Wednesday, March 26, 2008

PC Users do Things, Mac Users Play With Things

From Inside Higher Ed:
At Bowdoin College, about half of the computers are Macs, and half are PCs. When Apple released the latest version of OS X in October, professors with Macs immediately swamped the IT department to ask about the long-awaited Leopard. But after Windows Vista, the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, came out over a year ago, there were no such requests.
I use a Windows XP machine. It can do everything I want and need to do and much, much more. I recently got a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 3, Master Collection. It is about 1000x more powerful than anything I've used before. It will be quite a while before I have fully explored it.

I don't need Vista. I can't think of anything I want to do that is even remotely difficult on XP. Mac users for years have been saying how great Macs were and how much more they can do than PCs. If that's the case, then why the rush to Leopard? I consider myself to be a pretty sophisticated user and I'm still not topped out on XP and the software I can buy for it.

Could it be that Mac people just like shiny things?

Mac Addicts: Begin flaming me ... wait for it... NOW!


Jeff Miller said...

Well having used Vista for over a year. I went back to XP. There are some good improvements in Vista and most of them are minor improvements and some major fixes in regard to security. Vista is much more secure than XP expecially if you run the 64 bit version. But there are also a lot of annoynances with Vista and it was not ready for primtime when it was released. Driver support is better now. The start menu is actually usable now and there have been postive improvements in regards to searching the computer. But considering that Microsoft spent 5 years developing Vista it is amazing how little they acomplished in that time and how many features they ending up cutting.

As a windows developer who is part of MSDN I always have access to everything that Microsoft releases and definately know the strengths and weaknesses. Windows Media Center is improved in Vista and Windows Media Center is probably one of the best pieces of software Microsoft has developed. Their programming enviroment Visual Studio is also very good so Microsoft can get things right. But boy did they mess up Vista for the most part. This is the first time that manufactures are offering buyers the opportunity to order a computer with the older OS, XP instead of Vista.

Now I am fairly new to the Mac world, since October. But there is just no comparison. OSX is a joy to use and just plain works. Mac users look forward to new versions because they don’t get burned as windows users do. In seven years they have released five major versions of OSX. Leopard has a large number of improvements over Tiger, but Tiger was superior to XP and Vista. The most amazing thing is that Leopard is faster than Tiger even with all the new additions, while Vista is significantly slower than XP. Leopard can also be run on older Macs and you still get a performance improvement.

OSX which is built on Unix just has so many more features than Windows. I find it annoying using my windows machine at work because I miss features I get use to in Leopard. Spotlight lets me search for anything on my computer and inside documents and I can find things instantly. While there is search on my Vista machine it is not very fast and indexes less information. Everything is integrated together much better and the difference between program installs is amazing. For OSX most programs are just one App file that can be moved wherever you want, and if you move it you don’t break anything and it continues on as before. Try moving most windows programs to a different directory and have them still work.

Even better though is that you can get multiple programs to work together. You can use Apple script on most programs to automate tasks and Automator lets you do much the same with a simple drag and drop system. Using Automator I was able to quickly build a work flow to create an audio book. It would read the text from, convert the text to uncompressed audio, convert it to compressed audio, and then add it to iTunes at the click of one button. And this can be easily done by non-programmers.

Then there is the visual design of Mac programs. I have been amazed at just how much nicer these programs are at a visual level and with a slew of controls not available on windows such as drawers and other interface components. The quality of the software itself is quite high and the freeware and shareware community really put out some impressive pieces of software that both look beautiful, but are packed with features.

There is a reason Apple is gaining market share and it is based on quality and a much improved user experience. Sure there are a lot of powerful programs on Windows with lots of features, but you pretty much get the same on the Mac and you gain much more usability. The way OSX works with PDFs is great since it is totally built in and you don’t get the Adobe bloatware. From the get go you can just print to PDFs.

Now as a major geek who has played with computers since 1972 and a slew of operating systems I think OSX is just so much more superior to windows and is rock solid and not flaky like Vista. I still run windows programs since I do a lot of programming at home, but now I run Windows on my Mac via VMWare Fusion and so I have XP and Vista virtual machines that pretty much run at native speed while at the same time running Mac apps. I have run virtual machines in WIndows when testing software and ironically it is faster to run a windows virtual machine on OSX then it is under windows, and I do it without a performance hit.

It has been interesting reading Jerry Pournelle’s blog recently. Jerry Pournelle is a great science fiction writer who often teams up with Larry Niven and Jerry wrote a great column in Byte magazine for something like 20 years and now continues his technical writing at Chaos Corner. He has been testing out hardware and software for years and writes about his experiences. He recently experimented by buying an iMac and making that his primary machine and has been blogging the experience. While he hasn’t had a perfect transition he is staying with the Mac and buying more for his family to use.

Now OSX isn’t perfect and no OS ever will be, but some of the glitches in Leopard when if first came out were handled fairly speedily while in the case of Vista it took almost a year and a half before the first service pack (which has some serious problem with it for many people) They still haven’t released SP3 for XP yet, probably because they don’t like the idea that it speeds up XP and makes XP better for most people. I also don’t have to worry about viruses and trojan horses since OSX is very secure and much more difficult to infect since it is built on UNIX. There are certainly some things you have to get use to on a Mac, but it doesn’t take long since it is much more intuitive.

But I am a both/and kind of guy and people should use what they like using or what works for them. For me OSX and the superior craftsmanship of Apple products suits me just fine, plus I can still run any Window’s OS I need to at the same time.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, Leopard like Tiger before it, is an improvement. More features, better integration, faster, etc.
Vista, by all accounts is a big step backward. It's new features aren't wanted or don't really work. It's very buggy, and just like Microsoft's past, SP1 is a mess.
It's a bigger processor and memory pig.

I got my Mom a new Dell a couple months back, got XP.

My major attraction to MacOS was that it is Unix. You know I've been a Unix geek for ever.

MacOS does things for me. Windows (all of them) does things to me.

I haven't approached using all the stuff that comes with MacOS, and the one addition, iLife. Josh does his whole web site with iWeb, I showed him once, he has done it since.

My new (used) laptop has Leopard. I run time machine (backups) to a network disk. It

Rose said...

I can't top what Jeff said - but it's that intuitive thing that makes the Mac so different. It's like an extension of your brain.

The other thing is - and this is a big one - I can pretty much fix anything that goes wrong with my Mac (knock on wood). My PC friends can't. I'm using an early G4, getting ready to buy new, definitely a Mac. Not even a question.

:) Unless you are in some sort of data processing/Bookkeeping thing, medical transcriptions and the like, then you have to have a PC, I guess.

K T Cat said...

Thanks for the insightful comments!

However, I will say this. If I have coffee, enough sleep and time, I will create things I like on the computer. Without them, I create nothing of value. The creativity is within me, not at the end of the keyboard. Adobe Premiere is a wondrous video editing tool and the latest edition of Photoshop is something I'm just learning. I'm not so hot on Illustrator, but I love MS Visio for technical drawings.

My point is that there's sleep and time and good coffee and then, many orders of magnitude down, tools.

I guess I should try a Mac before poking fun at them. However, the last few times I've gone into the offices of my Mac-using newspaper editor and film editor at work, their Macs have been crashing like mothers.


Justin said...

Vista > XP IMO. No huge reason, I just prefer it.

With all the problems you hear about with Vista, I've been amazed at how I really haven't had any significant problems with it at all. Mostly drivers, which is to be expected with a new OS.

Kelly the little black dog said...

...must resist distraction by shiny objects...

Could it be that Mac people just like shiny things?
Well the release of the new air pretty much proves your point!

Should you switch? If you're happy with XP then no. The tool is less important than your comfort with it. If though, you wanted a unix platform and the ability to use windows products without cross booting, then a mac is a pretty good option.

As for vista, it has a host of problems, the biggest being that it is an extreme resource hog. We're back to that shiny object thing.

Rose said...

OH! Yes! I want one!

If the Macs are on OSX, they should be really stable. The old operating systems used to crash alot, but with OSX, not only are they more stable, but when a program crashes, the rest of the system stays up, I'd tend to say it depends on the program more than the Mac. But I haven't been using the heavy duty graphics programs for a while.