Colin’s IT, Security and Working Life blog

November 11, 2010

Using a Mac as a Windows Guy

Filed under: Uncategorized — chaplic @ 11:57 am

A few months ago, I needed a new laptop. I wanted something that was fast, sturdy, looked good, good screen and had a good keyboard. I also wanted 8GB of RAM to do virtualisation, which was unusual at the time.

I ended up choosing a mac; when I specced it as I want (an i7 processor, the high res anti glare screen and faster HD) it wasn’t that much more expensive than an equivalent dell. Of course, I need to run windows on it, however, I have dabbled with the Mac side of things and have spent more time in OSX than Win7 at present. This is just a random collection of thoughts based on a few months usage.


The hardware itself is excellent – I don’t know if it’s actually more sturdy than any other laptop, but it feels better put together. I do miss the ability to have an internal 3G card, and the USB ports being too close together is annoying, but overall its easily the best hardware I’ve used. It’s quite small which is handy as I usually carry two laptops.

OSX itself I’m not especially blown away with; it’s been a few years since I used a mac in anger. I picked it up quite quickly, and the multi-touch trackpad is excellent, but the rest of it doesn’t blow me away with its super-user-friendliness or anything special. I still struggle to cope with the “menu at the top, application in a window” model of operation, and dislike the windowing maximising (or lack, thereof!)

Being able to drop into unix and find standard unix commands lurking under the surface has been quite handy. Even accounting for the fact I’m more familiar with windows, I think Windows 7 has it in the usability stakes.

As far as reliability goes, I would say they are both equal. I’ve had apps crash on both, and two kernel panics during my use.

I’m finding OSX as a good base to run Virtualbox, I have no evidence but VMs do feel quicker running in OSX rather than windows.

In terms of apps, I’ve found everything I need, apart from Office and Visio. I haven’t invested in MS Office for mac yet, and I think open office & Neo office are lousy handling word documents (I’ve timed it at over a minute to open a word document – unacceptable. I’ll look carefully at office for mac before making my choice but for now continue to get into Windows and Office/ Visio 2010

I’m dealing with the odd keyboard layout easily, my brain seems quite comfortable leaping between the mac keyboard and a normal keyboard.

Overall, what has surprised me is how little the difference is between the two. Any dev work I do is in VMs, and other than the office issues discussed above, I struggle to have a compelling reason to use one over the other. Im sticking with OSX just now, more for the novelty factor but think long term I’ll find myself in Win7 more.



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