This is the first of what could become an occasional series on my conversion from Windows to the Macintosh.
I was driven to the Mac by several factors though cost was not one of them. Computers fall into a price range that is fairly competitive and the greatest cost — at least in the way that the vendors price things — appears to be in the operating system and associated productivity software. For example for a few hundred dollars tops, you can get a suite of word processing, spreadsheet, browser (usually free), and presentation software. The operating system tends to cost a bit more if you can get the vendors to unbundle. In contrast a computer with the same types of applications and a Linux operating system can be purchased for one thousand dollars less, at least the last time I looked.
Yes, you can get free productivity software from companies like Google if you want to use it on-demand and if you don’t mind seeing ads popping up while you work. The quality of these packages all differs and if you make a living writing you might be more demanding than the average bear when it comes to features and functions. For example, the version of iWork from Apple that I am writing with does not offer a word count function, something that writers really need. When your editor says 775 words that’s what you need to deliver and you don’t want to estimate or count.
It is probably right that the operating system is such an expensive part of the overall package because without it the computer you buy is just a fancy adding machine and because companies invest so much time and effort into building them. Whether it’s Apple Leopard or Windows we’re looking at about 500 gigabytes of code. Quite a bit. We need operating systems, at least until we get to a point when everything is available on-line and the only function of the computer is to host the browser. It could happen.
So, I bought a Mac largely because of the horror stories about the new version of Windows, Vista. According to industry pundits and users that I spoke with, Vista is trouble, an immature product that could have been better served with another season in the minor leagues working on locating its fast ball.
Beyond the bugs, it appears there were business decisions made by Microsoft that also helped doom Vista to the point of indictments. Many drivers for existing peripheral devices like printers were not updated to run on Vista and to my eye it would not have taken much in the engineering department for Microsoft to enable those drivers to work. The result was that when people go to buy Vista computers, they are forced to buy printers too.
The same is true for other drivers, for example the drivers that run graphics boards. Vista is not an operating system that can be used to upgrade an existing Windows XP machine. So it appears that Microsoft, wittingly or unwittingly, drew a line in the sand with Vista and everything that was on one side was not likely to migrate to the other. This happens periodically in technology either because the new technology is a radical shift or because someone has to figure out how to keep the revenue line growing.
Whatever. To me I was witnessing a clear breakpoint in the Windows world so what better time would there ever be to reevaluate my choices? I expect that Microsoft will get its act together and that there will be a service pack for Vista that will calm down a lot of the initial troubles. That seems to be Microsoft’s approach, but it didn’t fit my need.
Nonetheless, for me in the summer of 2008 I decided that I didn’t want to wait (or hope) for Microsoft to catch up to itself. I also wanted to explore additional software titles, especially the Adobe Creative Suite 3. I know that Adobe runs on Windows and I have some earlier versions of Adobe products on my old Windows PCs (Did I mention there are about 5 PC’s in my house along with a network? Keep that in mind.) but I thought it might be a better experience working with those products to build my web site on a Mac.
So long story short, I took the plunge and went to my nearby Apple store and bought an iMac with a little more memory, a big hard drive, wireless network router with another huge hard drive built in and a bundle of software. There are also several additional services that I bought including something called one to one.
More on that soon.