Actually I like to think that I am more than just a Mac user. I have been using Windows XP for over four years, and Linux for nearly the same amount of time. I have also seen operating systems come and go since 1982 when I got my first Apple II+.
First off I suspect that Microsoft will work hard and eventually get Vista to be the operating of choice for most of the planet. The reason that it will have that honor has more to do with inertia than engineering prowess.
The inertia comes from two sources, Apple and end users. People do not like to get out of their computing comfort zone, and switching operating systems is a sure way to get a few headaches no matter how good the new system is.
After a few months of using Vista, I have some opinions on the product.
It is almost deadly slow when it comes to booting, shutting down, and waking from sleep. A Powerbook running OS X is an instant on machine compared to a Vista machine.
Second wireless networking on Vista is a work in progress. While I will admit that my Airport Express network needs replacing, a number of laptops visiting us including multiple XP ones have had no trouble using it.
in the mornings I often get to the point of having to reboot my Vista laptop before it will connect to the wireless network. In its defense, I do not have that problem at our office or at our other home which has a standard Airport network.
I have found Outlook to be a fairly capable email client, but it also is slow and somewhat prone to stopping if I click once too many times.
I have seen far fewer 'Firefox has stopped working" problems on Vista than I do on the Mac. I still do not like Internet Explorer though the 64 bit version seems fast.
I also find Google Desktop search integrated into Outlook by far the most productive search engine that I have used. I like Google Desktop search better than Apple's Spotlight, but I am only speaking from OS 10.4 Tiger experience. I have not used Leopard (OS X 10.5).
Google Desktop as a side panel hangs regularly on Vista usually after the machine awakes from sleep.
I have had far fewer problems than I anticipated using Vista to hook up the wide variety of printers that I have access to at home and work.
I have the latest version of Microsoft's Office Suite. I have had little trouble with it, and it seems to do whatever job that I throw at it. Here I have to admit that I am no longer someone who is a power office suite user. I have used Excel more than the other applications. The new user interface took some getting used to, but now I find it more productive.
One of the best applications that I have found on Vista is SnagIt which does screen capture and a lot more. I certainly do not mind paying for it.
On Vista I miss the ability to turn something into a PDF from any application at the operating system level. I think it is a huge feature advantage for OS X.
In general most of the applications done for Vista do not look as good as Mac applications. However, there is so much flexibility in Windows, that you can build a very productive work if sometimes painful work flow.
The combination of a built-in photo memory card reader, Picasa and SnagIt do almost everything that I need in the world of graphics. I find it faster than iPhoto and Photoshop.
I have yet to do much web work on my Vista machine. To be fair, I think I will wait until I have some more time with the Vista products.
So would I recommend Vista as a main operating system to anyone who had other choices? The answer is probably not. It just doesn't have the high quality feel that I thought it would after all those years of development.
Vista is not unusable, it is just disappointing.
But I am also disappointed in Apple. It continues to amaze me that a company with Apple's financial resources and popularity cannot seem to fight its way out of the paper bag of Windows.
Bill and team have done everything possible to hand over the market to Apple, yet Apple does not seem to want the opportunity. Back when XP was having unbelievable security problems, Apple was so insecure about their own security that they would not market it.
Apple has changed chips, and Macs can run Windows natively and in virtual machines. Still Apple's market share even in the US is barely half way to double digits. As we have heard from some international visitors to Applepeels, Apple is not exactly rolling over the competition selling and supporting computers in other countries.
Apple might have a few bumps with Leopard, but I seriously doubt it is the anything like the pain in the rear that Vista is. With Vista languishing while waiting for a service pack, the best Apple can do is a few funny commercials. Even with the best retail chain in the nation and a stock price that is headed over $200, it looks like the majority of the computing world will remain Windows centric for the foreseeable future.
I guess there is not enough pain in the Windows environment or enough innovation in the Apple world to get consumers moving on their own. Steve Jobs apparently was serious years ago in his concession to Bill over desktop operating systems. He certainly does not appear to be interested in winning that war even with his superior weapons.
I would love to see the innovation of the Zonbu computing model married to the better than anything else user interface of Apple and the nearly unlimited choice of the Intel hardware world. If you could integrate it into better bandwidth and a choice of server providers that would store and protect our data, we might get people to try something else.
I managed to get a batch photos into my Zonbu machine, but I do not see me using it for the 100 photos or more a day that I do until we take another leap in bandwidth.
So maybe Apple will surprise me and take the next leap forward at MacWorld this year. If it is iPhone II, pardon me if I yawn.
A Real World Update
I had to work this afternoon so I lugged my Vista laptop into one of our offices. The wireless network was down so someone rebooted it. The Windows XP machine on my desk connects immediately. The Vista laptop which had successfully connected to this network several times before, cannot see it either before or after the wireless reboot.
So I decide to reboot the Vista machine. I joke to one of the administrative assistants that the best thing Microsoft can do is to buy OS X from Apple and replace Vista with it.
While my Vista machine is still in the process of rebooting, I pull out my spare computer, a MacBook, and bet that I can be surfing the net before the Vista machine is done booting.
I count out loud and in eight seconds from the time of opening my MacBook, I am surfing the web.
While I am logging into Typepad, the Vista machine finally gets to the point of needing a password for login. Even with the reboot, I still cannot see the network which the MacBook sees and the Windows XP desktop beside it also sees.
I would be embarrassed in the year 2007 to ship an operating system that cannot reliably and without failure hook to wireless networks.
As I said long ago, Windows, This is nuts.