag and drop is a useful way to get things done.”

    The Mac OS philosophy annoys me in the other direction re: the mouse. Programs are designed assuming you only have one button (even though you can of course plug in a however-many-button mouse you like (and my experience has been that I have never seen a multi-button mouse on a Mac that I didn’t put there)) but this leads to even relatively platform-agnostic software like the Adobe suite being less mouse-friendly on a Mac as the shortcuts and right-click functionality aren’t as advanced (or weren’t at least up to CS2) on the Mac editions.

    Application-specific keyboard shortcuts (that would usually be handled by right-click functionality on a windows-based application) on the Mac also often take more keys (ah Quark why do you think I can easily get 5 fingers onto keys in the same general area of the keyboard without injuring myself ?)

  • Surely the hardware is a secondary issue. The biggest issue influencing choice (if your main use is work related, and by work I mean communicating with the majority of the business world that use windows ms office applications) is surely the continued poor performance of mac office (in all its manifestations) and the interminable compatibility issues.

    I try, i really do try, to stay within the mac environment but mac office means you either go without what are native windows features & functionality (e.g. VB macros, odbc, etc) or you have to constantly double handle to get things to work…and then there’s safari failing to render things like sharepoint correctly…the list goes on.

    We are devotees here at home but macs are only a ‘real’ work solution if you only work with people who also have macs.

  • After using Windows since Win95, I transitioned to Mac a couple of years ago, and will never go back.

    It takes about a month to get used to the different Mac-way of doing things.

    Angus, you’re right in that the time leading up an extended trip is not the right time to transition to Mac — but the problem is, you’ve slanted that unique set of circumstances to imply that Mac’s aren’t worth transitioning to. That’s a sly inference lacking journalistic integrity. Don’t link the two concepts.

    In my case, I run a business from my computer, and my life would go up in smoke if the data dies. After months of struggling with Windows, I faced the fact that I could not live with the risk of my entire business data running on Windows.

    I transferred to Mac, and it was not without hiccups. e.g. how to transfer several years worth of archived business emails to Mac. How to transfer business calendar info to Mac.

    But once it was done, I keep patting myself on the back with the realisation that I was better that I transitioned sooner than later.

    Mostly, Mac is rock solid compared to Windows. Just remember, never buy any OS at its launch. Wait about 9 months. In the case of Mac, wait till its about 5 or 6 updates into the new OS.

    Right now (May 2009) is a good time to transition to Mac because Leopard OS is now in its version 10.5.7, pretty stable with most of the bugs ironed out.

    Here’s my suggestion to you, Angus:

    1 – set up a Dropbox account on your Mac and PC (www.getdropbox)

    2 – set up an IMAP account (e.g. with Gmail), and run that from both Mac and PC.

    Using this setup, you can run Mac and PC concurrently with the same set of data. That way, you can give a direct comparison between the Mac and PC.

    3 – Give it a minimum of one month to get used to the Mac, and don’t write any sob-stories of how confusing it is UNTIL you finish the month.

    Then, if statistics can be trusted, you will have become one of those people who, once they transitioned, will NEVER go back to Windows.

    Overall I thought your article was pathetic. If you boil it all down, the essence of your article was: 1) transitioning to a new OS involved learning new things, 2) I can’t be bothered, particularly when I’ll be travelling soon, therefore 3) Mac’s aren’t worth it.

    That is lame logic. “I can’t be bothered to learn, therefore it’s not worth it.” Sheesh.

    • Thanks for all the transition hints. That’s a pretty unreasonable summary of my argument though — it ignores the size issue, and the fact that going on the trip was the key reason I wanted a new machine. I travel constantly, so size is an important ongoing issue, and one which hardly anyone telling me I’m biased has bothered to address so far, I might note.

      And I’ve not said anywhere that Macs aren’t worth transitioning to as an absolute — that’s why there’s an ‘I’ in the headline and why it concludes with what I would do. YMMV, obviously.

  • I think the more interesting argument here is the one about the conflict of interest between the author and the advertising on this page. In my opinion, I am finding it really difficult to make a distinction between what is objective opinion, and what is advertising.

    Nick, you corrected me on Twitter about Gus’s paying for his own laptop, and for the trip, which I thank you for. However, I still believe that there is a clear conflict of interest in this article which I can’t reconcile. Allure, you may want to think about this for future sponsored projects.

    I can believe a site that advertises one thing, and talks about another. I can believe a site that talks about what they’re advertising, but makes it clear that it is in fact a plug.

    What I can’t believe is an ‘objective’ opinion piece on a product when the page is plastered with ads about the very same product.

    • I can’t help thinking you’re looking for a conflict where none exists. The focus of the article is why I didn’t choose a Mac. No matter what machine I’d purchased, those arguments would all be the same. (And the information about my paying for the Toshiba was mentioned clearly when I did talk in detail about that machine.) What you _choose_ to believe I’ll leave up to you.

      • Angus,

        Can you comment further on your involvement with Toshiba? I have read up on your prior article about choosing your notebook, and while you do clearly mention you bought this PC with your own money, it isn’t really made clear how Toshiba’s marketing department got involved with this project.

        Are you saying you bought a Toshiba and then it just so happened Toshiba wanted to buy a massive chunk of advertising on this site? I find it hard to believe the two coincided quite so neatly.

        I’m not calling you out on spruiking here, I’m sure you are being honest in your articles. The point of this single article aside, I think it’s worth noting that in my opinion, as a reader, the relationship between the authors and the advertisers on this site is no longer presenting itself as a clear divide.

        • James: Toshiba’s marketing department got involved because they purchased sponsorship on the site. That’s handled by the advertising guys, not by me, and hence it’s not in the articles — because it’s not about the publishing business!

          You’re clearly determined to believe that there’s something improper going on, but the commercial reality is that ads appear on commercially-run web sites — and if there weren’t ads, there wouldn’t be commercially-run web sites for the most part. C’est la vie.

  • Angus, if you’re undecided about Macs, I suggest getting a 2nd hand one from eBay. Don’t get an old PowerPC. Get an Intel Mac. Try it for a month. If you really dislike Macs after the one month trial, re-sell the Mac on ebay. Because it was bought 2nd hand, you’re unlikely to lose much on the 3rd hand sale. What have you got to lose, except your pride at having defended Windows for close to a decade, and about a $200-$300 loss if you sell it 3rd hand.

  • There are applications to solve the issue with windows not sizing to fill the screen (though most will anyway), however you will feel confined by this only until the transitional phase is over. Once you are comfortable with the OS (and have moved on from Windows), you will find that for a lot of applications, not having them fill the screen is more comfortable & natural. This is emphasised by the fact that (in Leopard) you can scroll in inactive windows, so for example you could take notes in a Textedit window while you scroll through a .pdf document in Preview. You don’t realise how good this is until it’s gone – this is one of the small reasons I get frustrated with Windows now.

    Dragging & dropping is something you can completely do away with if you use Quicksilver, however I’ve found that the two in combination make the OS extremely intuitive and have increased my productivity a lot since I moved from Windows. On that note, Quicksilver is another reason I could never go back to Windows – nothing compares. If dragging & dropping isn’t your thing, Quicksilver will be your saviour. Apart from that, OSX makes it infinitely easier than XP to set your own custom keyboard shortcuts for any application you have.

    The other article isn’t very clear about why Outlook is so important to you, but it seems as though Entourage and/or MobileMe would suit your needs in that department.

    • Windows itself defaults to not maximising stuff in most instances, so it’s not like I couldn’t do that. But the point is I can also continue to work in a way that’s comfortable for me, and that doesn’t seem easily possible in Mac OS X. It’s massively unlikely that I’m going to adopt work processes that involve using a mouse more as you suggest — there are plenty of other comments suggesting that might not be as big an issue as I assume though.

      One key reason I use Outlook is for hooking up with the BlackBerry, so that’s MobileMe out. Nick summed it up neatly much earlier — I like have contacts, calendars, tasks and email all in one app that I can shift rapidly (and without an online connection) between mobile and PC. With the exception of filing email, Outlook’s also very keyboard-shortcut friendly. (And on that note, the only keyboard shortcuts I’ve defined in Windows are on the start menu and a handful in Word — the others are all supported natively by the OS and apps, which to me is better than having to set up my own.)

      • I swear I tried really hard not to get involved here but your main only reason for not buying a Mac is because it’s not Windows.

        You’ve pointed out many valid reasons in the comments why a Mac isn’t right for you but your article says “mac != windows, windows = way i like to work” with a healthy dose of made up, second-hand, crap about what macs apparently can or can’t do.

        Mac’s *don’t* always work in full screen – but that’s because the way they *do* work is different – and not fullscreen isn’t always required.

        Keyboard shortcuts are 1000* better in OS X than Windows. Sure, you mightn’t know them yet but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. *And* there is the ability to customise *any* shortcut to *any* menu-item in *any* application through the System Preferences.

        Not being able to use Outlook? The size-factor? The learning to use new things while traveling element? *They* are really good reasons not to use a Mac. And don’t really make for interesting reading (“hey! guess what?! I’m not Apples target demographic!”)

        The rest of the article is spurius at best, wrong at worst and a pretty crap attempt to justify what is really a personal (and completely valid) decision.

        • The article doesn’t claim anywhere to say “this is why no-one should ever buy a Mac”, and yet people keep reacting as if it does — yourself included. If I prefer to work with maximised screens, that’s a choice I make — and it’s simply not a choice that Mac OS X supports as well as Windows (or Linux, come to that). That doesn’t make me or the OS wrong, but it’s an issue I’d need to consider when making this kind of decision.

          As for the keyboard shortcuts issue, I’m going to be revisiting that this week in a lengthier (and separate) discussion, because there have been a lot of interesting points raised here about what the Mac offers in this field.

  • I don’t think OS X is more mouse-centric at all, compared to the windows world. Until 2006 I was a sys admin on microsoft homogenous networks.

    Now, since moving to an office where we operate on mac’s I rarely use the mouse and have my hands in what I call the hot position. I has in fact made me paranoid because to the boss walking past it must look as if I am constantly ready to hit ‘Alt-Tab.’

    My evidence is only anecdotal though – I may be an outlier.

  • Having used Windows since 2.11, when I was buying a new laptop in November I bought a MacBook Pro.

    Earlier this week I took delivery of my new Dell XPS Studio 16 and couldn’t be happier to be back in Windows.

    (MBP now up for sale.)

    Like Angus, my need for Outlook (or a good email program that works with Exchange, Entourage is rubbish for anything meaningful) meant I had to run Fusion.

    Given that I didn’t find OS-X any less crash-prone than XP/Vista/W7, it was about software, and the OSX is seriously behind.

    Office 2007 >>> Office 2008
    Outlook 2007 >>> Mail/Entourage
    Soundforge >>> Soundbooth CS4
    Lightroom = Lightroom
    CS4 = CS4
    Image management (generally) much better on Windows
    Xplorer2 >>> Finder, Forklift, Pathfinder
    Flash my Brain = Flash my Brain
    FeedDemon >>> NetNewsWire
    Digsby >>> Adium

    And so on.

    Love the attemps at distraction via the “I perceive Toshiba is evil and buying you gear” claims. Very funny, but not much of a smokescreen.

    The Dell smashes the MBP in performance, screen, etc. The way the power attaches with the MBP is nicer, though.

  • First up, I don’t use a mac, and I dislike Apple on the whole with their closed-shop approach. Having said that:
    hidden tweaks -> you’ll be looking for those in every new version of windows too
    keyboard shortcuts -> quicksilver
    outlook -> entourage
    As for size, well, that alone is a reason to choose one laptop over another. Apple make good hardware, which you can run Windows on (exclusively if you wish). If the size doesn’t suit you, so be it, but the rest of the arguments are spurious.

    • While I haven’t tested it in detail, a quick hunt around suggests that syncing Entourage with a BlackBerry (one of my main requirements) is fiddly and bug-ridden.

      Yes, there are new tweaks in most versions of Windows — but there are also tweaks that have worked since Windows 3.1 and continue to do so. (That’s doubtless true of the Mac, but that’s not the background I’m coming from).

  • I was a PC person until i got my first mac and i instantly fell in love.
    my mum has a Toshiba satellite which i believe is a fairly common PC laptop to have these days and althought it may have more ram and more gigs of memory my macbook still runs faster (my macbook also has much more app’s and music/files on it)

    i like the fact that i can close my macbook put it to sleep and the next time i open it BAM my screen pops up again where as the satellite will turn itself off and have to reboot

    Outlook is shitty and you can get Microsoft Entourage which i believe is the same basic idea as outlook from my experiencing.
    or you can just have Hotmail ?

    Macbooks keyboard/track pad tricks are really great as they allow quick and easy mobility between pages for example
    instead of having to go to the side scroll bar every time to move down the window i can put 2 fingers on the track pad and scroll down .. EASY
    or if i want to minimize a screen i simple press APPLE + M, if i want a new tab: Apple + T or if i want to quit a program Apple + Q and there are loads more.
    i believe that mac’s are just like PC’s but with better user mobility and you have access to both OS’s which means you get access to awesome programs like Pages or iMovie which is ten times better then notepad or windows movie maker but incase you need those you can just use bootcamp…SIMPLE

    things like keyboard tricks, bootcamp and track pad tricks arent meant to hinder your progress and be tricky but are there just incase you need them ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Some comments (@jaysee, well done) have pointed out that choosing a computer comes down to personal preference, and that some of the things Angus pointed out were misguided. (size, time needed to learn, outlook+blackberry are all relevant- the rest is mac-bashing.)

    I’m just sad that the first few comments are flame-ish mac/win fanboys.

    • Pointing out that many Mac apps can’t be maximised isn’t Mac-bashing; it’s a pretty uncontoversial fact. Some people like that; some (like me) don’t; quite a lot don’t care. But it’s not an attack, and it is a potential factor in choosing a machine.

  • I currently am running a fully optioned up MacBook Pro Unibody which I have owned for 6 months and is my experience with my Mac.

    The actual Operating Sysem is ‘nice’. It’s nice to surf the net with and check my email. However, no matter how much I try for replacements, productivity software on the mac is woeful. Microsoft Office suite is cut down to the point that I want to throw it at a wall, Apple’s alternative ain’t much better and NeoOffice, whilst a generally nice UI, is lacking in the same regards as office. This extends out to my other software. Another bugbear I’ve found is Application management, in that, their is none. I know your supposed to ‘drag and drop it’ to the trash, but the amount of crap which gets left in your ‘library’ is so woeful that it makes Add/Remove under windows look like an advanced piece of alien technology. Lastly, my biggest bugbear, Windows. I am a power user running a x64 copy of Vista (x86 is not practical in my environment). However, Apple’s bootcamp (read, bios emulator) is not fully complete, and I hard lock (freeze) multiple times a day as bootcamp doesn’t support some aspects of microcode in my notebook. Ok, no bios. Lets install via EFI since thats what the mac’s do. Eeep. Can’t do that either since apple in its wisdom didn’t go with the international standard of UEFI, and instead hacked up their own very similiar, but incompatible version of EFI called Apple EFI 1.3 , which means I can’t run windows fully native either.

    Add to that a floppy lid, fans initially not ramping up until 80 c (thankfully has been fixed), and a auto adjust screen sensor which is on the blink which turns my screen into a film projector at low light levels make me curse this $4500 laptop.

    I will admit though, 2.8ghz 4gb ddr3 9600gt all in the form factor of something the same size as my old 13 inch notebook and about twice as light is a nice considering im always travelling with it. But ‘It just works’ just doesnt fly for me.

  • Should really try it before you comment on osx. Been using win 95 till vista, decided to convert to mac. Was skeptical at first but it turned out pretty good.

    Really happy with my mbp, and i still use my vista everyday when my mbp is on dock.

    At the end of the day your the one using it. Just dont judge osx if you dont even know what cmd + tab is for.

  • People seem to forget and (by the various articles covered by audio magazines).It seems that the MAC has always been catered towards the pro-sumer. Graphics, Film and Audio,Architects etc.For the Professional people who can afford the latest and greatest equipment. That been said with the advent of OSX or BSD I am finding that special free software for music for UNIX, Linux that was a pain to configure is now been made assessable and less time consuming I assume to get up and running on the Apple computer now that steve has switched over to BSD.
    I only use XP for Ableton Live the rest I use for PC-BSD. e.g Internet, Documents, You-tube on my Laptop. And I don’t have to run Ad-aware or Spybot destroyer I’ve got better things to do with my time than Pi#% f%^& around trying to get bugs outta my computer that hit “Winbloze Fistya”.

  • I’m a (very long time) PC user, but I’ve wanted to try a Mac for years now. There are two things that always stop me:

    1. Price. I just can’t justify the added expense, especially when I’m not even sure I’ll prefer it to a PC. Frankly, if Apple offered a great deal for first-time Mac buyers I’m sure they’d get a LOT more switchers… but we all know *that* won’t happen!

    2. The text on a Mac always looks a bit blurry to me. Every time I tried reading text on a Mac (in Apple stores) I would practically get a headache. I finally looked into it and found out that I’m not alone… lots of people have complained about this problem. (Don’t believe me? Search for ‘mac blurry fonts’ or something similar.)

    So, even though I’m very curious about a Mac, it looks like I’ll be stickin’ with a PC. At least for now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sorry, a few more things I remembered that keep me from switching to a Mac:

    3. There’s a Delete key, but no Backspace key. I use both quite often. Sure, there’s a way to replicate this with a keyboard “shortcut” by pressing an extra key… but isn’t using just one finger a *better* shortcut?

    4. No dedicated Home and End keys. I use these keys A LOT. Again: There’s a way to replicate this with a keyboard “shortcut” by pressing an extra key… but isn’t using just one finger a *better* shortcut?

    5. Software. I already have a lot of software (for Windows, naturally) and switching over to the Mac equivalent would be expensive and a hassle — (plus some software I use is not made for Mac). This means I’d have to use Parallels or VMware for much of my work… but if I do that, why bother with a Mac, right?

    Believe me, I *want* to try a Mac. But there are too many gotchas involved (expense, time, hassles, etc) to actually pull out my credit card.

    If anyone has any reasonable solutions for me, I’m open to listening. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I would not touch a Mac for so many reasons, not least of which is price and hardware restrictions. Mac Pro from $4499. I spent $1500 on a Core 2 quad 9550 with 8GB RAM, 2x1TB HDD, 800W PSU, Antec 183 case, 1GB Video card and a good motherboard. Running Windows 7 RC1 x64 with no page file and the system is rock solid and lightning fast. Oh yeah, it “just works” too (I have not had to download a single driver). No eyecandy that cannot be turned off either. Is a Mac Pro three times the machine. Not likely.

    I ran Ubuntu exlusively for 9 months and had a macbook for 4 months to play with for work testing compatability with the work system. I went back to windows. Mac was all pretty but not better IMO. For home use it makes no difference, everyone should just get over themselves and use whatever the hell they want. For business use it is another story. The Outlook/Exchange combo has no peers, plain and simple and email is important.

    I would never buy a Mac, for the same reason that I wont be sucked into the marketing hype around the iphone/ipod. All is overrated, there are far more capable and cost effective options around. The iphone/ipod touch does have a nice screen though…

  • Good article. I’ve been using Windows PC’s for years, and earlier this year started a job in an all Mac office. After several months on this new job, I can assure you that you’re not missing anything. There is nothing about Macs that is easier, more convenient, faster, or better than PC’s. All these years I’ve wondered why Mac people are so passionate about their OS. Now that I’ve used Mac OS extensively, I’m even MORE baffled by their passion. It’s different for sure, but it is absolutely not better.

    And yeah, the “size the window to the content” behavior is the worst! I can’t stand working in one program, while being able to see background applications below the window I’m trying to focus on.

  • Had to jump in and add my two cents. I changed to a Mac about 12 months ago, and still scratching my head as to why. I have avoided using iPhoto as I want to control the way my photos are organised, not allow iPhoto to rule.

    I have had 2 major faults within the past 12 months, the first being a power supply issue and the second being a faulty main board. Plus I have also seen this OS crash and often get the spinning beach ball and have had lots of weird things happen in OSX (equal to Windows).

    My next machine will be a windows machine as at least trouble shooting is easier when things go wrong (to fix my wifi issue the apple engineer suggested I “whack’ it and see how that goes).

    I use the OS that best suits my overall needs, and at the moment that is still windows.

  • I find this article very interesting…. when I went to Uni back in 1990, the whole class sat down in front of a lab of Mac SEs. Put in tutorial disks, and turned on the Mac SE’s…. and a couple of hours later everyone was proficient. The same class went into the IBM lab the next day, and it took about twice the time for the same group of people to reach the same level of proficiency. I was a poor student who was looking for a cheap secondhand PC, after that experience I spent my tax return on a second hand mac plus instead. It’s no longer true that the learning experience for beginners is so extreme, but it’s still there to some extent. The other thing I have noticed is that die hard windows users forced to use a mac, will invariably try to do things the complicated way, instead of the simple way. For example, my wife used Word for ages at work, and was used to using a dialog system to select a picture she wanted to insert. First time she wrestled with Pages on the Mac, she couldn’t figure out how to insert a picture. She was shocked when I showed her how to drag and drop it. I know it’s not a scientific study, but it’s a perfect example. Ultimately Angus, if you are happy the way you are, good for you. If you want to use a complicated wizard to do some task that on a mac can be done with a simple gesture… then that’s your thing. And learning the keyboard shortcuts CAN be difficult because they are “muscle memory”, but it’s worth it once you do.

    • I think there’s often a danger of confusing the notion of “intuitive” or “simple” with “what you’re used to”. Would the same outcome have held true if the tutorials were in reverse order, or would the Mac stuff have taken longer as people tried to apply the PC principles they learned today? (Windows was not dominant in 1990 in any case — had the same think happened in 1995, I doubt the contrast would have been anywhere near as great.)

      In your Pages example, I don’t think dragging and dropping is any simpler than clicking on an Insert Picture button (or menu item) — it’s just a different approach. What I’m certain of is that it’s slower than if you know the keyboard shortcuts.

      And you can definitely take any interface metaphor too far. The example that always struck me was ejecting a disc from the Mac by dragging it to a garbage bin. That’s a drag and drop action, but a stupid one that always has to be explained to people.

  • I don’t get how people want to switch due to Macs being “safer” considering I haven’t been using antivirus for close to 5 years now straight. I have gotten trojans, and they were direct downloads that I stupidly opened manually, then removed manually. I guess if you’re a total newbie and don’t plan on learning how a real computer works, a Mac is fine for you. Though I’d suggest something like openSUSE or Ubuntu years before I’d suggest a Mac.

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