Updated at 6:45 p.m. PDT with additional discussion about OS X local search.
I once was a God-fearing Windows user. But when an Apple shrine, uh, store opened in my area, I began to ask myself the age-old question that has confounded even the greatest biblical prophets: Is the Mac better?
I avoided the Mac for years for the usual reason cited by the Windows faithful: a dearth of hardware and software. (The so-called Mac tax was never really an issue for me.) That said, I won't go into a broad platform critique because I risk rehashing Windows-versus-Mac religious arguments that have been repeated millions of times for (digital-age) eons. (Besides, I'll leave that faith-based debate to the digerati of the world.)
Suffice to say, I now use a MacBook full time. Though, in the spirit of complete disclosure, I do have a Vista-based HP tower that I still use when there's something I absolutely can't do on the Mac. And, no, I have not gone the Boot Camp or virtual machine route yet.
So, without getting into an unwieldy philosophical argument, there are some nuts-and-bolts things that make the transition a challenge (and it's different for everyone, as every user has different needs.)
And one more disclaimer: I'm writing this from the perspective of a Mac neophyte/new user. Not as a seasoned Macophile that can instantly troubleshoot issues as they pop up.
Docking stations (lack thereof): This is a biggie. I had grown attached to the convenience of Hewlett-Packard docking stations. Apple should have connectors for docking stations (or port-replicators) built into MacBooks. The ease of popping an HP business laptop--which I had been using for years--in and out of a docking station cannot be overstated.
Microsoft Entourage: This is not the Windows Outlook equivalent. In a word, it's slow. In two words, very slow. (Note: I can't use the OS X "Mail" client because it can't run the email programs that I use.)
Web compatibility: All things should be equal here. But they're not. Like many people, I use both Safari and FireFox. Last week, there was a live video stream that, while it loaded on my MacBook Air, wouldn't run. The applet was there but it wasn't streaming. I didn't have time to figure out why it wasn't streaming. I just needed it to work. Out of desperation, I tried it on the Vista-based HP tower. It streamed immediately. In my book, that's a problem. And generally, on many Web sites that I use, Windows Media Player (that is, WMP v.11) is more adept at streaming video than the applets that come standard on the Mac OS X platform.
OS X local search: OS X local search is great (e.g., Spotlight) but it won't let me exclusively search a folder full of JPEG files. This issue was validated by a Mac "Genius" at my local Apple Store who admitted it was "odd." Let me repeat, an Apple Genius verified that I could not do this. Of course, I can find these files a dozen other ways but there's an application I use everyday that would be a lot easier to use if I could search JPEG files exclusively in that folder.
(Update: After a second visit to my local Apple Store and a separate discussion about changing the user short name--which the Genius did, as this process is a little tricky--I can now do JPEG searches on one of my MacBooks. I do not know how this came to be fixed, however, as it was an unintended consequence.) … Read more