Would I be a Mac, if…?

It’s a great box and I love it, but…

For those of you that know me, you know that my love affair with the Apple ecosystem is very recent. I’ve been a Windows advocate most of my computing career.  In fact, most of my computing chops were earned in the Microsoft ecosystem – Windows, WindowsCE, PocketPC/ PocketPC Phone/ Windows Mobile and Windows Phone. I am still listed as a Sr. Content Editor for WUGNET, the Windows User’s Group Network and have been associated with them since 1997. For example, most of contents of their Windows and Computing Tips database are my work.

There’s been a bit of talk in the tech world about some changes Apple is making. Recently, Apple announced a decision to kill both Aperture and iPhoto. Jason Perlow over at ZDNet wrote a column about it.  It got me thinking about my own Mac journey.

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I bought my first Mac in 2006; and believe it or not, I bought it to be a Windows machine.  Boot Camp is a GREAT tool; and Intel-based Macs do a great job of running Windows (though I know Steve Jobs can hear me, and is definitely rolling over in his grave as I type this.)  I apologize, Mr. Jobs; but your hardware, IS the best in the business. Period…AND they make awesome Windows PC’s.

Since 2006, I’ve owned 3 different MacBook Pro’s or Unibody MacBooks.  However, it wasn’t until late 2010/ early 2011 that I made the complete switch over from Windows to OS X. This happened for a number of reasons.

1. I Invested in the Mac Ecosystem
It’s gotten better over time, but even though iPods were Windows compatible, they REALLY didn’t want to live there.  The differences in their operation were subtle – and still are – but if you have a chance to have an iPod or an iPhone pair up with a Mac, you will see they are much happier speaking their own language with their own people than they are living as an exile in a foreign country. In other words – you iDevice wants to pair up with an iTunes library on a Mac rather than on a Windows box. It’s easier to manage. It’s easier to sync content to, though that may not be as obvious today as it was back between 2004 to 2010.

It was also about this time, that I started buying more audio and video directly out of the iTunes Store rather than buying CD’s and ripping them myself.  As I began doing this, I decided to move my music library from the Windows side to the Mac side of my MBP. Since I knew that my iDevice life would be a better experience as a native Mac device AND I had a Mac to do this with, it simply made sense to move everything to the Mac side.
2. I Became Lazy
I don’t want to say that I made the permanent switch to OS X from Windows because I got tired of stopping and starting my PC when I wanted to watch a movie or sync my iPod/ iPhone; but stopping what I was doing and trying to quickly swap over was becoming a bit of a pain.  There wasn’t a real good way to reading or writing to an HSF or HSF+ volume from the Windows side of things, though you could at least read from an NTFS volume via OS X, natively at the time.

My biggest problem at the time was Office for Mac 2008 – it stunk. Period.  Word, Excel and PowerPoint were DEFINITELY behind in both technology and functionality with their counterparts from both Office 2007 and 2010. As I was (primarily) a Windows tech journalist/blogger at the time, and all of the GOOD tools that I was used to using were on the Windows end of things, it made sense to stay there, despite the fact that I had a Mac.

The other big problem I had was that despite how much I tried, despite how much I upgraded my Mac(s), running Windows as a VM with either Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion was a horrible experience.  The only way you could get good performance was to run Windows via Boot Camp, and that meant bopping back and forth between the two operating systems. Running Parallels or VMWare was painfully slow, and threw a boat anchor around the host OS, too.  So, I stayed a Mac owner running native Windows.  However, it was becoming clear that if things ever did improve, or if I ever did get a Mac that could run Windows in a VM with decent performance, I’d make the switch.

It was in late 2010 that Office for Mac 2011 became available and I jumped on early betas thanks to my TechNet subscription. It was also during this time that I was able to purchase an Early 2011 15″ MBP that had decent enough specs to push Windows as a VM via Parallels Desktop that it made sense to make the full switch over to OS X.  I’ve been a full-blown Mac ever since.  However, I do want to make one very important point.

I’m not made of money.  I love the Mac ecosystem; but the price of entry is WAY too high for the average consumer, in my opinion. While it may be easier to get there with iPhone and iPad, buying a Mac laptop or desktop costs a LOT of coin, and honestly, I wouldn’t own a Mac computer if I wasn’t a technology journalist.

Since I can VERY EASILY run OS X natively and Windows (as well as any variant of Linux) in a VM with decent performance thanks in no small part to Intel’s i7 processor and 16GB of RAM it makes sense for me to stay here. Running a VM of OS X or Linux on a PC hasn’t always been easy, and I gave up on tweaking and pushing hardware to do things they REALLY don’t wanna do (even though they should be able to) a few years ago. It’s just not worth the hassle, and I have better things to do with my time.

However, Jason Perlow brings up a very good point in his Aperture/iPhoto argument – would I be a Mac for any other reason?  Jason’s pull was digital photography. Mine was the need to easily run more than one computing OS at a time without having to reboot OR having to put up with crappy performance so I could write about apps, hardware, accessories, etc. used with those operating systems.  I was forced recently to admit – and rightly so – that if I weren’t getting paid to do that, I wouldn’t have purchased a Mac in 2006 in the first place.

It’s true. I really like my Mac, OS X and the way all of my iDevices work and integrate so well in their native environments and operating systems.  While it isn’t as “just works” as it used to be, owning and using a Mac is still a lot more elegant than anything that I’ve seen on the PC side.

Are you a Mac?  Have any of the recently announced changes to the Apple ecosystem turned you off to the Mac?  Why don’t you let me know your thoughts in the discussion area, below? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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