Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Who needs Windows?

I'm sitting in a hotel in Dallas, typing away on the MacBook Pro that my job has provided to me. It's been a few months, and I'm now comfortable doing tasks like configuring my Mac OSX environment and installing applications. The primary applications I use are available for Mac, so there hasn't been any adjustment required in that department. I use Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Firefox, Thunderbird, and Microsoft Office. Yup - they all come in Mac flavors - even Office.

This week has been the longest sustained Mac usage I've experienced, with no Windows access whatsoever. After learning how to use GarageBand to record podcasts the other day, I've decided I'm a convert. I already knew how to record and edit audio on Windows with Audacity, but it certainly isn't easy enough for my mom to do it. Podcasting with GarageBand? My mom could do it. Literally.

That got me thinking about Macs in general. In the past, one of my biggest criticisms of Mac machines was the fact that software is much less abundant and a bit more expensive (in some cases) than software for Windows. I'd say, "Would you rather walk into Best Buy and have one measly aisle of software to choose from, or lots of aisles?"

Here's the thing: who needs aisles of software, when each Mac application is typically superior to its Windows counterpart? Why do I need 5 different choices for the same application, from different manufacturers, when I can have ONE that works wonderfully?

This MacBook Pro looks good. It's slick. The screen is gorgeous. Its battery lasts much longer than my Pentium 4 Windows-based laptop. This MacBook Pro is innovative. My 2-year-old Windows based laptop is just about useless right now because its power plug has come loose and will no longer charge the battery properly. This Mac has a magnetic power plug that easily pulls away from the machine in the event of emergency (such as, tripping over the power cable). This MacBook Pro just works. I have yet to have it crash on me. (I had trouble with it early on, but it turns out I didn't understand how to implement the power management features).

Tonight, since I'm stuck in a hotel with limited television options, I went to the web site to listen to the Flyers hockey game online. When I clicked the "listen now" link, my browser informed me that I was missing a plugin.... GULP. NHL Radio requires Windows Media Player. I nearly shrieked, "Nooooooooooooooooo!" thinking that I might have found one reason why I needed Windows in my life. A little googling and I discovered that there is a plugin that allows Quicktime player to play Windows Media files - and Microsoft endorses it. (In fact, I got the link from Microsoft's web site). It's called "Flip4Mac," and it works like a charm. (No reboot required! Gosh I love this Mac).

The only thing I've been able to think of that I can't do on this Mac is play Ultima Online, and with BootCamp's ability to boot my Intel-based Mac into Windows, I could even play UO if I wanted to. I haven't tried BootCamp, but I will soon.

Who needs Windows??


Anonymous said...

I don't need windows - although I have to use it at work. At home I use Linux of various flavours and I love it. I haven't found anything that I want to do and can't, and the KDE desktop is just sexier than windows.

I love your easiness metric - "my mom could do it", I have to say that's a very good unit of measurement :)

Anonymous said...

OMG, You just made me cry a little joy-tear.

Andrew Ball said...

I almost bought a Mac, in part because of the software that ships with it. That software's not open source though, so it comes with free vendor lock-in.

Shelly said...

yeah, but it works soooo gooooood!

Andrew Ball said...

Right, but the software's chained to the machine and to the OS. It's tempting though: I could get rid of my mountain of vintage PCs.

Human Head said...

I'm SO on the edge of just forking over for a MAC--your endorsement may have just tipped me over the edge :)

Shelly said...

Sir Head, I must say - I still love my Mac. In fact, I have a bit of a geek-crush on it. There is a big screen iMac in my future - I'm fairly certain of that :)