Saturday, June 18, 2011

Switching from Windows 7 to Mac OS 10.6, pt 1

I recently switched from a PC based laptop with Windows 7 to a Macbook Pro 17" (2011). And, I must say, I am underwhelmed. It has been two weeks, and I am unsatisfied. It is like every mac user I ever talked to has never used windows 7, or is ignorant to certain features being useful. I am not a Mac hater, in fact I enjoy apple proucts. I own an iPod touch, an Apple TV and iPhone 4, as does my wife. I'd love an iPad if I had a use for one. My pleasure with each of these products helped push me toward a mac computer.

I am writing this post to learn. It may not seem that way as I am going to complain about some things, but what I want is for someone to suggest solutions. Tell me why I'm wrong. I am going to spark up some controversy on what is better, Windows 7 or Mac OS and PC vs Mac. It is important to note, these are separate debates. But ultimately I want to be proven wrong with legitimate responses.

I like computers, and use them often. My whole family goes to me with computer issues. I have grown up using windows based PCs. For a long time, Apple computers did not appeal to me because they were incompatible and ungodly expensive. However, I have known many long time mac users as well as those that switched from PC to mac. Every one of them has said how much they love their mac. How much easier it is to use, how much better the OS is. Everything. They said it was worth their money and I should get one.
I was also encouraged after reading  David Alison's Blog on his switch from windows to mac.

So, after many years I made the switch. Below is what I had, and what I switched to.

Windows based PC laptop:
HP Pavillion DV5
Intel Core 2 Duo, 2.0 Ghz
Windows 7 Professional
500 GB HD 5400 RPM

Mac OS x based Macbook Pro:
Macbook Pro 17" (2011 model)
Quad-Core Intel Core i7 2.2 Ghz
Mac OS X Snow Leopard
750 GB HD 7200 RPM

You can see I made a MAJOR hardware upgrade, so I was expecting major improvements. Obviously, there are more details I could go into, but I think the rest of the specs are for the most part irrelevant to the core use of the product (no, I'm not a gamer). If you disagree let me know and I'll add the missing spec.

I'm gonna get right to the stuff I hate about OS x that I don't know how mac users can deal with. The very SIMPLEST of things that for some reason apple doesn't want to implement. And I KNOW there are apps and programs to fix a lot of these annoyances, but not all are free, most don't completely fix the annoyance, and the point is you shouldn't have to 'patch' Snow Leopard if it is so amazing. Also, there are plenty of programs for Windows to emulate Mac OSx features. Mac OS X should just 'work' without 3rd party software help.

1. Resizing a window. For those of you not owning a mac, you'd say "how can you screw that up". Well they did! The only way to resize a window using the bottom right of a window. In windows you can resize any window on any part of the edge of the window with a simple click and drag. In Mac OS you can only resize using the bottom right corner. That means if your window is on the right side of your screen, and you want to expand it left a little... you must first move the entire window to the left, then go to the bottom right corner and expand right. How ridiculous. I thought Macs were supposed to be MORE user friendly and easier to use. This is the staple of macs, so I'm going to keep referencing this.

2. Maximizing and minimizing windows. This annoys the crap out of me on OS X. Every time I complain about it to a long time mac user they claim they 'dont even notice' or 'eh, i'm used to it'.
In windows, if you want to make a window take up the whole screen you click on the maximize window button in the upper right of every window.. or you do what is even easier and double click the top bar of any window. The result is that window now takes up the whole screen, no other distractions.

In OS X they don't truely have this feature, instead they have a 'zoom' feature which is the little green circle in the upper left of every window. And what it does is expands (or retracts) the page so the window is as wide as the content that window needs. If you double click the space on the top bar of a window, it minimizes the window to the dock. So I naturally keep minimizing my windows.

The ignorant mac user says 'that's smart, that's what efficient use of space is'. Fine, its a neat feature, but this is not maximize. The maximize feature is completely lost in mac os x. Once again, the idea that macs are easier to use is lost. If it is so superior it should have both options. I've had mac users argue why would you want to maximize an entire page and have all that white space on the right and left. here is an example why. You open firefox, you've got a few tabs going. You are on Facebook and you want to maximize the window to reduce scrolling. In mac, it only maximizes to the edge of the content. Lets say you switch tabs to a news article where the content of that page is wider than the previous page was. Once again you gotta truck your mouse up to the upper right and hit that little green circle again.. or use the aforementioned window re-sizer in the bottom right. back and forth, inconvienent. Another example, you open finder in mac os x. you 'zoom' to the extent of the conent, then you expand a few folders and now the content goes below the bottom of the window, you have to 'zoom' again. You expand another folder, now the contents again are below the bottom of the screen. You either have to scroll the portion or zoom again. Yes, it is easy to scroll with two fingers and it shouldn't be that big a deal. But when mac is considered 'better' or an 'upgrade' from windows, you shouldn't have to make such basic sacrifices. That is my point with each of these annoyances, Snow Leopard is preceived to be 'better' than windows 7, yet you lose basic tools that are used regularly in windows 7. Simple things to implement.

3. Windows 7 Aero features are unmatched in Snow Leopard. I used the snap feature all the time in windows to quickly put two windows side by side, each taking up 50% of the screen. In mac, there is nothing for this built in. Windows 7 has aero peek, where you can hover your mouse over the open windows listed on the bottom and see full size sneak previews of all the windows open, then simply click to the window you want. Mac OS X tries to do this with Expose, but if you have 15 windows open, all the windows in expose look tiny, its difficult to figure out which window you need if some of your windows had similar content. Besides, windows had something like expose when you click the windows button and tab.. but i never used it as I didn't find it user friendly as the normal Windows built in window switching. Which brings me to my next annoyance.

4. Alt + tab for Windows is bette rthan command + tab for OS X. Windows 7 alt + tab window switching would bring small previews of every window to cycle through, EVERY window, not just which applications are open, and would give a full size active preview each window as you cycled through. In Mac OS X, command + tab only shows the logo of the application (no preview) AND only switches between programs, not windows! Yes, I know option + tab will switch windows within an application, but now you've added two steps to what Windows does in one. SO, if you want to switch from firefox page 1, to excel sheet 1, to firefox page 2.... you'll have to alt tab to excel sheet 1, then alt tab back to firefox application for page 1, then option + tab to page 2. Windows switching is just not good on OS X, which is another aspect of an OS that makes it 'user friendly' or not.

That is four HUGE issues in OS X that make the navigation of OS X not nearly as user friendly as Windows 7.

Things I like about my Macboook Pro (hardware):
1. The power cord: I love the ease of use for this power cord. It snaps on and off very easily. It is magnetic so you don't have to try to hard to get it to stay in place. The cord itself can either be super long, or short depending on if you use the extra extension cord. The power cord was well designed.

2. The look and feel of the keyboard (NOT the layout!). The keys are easy to type, the back-lit to the keyboard is nice.

3. How easily the screen folds down and up. That may sound silly, but most PC laptops are on weird hinges and do not open or close smoothly.

4. It is thinner than my prior laptop, despite it having a larger screen. The laptop itself just feels well built, sleek, and awesome. It doesn't feel like a bunch of parts screwed together like my laptops in the past have felt.

5. The track pad is bigger, and allows for some great multi touch features. But also, its not that awesome of a track pad.

Things I DONT like about my Macboook Pro (hardware):
1. They keyboard layout! There are important keys missing that PCs have. It makes it so you have to use key combinations to do what PCs did in one key. Such as delete/backspace.
Fn and Command keys are backward. it is much easier to press cntrl+c on a pc to copy than it is to hit command+c on a mac. Most of the cntl+__ functions form PC are emulated on Mac using the Command (apple) key, which is in the location that the Alt key is on a PC. It is far more hand crunching and annoying.

Things I miss from my days with Windows: 
1. Software compatibility: At work I use excel 2010 on my Dell. At home I use excel 2011 for mac. Two very different programs. Buttons are in different places, they do different things, keyboard shortcuts are all different. It is annoying having to go back and forth.
I went to install software for my harmony remote on my mac, setup didn't work. It couldn't get a signal the remote. I plug it into my HP, everything loads up perfectly and I am able to proceed. Just one example of something that should be simple, but because I had a mac I ran into a wall. There are also tons of programs that are PC only, while a smaller number of programs that are mac only.
2. Being able to navigate between windows quickly and easily. Mac Expose was cool when it came out, but then Windows 7 came out with Aero peek and Expose was no longer that great.
3. Ctrl + _____ ,
backspace/delete. how many times was i deleting one letter, but put my cursor in the wrong spot. i could hit delete to delete to the right, backspace to delete to the left. In Mac, delete deletes to the right, and you have to do fn + delete to delete tot he right. mac keyboard also misses the home/end keys and pg up/pg down.

Mac seems to abide by the philosophy that less is more... when in fact more is more. They turn one key actions into two key actions. It is very frustrating.

4. The folder navigation. This could be something I just need to get used to, but I like folder navigation in Windows better. I find myself getting lost in Mac while in Windows I knew where I was going. Also program installation is 'too' easy on Mac, in that, they make it so easy that it is confusing. I end up with all these images on my desktop of the programs I installed. Shortcuts are gone, now I have to figure out 'Aliases'.

Yes, there are tons of great things macs can do that PCs cant. I love multi touch on the mouse pad. 3 finger to go back and forth on a webpage, four fingers down for expose, two finger smooth scrolling (which windows can do now), pinch to zoom/rotate, and more. However... as great as the track pad is, i find my fingers getting tired and me longing for a mouse. So, I use a two button mouse now, which kind of ruins the usefulness of a track pad.

One big argument for mac, and why to buy a mac, is that 'it just works'. Windows XP and Windows Vista had there share of problems. Every time a program froze I'd say 'this is why I should get a mac'. When windows 7 came out... I stopped having so many issues. Windows 7 is a great OS, period. It has features Mac OS hasn't matched yet. There are things Mac OS X has that is better than Windows 7 too... but Mac computers cost 3x as much and have plenty of compatibility issues.

So far, I do not feel like I made a wise decision and wasted a lot of money. I'd rather have my 3 year old HP Pavillion dv5 than my brand new, Macbook Pro 17" quad-core i7 (2011).

So, let's hear your arguments, your disputes. Tell me why I made the right decision, because I'm not so sure I did.

After about 1.5 years on my Macbook Pro, I switched back to Windows. I now own and operate an ASUS Zenbook Prime 15", 512 GB SSD, 8GB RAM running Windows 8. I really like it.

Things I Miss:

  • 17" screen
  • Smooth touch pad
  • Longer battery life
  • Magnetic power adapter

Things I like More:
  • Windows 8, I can now use the same version of office, outlook, etc that I use at work. Seamless.
  • I can use Windows only software, bootcamp and parallels were less than ideal on Mac, just not the same.
  • Zenbook prime is thinner and sleeker
  • SSD Drive is great
  • Windows 8, normal file organization structure

Overall I'm much happier back on Windows. What I use at work and home is the same. I can finally share files over cloud seamlessly, use the same versions of software and the windows only software I needed. The battery life on the Zenbook prime isn't as good as my Macbook Pro, but it is very very close. The Zenbook is much thinner and lighter so its much easier to bring around. It makes my old Macbook Pro seem like a huge clucker.