When I called for Guest Posts a few weeks ago, I had no idea what that week was going to bring me. It brought me some great articles, and it also brought an accident to my family that took me away from the site for several days. During that time, I got the following post from frequent AG reader and commentor Blair Liikala. You can find more out about him by clicking here to check out his online portfolio, including a regularly updated blog.
Dear New Apple Community Members,
Since 2005, we have rejoiced in the “transitions” to the Intel-based Macs, allowing us to finally run Windows on our coveted systems. Since, Apple has grown more popular than ever selling more Macs to PC users with the comforting line that “yes, you can now run Windows on a Mac.”
But is a Mac running Windows still a Mac? What is Mac? Fifty percent of sales are to new Mac users this quarter, and with over a quarter million copies of VMware’s Fusion. So why would people buy a Mac to run Windows?
We Have A Problem Here
While emulators and native boots offer a smoother transition to the Mac, I believe it fundamentally hurts the Mac community since Microsoft switchers don’t actually take off the training wheels and spend time learning how the community operates, how the OS operates and how they can use OSX to better their productivity and workflow. While Boot Camp/Intel has given more reason then ever to switch, the switch should be complete and not halfway. Simply put, stop using Windows/VMware/Boot Camp as a crutch and try new software.
Jason Snell wrote in 2006,
“One of the reasons Apple’s products are so good is because the company controls both the hardware and the software; allowing Mac OS X to run on a generic Dell PC wouldn’t only gut Apple’s hardware business, but it would potentially reduce the quality of the Mac OS X user experience…Fundamentally, Mac users are Mac users because they want to use the Mac OS. And developers realize that if Mac users wanted to run Windows apps, they wouldn’t be Mac users.”
And remember the 2005 Keynote by Jobs, “we want to be making the best computers for our customers moving forward”. They were not able to make a G5 Powerbook due to heat problems, and Intel had better performance with less power consumption. “As we look ahead….we can envision amazing products but we cannot build them.” OSX is processor independent, and every release in the last 5 years of OSX has been able to run on Intel. Nowhere in his initial Keynote speech did he advertise a bullet point for Windows; it’s just a side effect.
Philosophy Difference – Fundamentally Why Macs are Better
The Mac and Windows are separated not just on an operating system, but on a philosophy that apps are made to do one thing very well instead of everything “Ok.” Take the example of Outlook vs. iCal, Mail, Safari and Address Book. For others, think of Dreamweaver (which yes, does run on a Mac) vs. CSSEdit, Transmit, Taco, BBEdit, TextWrangler, Textpattern, etc. Smaller apps mean only the functions you wish to be loaded are displayed, and with more thought and effort to a specific app results in better functionality. Native to the OS are features like Expose, Spaces, the Dock, Finder, Spotlight, Widgets, Screen Capture and Stacks [as well as countless more under the hood], all designed to get to the information you want now. The Mac community is obsessed with making functional software with beautiful interfaces allowing users to enjoy their work and be more creative.
The absolute best example of the Mac community philosophy is found in the app Quicksilver made by Nicholas Jitkoff. Quicksilver is a zen-app designed for “fast universal access to find anything on the computer or web instantly”. Jitkoff also said, “search for people and use them to find things is really important,” and “getting me to that object as fast as possible is the goal”. In short, it’s an app controlled by keystrokes with a Spotlight-type realtime search to not only find, but take action on just about anything the OS can do.
I would recommend watching his explanation of the app on Google Video below.
But this can be ported to Windows like everything else (widgets, spotlight..etc). Not according to Lifehacker “I gotta tell ya: none of these truly come close to the big QS [Quicksilver].” Or we get 15 copycats that try to do the same function but just don’t. This what the Mac community are faced with, Windows philosophy on a Mac. Yikes! As as new Mac user, if you bought your new computer to make your life easier and creative then let go of your old methods; let go of running Windows and thinking Windows and find newer, better ways to work.
Looking at Leopard and the progress of Bootcamp, hardware such as the trackpad, iSight and illuminating keyboard functions are beginning to work in Windows. Why is this bad for the Mac community? Let’s look at a not so distant future. Why would we need the Mac OS if Windows users want Windows? After this occurs, what separates Apple from Dell but better design of where existing hardware goes? We know Apple made a valiant decision to keep the OS and hardware together, and to keep stability it should stay that way.
As Wall Street Journal writer and Mac enthusiast Walt Mossberg wrote,
“Apple makes beautiful hardware, and, in my experience, it runs Windows quite well….However, what makes a Mac a Mac is primarily Apple’s OS X operating system, and the software Apple bundles with it, the iLife suite. If you don’t intend to use that, I don’t see much point in buying an Apple computer. You won’t get the advantage of the Mac’s lack of viruses and spyware, which stem from the operating system, not the hardware. And you can buy a Windows computer for less than the least expensive Mac.”
Quicksilver : http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8493378861634507068&hl=en
The Golden Excuse to Run Windows
As buyers make the financial decision migrate to the Mac, why would they want to install Windows? Everyone knows it’s to run applications not found on the Mac. However, the problem is not the availability of a specific application but the resistance of the Windows user to try an alternative approach to their work.
The excuse I hear all too often is the use of MS Office. While Office has been ported to the Mac, it’s clunky and has that all too familiar Microsoft “every function is here, you just have to find it” feel. Further, expect this support to change as iWork improves and Macs gain more market share, especially in the college student demographic. [Why the poorest demographic can afford the more expensive computers is another topic.]
Hitting a few larger points in the Office suite, I find new Mac users do not realize that iWork software can import and export to Office formats. iWork is easier to use and allows more concentration on the final outcome than the journey to get there. If Office is still a requirement, consider using the Mac version. Files are indexed by Spotlight, can be referenced and opened in Finder’s Cover Flow, and continue to work in a stimulated environment. To have to reboot or emulate Office just adds time, energy, a loss in stability, and adds complication to finishing a project. As Mossberg said, you’re better off returning to a Windows machine.
Time to learn the technology is a given, and another complaint I hear. Not only is the time you wait to learn more time wasted with another package, but many computer enthusiasts say Macs are for people who don’t know how to use a computer. In other words, that argument suggests the learning curve is much less than you realize. Time spent managing multiple operating systems, including exchanging files and rebooting, installing or reformatting is not as efficient as one desktop.
And Yes, You Can Play Solitaire on a Mac
And it looks incredibly better too.
The Best Way to Completely Switch – Isolation
In my switching days of 2005 I had no emulators. I took my new Powerbook to a summer job where that’s the only computer I had. It forced me to change my workflow, and the way I used a computer. Since then I use more shortcut keys, read news and information faster, spend less time organizing files and folders or ‘tweaking’ my system’s performance and just about everything else you hear about why Macs are so good. As an audio engineer I can keep up with my father, a veteran in the mortgage and real-estate market, with business and technology news from the intelligently designed workflow of the Mac.
I can go on with stories from Broadway shows to huge presentations where my Mac has saved the day, but it did take time learning those features on a basic level. One of my friends refers to me as an “Apple Fanboy” and like many, I strongly support the use of Macs.
One Last Thought
There are legitimate excuses to run Windows, specifically in the professional arena. In audio, there are several packages that are worth using Windows for, however keep in mind the need for Windows is to run an application that could well be in either OS (another argument, and not the point of this one). With that said, I’m sure the strong success of the industry standard Pro Tools has nothing to do with it being the only audio software package that runs on both Mac and PC.
So here’s the bottom line. If you’re running Windows on a Mac, you’re not using a Mac.