I’ve been using a Mac laptop for work since October 2006. Even two years later, every time I go to a work event, internal or external, people ask me how do I like it, and why I do it, as many still link IBM to PCs or Thinkpads. Others just assume that I’m a big Mac/Apple fan, as I also carry an iPhone and sometimes an iPod shuffle.
As some of you know, Apple’s ongoing ad campaign stereotyping Mac and PC users has been fought back by Microsoft’s ads “I’m a PC”, which were ironically made – at least in part – using Macs. All this discussion created an artificial dichotomy between PC people and Mac people. Apparently, you can’t be both, the same way you are either a dog person or a cat person.
When people ask me if I’m a Mac, I wish I could answer in Portuguese, or Spanish, like in “Eu estou Mac”. It’s not a permanent state of mind. The reason I prefer to use a Mac as my work machine is mainly because in an Intel Mac I can run both OS X and MS-Windows, and I can’t do it in a PC.
I really don’t get the fanboyism around Mac products. I do think they are more visually appealing than their PC counterparts, but they are far from perfect. Sometimes I have the impression that some Mac users use it as a way of saying: I’m a Mac, therefore I’m better than you, and just ignore or dismiss a number of Mac annoyances.
My MacBook Pro freezes from time to time, and has poor battery life and wi-fi performance compared to my Thinkpad. It feels uncomfortably hot to actually place on your lap, and it gets cold like ice after a walk outside during winter time. I can’t close the lid without putting the system to sleep. I tried InsomniaX, but the machine was so hot after a while that I was afraid it would damage the screen.
There are things Macs do better but the same can be said of Windows. For example, every time I need to write text in Portuguese, Spanish or French, I switch to Windows. The Mac way of dealing with accents using a standard US keyboard is just cumbersome. To write an “a” with a tilde, as in “São Paulo”, you have to type “Option + n” in Mac OS. In Windows, you just type tilde. No matter how much of a Mac fanboy or fangirl you are, you gotta admit that “Option + n” in not intuitive. The acute accent (as in “passé”) is “Option + e”, and the circumflex (as in “château”) is “Option + i”. That’s ok if you only type them once in a blue moon, but not ok if use them all the time.
Also, there are some freeware or open source programs that are only available in Windows. One of my favourites is the super-useful Bulk Rename Utility, very handy to rename digital photo files and adjust timestamps. Other good utility only available in Windows is IrfanView, with its batch conversion feature, free for non-commerical use. The list goes on and on.
Of course, by the same token, there are lots of utilities only available on the Mac side, like Skitch, a nice tool to annotate screenshots, and, of course, Apple’s Keynote, the best program to create presentations out there. Movie editing is also much easier in the Mac using a combination of iMovie and iMovie HD, compared to Windows Movie Maker.
Finally, there are areas where both sides could do better. As an example, the Mac OS Finder and Windows Explorer could borrow some features from each other, as both come out short in easy of use.
All in all, I slightly favour the Mac, due to the combination of SW & HW integration and overall user experience, but it’s far from being a slam dunk. I still think that the Thinkpad is a better piece of engineering, just not as pretty. The switch to Intel was a major factor in my buying decision, as it basically mean that I don’t need to give up on one in favour of the other.
Of course, I admit I may be the exception, or just a bad Mac user, so please let me know if I’m missing something here, and if there’s any easy way to address the Mac issues I mentioned above. Being a person who likes both cats and dogs, I just can’t see why you have to love or hate Windows or Mac OS X.