20 Observations from a Switcher

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Update (2008-06): Updated to reflect how it works for me now.

Like most computer users who started with a Windows system, I once believed Macs are mostly crap or hype.

Background

That said, I would never have considered switching if Apple hadn’t introduced Mac OS X.  Mac OS 9 wasn’t my cup of tea (I used it for some school projects).

Through the last 7 years, my progressive discovery of the open source community in general drove me more and more to feel and experience how Windows sucks for a non-ms developer.  I needed some kind of unix/linux flavor, and even in 2007, my opinion was that linux distributions aren’t mature enough for me.  But linux is worth another rant.

When I started to understand in 2005 that Mac OS X had redefined the game and was indeed a great system, my interest raised enough for me to start reading a bit about it when bloggers would mention it.

In 2006, I saw the birth of MacTels and much more people starting to switch.  At that point, I was really enthralled by Leopard’s promises.  But I wasn’t ready to switch.  I needed to realize a three more things:

  • Mac OS X is so much based on a unix system that it’s in fact the best unix/linux-compatible distribution out there for the mass market, while at the same time being great for developers.
  • I can replace all the Windows applications I use with strong Mac alternatives.
  • Buying a Mac is a no-risk decision, since I could always switch back to Windows with the same Mac by using BootCamp.

When I understood all these facts, I knew I needed to give OS X its chance.  That’s when I started waiting for Leopard’s release.  This waiting wasn’t the happiest of all, especially after MacWorld 2007 came without the next cat.  I was of those wanting Steve Jobs to tell us to go buy our Macs now and he’d ship us Leopard later for free, but now I’m happy I waited.  I got a 24” aluminum iMac instead of a 20” plastic iMac.  I bought it one week before Leopard’s release and I ordered the 10$ upgrade disc to get Leopard one week after its release.  I received it three weeks after its release, probably because I’m Canadian.  I was angry at first, and then I felt deceived and sad about that.  When I finally received Leopard, I forgot all about that and continued using my shining, brand new iMac.

Observations

  1. I’m lost! I’ve used DOS and Windows for about 14 years and now I must find how to do almost anything.  …After a few days, most of that feeling was gone.
  2. PhotoBooth is a great deal of fun. My wife would like us to take one picture of us each and every day.
  3. System Preferences are much easier to browse and use in general than those of Windows XP.  And it’s really great that they all take effect without having to click on an OK button.
  4. I love the Dashboard! I use it for weather forecasts, a quick calendar view, to read lyrics of what’s playing in iTunes and my wife checks the bus schedules that I clipped into it out of the web using Safari.
  5. What, I closed this application and it’s still running?  Hmm, it must work like on the Pocket PC I had.  Hey, but the red X button doesn’t always behave the same way.  In some applications it simply hides the window (I like it this way), in some other applications it closes the active document, along with its window (I hate it this way), and finally, in other applications, it completely quits it.  This inconsistency sometimes drives me nuts.
  6. It’s great to see an icon appear on the desktop as soon as the CD or hard-drive you’ve plugged in has been recognized. Windows didn’t recognize my devices every time, so I sometimes needed to open the Explorer to see if it had worked or not.
  7. It feels great to trash the CD or removable storage in order to eject it, although it’s a bit unnatural.  At least, the trash’s icon changes to reflect what’s really going to happen.  I hate having to insert a CD or plug my removable storage into any kind of port, so it feels great every time I virtually trash it.  It’s a quick, one action process.  Windows required me two actions.
  8. QuickLook rocks!!!
  9. I prefer the new Dock and transparency. Sorry, folks!  But I agree that Stacks need some reworking.
  10. The Dock and the Menu Bar are so much better than Windows’ Task Bar, which I hated for always feeling crowded as soon as I opened more than 3 or 4 applications.  I’ve seen too much people work in Windows as if it was a single-task OS, in fear of clogging up their Task Bar or as if it was a best practice to have only one running application at all times in the Task Bar.  Nonsense.  The Dock can get clogged up too, but it scales much more, at least.  It could be better, but it could also be much worse.
  11. Hey, I plugged in my printer and OS X isn’t telling me it’s ready to be used.  Hey, my printer is available to print on!?  …And it works like a charm! Wow, it looks like Mac users are so much used for things like that to work that they don’t expect any feedback anymore.  Incredible, I love this!
  12. While intensive background tasks are running, the system is so much more responsive to what I do than Windows was. It would drive me nuts, but it doesn’t anymore now that the mouse cursor follows my movements and the system answers my requests.  Thank you, Apple, oh, thank you so much just for that little detail!
  13. Wow, the system recovers from Sleep much faster than my Windows XP did sometimes, great!
  14. iTunes has weird bugs. iTunes often crashes while I’m browsing through its interface.  Also, when iTunes has finished ripping a CD and starts ejecting it, most of the time it emits through the speakers a big CRRRRRHHHSSSSS sound that almost kills us and the cats every time.  It also kills whatever music was playing at that time.  The first time it happened, I thought the whole sound system was dead.  You can’t get used to such musical violence.   And the sound volume is so low afterwards, but if I go play with it, it gets back to what volume level it previously was, like if nothing happened.  That’s really weird, and it’s clearly a bug.  I tried every possible thing like running software update and deactivating system sounds but it still continues trying to kill us.  …That happened only while I was using Tiger.  On Leopard, iTunes behaves well, and we’re thankful for that.
  15. While we were still running Tiger:  What the heck, Mac OS X isn’t that stable!?  Often, I can’t get the computer to shutdown or restart.  It freezes after the Dock disappeared, but before the power goes off. (Update: I now believe it was due to some applications I used by then.)
  16. Since we upgraded to Leopard:  We still have the same shutdown problems, although it looks like it happens less often.  But what’s worse is that the whole computer crashes often, for no apparent reason!  Sometimes I can go for a week before it happens, sometimes it happens daily.  We’re able to move the mouse cursor but the system answers to nothing else.  It feels like I’m back to the bad days of Windows 95 on that aspect…  Well, if I tolerated this kind of problems at that time, I suppose I can tolerate it for the good cause of running OS X.  Let’s hope these problems will get fixed with 10.5.2.  On a side note, when I read Mac users bragging about how much their Macs are so much more stable than Windows and its famous Blue Screen of Death, I think they deserve to be told something that goes along this line: “That was before Windows XP (2001), you blind!  Since then, Windows is stable.”  Please try to preserve your credibility instead of writing crap like that.
  17. After one month of Mac OS X usage:  Hey, I still haven’t installed Windows!  What?  I can’t believe I didn’t use or think about Windows for a whole month! Let’s install it using BootCamp, to see how well this iMac drives games.
  18. When I booted into my Windows partition for the first time:  What!?  I didn’t remember Windows looked so bad!?  And, while playing some game:  Hey, it crashes exactly the same way it does when I’m running OS X, but it does it more often in some games than in others!  Might it be a problem with some kind of low-level driver?  Might it be something that heats too much?  My memory is tested as being OK…
  19. After two months of OS X usage:  I can’t believe how it’s true that generally, software designed for Mac OS looks and feels so much better.  I’m more happy buying licenses to register software, knowing I’m encouraging passionate developers.
  20. Wow, I’m truly on the better side of the fence now.  Nothing is perfect, but let me tell you I’m not looking back at all.
  21. (Update: new) I’m addicted to using Spotlight. I use almost all its available types of search.  I might some day want to start using something like LaunchBar or Quicksilver.  Meanwhile, Spotlight is just enough for my needs.

Like most Mac computer users, I believe Windows sucks.

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