Musings on Photography

The Mac Switch, Six Months In.

Posted in macintosh by Paul Butzi on January 14, 2008

It’s been some six months now since I started the switch to Macs. Doug Plummer wrote an excellent summary of his experiences with his switch to Macs, which I encourage everyone interested to go read.

The brief recap:

  • the first Windows machine replaced was my Sony VAIO laptop, which got replaced with a 15″ MacBook Pro.
  • the next machine replaced was the big computer in the studio (a dual processor Athlon) which got replaced with a dual dual core Xeon Mac Pro
  • After that, the Shuttle based Windows XP machine in the kitchen got replaced with a 24″ iMac. This iMac also took over the job of serving up music over the network, allowing me to eliminate another Shuttle that had gotten relegated to being the music server.
  • the firebreathing FreeBSD file server with a one terabyte RAID filesystem got replaced with a little Mac Mini and a two terabyte Western Digital Mybook in mirror mode, which provides one terabyte of redundant networked storage.

Two Windows machines remain: one machine which I run Quickbooks on, and one machine in the studio which is not currently being used. The quickbooks machine will go away as soon as I buy a replacement accounting software for the Mac (probably NOT Quickbooks) and the other machine will be replaced by an iMac as needed, probably in the next few months.

Our experiences have been excellent. Both Paula and I love the Macs; Paula is particularly happy with the switch because she finds the Macs much easier to use. I’m happy because I seem to be spending less time in day to day maintenance.

Some observations, in no particular order:

  • Setting up a Mac and getting it integrated into our network of other machines is far faster and easier than setting up another Windows machine. Much of this seems to be Apple’s heavy focus on the ‘out of the box’ experience. Another part of it is that the Mac’s reliance on technologies like Bonjour, etc. mean that getting the machine to find the resources (printers, servers, etc.) on the local network is far easier – setting up a Mac to use a networked printer, for instance, is a matter of a few seconds, instead of half an hour of finding the install disk, installing software, etc.
  • The Mac hardware is really nicely built, except for the Mighty Mouse which is really a very bad mouse. We’ve had one Mighty Mouse fail already.
  • Macs don’t come with a huge bolus of crapware installed, which means that the machine does not come out of the box bloated with stuff you don’t want.
  • The Macs we’ve got are, without exception, extremely quiet. Both the house and the studio are now quite a bit more pleasant.
  • Although Doug describes all sorts of problems getting his network to work, we’ve had no problems at all, and in fact I find the Macs interoperate nicely with both Windows, Freebsd, and Linux.
  • In general, stability of the Macs has been better than what we got from the Windows machines. I’ve crashed several times, and occasionally some app will get confused about where the focus is. Paula has found that playing java based games online seems to eventually lead to Safari getting very slow and stupid; the solution she uses is to quite Safari and restart it, which is far easier than a reboot.
  • Rather to my surprise, the installed software on the Mac (things like iPhoto, etc.) are actually decent. Replacing our Windows Media Connect based music distribution with iTunes has been a huge relief; WMC is hopeless but iTunes is actually pretty good.

We’ve suffered from no hardware problems on the order of those encountered by Doug, who’s had ongoing problems with his Mac Pro that have caused him great heartache.

In the end, my observation is that Apple, which is free from the constraints imposed by the demands of large corporate IT departments, has largely focused on improving the experience of the average home user, starting from opening the box when you get it home and continuing on through setup, maintenance, and use.

In terms of the adjustment going from Windows to the Mac, both Paula and I made with switch pretty painlessly. Paula loves the Mac, claiming that it’s far easier to figure out how to do things she’s never done before. Neither of us seem to suffer from Doug’s “can’t figure out where I am” difficulties, although I understand perfectly what he’s describing. Without being able to point to any particular issue, my general observation is that getting something done on the Mac seems to take me less time than it did on Windows.

More on all this after we have made the transition to Leopard.

2 Responses

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  1. Jim said, on January 15, 2008 at 5:10 am

    Congratulations on the switch… we completed the PC-to-Mac conversion in our house a couple of months ago and it’s been terrific. You will love Leopard. Here’s my post on our experiences:

  2. hugh s said, on January 15, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    yay for macs, id suggest trying to use firefox when it comes to java stuff, cause i experience really slow flash and java loads and working…ness… also, id suggest upgrading the ram, I really dont know why its so slow all the time. oh yeah, get quicken if youre switching from quickbooks.

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