My Thoughts on Switching from the Mac
It's something I've been thinking about for a long time and has been a nagging feeling in the back of my head. It's deeply personal and preferential and irks me every keynote and media event. Should I be staying with the Mac?
I've been a Mac user for many years and a computer user for many more. My first computer wasn't a Mac, it was the family Compaq sitting in the dark, cold, basement on our farm. My family wasn't too fond of the computer, but I quickly become intrigued and energized by it. The possibilities it unlocked were mesmerizing and addicting.
Fast-forward a few years later to when I got my first Mac. It was in the 90s during the time when the Mac was the underdog and PC fanboys would spew hatred online. Usenet groups and forums usually consisted of "it's only good for designers, it's crap otherwise." I remember reading the anti-Mac vitriol was tracked back to some online forums in the 90s. Regardless, I grew up in that generation. The time where people treated operating systems like religion. If you weren't with them, you were stupid. And according to them, I was stupid. I joined the cult of Mac, but little did anyone know, I've always had both a PC and a Mac.
Preferring the Mac wasn't anything new. I loved the OS, the developer experience, and the free software and simplicity that was deeply rooted in the Mac. Things just worked. It felt polished and it got out of the way so I could do whatever I wanted without struggle. They've always been more expensive and you have less choice, but I didn't want choice, I wanted to do something. I wanted the computer to be a platform for my creativity. Whether it was photography, coding, or building things: the Mac was the right fit.
Opposite the Mac, the PC was rough around the edges. Windows felt unpolished and messy. It got in your way more than it got out of it and it was cumbersome. But there's one thing the PC has always beat the Mac at, and that's hardware flexibility. With the Mac, you have less choice in hardware, which is great when the hardware is great. The PC let's you use anything. Built it yourself or buy from one of the competing vendors. This unlocks so much more potential and it's not anything new.
Most people write a post like this and end with some Big Bang. Usually: They're switching. For me, it's not like that. I struggle to decide. The Mac is a developers dream. That is, if you ignore the hardware issues and limitations. You know, the fragile keyboard and lack of hardware choice. Then there's the PC world. I've been personally eyeing the Thinkpad X1 Carbon for a couple years. The keyboard feels great, it's dust proof and spill proof. They thought about what a portable device should be like much more than Apple.
And this is where it gets complicated. Microsoft is making great strides. They released the creators update, windows subsystem for linux (wsl), and more. The WSL is especially intriguing because it's so much like how the Mac has it's BSD underpinnings. It's a huge part of why I like the Mac as a developer. On Windows third party apps aren't nearly as good. The consistency among them is something that'll take a generation to surpass the Mac's. Plus, I can't develop iOS apps without Xcode. That, too, requires a Mac.
Einstein said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." I need to lower my expectations because I can't commit to fully switching. I still care about creating iOS apps. The iMessage integration and the third party app ecosystem are very good. Then there's privacy and security. When you install Windows, you've got to spend a bunch of time turning off the advertisements (wtf) and enabling privacy settings. With the Mac, it's private and ad-free by default. It seems like no matter what the choice, there's a big compromise. Fragile hardware with a slow uupgrade cycle, or the rough unfinished edges Windows OS. The good news? Microsoft is closing the gap. I pray that someone inside of Microsoft pushes harder and someone at Apple can do something about the Mac. The world deserves better.