General

Leaving Windows 8 to Return to OS X

It has been exactly three years since I wrote my last post on this blog. Those three years have seen many changes that have taken place in my life. Most of those changes will be discussed in other posts. For this post I wanted to focus on the latest change and that is changing back from Windows 8.1 to OS X Yosemite.

As you will recall from my previous post, I was in need of a new computer and decided to build my own machine after wondering about the state of Apple‘s Pro market. I was planning on devoting much more time to working in 3D and motion graphics so I needed a powerful machine to replace my 6 year old Mac Pro.  I decided to build my own rather than continue with the Mac Pro due primarily to budgetary reasons and the perceived lack of direction from Apple. When I built that machine I was using Windows 7, but Windows 8 free upgrade as soon as it was released.

Fast forward three years and I am now working as a front end web developer primarily with some 3D and motion graphics thrown in from time to time. This change in my working habits has caused me to consider moving back to the Mac ecosystem for a while, but I really had no compelling reason to. The computer I had built was still working great and handling anything I could throw at it. I did have a MacBook Pro that I used while working on my Master’s degree, but really only used that when I needed to turn in a Keynote presentation or work from somewhere else. In all, I was happy.

That was until late last month when my computer decided that it was not going to work with me any longer. Things such as my mouse stopped working, hard drives went from being available to disappearing, and I began having computer lockups several times a day I ran checks on everything I could from the hard drives to the memory and they all came back fine. Before the computer totally died on me I made the decision to use my MacBook Pro as my primary computer until I could invest in something more substantial.

In making that decision I realized that I would need an external hard drive and another monitor to complete my setup so I purchased a 5GB  Seagate drive and an Apple Thunderbolt Display. I debated whether or not to just buy a new iMac or just the display, but in the end decided to save the extra money and use my perfectly fine MacBook Pro. I would really like to get one of the new 5K iMacs, but that purchase will have to wait.

Now that I have been up and running on my “new” Mac setup for about 3 weeks I can say that I am happy to be on an Apple system again.

My Home Office-No Windows 8

As you can see, I am currently rocking 3 monitors. I have my MacBook Pro, the Apple Thunderbolt Display, and a Wacom Cintiq. This setup is really nice and allows me to work efficiently when creating websites or editing video. But I could have created a 3 monitor setup with Windows, so why am I happy to be on the Mac again.

 

Fantastic Mac Apps

 

I will admit that the Mac just has some fantastic apps. There is an inherent difference in apps on the Mac and the PC. It could have to do with the OS design guidelines, the developers, or both. Since I don’t actively develop apps, I am not sure, but I do know that the Mac apps have a more “polished” feel and aesthetic to them when compared with those in Windows. There are very nice looking programs that were created for the “Metro” side of Windows 8, but in all honesty, I rarely used those. I will give you a few examples of programs that I am glad to be using once again.

 

Transmit FTP Icon
Trasmit Icon © Panic, Inc.

For my FTP program I use Transmit by Panic as I did for the 10 or so years before moving to Windows. Panic has done a fantastic job with Transmit and I will admit that I missed it when uploading files to remote sites. Yes, it is just an FTP program, but it is easy to use and looks great. Event their icon is well done.

 

Airmail Email Application
Image © Airmail App

I use email for everything. I don’t like to talk on the phone, but would prefer to send an email. Therefore, a well designed email client is important to me. I looked at several different clients before settling on Airmail. While the others were not bad, I just really like the look and feel of Airmail. It fits nicely into how I work and provides all the utility I need from an email client.

 

Affinity Photo Beta
Affinity Photo © Serif Ltd.

The last quick piece of software I am really starting to like is actually a beta of a new photo editor: Affinity Photo. You might have heard of its sister product Affinity Designer which was awarded runner up in Apple’s 2014 App of the Year. While Designer is a vector illustration program, Photo is a photo and raster based editor. These two can be considered competitors to Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop. I haven’t had a chance to use Affinity Designer yet, but I have been playing with Affinity Photo for the past few days and I really like it. It feels faster than Photoshop and so far has done everything I have needed it to do. Even though it is still in beta, I think this could become my image editor of choice of 90-95% of what I do. I would still have Photoshop on hand along with Lightroom for serious photo editing, but this is a fantastic app. Oh, and it is only available on the Mac.

 

Is Windows 8 Bad?

 

I don’t think Windows 8 was bad at all. I really actually applaud Microsoft for trying something new. We’ve all heard the stories about how horrible Windows 8 is and how difficult it is to use, and blah blah blah. In truth, it was just different. The new “Metro” interface tried to do some things in a new fashion and many people did not like that. I get it. But I think that the problem was that most people do not like change. I am not a big fan of change myself, but I do think it is necessary from time to time. I think that if more programs had been created to take advantage of the newer interface it would have been a better transition. Since most programs still worked on the desktop mode I can understand where the confusion was. I do think that OS X is a more streamlined OS, and I do prefer it to Windows, but I can’t honestly bash Windows 8.  I think they do have the right idea of trying to unify their OS across platforms and I hope they will continue to work towards that goal.

 

The Mac Experience

 

During my time away from the Mac ecosystem if you would have asked me if I missed it I would have told you that I really didn’t. It wasn’t until I started using Yosemite on a full time basis again that I realized that I do prefer it to Windows. There is nothing I can specifically point to to say why I prefer it , but I really do. The OS feels more polished than Windows. That is not to say it is better, but just different. I work in a creative field and I still think that is where Apple shines. Things just look cleaner on a Mac. The smaller apps are well designed and look like they are all part of the same family. Once you get to some of the behemoths like those from Adobe, that sense of design falls off. Where Apple has succeeded is in creating a great experience. They started first with their computers then expanded to the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. People wonder why customers pay the so called “Apple Tax.” It is because of the experience. You can argue about quality as well, but I believe that the experience plays a large role. It is why many customers prefer one brand over another. In this case, I can honestly say that I would rather have the Mac experience than a Windows experience. My problem from the beginning several year ago was the direction of the Mac Pro. I am still not completely satisfied with what they did, but at least it was something. I certainly hope they continue to innovate on the computer side and not just focus on the iPhone. Although I did like Windows 8 and am worried about Apple, I think that Apple continues to make great computers and a great OS, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.

So I guess that sometimes when you leave Mac you do go back.

 

 

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