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Pros and Cons of Switching From Windows To Mac 629

Posted by kdawson
from the not-just-another-fan-boi dept.
It's been a couple of years since Apple ran their Switcher ads — but folks are still making the switch. Rockgod writes to point us to his list of pros and cons after he switched from Windows to Mac recently. From the article: "It took me a long time to be convinced that Windows 3.1 was a better program launcher than X-Tree Gold, but it happened eventually. Since then, I have been a sucker for every upgrade — 95, 98, NT 4.0, 2000, XP... I bought the cheapest Mac available, a Mac Mini with a single-core Intel chip and the minimum of RAM — 512 MB. It cost me AU$949. Since plugging it in, I have barely used my $3000 Windows desktop... All this time later, I have almost exclusively switched to the Mac."
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Pros and Cons of Switching From Windows To Mac

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  • well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by otacon (445694) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @01:57PM (#16529449)
    PRO - you won't be using windows
    CON - Your sexual preference could come into question...not that theres anythign wrong with that of course
  • by yagualterego (975945) * on Saturday October 21, 2006 @01:58PM (#16529453)

    First, it isn't 10 Pros, and 10 Cons, it's 10 Pros and Cons (which I guess is technically what the article "says").

    I recently ordered and am expecting a Nov 29 ship date (why?) for a new Mac Mini, the very first Mac I'll have ever owned. I'd never hesitated in the past to recommend to friends and family an Apple over a Windows box, and those who chose Mac virtually never came back with support issues.

    As the blogger states, he's never looked back - my reasons for getting a Mac are more for being able to test my software on all platforms. I will review my experiences in my journal when the box gets here and I've burned it in for a few laps. I'm looking forward to it.

    For the record, though the author loves his machine, I'd guess anyone considering today a Mac should look at a heftier configuration. (I'm getting the dual-core, super drive, 2G memory, 160G drive configuration.) I guessing I'll be happy with this box.

    • by CorporalKlinger (871715) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @04:16PM (#16530659)
      I was required to use a brand new Mac Mini (1.66GHz Core Duo with 512MB RAM) as a research scientist with a major government lab last summer during an internship. My background involves working primarily on Windows XP Pro (on my laptop) and Debian on my desktop in my former research laboratory. I found the Mac to be unimpressive compared to both of my other experiences, and personally, would not ever purchase one for myself or a member of my family.

      The rationale for this is broad and based solely on my own user experiences with that machine and with my supervisor's Dual G5 Power Macintosh (with 8GB of RAM, which was nice for the 3D modeling we were performing). I'm not going to troll and say Mac is better for everyone or Windows or Debian is better for everyone, I just think that articles like this are useful for seeing what people like and dislike in an OS. There are some things I like a great deal about each OS - Debian has never... ever... crashed on me (My Mac Mini did it regularly, as did my supervisor's Mac, with the "Sorry, an error has occurred" box popping up in 5 or 6 languages on an almost daily basis) - maybe we both just had lemon hardware, though. Windows is nice because of its broad compatibility and user base for support.

      Example: I was trying to burn a DVD using the Mac Mini. I was using some new Memorex 16x compatible DVD+R discs that the lab had purchased. Our lab has a policy of burning the data at a low speed - 1x or 2x - since some IT guy decided it ensures the best chance of a successful write. Anyway, I try to burn the CD using Mac OS's built in software - basically by dragging and dropping files on the DVD, then clicking the "record" button once I'm done. I set the record speed to 1x. The system hums along for about 2 minutes... then pops up with an archaic error: "There has been an error recording the disc. Code 0x981fa192." or something like that. We tried 2 other DVD+R discs. Neither worked. Searched google for the error - couldn't find it. Searched Apple's support site for the error - couldn't find it. Finally, using Yahoo and searching through the archives of a forum (forget its name at the moment) we discovered what the error means: The disc is incompatible with a 1x burn speed, you must select a speed of 2x or higher. That's simplicity for you, I guess. I have other examples of why the Mac still hasn't won me over, and I'd be happy to elaborate on them if anyone is interested. But I knew that if I just posted with a single statement on this OS in particular, people would fire back with more childish comments about "but see how bad it is on Windows or OS/2 or whatever else you want to list!?!?!?" type accusations. I'll be less verbose in talking about the problems with the other two OS's... see:

      Example of how I dislike Debian: Try updating anything to the latest version. Period.

      Example of how I dislike Windows: Do I really need to list all the reasons?

      The point of all this is that with each iteration of the operating systems, features are added, refined, removed, and rethought based on experiences like those had by the author of this article. It's not valid for someone to sit back in their chair and say "This OS (put your favorite OS's name here) is the best one for everyone." It's like saying a particular model vehicle is most fitting for every individual. It's great to see that there is such dedication to the various camps, but I think that sometimes people need to just calm down, look at things rationally, and think about what this means as a whole for the future. It's just childish to post so many "plonk, sounds like you're describing Linux!" or "plonk, sounds like you finally saw the light and experienced the semi-religious conversion to Apple-dom," comments. Grow up, Slashdot.
      • by toadlife (301863) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @05:38PM (#16531289) Journal
        "Our lab has a policy of burning the data at a low speed - 1x or 2x - since some IT guy decided it ensures the best chance of a successful write.

        Your IT guy doesn't know what he is talking about. Burning discs at an ultra low speed will not necessarily make the quality of the burn better, and it may even make it worse. With DVDs you should burn at the speed the media is rated at. If that results in bad discs, you should bump the speed down to the next slowest speed. Once you reach a speed where the data is readable in other DVD drives, then you should probably just stick with that speed.

        The CD burning software *should* be able to query the media/drive and get supported burning speeds for your drive/media combination, and it shouldn't let you select invalid speeds. I guess the burning software in OSX is deficient in that area.
      • by NoMaster (142776) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @11:06PM (#16533128) Homepage Journal
        Example: I was trying to burn a DVD using the Mac Mini. I was using some new Memorex 16x compatible DVD+R discs that the lab had purchased. Our lab has a policy of burning the data at a low speed - 1x or 2x - since some IT guy decided it ensures the best chance of a successful write. Anyway, I try to burn the CD using Mac OS's built in software - basically by dragging and dropping files on the DVD, then clicking the "record" button once I'm done. I set the record speed to 1x.
        And there's your problem - most higher speed disks don't contain a write strategy for 1x / 2x. Some 8x I've got here - Verbatim or TDK, I forget which - don't have any write strategies below 4x. That's actual write strategies, located in the extended data area - not the strategy stored in the drive and accessed by a MID lookup.

        (In theory, 1x write strategy should be a standard across discs of all make. So say the rainbow books and, by extention, the DVD+-* standards. In practice, not so much...)

        The right answer, the one your IT guy should already know if he has a clue, is to burn at the minimum speed the disc supports. I'm not familiar with the Memorex discs in question, but most 16x discs only contain write strategies for 4x - 16x.

        "Write Strategies for high performance DVD+R/RW" [philips.com]

        • by CorporalKlinger (871715) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @01:52PM (#16537792)
          Again, it wasn't my intention to insight a massive debate regarding the Mac's capabilities with regards to burning CD's. My intention was to prove that every platform has some problems. The fact that people are getting SO defensive about this, reverting to namecalling, saying the "IT guy has [no] clue" etc. just proves my point. If new Mac users are treated this way by people when they voice a problem or concern, why should I "join the club?" I can pop over to any of a thousand forums focused specifically on the Windows platform and obtain excellent help with the problems I encounter on that system - or even find more friendly support for problems with (gasp) Debian! People are saying "go talk to a Mac genius at a Mac store" and crap like that and that I'm the problem. The point is, if I try to burn a disc too slowly on a Mac, it should tell me that's the problem. Not produce the strange error I received.

          And so, everyone attempts to justify and defend the helpless mac - it's my fault. It's the IT guy's fault. It's common sense to burn archival research data at a very high speed since that should work better than a lower speed (disregarding the prevalence of errors created in the data-set). OK, so I'm wrong and Mac is right. I still won't buy one after this experience or the dozens of others I had during my three month forced stint with a Mac which I did not elaborate on.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:00PM (#16529469)
    You'll just be able to buy more of those $300 jeans with all the money you will save not buying games.
  • $3,000[!] (Score:4, Funny)

    by jscott (11965) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:01PM (#16529481) Homepage
    A $3,000 Windows desktop?! Fucking gamers...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:07PM (#16529529)
      It's Australian dollars, not real money.
    • Re:$3,000[!] (Score:5, Informative)

      by antifoidulus (807088) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:08PM (#16529539) Homepage Journal
      I'm assuming he means $3k AU since he mentions how much the mac cost in Australian dollars earlier in the blurb. 3k Aussie dollars is about 2275 [yahoo.com] USD, still a bundle but....
  • by rs232 (849320) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:10PM (#16529569)
    "The GUI: It didn't take me long to get used to it. It is super smooth, even on the cheap Mac Mini .. It makes Windows XP look very late-nineties."

    "It's Unix!: You've got a very, very nice GUI but under the hood is good ole' Unix"

    "It is only when you open the Terminal and get to a shell that you see all the ancient Unix directory structures, combined with Apple's more hip and happening directory names like Applications, System, etc"

    "Notice I didn't say anything about viruses, trojans, spy-ware? I haven't been infected in three months on the Apple .. I don't run as an administrator. This simple action protects you from about 99% of malicious software. It is a simple fact."

    "unless you are a rabid freedom-fighter it is a step above any Linux distribution out there. KDE and GNOME are still a long way away from achieving the polish that Apple has delivered with Mac OS X"
    • by Chaffar (670874) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:16PM (#16529621)
      "unless you are a rabid freedom-fighter it is a step above any Linux distribution out there. KDE and GNOME are still a long way away from achieving the polish that Apple has delivered with Mac OS X"
      One man's polish is another man's useless eye candy... Some of us enjoy having a simple, uncluttered, low color, high contrast GUI. And a terminal.
      • by PatrickThomson (712694) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:31PM (#16529787)
        I disagree. Polish is the art of making less seem more. It's a time-intensive process and isn't really one geeks do very well - it's that indefinable quality that makes good closed-source software feel good. Don't get me wrong, I'm used to gnome and KDE, and they're impressive efforts, but they've not had hundreds of focus groups full of arts students and old ladies.
        • by no_pets (881013) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @03:02PM (#16530061)
          No shit. When I read the part about dragging text from the browser to the desktop in OS X and it actually created the file for you I was thinking of my mom (i.e. an old lady). Mom has never been able to grasp the concept of cut-and-paste despite my many attempts to teach her. A few times she seemed to be able to do it then would forget. I even gave her a keyboard (Logitech) that indicated "copy" and "paste" on the "c" and "v" keys to no avail. Kudos to Apple for having productive focus groups that must have included old ladies because a room full of *nix geeks would never have come up with that. Instead, it would have probably become an arguement over the lusers that couldn't freakin' cut and paste like everyone else. :-)
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by prockcore (543967)
            When I read the part about dragging text from the browser to the desktop in OS X and it actually created the file for you I was thinking of my mom


            I just did exactly that in Ubuntu.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by vbillings (967901)
          Actually, Gnome KDE have had quite a few if not hundreds of focus groups from a variety of different populations doing useability studies. See http://www.betterdesktop.org/ [betterdesktop.org] for more information.
      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:38PM (#16529863) Homepage

        Let's see, OSX's interface is...

        simple..............check
        uncluttered.......check
        low color...........most interface elements are black/white/grey, so check
        high contrast.....if not enough so, you can increase the contrast, I suppose, so check
        has a terminal...check

        So you're an OSX fan, then?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jsebrech (525647)
        One man's polish is another man's useless eye candy... Some of us enjoy having a simple, uncluttered, low color, high contrast GUI. And a terminal.

        Exactly, and that's where OS X delivers. The KDE GUI is extremely cluttered, loaded with busy toolbars and lengthy menu's. Mac gui's are simpler, cleaner, and yet they're just as powerful (imho, your mileage may vary).

        And remember, underneath OS X is BSD (even if Terminal is a somewhat sucky terminal).
      • by overunderunderdone (521462) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @05:13PM (#16531123)
        Polish is not "eye candy". Eye candy is merely flashiness. Polish is everything being intentionally designed, fully thought out, finished. Something can have a lot of eye candy but still be very rough & incomplete. Something can be polished yet very visually simple (though certainly designed). "Eye candy" is often a way to compensate for, or distract from, a lack of polish.

        A few good examples of what people mean by polish are in TFA under #8 "Lots of other nice little things". Not a single one of them is "eye candy" they are not even related to visual design at all... but they are exactly what people mean when they say that Mac OS X is polished.
    • by ArbitraryConstant (763964) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @05:05PM (#16531063) Homepage
      The primary reason was the hardware. I don't mean this in the sense that I have a particular affinity for homebuilds, or that there aren't any other reasons. The cost was simply prohibitive with Apple, and this was big enough to cut short any consideration I might have otherwise given to the platform, regardless of merit.

      I needed a workstation, but I have no use for a quad-core machine, so a Core 2 Duo or Athlon64 could easily meet my needs. I also needed a large RAID array and a scratch disk, as well as other things like multiple ethernet ports, PCI/PCI-E slots, and so forth. With Apple hardware, the only way to get what I want is to spend large amounts of money on stuff that won't benefit me (like that extra Xeon). When I tried to price out a Mac Pro to meet the same requirements it couldn't be done without more than doubling the price. Even if I were willing to go around upgrading the thing with cheaper 3rd party hard drives, RAM, etc, that stuff wouldn't be covered by Apple's warranty, and that's a big downside for me. Even then, it would still cost thousands more, and it wouldn't even be that much easier than a homebuild when all was said and done.

      A secondary reason was that I've had an iBook up until recently, and getting the various *nix software I need was significantly more annoying there. A good distro's package manager will have many times the selection of the Mac alternatives such as Fink and Darwin Ports, and the time I spent compiling the missing stuff by hand on MacOS was significant. This easily overwhelms any savings of effort that I might have gotten from MacOS initially, and that's not even that much with easy distros like Ubuntu. I'm not a rabid freedom fighter, I just know empirically it's a lot more trouble for me to use MacOS.

      Another way this advantage applies is that the software I need comes almost entirely from one place. With MacOS, it was a mix of Fink, Darwin Ports, stuff I've compiled myself, various .sit and .dmg files downloaded from various websites (Apple, VersionTracker, etc), and so on. With Ubuntu, it's all available from a single interface. One front end handles all the installations, removals, and updates. Even proprietary things like video card drivers and Sun's Java are handled this way. This cuts way down on the time it takes me to get a system set up with all the various apps I need. Downloading something from VersionTracker isn't difficult, but doing that over and over again for dozens of different things takes a significant chunk of time. With Ubuntu, I've found that I don't need to do it all at once, because clicking a checkbox and clicking "apply" in Synaptic takes seconds -- installing an app is barely more difficult than lanching it, and making a list of things I need would be more trouble than installing them when I notice they're missing.

      I've seen what Macs have to offer, and I don't think I'd be interested even if it didn't cost so much more to meet my needs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:11PM (#16529573)
    Our company did last year, city of Vienna did, it should work out very nicely for you too. Our former XP users love KDE.

    No need to put yourself through pains when you can improve security, save money and achieve a good deal of vendor independence all at the same time. Why exchange overpriced software (Microsoft) for overpriced hardware (Apple), when you can run Free software on the industry standard (and thus inexpensive) hardware?

    Knowing everything I know now, I only regret that we did not migrate to GNU/Linux sooner.

    • by binary paladin (684759) <binarypaladin&gmail,com> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @04:55PM (#16530971)

      You know, I get more and more sick of postings like this.

      No need to put yourself through pains when you can improve security, save money and achieve a good deal of vendor independence all at the same time. Why exchange overpriced software (Microsoft) for overpriced hardware (Apple), when you can run Free software on the industry standard (and thus inexpensive) hardware?

      Don't get me wrong, I liked the Linux desktop, but I switched back to Win2k before ultimately moving to OS X. Free software is excellent when it's available. Even on Windows, I used loads of free software. If your company does a lot of office work, Linux is great. I've heard it's excellent for scientific work too. However, exactly how do you do things like desktop publishing, video editing and real graphics work (a la Illustrator and Photoshop). You don't.

      Software availability has and will continue to cripple Linux on the desktop. People can scream about "choice" all they want and say, "See, I have 30 browsers to choose from (running a whole 2 rendering engines) and a bunch of IM clients, three office suits and a program that makes a pair of shifty eyes sit on my desktop. I even have two whole major desktop environments to choose from!" Of course, you have zero choices for much of the above mentioned software.

      Linux works where it works, but just like Windows or Mac, it's not the be all, end all nor is it a universal solution.

  • Mac OS X vs. Ubuntu (Score:5, Interesting)

    by transporter_ii (986545) * on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:12PM (#16529591) Homepage
    Probably more relevent to the /. crowd would be this article from someone that switched to Ubuntu from OS X and then went back to OS X:

    http://digg.com/apple/Mac_OS_X_vs_Ubuntu [digg.com]

    Let me say that if I could go into a store right now and buy a reasonably priced copy of OX X that would run on a plain PC, I would be running OS X at the moment (Yes, I understand that running on *any* hardware would make OS X less stable, but I would be willing to take the risk...and huge amounts of people would rather pay more for Apple's hardware and stability, and I wish Apple could see that and make us both happy).

    But since that isn't going to happen, I'm really considering going to Ubuntu because I think MS is just going insane with Vista.

    As the above mention, he doesn't think Ubuntu is too far behind OS X.

    I would be interested in hearing others thoughts on this?

    Transporter_ii

    • by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:30PM (#16529765) Homepage

      I installed Ubuntu this Monday. I really had to hammer at it to get the programs I wanted installed and get settings the way I wanted them. Linux still has a way to go before the average Joe will be able to pick it up and use it...

      My first problem resulted from Ubuntu's installer assuming my system clock was set to GMT and not asking me. When I corrected the clock +4 hours from the LiveCD's meddling and installed Ubuntu, it adjusted my clock +4 more! I didn't notice until I had worked with Ubuntu off my hard drive for a bit. When I set the clock back -4... I was locked out of SUDO! This restriction would have to be lifted or at least EXPLAINED to the average user who is not going to understand why he must wait 4 hours to perform any administrative actions. Not to mention the fix is not intuitive... I had to adjust my clock +4 again, run sudo -k to kill my sudo timestamp, and finally set my clock correctly. Then sudo worked again. No way the average user could have done that.

      Also the lack of up-to-date precompiled packages (Wine package is still back at 0.9.9, ScummVM 0.8.0) for my favorite programs was annoying enough for me to have to search out more recent binaries... now I really like the Linux idea of putting program files in /bin (which is also in the path env... ooh Linux has Windows beat on this!), settings in /etc, user settings in ~, etc etc. But most precompiled binaries aren't like this! They just throw everything in one directory... so if I want these "distributed" files, I need to compile from source and make install (right? well that was my solution >.>).

      Also Linux will need out-of-the-box support for Windows apps. This is critical for it's success, I believe, as if you tell a Windows user he can migrate to Linux without having to give up any of his favorite programs while gaining all the advantages of Linux... well I think that would help alot.

      Currently Wine seems OK, but it still has some problems with XP profiles (it tries to use hardcoded 9x profile paths... I can't figure out how to override them) MDI dialogs (they don't work quite right, fooling around with them crashes wine) and fonts (I can't get a font dialog to pop up, font changing doesn't work in my favorite app...).

      Furthermore, I still haven't gotten some things to work QUITE right (Cedega overwrites Wine when I make install it! And it's broken... it complains a SO can't be found. I'll probably figure this out eventually). Also when I built Firefox 2 and Thunderbird 2, they ended up with the internal names "Bon Echo" and "Mail/News Client"... bah... plus Ubuntu's Firefox 1.5 and Thunderbird 1.5 have different program names than my compiled versions, so the old ones still occasionally pop up when another program runs them...

      • by 1u3hr (530656) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @03:00PM (#16530047)
        Also Linux will need out-of-the-box support for Windows apps. This is critical for it's success

        IBM's OS/2 had that. That was one thing that led to its demise. Ability to use MSOffice fles is fairly useful though. And Vista will have a whole new set of APIs and supporting apps that use them will be a huge task.

    • by spisska (796395) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:55PM (#16530005)

      Let me say that if I could go into a store right now and buy a reasonably priced copy of OX X that would run on a plain PC, I would be running OS X at the moment (Yes, I understand that running on *any* hardware would make OS X less stable, but I would be willing to take the risk...and huge amounts of people would rather pay more for Apple's hardware and stability, and I wish Apple could see that and make us both happy).

      But since that isn't going to happen, I'm really considering going to Ubuntu because I think MS is just going insane with Vista.

      Actually, you can get OS X to run natively on a PC [uneasysilence.com]. You just need to ask yourself if its worth the trouble. I'd think you're better off just getting a Mac mini.

      As the above mention, he doesn't think Ubuntu is too far behind OS X. I would be interested in hearing others thoughts on this?

      There's no doubt that Mac is more polished and more user-friendly. But Ubuntu is a complete, polished, intuitive, full-featured environment. Provided you're not using non-standard hardware, pretty much everything works straight out of the box with very little tweaking.

      In fact, Ubuntu on my laptop handles the various power-saving modes (sleep, hibernation) flawlessly and with no special configuration, whereas Windows XP would sometimes sleep, sometimes not, and refuse to come out of hibernation if and when it hibernated (which often had little bearing on how, or even if, it was configured to hibernate).

      Much in contrast to a Windows install, the Ubuntu install is fast, easy, intuitive, contains all the software you'll need, doesn't require multiple reboots and separate installation (with more reboots) for installing software and device drivers, and doesn't require yet further instalalation and reboots for OS and software updates.

      Last time I had to reinstall Windows after a drive failure it took over three hours and no fewer than 10 reboots to get the system installed (reboot), upgraded (reboot), upgraded to SP2 (reboot), updated again (reboot), install/update drivers (reboot), install Office XP (reboot), update to Office 2003 (reboot), security and other Office updates (reboot), more Windows updates since I now had Office installed (reboot), etc. Installing other necessary software required more reboots.

      My last Ubuntu install (incidentally, my first) took all of 45 minutes start-to finish with OS and all software installed and upgraded. Much simpler than any other Linux I've installed (FC3, FC4, RHEL, Mandriva, SuSE) and in a completely different league than Microsoft.

      But don't take my word. Try it out for yourself [ubuntu.com]. Installation is even easier with Automatix [getautomatix.com] for adding bits that aren't in the core Ubuntu distribution like all the multimedia codecs and various packages that don't meet Ubuntu's strict libre-only policy.

    • by scarolan (644274) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @03:24PM (#16530243) Homepage
      Here are some brief thoughts on OSX vs. Ubuntu. My wife has a Macbook Pro running OS X, and I have an Acer Aspire laptop running Ubuntu 6.06, so I've had a chance to use both.

      Macbook Pro:

      * Nice eye candy, some people like the way windows do that slurpy thing when you minimize them, etc. Personally I don't like the dock, find it a bit big, clunky, and lacking real information about what programs I have open.
      * Most everything 'just works' the way it's supposed to. If you can get into the "Mac way" of doing things, eg, iphoto, itunes, etc. then you'll be right at home. The drawbacks are that OSX is not very customizable the way Gnome (the default Ubuntu desktop environment) is.
      * Terminal application is somewhat lacking. It has basic features but cannot be customized very much. If you do a lot of work on the command line you'll probably want a third-party terminal application to get your real work done.
      * The wireless setup is not straightforward, and if you're not used to it can be a bit confusing.
      * If you want an office suite, you have to pay quite a bit extra to get it. MS Office for Mac is something like $379 or so. If you're a student you might get it for less.

      Ubuntu:

      * Easy installer, even on newer hardware seems to work well. I had out-of-the-box wifi connection with the Atheros chipset adapter in my laptop, even with WPA and WEP. I've never had a Linux laptop working wifi before I tried Ubuntu.
      * If you install EasyUbuntu, you'll have most of the proprietary codecs and other stuff that most people want to be able to watch DVDs, see Flash movies, play mp3s, etc.
      * Takes a bit more hands-on tweaking to get it working exactly the way you want, but is much more flexible and customizable than OS X.
      * The office type applications are finally getting to the point where a business user or student can be productive with them. For example, Evolution (the Outlook clone) has come a long way as far as usability goes, and it syncs just fine with my Palm Pilot.
      * Free (as in beer).
      * There are a few downsides. You won't be able to run some Windows-only applications without an emulator, but I guess that could be said for Macs as well. Also, with any Linux distribution you pretty much have to learn some command line to really be able to use your system to it's full potential.
      • by Inoshiro (71693) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @04:57PM (#16530999) Homepage
        You must be joking.

        "* Terminal application is somewhat lacking. It has basic features but cannot be customized very much. If you do a lot of work on the command line you'll probably want a third-party terminal application to get your real work done."

        The defaults are stupid, but once you get it setup with white text on a black background and a reasonable font, it's pretty equivalent to Konsole for me. Konsole has the terminals in a nice tabbed bar that are nameable, while the Mac version just has different floaty windows, but the two operations I do (new terminal window and next/prev terminal window) are identical in behaviour.

        "* The wireless setup is not straightforward, and if you're not used to it can be a bit confusing."

        You just be joking. MacOS wireless is the easiest wireless I've ever setup. Even doing complex LEAP/PEAP stuff is yonks easier than on Windows. And don't talk to me about Linux wireless -- that's just a fucking joke.

        "* If you want an office suite, you have to pay quite a bit extra to get it. MS Office for Mac is something like $379 or so. If you're a student you might get it for less."

        Or you could get iWork for 49$ [wikipedia.org]. It's got what you're most likely needing (advanced page layout and presentation software) unless you're sitting down to do serious spreadsheet work, which would require Excel. Apple's supposed to be adding a spreadsheet application at some point. I expect it to be as well thought out and designed as Keynote and Pages, and will happily upgrade.

        "* Takes a bit more hands-on tweaking to get it working exactly the way you want, but is much more flexible and customizable than OS X."

        You know, a large number of people don't change the defaults. I'm unconvinced it's that much of a big deal for people to make some small adjustments in how they work, especially when it allows you to be a lot more productive overall.

        "* The office type applications are finally getting to the point where a business user or student can be productive with them. "

        I'm going to talk about Keynote v3 here. I arrived at a presentation I was giving with my notes ready, but found I'd be standing on a platform far away from my laptop. Solution? I quickly customized the presenter display so that my laptop would show my presenter notes in 48pt font, and then pulled out my Apple remote which I could use to control slide next/previous while giving my talk. How awesome is that? It just works -- that's Apple.

        I've yet to see anything that approaches their iWork suite in terms of being useful for me. Pages is a lot like LaTeX, except that it's easy to make your pages not be printed in Times New Roman (I've written 4 papers in TeX, and still don't know how to make it sans serif). In Pages, I just change the styles in the styles drawer, which are applied to the paragraphs/etc/tagged with that style. You can easily import/export from things like MS Word or PDF, and generally have full control of your document easily -- despite it being a GUI! Plus, I've yet to fight with it like I remember fighting with MSWord autoformatting when I learned to use word processors a decade ago.

        iWork is not old -- the first iteration was released in 2005. Why is Linux office software stuck copying MS ideas when Apple so quickly put out a different suite and had it work so well?
  • by nacturation (646836) <[nacturation] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:13PM (#16529599) Journal
    Since then, I have been a sucker for every upgrade -- 95, 98, NT 4.0, 2000, XP...

    He at least had the good sense to skip Windows ME.
     
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:14PM (#16529607) Journal
    God I hate the mouse acceleration on my Mac Mini. Either you set the acceleration high so you don't need, you know, the entire desk to move the mouse a reasonable distance at the loss of fine movements, or you set the acceleration low so that you gain precision at the cost of having to drag and drop the mouse a few dozen times to get the cursor across the desktop. Windows doesn't have this problem. If you move the mouse a tiny amount your cursor moves in tandem; move it a lot and so does the cursor. Wow. Why can't my Mac do that? It's so retarted.

    Don't get me wrong here, I love my Mac, but the mouse thing drives me nuts.
  • For looks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shirizaki (994008) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:16PM (#16529615)
    I'm buying my Mom an iMac, for the sole reason it's SEXY. It's slim, compact, and doesn't make alot of noise. Better tha the dell portable desktop they just made. Macs are like computing with a built in safety net. You can almost never break it. The only people I know that hate windows are the poor souls that manage to still run AOL, download weather bug, and install every piece of software that wants to install itself. I run windows XP, with firewall and firefox, and I watch what I download. My virus infection rate? 0. People need to LEARN how to surf, instead of just going out there all willynilly.
    • by the_humeister (922869) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:27PM (#16529739)
      I'm buying my Mom an iMac, for the sole reason it's SEXY.


      Your dad isn't doing it for her?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tritone (189506)
      The thing about a Mac is that you don't need to learn how to surf. You can surf anywhere without worry. Let me make an analogy.

      PC Dad to son: you can have sex, but only with people you're sure about. And always use a condom, just in case.

      Mac Dad to son: Go ahead and have sex with whomever you want, any way you like!
  • Getting used to... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Satri (609291) <alexandreleroux@noSPam.gmail.com> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:16PM (#16529617) Homepage Journal
    This are done slightly differently on OSX than on Windows. Getting used to adequately use OSX takes time and experience. This can be frustrating. It *really* helps if you have friends who can help you make the best out of the OS.

    One simple example. I love Spotlight. This feature changes the way we work with computers. If you switch from Windows and no one told you to try if that feature is for you, than you're missing one potential benefit for switching. Same for many other features. Mail is very good too (I'm an open source fanboy, but hey, I'll use the best free/open tools available :-).

    Be curious. Try things. Discover your new OS. Maybe the icons view is not for you and you'll prefer the column view? It's worthed to attend to some Mac User Groups in your area. They'll be able to show you some nice tricks, and, important, answer the questions you have. (oh, there's some great mac-oriented mailing lists for that too)

    Switching is *not* that easy, especially if you're not a geek (but since this is /. ...). Learn, ask questions. After a time, you'll probably like your mac more than your windows machine. Why? It depends. Generally, it's for the details. The little intuitive things that makes you happier using a Mac.
  • Upgradability? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drdanny_orig (585847) * on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:16PM (#16529623)
    I'm enticed by the new iMacs -- particularly that juicy looking 24" -- but it would appear that it's impossible to add hardware to those machines. Over the years, I've gotten used to extending the life of a PC by upgrading components like memory, vidcard, etc. I get the impression that few MacHeads do things that way. I'm not sure I could get used to that way of life, since I love to tinker, and it's kept my last desktop machine usable since early 2002 and it's still my main workhorse. I'm guessing that the Pro models are more upgradable, but those prices(!) keep me from making that jump. Has anyone managed to open up a new imac and replace a hdd or the like?
    • Re:Upgradability? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot@nosPaM.stango.org> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:29PM (#16529759) Homepage Journal
      We don't do component upgrades often because they are less necessary in the Mac world. For the last five years we have enjoyed an OS where version n+1 runs (or at least "feels") faster than version n did on the same hardware. The only thing that really needs to be added internally to most Macs is RAM. For more HD space, that's what those nice FireWire and USB 2 connections are for. And when it comes to video-- let's be honest, what really drives video card upgrades on the Windows side of the fence? The latest flavor-of-the-month GPU-hungry game, that's what. Like it or not, this is still not much of an issue on the Mac side. When a (consumer-level) Mac user really wants better video performance, their existing machine is probably a couple years old... They'll likely just buy a new Mac and throw the old one up on eBay to offset the cost. Since migrating your stuff to a new machine is a completely automated and (IME) painless process, and since Macs retain their resale value much better, it's a quite palatable option.

      ~Philly
    • Re:Upgradability? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kherr (602366) <kevin AT puppethead DOT com> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:42PM (#16529895) Homepage
      I'm enticed by the new iMacs -- particularly that juicy looking 24" -- but it would appear that it's impossible to add hardware to those machines. Over the years, I've gotten used to extending the life of a PC by upgrading components like memory, vidcard, etc.

      The Mac world mindset is different, for one very basic reason. An out-of-the-box Macintosh has all the hardware (most) people need: built-in Bluetooth, wifi, USB, FireWire, DVD burning, etc. There's little need to have an upgradable machine because each Mac has just about everything already.

      RAM and hard drive are the only components people really upgrade. RAM is pretty easy in all Macs. Hard drives (and optical drives) can be done, sometimes easily and sometimes not so much. I've personally replaced hard drives in "non-upgradable" iBooks and PowerBooks with little effort.

      Video cards are really the main stumbling point of the closed Mac models. But the 24" iMac has an upgradable video card, so expect to see some third-party offerings eventually. Or go with the Mac Pro, which is the upgradable tower Mac. The reality is, though, that 3D gaming lags on the Mac platform and you probably don't need the hottest video cards for the available games. If you're into professional video or something you'd be wanting a Mac Pro anyway, where you can swap out the video card.
  • by Y-Crate (540566) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:23PM (#16529695)
    One of my fellow goons created this to illustrate the mentality of someone going through the Windows > OS X switch, and I thought it was relevant to this discussion, as it perfectly illustrates the joy and agony of moving from one platform to another:

    The OS X Satisfaction Chart [stunningabsurdity.com]
  • by maxrate (886773) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:26PM (#16529727)
    I use on a daily basis: Mac OS/X Tiger, Ubuntu, Fedora Core and Windows XP Pro. I consider myself an advanced user and a very good sysadmin on many platforms. I still prefer Windows.... - why? I'm not sure myself! (No I do not work for Microsoft). I've been trying to switch to OS/X as a primary OS admitting that it's driven mostly because of peer pressure - it's just not happening for me. I don't feel that compelled to switch - I don't see a good reason and I'm being opening minded about it, I feel like it's much more trouble than it's worth. Is there anyone else that feels the same way? I feel alone!
    • by mixenmaxen (857917) <maxNO@SPAMmaximise.dk> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:59PM (#16530041) Homepage
      You're not alone, at least we are two :-)

      I had the same experience - Mac's are slick, better looking and all, but to me it just seems like their GUI is designed for idiots that like eyecandy. Stuff that would take me two clicks to accomplish in windows takes me four clicks to accomplish on a Mac. It just isn't as great as it is made out to be, at least not if you use it as a professional tool, and are more interested in getting things done than in awing at the amazing graphics...

      Just my opinion ;-)
    • I go back and forth (Score:5, Interesting)

      by chocolatetrumpet (73058) <<moc.treblifnahtanoj> <ta> <todhsals>> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @04:20PM (#16530693) Homepage Journal
      I also use Windows XP, Mac OS X, and Ubuntu Linux on a daily basis- desktop, laptop, and server, respectively.

      There is something about Windows XP that just makes me feel efficient. I can get things done really quickly. If I need to do any sort of tedious computing task, I'd like to do it on windows.

      However, sometimes I get in a "mac" mood and want to use my laptop. But as flashy and cool as it is, everything usually feels clumsy and cumbersome. Simple tasks seem to have many steps and seem to take longer. I feel like I am swimming in molassas, as opposed to water with windows. But it's a warm and comfortable molassas.

      Ubuntu is bringing a very polished product to the table. If open source ever catches up with applications and drivers, Ubuntu could be a very real choice for many people. Linux was my primary OS on and off through college. Mark Shuttleworth is doing a great service to the public with Ubuntu. If I ever made it big time like he did, bringing high quality open source applications to Linux (video editing, etc.) would be high on my list. As they stand, Linux applications are simply too limited/unstable for my daily needs which include music and video production.

      I still think that a mac is an excellent choice for the "casual computer user," due in no small part to the fact that you can bring it back to that Apple store and they are going to fix it. Computers are complicated machines and they have problems. The Apple Store is not going to tell you it's a hardware problem and so it's not their fault. They're not going to tell you that it's a software problem so it's not their fault. They're going to fix it, and that's what casual computer users need - service and support.

      The windows desktop/mac laptop/linux server setup has been working very well for me and satisfies all of my OS moods, so I will probably continue with this for a long while.
  • by the_rajah (749499) * on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:31PM (#16529777) Homepage
    I couldn't pass it up. It's got 256 Megs of RAM OS-X 10.3. I use it, too, for checking how sites I design look on a Mac. Even given that it's old and a bit slow, the experience is not bad at all. I think a Mac Mini is in my future, too.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:35PM (#16529827) Homepage Journal
    OSX gets along quite well with Linux (X11, Samba and ssh) and Windows (Remote desktop, Samba.) It also syncs to my Symbian 60 cell phone using bluetooth, can use the cellphone to connect to the Internet via bluetooth and does wireless networking on most Apple systems. It seems to be able to use those problematic Microsoft file formats and and you have your choice of DRMed and unDRMed media. It has a better selection of games than Linux does, though not as good a one as Windows does (No EVE Online client for OSX but you apparently can play WoW...) You also have tons of open source software that you can install on it.

    Overall I'd say OSX is an excellent choice for Windows users who want the advantages of UNIX without having to learn arcane lore, for Linux users who need a laptop that will just work without requiring a virgin sacrifice during a full moon and for people who need to talk to a variety of different systems in a heterogenuous network. It's a bad choice for Microsoft executives, MCSEs or anyone else who makes a living on Windows being the dominant OS in the market. If you're somewhere in the middle you should probably pick OSX for the better security. It's not perfect, but any improvement is better than nothing.

  • by magic (19621) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:53PM (#16529991) Homepage
    I used to use Windows exclusively, with Linux at work when I had to. I recently got a Mac and figured that I'd still use Win32 most of the time. Boy was I wrong.

    After using OS X for a few months, I'm very happy to use it *all* the time. My 'favorite' apps--Firefox, PowerPoint, Excel, Word, iTunes, PhotoShop--all run there. After I figured out the OS it seemed slick and easy to use compared to Windows. And the things I like about Unix are all there at the command line when I want them. Now my PC is for games only, and with the amount of hassle of PC gaming, it is second string there to consoles.

    -m
  • by ShyGuy91284 (701108) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @02:56PM (#16530009)
    When I got my Mac, the control panel and features gave me no problem whatsoever. Very neatly organized, common-sense names..... But when I tried Vista last, the control panel was terrible... Different then XP, but by no means more user friendly. Might have changed since when I tried it (Beta 2 or Pre-RC1), but doubtful....
  • by yo_tuco (795102) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @03:04PM (#16530083)
    FTA

    "On a 19" [monitor], the available screen space is used more efficiently - the shared menu bar and the dock being the main reasons."

    Yeah, but on a Apple's 30" monitor it sucks. When you have a window open and positioned, say, in the lower RH corner and you need to access the menu bar, it is a long drag to move the mouse to the upper LH corner. And often you can accidentally click on the desktop or other window along the way and lose focus of the application's menu bar causing you to go back and repeat the procedure.

    I like OSX but this design feature should be a user's choice.
  • x-tree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) * on Saturday October 21, 2006 @03:19PM (#16530195) Homepage Journal
    It sounds pretty rational to me. X-tree was a superior file interface to anything MS had. Even with MS Windows 3.1, it was a while before MS got it working as well as X-tree. IIRC, it was really the 'long filename' hack that made X-Tree kind of dated.

    In the same way, MS Windows, if you run simple applications and games, was a very good choice, particularly through the 90's when people were migrating from Unix and Apple had trouble refreshing Mac OS. Now, however, with vista being increasingly delayed and features dropping away, Mac OS X is becoming a very viable alternative. It is here now, it works, it has a time tested CL interface, and in many ways there is much less vendor lock in than with MS. For instance, the OS Update does not require IE, although MS has gotten rid of that limitation in exchange for an update process that insures the User is running a version of MS Windows that MS believes is legitimate.

    You know, I am on the other side of the fence. I appreciate MS for allowing a liberal development process which allows quick and dirty coding in the languages I know, particularly C and C++. But I never believed they were capable of producing an OS that would allow me to work without the OS getting in my way too much. Certainly MS Windows NT proved that they could, but it was never so good to make me move from my Mac. It does not look like MS Vista will do so either.

  • by lafintiger (743016) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @03:21PM (#16530219)
    I have been a PC Wiindows(Microsoft) bubba for over 20 years. I have a taught many classes on PCs and Windows. I recently purchased a Mac Book Pro. I started off dual booting. After about a month I realized I was hardly ever booting to the PC side. I deleted the Windows side and reclaimed the space.

    There is simply no good reason to get a PC. If you want to run Windows, fine, get a Mac and dual boot. At the least you double your chances of getting things done. It also makes you more versatile and more marketable. Apple was genius to first change to a BSD based OS and then to move to intel. The BSD based Mac OS X has the best of both worlds. Simply the best most powerful command line interface, and the most impressive and user friendly GUI.

    I recently wrote and article for the Ins and Outs Magazine.

    Viva La Revolution!

    http://www.insandoutsmagazine.com/content_tek.html [insandoutsmagazine.com]

    I advise all my clients and students that, if you are going to get a computer, get a mac. Once you go Mac, you will never go back! ;)

  • by kreyg (103130) <kreyg@shaw.PARISca minus city> on Saturday October 21, 2006 @03:34PM (#16530319) Homepage
    Since a computer is just a tool, it all depends what you want to do.

    As a game player and game developer (PC, consoles), using a Mac would be a painful exercise in disaster.

    But if it runs all of the applications you want, in a more user-friendly and efficient environment, then why not switch?

    Hardware is irrelevant - software rules. The OS is irrelevant, whether it runs the software you want is all that matters.
  • by proxy318 (944196) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @03:36PM (#16530351)
    I maintain a school district full of Macs (almost 1200 machines, including desktops, laptops, and servers) so I'd say I'm fairly familiar with their hardware and software, including the new Intel macs and OSX 10.4. So here are my criticisms of the Mac platform: 1. The finder is the worst file manager I have ever used. Nautilus, Konqueror, and even Explorer are vastly superior for manipulating files. You can't set it to default to list view or even alphabetized icon view, its "column view" is absurd, its tree view shows you everything in every folder(instead of just showing the folders), so moving something from one folder to another is a real pain, you can't have it list folders before files, it's slow over the network, it can connect to ftp sites but only in read only mode. It remembers how far you were scrolled down in a file list, even if you change view modes, so if you switch from icon view to list view and you're scrolled down to the bottom, you're suddenly looking at a blank space and have to scroll up to view files. If someone moves stuff around in a folder, and then you go to look at it, you see it as they left it - an arbitrary mess. In every other file manager you can set it to ignore customized folders, but not in the finder. I could go on but I think you get the point. 2. The Dock sucks. If you're using a resolution of 1024x768 or less (which is the default, and maximum size of the 12" powerbook and ibooks, which I use every day), then the dock constantly gets in your way. If you have it set to hidden, if your mouse gets anywhere near the edge of the screen it pops up, even if you moved to an area where the dock isn't - it's centered on the screen, and doesn't take up the whole width of the screen, but if you move the mouse to the corner of the screen it pops up anyway. You have no idea where the dock is when it's hidden. On windows and in gnome, kde, xfce, etc. you see a thin line on the edge of the screen to show you where you hidden taskbar/panel/whatever is hidden. With the dock, you just have to try the left, right, and bottom of the screen until you find it. The difference between running and non-running programs in the dock is minuscule - running programs have a tiny black triangle underneath them which is very easy for a new osx user to miss. We have people in our district who have been using osx for 3 years who still don't get this distinction. Since mac applications can still run without having any windows open, it's very easy for someone to have a bunch of stuff open and not realize it, then wonder why their computer is performing so slowly. 3. There's no "maximize window" button. I like to run some applications in full screen, such as my web browser. Instead of "maximize window", the mac has "optimal size". It makes the window just big enough to show you everything it contains. If you happen to be viewing a web page that's very small when you hit this button, then browser window will be very small. In order to get it to fill the screen, you have to move the window so it's top left corner is in the top left of the screen, then grab the resize handle and drag it into the bottom right of the screen. Also, the window controls are ambiguous - the don't show their icons until you hover on them, then they show the "dash square x". Granted, these glyphs are ambiguous in themselves, but at least someone familiar with other operating systems would be able to figure out what there were immediately. 4. OSX seems to corrupt its own file system through normal use. We have a lot of incidences of computers not booting - either they get to the apple logo and hang, or they flashing mac logo with a question mark icon. In order to fix them, we have to run a third party utility called Disk Warrior. Yes, macs come with fsck but this doesn't always do a good job of fixing the errors, and it doesn't fix the metadata in the filesystem (aka, the "resource fork"). I'm sure I see these kind of problems far more often than a home user does since I deal with so many computers on a daily basis, so my view of this is probab
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @04:08PM (#16530593)
    Why? Because the article tries to imply that Macs are cheaper than PCs. I have a ton of respect for Macs, but they are not cheaper than PCs.

    $3000 Windows deskop? I guess it's possible, but $300 windows desktops are far more common. About a year ago I bought a complete brand-new windows system for my brother-in-law for $200 after rebates. It's not the greatest system, but it's perfictly acceptable for ordinary home use.

    Now tell me where I can buy a brand-new complete Mac system for under $300?
  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @04:10PM (#16530611)
    I'm a sysadmin in a Windows shop for my day job, and I have a Mac at home. I've always been partial to them, but I went back from a PC about 2 yeats ago.

    The pros are definitely that I have to worry less about the computer. Security is an issue, no matter what anyone else says, but things like installing software and upgrading versions of software are much more predictable. I have a very busy day-job, and the fact that I can come home to a working computer for my personal tasks is nice.

    The cons stem from lack of industry support. If you're a gamer, your choices of ported games are limited. Certain specialized software either doesn't exist for the Mac, or the Mac version is inferior to the Windows version. To combat this, I keep a Windows machine to run the occasional Windows-only program. Also, virtual machine technology can be a help here.

    The software support issue may be going away soon anyway, given vendors' rapid move towards hosted applications. Take Windows Live mail for example (the hotmail replacement.) The UI is almost as good as MS Outlook, even in browsers other than IE.

    We'll see what happens in the next few years. Personally, I'm happy paying the premium for what I feel is a better designed machine.
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Saturday October 21, 2006 @07:57PM (#16532247)
    I was going to spend $399 on a full retail copy of Windows Vista Ultimate, but then I caught wind of the EULA they're including with it, and now I'm noticing that the low-end Mac Mini is only 50% more.

    I'll likely be making the switch before Vista is released.

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