It’s now been over a month since I last used my office PC for any regular work. I’ve turned it on twice, once to grab a file from its disk, and another time to use Quicken; otherwise I’ve been using my Apple iBook for all of my home and business computing, which is the longest time I’ve ever gone Apple-only to date.
I’ve got an admission to make: I absolutely hated the Mac way of doing things before Mac OS X (which is the completely new from scratch operating system that Apple introduced last year). While the conventional wisdom was the Macs were easier to use, I found the Mac OS was cumbersome and confusing. I had a PowerBook 1400 about 6 years ago, and it never really worked like I wanted: it was slow, flaky, and the Mac OS was just too foreign for me to be comfortable using it all the time.
All this has changed under Mac OS X: I can say with no hesitation that it is the best operating system on the market today, and is so superior to both Windows and older versions of the Mac OS as to render anything else simply foolish to use.
Here are some random reasons:
- Wireless — Yes you can get wireless cards for a PC laptop and use it with WiFi networks. But Apple was first to market with this, and it’s baked right into the operating system. How do you configure a Mac to use a wireless network? You turn it on.
- Easyness — Is that even a word? One of the things I’ve had to unlearn moving from the PC world is that not everything has to be complicated. On a PC, for example, if you want to change the IP address of your computer, it often requires a complete reboot of the computer; on a Mac you just change the IP, click Apply and that’s it. If I’m at home using my PC plugged into an Ethernet jack, and then unplug and go to GrabbaJabba to use a wireless network, I don’t have to reconfigure anything: it just works.
- Accessibility — If you have trouble reading, Mac OS X has the best accessibility features. Period. With no add-on software or gizmos required, the Mac will read any text for you, anywhere on the screen, including buttons, icon text and dialog boxes, in a nice, clear voice.
- BBEdit — This text editor from Bare Bones Software is the best text editor I’ve ever used. It’s got a clear, uncluttered interface, and has about any text editing function you might ever want baked right in. UltraEdit for the PC is a damn good editor; BBEdit is better.
- Mail — I used Microsoft Outlook to read me email for three years. Outlook is a very powerful program, and, by and large, it worked well for this task, especially when I switch from using POP to IMAP. But Apple’s built-in Mail application (it’s actually simply called “Mail”) is beautiful, elegantly designed, and has more features I can use more easily than Outlook. The nicest things introduced with Mac OS 10.2 (which came out in late August) are excellent junk mail filtering, and a unified in-box, where all the new mail for all of my accounts appears in one place.
- UNIX — Mac OS X is built on top of a Unix superstructure. That means that it’s heart beats Unix and that it has a beautiful, elegant interface to Unix built on top of all this. For someone like me who lives and breathes Unix maintaining myriad webservers in two different countries, this is wonderful because it means that it’s very easy for me to connect my little iBook to my big servers. For example, I don’t need any additional software, like SecureCRT on a PC, to use ssh to connect to my servers: it’s simply a default, built-in part of OS X. OS X also talks AppleTalk (to connect to other Macs), WebDAV (to connect to web-based fileservers) and Samba (to file share with PCs).
- Beauty — Mac OS X is beautiful and consistent. And people who make software for Mac OS X tend to create it in this spirit. As a result most if not all of my Mac software looks and feels the same. I like that.
- Sleep — Putting my PC to “sleep” — a low power state somewhere between “on” and “off” almost never worked. Either the PC wouldn’t wake up fully (for example, it would wake up, but the mouse wouldn’t), or it wouldn’t stay asleep. When it did sleep, it would often take 2 or 3 minutes to wake up. When I put my iBook to sleep (which I do just my closing its lid), I can wake it up (by opening its lid) and start using it literally right away. There is no delay like there was on my PC. This is great.
If you are in the market for a new computer, I can’t recommend more highly that you consider buying one of the new iMacs. Catherine has had one for a couple of months and loves it. Drop by the friendly people at Little Mac Shoppe in Charlottetown and check them out; you will not be disappointed.