Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Considering the switch to Mac?

For a very long while, I have been a “Windows Guy”. My writing here at Tech–for Everyone reflects this fact (and the fact that 90+% of you are using Windows too), and has been Windows-centric. However, a little while ago, I wrote an article stating that I had added a new Category, and that I would include Apple topics in the future. (I also stated my reasons for preferring Windows over Macs, which I still stand by. If you missed it, click here.)

For various reasons (a slick advertising campaign?) there is such a thing as (shudder) people considering switching from Windows to Macs.I actually know some people who have made the switch. I recently added a “Tiger” (OSX 10.4) machine to my network; and even more recently, went shopping for a notebook and quite seriously evaluated a MacBook Pro (but went elsewhere).

The learning curve: When considering making changes in our lives, a big factor often is the “learning curve”, and if it’s too steep (or, there at all.. in some cases) we back away and stick to what we know. That’s human nature. I know quite a few folks who are sticking with XP simply because they do not want to learn a “new” operating system (Vista). Sure, they use the bad press early adopters of Vista reported as their argument, but the truth is they fear change. If that applies to you, fear not– XP-to-Vista is essentially a zero learning curve.
That is not the case at all if you are considering the switch to Apple, it does take a bit of re-learning.

My impressions: Apple OSX Tiger made some serious changes to the UI which made it much more friendly to ex-Windows users than previous versions. When I go to use my Tiger machine, I do have to “put on a different hat”, but much of what has become second-nature to me as a Windows user is there — such as right-click Context Menus, the ability to use my mouse’s scroll wheel, and a Taskbar-like “Dock” towards the bottom. Preferences are called “Preferences”; applications, “Applications”; and so on. Menus (in general) are quite similar also.

And there’s some differences that I must remember… when you click on the red “X” on a Windows window (which is always on the right) it closes the window and the program. Clicking on the red… um, er.. stoplight (?) on the left on a Mac window, closes the window but the program is still running (and using system resources) and so I must go to another menu and choose “Quit”. To me, and I’m just one guy, this is the biggest difference: Apple likes to leave the program running ‘in the background’, and you must emphasize ‘Quit’ (and I resent the wasted motion).

I am still quite new to Mac and my impressions are still forming. I will return to this subject, and keep you informed as to how it goes. But I can tell you this: the learning curve isn’t so steep. Apple has done away with “Apple Talk” in favor of TCP/IP so, now, when you get a new Mac, you can just plug your Ethernet cable in and you’ll be online. Adding a printer via USB was an experience surprisingly similar to doing so in Windows, and used a wizard-based process. Setting up Apple “Mail” was very similar (perhaps easier than) to setting up Outlook Express.

Advantages: When I talk with folks who have ‘made the switch’, and I ask them why they did it, I have received a surprisingly varied range of answers. If I was expecting one to be more common than the others, I was mistaken. Some folks said it was “easier”. Some said they just liked its looks (“sexy”). Some said their jobs used Macs now. Some said iTunes. And some said security.

Because such a relatively small percentage of the machines connected to the Web are Macs (no one knows the number for sure, but it is estimated to be between 5-7%), they are in fact less targeted by hackers/crackers; and because they are a different OS and file system, Macs are ‘immune’ from a lot of the spyware/malware that is traveling the Internet at any given time.
Note: This does NOT mean that Apple computers do not need antivirus programs, nor never get infected with trojans and turned into “bots”. Macs have security vulnerabilities too, and need Updating (“patching”) just like Windows does. Do not think otherwise. Use smart surfing habits on any machine you use, and keep your machine up-to-date.

None of the people I’ve talked to who ‘switched’ have regretted their decision. And no one has told me that the learning curve was too steep, and they switched back because of it. I have not used the new “Leopard” yet, but from what I’ve seen of it and read about it, it is even more Windows-user friendly than Tiger is, and Apple is clearly hoping that more people ‘make the switch’.

I did not on my most recent tech purchase, though I did consider it. Why? Because I’m a fiscal conservative (and, I’m still a “Windows Guy”). Macs run on the same hardware as Windows now (called “x86 architecture“), and yet they want to charge double the price for the machine. I got a very nicely equipped laptop for $600 (on sale). To purchase an identically equipped (CPU, RAM, hard-drive size, etc.) MacBook Pro would set me back $1,999 (not on sale).. more than three times as much. No way.

I believe, with time, this pricing disparity will change: when it does, more people will ‘make the switch’ and, if the folks I’ve talked with are a good indicator, they won’t regret it.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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February 12, 2008 Posted by | advice, Apple, computers, hardware, PC, shopping for, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , | Leave a comment