The release of the new Macintosh "Leopard" operating system is coming up this Friday, Oct 26, 2007. According to Steven Jobs, the New York Times reports him saying "The Macintosh has a lot of momentum now. It is outpacing the industry."
I first used a Macintosh computer back in the early 90s for a college paper. It was one of those little Classics with the tiny screen, and it didn't take long for me to switch over to a PC running Windows 3.x.
Since then I've used a PC for over a decade as a software engineer, building business and web applications using both Java and .NET. I have also used Linux for a couple of those years (Xandros and Red Hat distros), back when it was still a hacker's operating system. Linux has come a long way since then, but what really has my attention is the new Mac OS X.
My current consulting client offered me the choice of a Mac or PC, and I chose the Mac as a chance to see how well it stacks up for someone who I consider a power user (me). They gave me a new Macbook running OS X 10.4 with 2 GB of RAM and a 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. I also have two machines at home; a desktop that runs Windows XP Professional, and my wife's laptop that runs Windows Vista.
I fell in love with the Macbook the very first day, although it took a few more days to get used to the different keyboard (mainly the Command key). It really is true that "everything just works"... at least 98% of the time.
What's Wrong With Windows Vista
I like the new Vista look and feel better than XP, but it still tends to get in the way more times than not. Simple system-related tasks that used to be easy in XP now require drilling down through several levels of dialogs and prompts, and I still can't figure out how to do something as simple as showing file extensions in the new Windows Explorer - Microsoft has made it that complex!
I also find the need to continually download an add-on program for doing things like sending pictures from my PC to my phone using Bluetooth. My PC wouldn't communicate with my Razr phone until I bought Motorola's Phone Tools, whereas my Macbook didn't need anything extra - it found my phone, gave me a list of folders on the phone, and let me drag and drop the files I needed (photos, ringtones, and video).
If it weren't for programs like Spyware Doctor (another add-on purchase to Windows that protects against sypware and malware), my Vista machine would be continually getting infected with all kinds of trojans, malware, and viruses picked up from regular web browsing behavior. I can browse to those same sites on my Macbook and it doesn't get infected - and I don't even have any virus protection software running on my Mac (doesn't seem like it even needs it).
And did I mention how SLOW Vista runs? You'll be at a bare minimum with a gig of RAM, and will need to purchase 2 GB to get what I consider "only average" performance when compared to my XP machine or my Macbook.
I really wonder what Microsoft was doing these past few years while they struggled to release Vista?
If I had to sum up my reaction to Vista, it would be: "Is that IT?" ... "Is that what you spent several years developing??"
Why I like Mac OS X more than Vista
Enter the slick Aqua interface of Mac OS X: pure aesthetic nirvana (well, almost - I still miss having menu bars on each application windows like I have on Windows, but at least I always know to drag my mouse to a consistent place on the screen each time I want to click a menu option).
The UI is much more subtle on the Mac, which means it doesn't get in the way and works intuitively across a wide number of applications - most of which are bundled with the operating system. With Windows I'm constantly purchasing or downloading third party applications to do things I'd expect the operating system to handle automatically. Like a calendar, a movie creator, a chat program, a DVD player, and many more utilities that all look, feel, and work the same.
Here are a few of the programs that come bundled with the Mac:
To top it all off, everyone gets the "Ultimate" version of the Macintosh operating system for $129, whereas you have to pay $249 to get Windows Vista Ultimate (and then you have to go buy all the add-on programs to bring it up to par with the Mac's list of built-in programs).
I'll be sticking with my Mac, and looking forward to the next release of Leopard - followed in a quick 12 - 18 months by the next version, as promised by Jobs. That's a promise he's been able to deliver on consistently, which is way more than Gates can claim for Microsoft Windows.