It was time for a replacement, but the adventure I took to get there has been a wild one. You see, for the first time in my life, not only did I consider a Mac as a viable option, but I’ve made the switch.

Over the last few months I’ve seen my trusty IBM ThinkPad start to deteriorate. We’ve been through a lot, this laptop and I, as it’s been a faithful companion for nearly five years now. It’s been tweaked and configured just perfectly for me, with software and utilities perfectly chosen to fit my needs. Its screen is fading, its battery life is down to under an hour, and the entire right-hand side is held together with electrical tape. The performance is also starting to be an issue. I attend weekly team meetings via Skype; even a basic video chat was bringing the machine to its knees.

Obviously it was time for a replacement, but the adventure I took to get there has been a wild one. You see, for the first time in my life, not only did I consider a Mac as a viable option, but I’ve gone ahead and made the switch.

I guess you would say that I’m a PC. I’ve been using PCs since I purchased my first one nearly 20 years ago. From DOS to Windows 3.0 to Vista, it’s been my world. I’ve learned the ins and outs of using and managing the various OS flavors. I’m comfortable with shortcut keys, have compiled thousands of tips and tricks for hundreds of software packages for Windows. I’m not an evangelist or a fanboy, but I’ve been quite productive using my PC and really haven’t been affected by virus, spyware or the “typical” issues that are used to describe a bad PC experience.

On the other hand, Macs  have been a mostly unknown entity. Although those who know me will speak of my legendary disdain for iTunes, I’ve never really been “anti-Mac.” I’ve helped friends and clients purchase and set them up so, it isn’t that I had no exposure to them, it was just that the time I had spent with them didn’t really do anything to convince me that there was a compelling reason to convert.

This time, I guess it was peer pressure more than anything that even got me thinking about the switch. Co-workers and friends have been raving about them, and whenever the discussion changed to my laptop replacement, the “get a Mac” proclamations became too much for me to dismiss. So I started to seriously consider it. I researched models, made lists of software, thought about pros and cons, chatted with friends and did my normal over-analysis. It’s an important decision though — my computer is so closely tied to my livelihood that it isn’t something I could take lightly. I found that my primary concerns were tied to three major areas — support, software and overall usability.

In my upcoming posts I’ll be outlining not only my pre-purchase thought process and evaluation experience but I’ll also be documenting the transition, my retraining, software changes and choices, usability challenges, and some great surprises that I’ve discovered in the process — about Windows, about Mac and about me.

If you’ve made the switch from PC to Mac, or vice versa, let us know how it went for you in the comments.

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  1. “This time, I guess it was peer pressure more than anything that even got me thinking about the switch.”

    Switching platforms for the wrong reasons is a recipe for failure. I hope you are making the switch because you want to and are going into it with realistic expectations.

    I’d highly recommend reading David Allison’s Blog – http://www.davidalison.com/. You’ll have to go back into his archives. He is very technically adept, was a hardcore Windows guy and is a great writer.

    I made the switch to the Mac about 5 years ago. I was all PC forever (first computer was a TRS-80 model 3). I decided to see what all the fuss was about and bought a Mac off Craigslist for $50 and took a book on OS X out from the library. A week later I bought a Mac Mini and have been a very happy Mac guy since.

    1. Scott Blitstein sfmitch Tuesday, May 4, 2010

      Thanks for the comment. While the initial consideration was based upon the recommendations (and prodding) of my peers, there was quite a thorough evaluation and analysis process that I went through before I made the final decision. That will be the topic of the next couple of posts in this series.


  2. Paul Carney Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    I was in the same boat as you – have used PCs since I got my first one in 1985, but was not a fanboy. They helped me get things done.

    But I bought my first Mac (MacBook Pro) in January and it is AWESOME! It works as I expect, no rebooting when software gets updated and it’s elegance makes it so easy to use.

    There are adjustments: I had to find some software to handle tasks that I was used to on the PC. It takes a while to get used to the keyboard – I am still trying to use the far-left key as the “ctrl” key, but need to move the fingers inward to use the “command” key.

    Overall, it is a much better experience. I hope you find the same.

    1. I’m only a few days in to it but the ctrl – command key is a biggie. The retraining process is going ok though, I only mess up a hundred times a day now…


      1. Did you know you can remap those keys in System Preferences? Go to the Keyboard control panel, have the “keyboard” tab selected, then click the button that reads “modifier keys…”

  3. I switched to a Mac in December 2009 so I’ve been using this for about 6 months and I have to say it’s been amazing. I used to have constant problems with my old Windows laptop (restarting everytime I wanted to do work properly was a huge pain), though admittedly several of those were probably user created (I used to have Enigma to display a lot of stuff on my desktop for example, now I use the Dashboard). My Dad also switched to a Mac shortly after I did and was amazed at how easy it is to use – he’s struggled with Windows for a long time and was very fed up of the computer running like a snail.

    I certainly love the way all the Apple programs work together inside the Mac – you want to send a PDF you’re viewing? It’s in the menu at the top. Though I can see why it would confuse some people!

    1. Scott Blitstein Rose Tuesday, May 4, 2010

      Yes – the menu at the top is an adjustment as well. I’ll go in to more detail on a lot of this in an upcoming post but that was a biggie.


  4. Jason Barone Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    I have the same 3 concerns. I’ve been a PC user for years as well and I’m considering switching to a Macbook Pro as my primary system. I’ve heard everywhere that Apple Support is great, so that’s not a concern for me. I’ve found software to be a non-issue as well. It looks like 80% of what “webworkers” use is usually cross-platform, web-based, or has a Mac alternative. Actually in most cases, Macs have a better alternative. I’ve already tested a few of my favorites and found that they run great on Mac. I’ve also played with Parallels and found that running Windows apps inside of OSX works fantastic.

    Usability is probably the only thing that will take time getting used to, but I would expect that with any new system. The differences in UI and functionality that I’ve founded so far when testing Macs turned out to be irrelevant once I learned how OSX achieves the same task.

    So far, some very compelling things for me have been: battery life, expose (application switching feature), the multi-touch experience on the touchpad, and the menu bar being built in to the OS.

    Can’t wait to see your next posts.

    1. Thanks Jason – I don’t want to say too much in response or I’ll not need to actually post the others ;-)

      My time with an expert in the local Apple store helped a lot in making me feel better with the usability concerns though.


  5. I have both, and have to say that they’re just tools. It really depends on what you’re doing, and which one is better for your workflow and productivity. Just as with Linux, which I also have, I find the Mac more relegated to specialized tasks than my primary machine- even on my 27″ iMac, I find myself booting into Windows more often than OS X. But having a Mac lets me develop for iPhone (and iPad soon hopefully), just as having a Linux box lets me host from home without worrying overmuch about updates.

    1. That’s an excellent point, and really was a big part of the decision process. I tried to move away from the hype and spin and such and look at it as a means to get my stuff done – could I do it? Could I do it better?


  6. This will be interesting to follow. Have been reading your blog for a while. Will be great to hear your thoughts on mac software.

    I switched right after the release of Leopard. The keynote with quick look and time machine and everything… And when I switched jobs I made the platform switch. I think it took me a month to get rid of my PC habits. Now I couldn’t imagine working on a PC.

    3 Biggest surprises:
    – How crappy Excel feels on a mac. It thoroughly sucks :) Luckily I’m not an accountant. I hate Word as well.
    – How much great cheap software of amazing quality is available. For almost every task you have the choice of 2-3 serious conteders.
    – How much working on a beautiful platform means to me. A friend of mine uses a pc office in virtualization on his mac. It’s makes my eyes water…

    Thanks for loads of great content.

    Jens Poder, Denmark

    1. Choosing software is an interesting and ongoing process. I looked to make sure that there were replacements and options for all of my day to day work but am really now getting in to the evaluation processes to find which ones work best.

      That’s going to be the fun part!


  7. I switched in December 2005 after 15 years in Windows. It will take you a few weeks to get used to the new OS, but then you’ll love it. I will never go back. For the few Windows programs I still need to access I use WineBottler. But to be honest, I rarely use a Windows program now.

    1. Scott Blitstein Dan Tuesday, May 4, 2010

      I do have some need to occasionally run some Windows software but not really on a daily basis so can just do that on another PC here.

      I did make the conscious choice to not dual boot or virtualize until I decided I absolutely needed to though.


  8. Stephanie Cockerl Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    I am in the same boat. My friends and colleagues are also telling me to cave in. However, I did have a Mac back in the 90’s, but the PC became much more prevalent to my work. Looking forward to your series.

    1. thanks – it’s sort of the opposite for me. The fact that it was a PC became not so important, so a switch really did become a viable option. But more about that later…


  9. I’m a “Mac guy” – not because I am a cultist or anything but due to the fact that every experience I’ve had with Apple products (desktops, laptops, iPod, iPhone) has been consistently pleasurable and/or efficient (depending on whether I used it for work or play or both). I always felt I was getting a lot of value for my money despite the cost (“you get what you pay for”) and don’t regret spending it as opposed to the consistently shoddy experience I’ve had with HP, Compaq, Dell, Gateway and other Windows manufacturers. I use both OS X and Windows on my Macbook Pro and they run great. In fact, when people ask how I like my laptop, I tell them it is the best WINDOWS laptop I’ve ever had. Windows runs better with less crashes and issues on my MBP than any other laptop or desktop I’ve owned. Pretty funny actually. :)

    1. Scott Blitstein Mitch Tuesday, May 4, 2010

      I’ve heard that but really have had very little experience with a lot of Apple products of my own. Figure I’ve got to start somewhere though.

      I’ve always had excellent luck with the ThinkPads and wouldn’t hesitate to buy another.


      1. ThinkPads are pretty reliable (I had a hand-me-down from my Dad – one of them with the keyboard that “popped out” when you lifted the lid). Definitely, had a better experience with Apple though. The whole Mac vs PC argument is dumb, just use what you like and find better ways to spend time than arguing on the internet lol

        Hope your experience is as good as mine has been!

      2. Exactly Mitch – I’m just seeing which one I like better.

        Thanks for the comments.


  10. Noble D. Bell Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    I use both right now. The thing is, I develop software on small level for sell in my micro-ISV. I use the PC and Windows mostly for this because the development tools are what I am most familiar with. (Visual Studio and PowerBASIC). If something like this were available on the MAC I would not need to even run a PC and Windows again. I love my iMac but I need my PC. If I can get past this then I would be grateful.

    1. Other than a few Access databases that are chugging along so nicely I wouldn’t dare touch them I haven’t found anything that requires a PC yet.

      Again makes the point that it is just a part of the equation – the tools you use to do your work are important and you need to use what works best for you.


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