This is a really good question. Almost 10 years ago I switched from a PC to a Mac. For all that time I never second guessed myself. I knew how Windows worked, never got a virus, and built my own computers, but there was something intriguing about the Mac and its OS X operating system. My first Mac as a PowerMac G4 Dual 867 MHz. I was floored both by the performance and the design that went in to this machine. Since that time I have owned an iBook, MacBook Pro, and a Mac Pro, as well as an iPhone 3G, iPhone 4s, and an iPad. I even worked at the Apple store for a little over a year. Needless to say, I am a fan of Apple products. However, my Mac Pro is going on 6 years old now, and I am looking to upgrade as it is not keeping up with what I need it to do in regards to my 3D work. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a great machine for everyday things such as browsing the Internet, using iTunes, and a vast majority of everyday computing. However, I have found my render times rise over the past few years and the programs and scenes become more complicated. So the upgrade question remains. What kind of Mac should I get?
Well for the way I use my computer, nothing less than a Mac Pro will do. I need the RAM, the multiple hard drive slots, dual DVD burners, and upgrade-able video card. The thing is, I don’t know how long the Mac Pro will be around. Apple seems content on running with the consumer side of their business, which I totally understand, but,I need the Mac Pro, not an iMac. So the question remains. Is the Mac still the best machine for me? In all honesty, I don’t think so. I looked at what my money will buy if I went with a Mac, or if I went with a PC. In all honesty, there wasn’t a whole lot of difference if I bought from Apple or Boxx. However, if I build my own machine, I can save a substantial amount of money. Now granted, I won’t have warranty support, but before I purchased my first Mac, I used to build all my machines and never had an issue.
What about the operating system? I really do like OS X. It is now all I really know. I decided that I should try Windows before jumping feet first into switching back, so I purchased a copy of Windows 7 to dual boot on my MacBook Pro. I have to admit that from my initial impressions and about a week’s worth of Use, I am really impressed. The aesthetics are nice with the Aero theme, and things are running smoothly and quickly. It also seems as if the newest trend is moving away from the operating system and more into the applications, or apps, and really there isn’t anything major that I run on my Mac that is not available on Windows. In fact, the opposite is true. By staying on a Mac system I am missing the opportunity to use two rather large 3D programs, 3D Studio Max and Softimage. I cut my teeth in 3D with 3D Studio version 4 back in 1996 and got really interested in Plasma in the early 2000s, but never had the opportunity to try 3D Studio Max, especially since it is only available on Windows. Sure, I could just dual boot to use 3DS Max, but really, what is the point? Is OS X that much better than Windows 7? For some people, maybe. For me, I’m not so sure.
Like I said, I am really impressed with Windows 7. One thing I have noticed is that the application developers, for the most part, are not as concerned with aesthetics as the Mac developers are. I found some great programs on the Mac that I have yet to find an equal to on Windows. On the Mac you have great developers such as Panic and Macrabbit. Since I am a web developer, I have made use of their programs extensively and find them to be wonderful. They have an elegance to them that I just cannot find on the Windows platform. I don’t know if it is because of the way Windows is programmed, or if Windows designers just aren’t that good, but Coda, Espresso, and Transmit will be sorely missed. However, one that seems to look a little better than most is Intype. I do think design matters, especially in software development. If I am going to be looking at a text editor, it should look nice. I mean, the rest of windows looks nice, why can’t the applications? I love the look of Google Chrome, especially since it just gets out of the way. I think that maybe as Windows 8 gets closer to launch with its Metro interface, we might be seeing a shift to good looking applications.
Other than that, I really don’t see any compelling reason to stay with the Mac platform I do think Apple’s business practices are better, and I like Apple better as a company overall, but is there anything tangible that will make me stay with my Mac? In all honesty, no. When you put all the marketing hype aside, I really see no compelling reason to purchase another Mac. I am sad to say that, as they have served me well since 2002, but I think that Windows might finally catch OS X in the next few years. I will still have my Mac Pro and will use it as a spare computer, so I am not totally getting rid of my Mac systems. Of course, the transition to the Mac from the PC back in 2002 was more difficult than my transition back will be, but I do anticipate some bumps in the road. Luckily there are some great people out there such as Chris Pirillo and the Gnomies that I can use to help me through this time if I have any trouble. With that being said, I don’t think I will have too much trouble getting up to speed with Windows 7 and Windows 8 when it is released. In fact, I already have my MacBook Pro set up to run Windows 7 and I am not having any issues at all.
So I guess the answer to the question is: Yes. Sometimes you do go back.