It was October 23, 2007 when I bought my Vista laptop. I was faced with a business requirement of Internet Explorer on Windows and some forms that required PC based programs. Mainly due to the small screen on my MacBook, a need for more storage and a tight budget, I decided to purchase a Windows laptop instead of a Mac laptop with a 15" screen or use one of the Windows solutions on a Mac.
Now ten months and many Windows updates later, I have a better perspective on the Windows world. My Vista laptop works well most of the time. It is hobbled by being limited to 2 gigs of ram. I am convinced that Vista probably needs four gigs of ram to function well.
The updates have finally fixed most of the serious problems that I had with Vista. Some of the real estate specific software that I use with the system still has problems with Vista. The problems are minor, and there are workarounds, but they are still irritating problems.
My Vista machine still has a problem switching from our work wireless network to my home wireless network without flipping out the screen resolution and requiring a reboot.
In the meantime, I have upgraded to Leopard on my G5 and on my MacBook. The installations went well, but I wouldn't call them flawless. Dreamweaver will eventually require an upgrade if I want to continue using it.
However, I have no complaints about Leopard at this point. It seems to work and even work well in the 1.5 gigs of ram that I have in my MacBook.
During any given day, I spend some time with XP, OSX, Vista, and also Linux. My LInux is running on a Zonbu system which is the most trouble free of all my systems. If my computing needs were simpler, that would be my main machine.
I should also mention that the Zonbu shares a monitor with my aging Dell Dimension which still runs Windows XP. Some update along the way killed the KVM switch that I have, but I now function with just one of those machines running at a time. With the workaround on the real estate software, I rarely need to slip back to XP now. When I do, I find it snappier than my Vista system.
Whenever I pull duty shifts at our real estate office, I am in front of one the company's XP desktop machines. I usually also bring in my Vista laptop and my MacBook which results in having three computers on the desk at one time.
I should also mention that I use Apple's Mail program on my Macs along with a healthy dose of browser driven Gmail on a domain of mine supported by Google.
On my Vista machine I use Outlook after trying both Windows Mail and Thunderbird.
The XP machine uses Thunderbird for mail, and the Xonbu machine is exclusively browser email.
I use iPhoto 08 on my Macs to manage the hundreds of photos that I take weekly. I have been subscribing to .Mac for years so I am now a MobileMe user and have posted a number of albums. I am hoping to try Aperture this fall.
On the Windows machines, I use Picasa for photos.
I use Google's calendar app. It is synced to Outlook on my PC but it also beeps me before an appointment by calling my cell phone which is not an iPhone. The Google calendar also goes to iCal but i use iCal more for keeping track of the tides than anything else.
I am no longer a big spreadsheet user, but I use the PowerPC version of MS Office on my Macs and the latest version of Office on the Vista machine and Office 97 on the XP box. Open Office is on the Zonbu machine and occasionally get used. I periodically slip into a NeoOffice mode where it becomes my office suite of choice.
I am a Firefox 3.x user except on the Zonbu machine which is at version 2.0,0.12 or something like that.
I do not like the latest versions of Internet Explorer and while I keep trying to like Safari, it just doesn't work as well for blogging as Firefox does.
Most of my writing is done in a browser window.
I also use Pages, Adobe InDesign, and Photoshop on the Macs.
One of my favorite applications on the Windows' machines is Snaggit.
I tried doing my website work on Windows and never found a product as compelling or inexpensive as RapidWeaver. The latest version of RapidWeaver has added the functionality to have Google Analytics code added on the page so I mostly can ignore Dreamweaver at this point.
So what are my conclusions ten months into my Vista journey.
- The hardware requirements for Vista are severely understated
- Given the hardware that I have, Vista is much slower than OS X, the version doesn't matter.
- Outlook is a clunky piece of software, it takes far too long to open an email.
- Contact management might be a little better integrated in Outlook, but it is not worth the pain.
- The time to wake from sleep is unacceptable on my Vista laptop when compared to the MacBook's almost instant on mode.
- I find that I am forced into conforming to ways that make my Vista laptop work better, they are not necessarily how I want to work.
- I have not been impacted by a single virus or malicious piece of software. My system seems to devote a lot of resources to making sure that remains the case.
- While the Mac sometimes doesn't tell me enough about what is happening, the Vista machine almost always tells me more than I want to know and requires more input than I want to give.
- In spite of buying a HP AIO Printer/Scanner/Fax machine, I find that it works better using VueScan with the Mac than it does using the HP software either with the Mac or the HP laptop. I haven't taken the time to try VueScan on the Windows or Linux boxes.
- There are still people out there who write to IE on Windows. I am surprised but I recently started writing a blog for our company and was told that I was the first administrative user who used something other than IE. They had to rewrite some stuff so I could use Firefox.
Would I buy another Windows PC? I am tempted to say not until hell freezes over, but I have to face the reality that Apple has made a conscious decision to keep their hardware prices high.
Before I get the inevitable Apple makes better hardware comments, I worked for Apple for twenty years so I know Apple is capable of making great hardware and not so great hardware.
Since I left Apple in the summer of 2004, I have bought seven computers. Three of them are Macs, two are from Dell, one from HP, and one from Zonbu. As to hardware, the Macs have been the systems with the hardware problems. I have a very nice 15" Aluminum Powerbook with a bad lower memory slot and a bad ribbon video cable. My G5 had some early memory problems which required multiple tries before the memory worked. It also had to have its hard drive replaced. The MacBook had to be sent back to the factory because of discoloring and the inability to take a charge.
None of the Windows machines or the Zonbu have had any hardware problems. The Dell laptop which I have and which is a dual boot Ubuntu Linux system was dragged around college for a couple of years by my daughter and still managed to survive.
Logically this would drive me to wanting to run OSX on generic hardware, but I am not interested in the pain of staying ahead of the Apple software police.
The combination of iPhoto and Rapidweaver along with continuing support from Firefox for the Mac platform will probably make certain that my next machine is a Mac even if I do have to pay through the nose.
I am actually still a desktop guy who likes to work with relatively large screens so I might bite the bullet and buy a new iMac the next time around.
My experience with Windows has taught me that there is certainly a good reason to have a Windows centric IT Department. I know the IT support guy in our company stays busy. However, based on the problems that the few of us with Vista have experienced, I am not surprised that companies including Intel are holding off on pushing Vista through their enterprises.
As I see some of my colleagues fighting such basic things as resizing pictures, scanning documents, or creating PDFs, I am amazed at how much aggravation people will take before they have had enough and are willing to make a fundamental change to another operating system.
I have recently used Apple's new iMovie 08 and while I initially questioned the changes, after lots of work I have concluded it works better for what I need to do than the previous version. However, I have to wonder how many user interface guidelines you can violate in one package?
The bottom line is that if you are an individual working with lots of photos, maintaining a number of websites, and publishing some brochures, you are probably better off with a Mac. My guess is that factoring in software costs, the Mac is pretty close in price at least at the iMac level.
I credit part of the success of my Coastal North Carolina website to the Mac and of course Rapidweaver.
Right now it is a toss-up on whether MobileMe Gallery is a better solution than slideshows which I do with Rapidweaver. My son who sits on a lot of bandwidth in Northern Virginia complains that the MobileMe albums are often very slow while the ones on my outsourced server are zippy.
You can make a judgment call yourself. This MobileMe slide show, Recent Favorites, has very similar pictures to my Rapidweaver slide show, Coastal Carolina Collection, which sits on a Hostway server in a site that I maintain.
MobileMe is definitely easier to create, but it might not be the best long term solution.
In fact that about sums up the whole article. The Mac is definitely easier and actually allows for more flexibility in the way I work, but I am not sure it will always be the answer.
Right now it is my platform of choice, but I will continue to monitor the battlefield. As online platforms mature, the innovation might get to the point where I can use some of the blogging platforms to cover my main web needs.
I already use Typepad where my View from the Mountain is hosted, Blogger for my Ocracoke Waves, Squaresapce for another Ocracokewaves site, and Wordpress for a final Ocracokewaves. They give me a pretty good taste of where the technology is headed. Of course I also use iWeb for another coastal presence, but it certainly isn't in the same class as the others when it comes to flexibility and features. It is an exception to the value equation in ny Mac universe.
Overall the Mac adds value to what I do whether it is creating a website , working with a high definition movie, creating a flyer, or printing pictures of our grand daughter on our new portable Canon Pixma 320 printer.
As long as that value is a reasonable tariff, I will stay on the Mac platform. I will complain about the high prices, but I do not see where else I could go.
Finally I would consider getting an Apple iPhone but the battery and dropped connections worry me somewhat. I would not necessarily lay all of the dropped calls in Apple's lap. My wife has a 3G Nokia phone from AT&T. We rarely have a phone call when her phone doesn't drop me. That leads me to question the AT&T network. I think that I will wait and see if the iPhone get another revision and perhaps another network. My contract isn't up until January anyway.