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I'm a Windows Guy. I Bought a Mac. Here's Why.

08/02/2010 05:52 PM - Permalink

Jay's MacBook ProI've only been at work today for 4 hours, and so far, I've gotten at least 5 remarks about buying a Mac.  To be clear, I bought an Apple MacBook Pro, model A1286.  You see, this is only strange because I'm the Windows guy, who champions all things other (when it comes to Apple).  I run my life on Windows, I make a living on Windows, I own a Motorola Droid and program things for Android.  So why on earth did I buy a MacBook Pro?  Here's why.

First of all, lets talk specs.  The Mac I bought has a 15-inch display, comes with an Intel Core i5 processor running at 2.40 GHz.  It has 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 320 GB HDD that runs at 5400 RPMs.  (It's noteworthy that I am replacing it today myself with a 500 GB HDD, purchased from Newegg.com for $100 less than Apple wanted to upgrade me to the same drive.)  It also sports a 256 MB NVIDIA graphics card, namely the GT 330M.  I paid $_,___.__ for this beast.  At least I will.  But we'll get to that.

Why I Bought My Mac
I tried for months to get Mac OS X to run on my desktop computer or my laptop at home.  Why?  Because it's freaking cool.  That's why.  Because they say you can't do it.  Because they told me I couldn't win.  Well they were.......... right.  :( 

Haha.  You know better than to believe that.  I wanted Mac OS X because I'm a computer geek, plain and simple.  I have to know how it works.  I have to know how to do it.  I can't stand the thought that someone else may have a one-up on me.  So I have this unquenchable interest in computers.  But not only am I a computer geek; I'm a developer.  Meaning, I make a living writing computer software for various companies and/or needs.  Anything from simple scripting to complex web applications, extensions for other software applications, and the like -- I create it.  So staying up on new development frontiers can be financially beneficial for me.  Well, the iPhone is a huge mobile environment right now.  And I've been missing the boat.  I did recently begin looking into app development for the Android mobile platform, which I enjoy and plan to continue.  But in order to really do the same for iOS (the iPhone's operating system), you need to have OS X.

I did get OS X running in VirtualBox on my local machine, but it was kinda unstable.  It crashes Finder (the Mac equivalent of explorer.exe) when you go to Apple >> About This Mac.  I can't do anything with Quartz Extreme (Mac OS X hardware accelerated graphics processing) because the VirtualBox naturally doesn't have a hardware GPU (graphics processing unit).

So then I realized -- it's nearly impossible to get OS X working on my specific hardware (desktop or laptop).  But Windows runs great on Apple hardware.  If you want the option, the best angle to take (to *ensure* official support from both software makers) is to use Apple hardware.  Now, normally, I wouldn't recommend this to people.  For your average Joe, Mac's are far too expensive.  I paid far too much (by an order of magnitude) for this specific hardware, and most people that purchase Macs do.  How do I know this?  Well, could it be that I got virtually the same equipment (incompatible with Mac OS X) for $560 (open box model) just a few months ago?  Maybe.  Is this specific hardware (and the right to run Mac OS X) really worth the  $1,200.00 markup for basically the same thing?  Maybe not to your average Joe, but your average Joe isn't a developer.  And your average Joe can't turn this purchase into money directly.  I am referring to doing something that may otherwise be impossible without this specific hardware and platform.  I can, and I do (and God willing, I will).

Let's add a bit of perspective.  The iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million units in the first three days of sales.  That beat the previous mobile handset record holder (the Motorola Droid's) record of 100,000 units.  iPhone 4 matched the Droid's first weekend 17 times in the same amount of time.  That's a fairly large crowd of people just waiting to buy apps I make (either for myself, or for the company I work for)!  And you have to have Mac OS X to easily make apps for iOS.  Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to go pro iPhone and abandon Android.  After all, Android is now the fastest growing mobile platform in America (and has been in the world for some time).  It's also my new smartphone love, as the Motrola Droid is my own personal device of choice.  But I can develop for Android on OS X or Windows.  Or both, if I want -- because it is a Java based technology, and Java runs on everything.

Experience is money in my field.  Not that I'm money hungry, because I'm certainly not.  Experience is also your greatest ally in enterprise software development.  Not that I'm looking for a job, because I'm not.  But when my managers come asking if I can write an iPhone app, or a Mac app, or make something work correctly on OS X or Safari on OS X, I want to be able to tell them I can, because I have experience in that.   

Not to mention... I do love Google.  I've said (mostly joking... mostly) for a long time that just about any company I work for would lose me to Google if I was ever offered a position there (barring the will of God for my life, which matters for about 3000%, I might add).  Well, Google just dumped Windows.  They're giving their employees two choices for primary operating systems: Linux (soooo many distributions to choose from/make work)... and you guessed it... Mac OS X.  If I really care about possible chances of working at Google (even if they are years and years down the road), I have to be serious about this option.  And though I enjoy a Linux distribution or two, none are supported well enough for my taste.  You can even play Counter-Strike on Mac OS X now.  :)

While considering on these things in the back of my mind, my friend Jimi (who also took the picture above, with his Motorola Droid, at Max & Erma's, about 10 minutes after I purchased my Mac) stayed with me last week when I was on vacation from work.  During the week, he had exactly one moment of mandatory work.  We went down to the school where he works to pick up his MacBook Pro they ordered for him.  He's an I.T. professional, and needs it for work as they're an all Mac shop.  After hearing stories from person-A and person-B about buying Mac's, and using a bit of them myself there... I decided to look into purchasing one. 

After the trip down to his school, we drove directly to The Apple Store at Easton Town Center.  Apple had 12 months no-interest financing.  We waited around an hour to be helped.  When the gentleman immature salesman helped me out, after swearing a few times as to his disappointment that I wouldn't be purchasing their up-sell services or extended warrantee and asking me nearly 20 times why I bothered coming into the store, I applied for their financing option, and bought it.  (I have a tax-return coming with this thing's name written all over it.  Or rather, it has my name written all over it.  But it'll get applied to this thing.  You know what I mean.)  Additionally, I was able to give my laptop to my mom (fairly decent upgrade), and sell hers to a friend who wanted a laptop badly.  So I was even able to recover some of the cost immediately.

Why I'm Glad I Bought a Mac
Let's just get this out of the way now.  I love Mac OS X.  And for the record, it's not because it's easier.  In truth, I don't think that it is.  It's just different.  Given, it's only been a week since the Mac has been in my life, and I'm still constantly finding new features.  Usually, they are features that Windows has, undeniably, but that need to be turned on.  Application installation is a breeze.  Hardly anything actually installs.  Applications (what Windows users would consider programs or executables) are in fact folders that hold scripts inside of them.  There are executables on some level, I imagine.  But the truth is, most applications can be written without the need for a direct binary compile (changing human programming code to 1-0 binary "machine code").  Drag the application to the applications folder.  It's installed now.  I do like the magnetic power cord as its saved me a few times now.  And I've only had it for a week!  I LOVE the accessibility zooming feature.  You can zoom the display of the screen.  Simply hold Control and zoom with the mouse wheel / track pad gesture.  OH... track bad gestures.  I'm in love.  It's true, my former non-Apple laptop had the same thing.  But its really refined and intuitively implemented in OS X.  Yeah.... Mac OS X really has some cool things.

I love learning.  I'm really enjoying my first full-blown Mac experience.  I'm learning new things.  I'm learning the operating system.  I'm learning the differences between it and Windows.  I'm learning.  I feel like a new computer user experiencing what I already know I love all over again.  I'm exploring and discovering.  And to me, it's an incredibly fun process.

So people are thinking I've joined the dark side.  People are thinking I'm now a Mac guy.  Well, I may just be that for me... But do you know what I especially love learning?  That I've been right all this time.  People have asked me for years if buying a Mac is worth it.  My response so far?  *Maybe* if you get the regular MacBook.  For normal users, I wouldn't buy a Mac, unless you enjoy causing intense pain to your wallet / checkbook / credit card / purse / children's college fund / etc.  However, if you wish to leverage Apple's development environment for Mac OS X or iPhone, really enjoy learning new things (and have mastered the world of Windows), or have any future plans to suddenly move to Mountain View, CA to work for Google... a Mac may just be the computer for you.  :)  I'm glad I have mine -- that I know for sure.

I installed Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on it immediately when I got it home.  I'm dual booting it with OS X.  I do use Mac OS X as my default OS, and will only boot into Windows when necessary.  That's more to force myself to learn the system than a usage preference.  I must say, I am very happy with VMWare Fusion's handling of Windows (the BOOTCAMP partition on the Mac's hard disk).  It lets me boot Windows -- the instance of Windows physically installed on the Windows partition -- while still running Mac OS X.  Windows loads from the physical disk as a virtual machine.  This works flawlessly, despite my third partition, and endless customizations.  All in all, I'm very impressed.  I love this computer.  But that's just me.  :)


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