Posted in Technology by
Anthony Hortin

If you’re friends with me on Twitter, Facebook or just know me in person, you’ll know that I recently bought myself a shiny new 27″ iMac. Yep, I finally took the plunge! I’ve been so fed up with Windows 7 of late I decided to give it the flick altogether.

Just over two years ago now I wrote a post giving 13 Reasons Why Vista Is Crap. In it I mentioned that I couldn’t wait for Windows 7 to be officially released later that year, and at the time, I couldn’t! Vista really is the biggest piece of shit out there! Well, after running Windows 7 for almost 2 years, I’m ready to kick this OS to the curb as well. It’s definitely nowhere near as bad as Vista, but it’s still crap.

So what wrong with Windows 7?

Well, for starters, it’s memory management sucks ass. I’m talkin’ serious suckage! I got so sick of applications constantly displaying “Not Responding” whenever you had more than one app open! God forbid you have multiple apps running in a multitasking Operating System!

A typical day running Windows 7

Both Vista and Windows 7 run SuperFetch technology. It basically fills up your RAM with what it thinks you’ll need. This is why, if you look in Task Manager on the Performance tab, you’ll see your Free memory usually sitting around the low teens or single digits. Personally, I don’t think it does a very good job of working out what I want running. In previous OS’s such as XP, it simply loaded the application into memory when requested and dumped it when finished. WinXP would occasionally freeze for a second or two but nowhere near as often as Vista or Windows 7.

Other things on my long list of annoyances are…

Icons in the System Tray constantly disappear, even when they’re set to “Display all the time”. This is really frustrating when you have an application running and the only way to bring it into view is by clicking on the System Tracy icon!

Device drivers constantly reinstall. I would plug my iPhone into the same cable, which in turn is plugged into the same USB port, everyday. I can’t tell you how many times Windows would popup a message saying “Installing device driver”. Aaargh! FFS! It’s the same fkn device I had plugged in yesterday! And, if you dared change the device to use another USB port, well… you’d definitely get the “Installing device driver” message then!

Network drives would constantly disappear. Up until recently I was running a Windows Server on a standalone PC as a development web server. It was never turned off and sits on the same subnet on my network yet somehow Windows 7 would just occasionally forget about it and I couldn’t access my development files.

Devices plugged into USB Hubs would frequently not work after booting up. At least a couple times a week I would have to unplug my Wacom tablet and plug it back in just so Windows would see it after booting up in the morning. I even had a batch file in my Startup Folder that would Stop and Restart the Tablet drivers as suggested by Microsoft Australia.

Windows would constantly lock files and folders even when they’re not being used. I’ve lost count how many times Windows told me that I can’t delete a folder because it says it’s “in use”, even when there are no files open in any application. So many times I would have to close down Windows Explorer and then reopen it before it would let me delete a folder.

And do I even need to mention how slow it is to boot up!? Yeah, the desktop and icons display within a couple of minutes, but big woop! The hard drive is still beating itself to death and you can’t start any applications because the system is still loading all it’s files and drivers.

Are Mac’s really that good?

As much as some of the Apple Fanboys will tell you otherwise, Mac’s aren’t perfect. I ordered my new iMac online and after having it for only 3 days, it got sent back as it was having problems. It wouldn’t wake from sleep. The only way to power it up was to physically unplug the power cord, wait a few seconds and then plug it back in and turn it on. After making an appointment at my local Apple Genius Bar, they recommended that I return it for a refund and then order a new one from them. Several weeks later, here I am am with my brand new iMac. One of the truly great things about Apple products though is their support. It really is second to none!

Technically, my PC was quite powerful. It was running an Intel Quad Core i7 @ 2.6Ghz. My new iMac is also running an Intel Quad Core i7. It’s obviously a newer generation chip and it’s also running slightly faster @ 3.4Ghz. The speed difference between the two is amazing though. No longer am I sitting, waiting for an application to start loading. I’ll click on an app and a couple of seconds later it’s up & running. I really do feel a lot more productive as I’m not waiting for the OS all the time, like I was in Windows.

I’ve found with the majority of the Mac applications I’ve run that they never seem to have as many options or preferences as Window applications. This has it’s pros and cons. Too many options can make applications confusing but too few, obviously means sometimes there’s “features” or settings that can’t be changed or are missing.

Apple hardware tends to be a bit pickier when it comes to accessories. On a PC you can plug pretty much any device in and it’ll work. Not so on a Mac. I’ve got a USB hub and an external drive, both of with worked fine on my PC but have problems on the Mac.

One of the things that I find really annoying is the Apple Finder application. It’s basically Apples equivalent to the Windows Explorer app. Within Windows Explorer, say you’re copying a series of folders and files from one location to another, if the destination location has folders or files that have the same name as the ones you’re copying it gives you the option to “Move & Replace” the files/folders in the destination location or “Don’t Move” the files/folders, leaving the original intact. You can also have it keep both versions, whereby it will rename the file(s) your copying by appending a number on the end (eg. mydoc (2).txt). If you’re moving a lot of files, you can apply your selection to “all files” in the case of multiple duplicates. Using the Apple finder application, when you’re copying files and it finds duplicates, the only options you’re given are to replace the duplicate files, keep both files (by renaming one) or stop, which cancels the copy. What’s worse is that if you are copying folders, then the “Replace” command will do just that. It won’t merge the files you’re copying with the target location, it will actually remove the target location and replace it with the folder you’re copying. What this means is that if there are files in the target location that are different from the ones you’re copying, they’ll actually get deleted since the whole folder is replaced! That’s ridiculous! I can see it being quite easy to lose files when you’re using the Finder app to move files and folders around.

It’s only since owning a Mac that I’ve found out that they don’t have anything like the System Registry on Windows machines. This is awesome news! The Registry is where Windows keeps all it’s application configuration settings and options. It’s also one of the main causes when applications stop working or don’t work properly. You’ll also find that a huge amount of applications never delete all their information when the application is uninstalled so you end up with all these “orphaned” settings for applications that no longer exist. To uninstall an application in Windows you have to run an application within the Windows Control Panel. When you choose an application to uninstall, this will then run that particular applications uninstaller. To uninstall on a Mac, you simply drag the application from the Applications folder to the Trash. So simple!! All Mac applications are bundled together in a special “package” unlike Windows apps that can put files in numerous locations and settings all throughout the System Registry.

There are obviously lots of other little differences between a PC and a Mac, which you’d expect, but most of it just comes down to getting used to how it works. The Home & End keys are a good example. Within Windows, pressing the Home key will place the cursor at the beginning of the current line and pressing End will put the cursor at the end of the line. On a Mac, pressing Home will place the cursor at the beginning of the application and End will place it at the end. So, if you’re writing up a document for example, pressing Home takes you to the beginning of the document and pressing End will take you to the end of the document. This I don’t think I could ever get used to and thankfully I found a cool little app called DoubleCommand that allows me to easily remap these two keys so they work the way I’m used to.

You’ll quite often hear Apple users boast they they don’t need to run anti-virus software like you do (or should) on a PC. This may be true but it’s not because Macs are immune to getting viruses or malware. What a lot of Apple folk don’t seem to realise is that the main reason that they don’t need anti-virus is because the majority of viruses are developed for Windows based PC’s. A-holes who write viruses aim to do as much harm to as many people as they can and since Window PC’s have the greater market share, this is who they target. If this market share ever starts to even out, I’m sure you’ll see viruses targeted for Macs.

So what’s the verdict?

Overall, I love my new iMac. It’s extremely fast and responsive and the new version of their Operating System, OSX Lion, has some really great features and, with all the touch gestures, really is a joy to use. The display is amazingly crisp and vibrant and being a 27″ iMac, is HUGE!

It will be interesting to compare  Microsofts implementation of gesture control when they officially release Windows 8. I doubt they’ve put as much time and effort into perfecting them as Apple have. I think Apple have successfully integrated their iOS gestures into a desktop Operating System. From all the videos I’ve watched regarding Windows 8, Microsoft seem to be more concerned with making their OS work on tablets and seem to be forgetting about all the people who’ll actually be using a desktop with a keyboard and mouse.

</end rant>

Have you switched from using a PC to using a Mac? Leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear how your experience was. 🙂

10 responses on “Why I switched from PC to Mac

  1. Kristof

    Welcome to the light!

    I’ve never been a fan of PCs. Then again, never really use them. Plus I’m in the design field so Macs are a natural tool. But my sister used PCs for years and then switched to Mac. Her perspective was that it was frustrating to switch. But once she got got over the unlearning curve, she loved it because it took less processes for her to do things — like 3 clicks instead of 5, etc.

    1. Anthony Hortin

      There’s certainly some nice features in OSX and yeah, sometimes doing things is a little easier than on a PC. At the same time though, as much as I complain about Windows 7, It also has some really nice features. In fact, dragging ‘n dropping files between applications, especially when an application is hidden, is actually easier on Win7. With that said, I’m certainly not looking to go back to Windows any time soon and personally, I think Windows 8 is going to a real backwards step for anyone who’s using a desktop with a kbd & mouse. The Win8 OS with all their gestures certainly doesn’t look as nicely integrated into the OS as it is in OSX Lion.

  2. Melinda

    Hi, Anthony. I’ve had a Mac at home since 1996, and out in the corporate graphics world I use PCs, so I have a WIndows emulator (Parallels Desktop) on my Mac in order to run MS Office 2003 through 2010. There are Mac versions of this software but they’re far less feature-intensive than the PC versions. Otherwise, everything at home is Mac.

    1. Anthony Hortin

      Hi Melinda. I’ll still keep my PC setup. I’ll most likely just use it for testing purposes (browsers and the like), although I do have Office 2003 on it if I need to use it. I refuse to “upgrade” (and I say that begrudgingly) to Office 2007 or 2010. Can’t stand those products. So hard to find things with their new menu systems and I wont mention the horrible mess they made for HTML emails by using the crappy Word rendering engine in Outlook instead of the IE rendering engine! That’s one thing that I’ve found with a lot of the Mac software I’ve used so far, they never seem to have as many features as the PC counterparts or similar products have. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  3. Chris Cox

    Interesting post. I’ve never experienced most of the problems with hardware and network drives you’ve mentioned, likely because I run different core hardware, USB controllers, network cards etc. Score 1 for Apple, guaranteed quality of hardware vs hit and miss PC ecosystem.

    Pickiness of peripherals: that’s a fail in my book. If it communicates over a standard interface using a standard protocol it should simply work. That’s one place Microsoft have put solid and consistent work over the past 15 years and it shows.

    You haven’t mentioned whether your new iMac is a pure disk or disk & SSD setup, but to give you the benefit of the doubt I’ll assume it’s disk. My 1.2GHz dual-core laptop with 2GB of RAM boots from cold to a usable desktop in ~35seconds and opens Photoshop in ~5 seconds with a low-end SSD, for reference. That’s way snappier than my 3.2GHz quad-core desktop (same core vintage) with 4GB of RAM, running off its 7200RPM disk. Windows 7 really is optimised for solid-state devices.

    I admit I’m slightly biased because I’m a hardware nut and gamer, and my main work machine is also my main gaming machine, but I’ve tried a Mac (didn’t get on with it) and I doubt I’ll be trading my ease of upgrade and choice of customization for a pre-built machine and environment, no matter how high the quality. “Steve’s way or the highway” is a bit too restrictive for me.

    1. Anthony Hortin

      Hi Chris. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I totally agree about the peripherals. If it’s a “std” device then it should work. As you mentioned, that’s definitely one good thing about Windows, you can plug pretty much any device in and it’ll work. In all my years using it I don’t think I came across any device that didn’t work. I came across a couple that didn’t work well, but that was due to the crappy drivers & software provided by the vendor.

      My Mac is just running a 2TB 7200rpm SATA drive. I didn’t bother about the getting an SSD purely because of the extra cost. After upgrading the processor (from a 3.1Ghz i5 to a 3.4Ghz i7), adding more RAM (8Gbs total) and adding the larger HD (2TB instead of the std 1TB), it was already costing me quite a bit. Sounds like the SSD’s make a huge difference though.

      It’s good to hear you haven’t come across some of the problems. They’re so frustrating. Especially the USB hubs not working properly on bootup. A friend of mine recently purchased a new Dell laptop with Win7 and had the same problem with his powered USB hub as well. It just wouldn’t get recognised after booting up. After doing some Googling it looks like quite a few people are experiencing the same issues.

      Hope your machine continues to run well.

  4. Jim G.

    Got my first Mac (and first computer) in ’95 to do desktop publishing using Quark, P’shop, Illustrator. Ended up with 5 or 6 and between me, my staff and a friendly local type house, fixed every prob we ever had, mostly by turning the thing off and on again, sometimes by resorting to good old Norton Utilities. First time we needed an IT man was when a logic board went in 2003. Am using my wife’s 3 year old laptop running Vista as I type these words and every time I use the damned awful thing become more and more gobsmacked that Microsoft have got away all these years with the fairytale that their truly lousy software is somehow a superior product. If I had been made to use a Windows PC all those years ago I’d have ended up throwing it outa the window and changing my job.

    1. Anthony Hortin

      Hi Jim. I remember way back when I first started working I had an IBM XT on my desk with a HUGE 10MB hard drive. Yep, 10MB’s not GB’s! It was still large enough to have Windows (2.0) and MS Office installed. At the time, my boss had one of the first Apple Macintosh’s. I was using his Mac for desktop publishing with Adobe Pagemaker (originally Aldus Pagemaker). Was an amazing bit of software and the Macintosh was a dream to use. Absolutely years ahead of the PC in terms of the OS.

      I used to enjoy using PC’s and loved that you could easily upgrade/fix them yourself. I’ve got so many PC’s, bits of PC’s and parts lying around. Normally I’ll reuse them as other devices when I upgrade my desktop. For example, my old desktop machine (not the one I just replaced with my Mac, but the one before that) is currently in my lounge running as a Media Center machine. I have an even older desktop machine as a dedicated development Web Server running CentOS and yet another machine which is basically just used for testing purposes.

      I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve become way more impatient and just get so fed up and frustrated with Windows now. Especially that damn “not responding”! It’s so annoying when you’re trying to do something and the app just stops responding! Grrr! And as you said, I’ve been so close to throwing my PC out the Window!

      Thanks for leaving a comment
      Anthony 🙂

  5. Andrew Davis

    I also recently made the switch – got a MacBook Air. For me there was a bit of a learning curve, mostly related to remembering new keyboard shortcuts.

    I definitely prefer it to the PC – mostly because it’s faster and super-light (so I don’t notice it when I’m travelling).

    One thing that I am disappointed with though is what I consider to be poor handling of multiple monitors – in particular switching (virtual) desktops changes them on both screens when I’d like the option to change on one and not the other.


    1. Anthony Hortin

      Hi Andrew. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, that’s definitely one of the things that was hardest for me as well. After using a PC for so many years, it was hard remembering a bunch of new keyboard shortcuts. Even though I’ve been using this Mac now for almost 3 mths, I’ll still press the wrong keys occasionally.
      I definitely love the machine though. The OS is so much faster than Windows. I’m no longer waiting for applications to start up anymore! They just start straight away! Yay!