However, when you consider what I need to get my job done and how much it would cost to do with a Mac, my choice makes a lot of sense.
First it is important to understand that I have not quit using my Macs. I still have my MacBook and my dual G5 desktop. My wife is still using her white iMac.
I have been trying hard to survive with my Macs in a real estate career. Mostly it was working with help from my old Dell at home. The problem came at our office. We only have two public Windows PCs. I now have a small office at work, and neither of those PCs are in my office. On top of that they are usually busy when I need them.
Probably the biggest challenge is that I have actually started selling and listing some properties which means that I really need access to the forms which only are available for Windows machines. I actually need the electronic forms with me when I call on potential clients.
Having reached that point, I had a couple of options. I could finally cough up the money for a copy of Windows to run on the Parallels Desktop software I bought last year for my MacBook and move many of my files to an external drive in order to accommodate it.
Or I could buy a new Mac laptop with Windows and keep my MacBook.
It just didn't make financial sense to buy a Mac laptop with a non OEM copy of Windows. It was just too expensive. Besides I have gotten used to working with a Windows machine and a Mac side by side. I think it makes me more productive. I could not do that with one machine.
After a $50 rebate my HP system with 160 gig drive and two gigs of ram with Vista Ultimate cost me $849.
It came with a hardware slot for reading SD memory cards which means I now don't have to carry one of my USB devices with me. It has the lightScribe DVD labeling technology, a webcam, integrated microphone, wireless, Ethernet, firewire, a docking port, and a couple of USB ports. It has also Microsoft Works pre-installed.
I can also add the latest Home and Student version of Office for $149. A trial version comes with the system.
Since I have used Windows since the fall of 2004, I already have some favorite software, and some that I know will be required like Norton. I have added Snagit for screen capture, Firefox for my browser, Picasa2 to handle my pictures, and Google Desktop.
I have already installed Open Office which might negate the need for MS Office, but I'll wait and see on that.
Since I used Adium on the Mac for my chat software, I went with pidgin for Windows.
The biggest challenge has been finding an inexpensive web editor since I didn't want to buy another Dreamweaver license. I am now looking at Adobe Contribute which it turns out runs on the Mac also. It is in the $149 range. I did my first page with it tonight.
Right now I am using the new Windows Mail, and I haven't decided if I will move to Thunderbird which I use on my Dell.
One of the first benefits was that I got a free license for the real estate forms package. It installed without any problems. So far, I have the Windows laptop working on the network at our office and at both our homes so that hasn't turned out to be a challenge.
I have yet to install any printers which is a little more trouble in Windows, but since we already have people using Vista at the office, I doubt I will have any problems.
So far I am pleased with my purchase. I like the larger screen on the HP and the bigger keyboard.
I don't think Vista is as fast booting as OS X. I know it certainly does not shut down as quickly. The dialogs to allow something to happen are a little annoying but not that big a deal.
The only thing that has irritated me so far is that you have to make your own backup system disks. When I have done that I will report on it.
I also plan to install Linux on this laptop. I did that on the Dell laptop that my youngest daughter swiped from me a couple of years ago for business classes in college but the wireless was a continuing challenge. I'll be interested to see if the Linux folks have made any progress in that area.
I'll be interested to see how Leopard does, but I won't be buying it.
As someone in a business that depends on computers I am finally coming to grips with the reality that Apple has yet to figure out how to get those thousands of strange little business applications out there that would make a lot of people make the switch.
I will grant that consumers in increasing numbers are purchasing Macs. I just don't see the dynamics changing in the business world. Macs cost more and don't have all the software they need to succeed.
Apple isn't interested in the hard work that it would take both in supporting developers and listening to companies so we'll see how far the consumer boom will carry them.
I'll continue to be one of those Mac consumers whenever I can afford it, but right now I'm happy with my HP laptop. I also have authorized HP service just a few miles from me. When I go to buy a new desktop in a year or so, I'll probably be looking at something other than Apple since Cupertino wants well over $2000 for their cheapest real desktop machines.
My favorite feature so far is the slot for reading my SD memory cards from my camera. I do that a couple of times a day, and it is really nice not to have to keep up with one of the USB readers.
I'm going to try to objectively report on what I find in Vista. I can tell you right up front the Vista Photo application is no iPhoto, but then again Picasa2 is free and comes close enough. The Microsoft mail application has a long way to go to match Apple's Mail App, but it does work.
This will be an interesting adventure. I hope in doing this I can continue the tradition of providing real information about products that I use instead of buying into the hype from either the Mac, Linux, or Windows world.
This was written on the new HP laptop using Firefox and Typepad. I didn't burst into flames.