My history with the Macintosh goes back to the introduction of the Macintosh. The Macintosh held such an important place in my life that I have managed to keep some first edition magazines announcing the Mac.
Yet here I am in November 2012 sitting at my October 2010 I5 iMac contemplating buying a new Windows 8 computer to completely shake up my computing paradigm.
I am thinking of jumping ship frankly because I think Apple worships far too much at the altar of design instead of functionality. I also believe there is no one with any sense left at the rudder when it comes to user interface decisions at Apple. And for icing on the cake, I don't believe the price Apple charges is justified based on my recent experience with Apple products.
For years I have operated on the theory that the safest computing involves doing my work on mulitple computers. While I worked at Apple, I often used my company supplied laptop with a desktop that I purchased. After leaving Apple in 2004, I bought my own Mac laptop and late that year a dual G5 desktop.
During the eight years since leaving Apple, for one reason or the other I have added Windows and Linux to my operating system world. Early this summer the MacBook I purchased in the summer of 2006 died in spite of a hard drive transplant. I moved to relying on my Lenovo I7 Windows 7 laptop and my iMac as my main two systems.
Unfortunately I quickly started having troubles with my iMac this summer. I ran it off an external hard drive for a while and eventually reformatted the internal hard drive and installed Mountain Lion. While I am not a big Mountain Lion fan, I thought that I was going to be okay until I started having hard drive problems once again the last week of October 2012.
It was only then that I started contemplating changing the internal hard drive in my iMac. I have replaced lots of drives in Macs over the years including a number in PowerBooks and some in other versions of iMacs. When I bought my Intel iMac, I paid no attention to serviceability since it had a drive with a terrabyte of storage. Other than the drive on my recent MacBook, I have only replaced drives for additional storage.
With all the cloud storage that I'm using I figured the terrabyte of storage on the iMac would be plenty so I didn't worry about replacing it. On top of that the iMac was not my first choice machine. I didn't really have another Mac choice. I would have preferred a tower, but there were no Apple towers in the same price range of the dual G5 that I bought in 2004 so I bought an iMac and hoped for the best.
As I started having problems with my iMac, an Apple system engineer that I know told me that replacing the drive in one of the new iMacs is very difficult. When I started investigating and found this video of pulling the front bezel and LCD to change the hard drive, I was amazed. It is a little like learning that you've bought a car and finding out that you have to pull the windshield in order to change the battery.
While Apple pioneered the All-One-Computer, most manufacturers make one now. However when I investigated recent systems by HP and Sony, I found that you access their hard drives from the back. The HP system seems to have a particularly easy way of replacing the hard drive. I have not been able to determine if the new SpectreONE AIO by HP suffers from the same design problem on hard drive servicing as the iMac which it appears to have cloned.
I'm sure that Steve Jobs did not want any panels opening on the back of the iMac, but to be honest, it is pretty stupid to build a computer which requires you to pull the most fragile component in order to service something like a hard drive. Just because other manufacturers might follow Apple doesn't mean it is the right thing for consumers.
Since I got my iMac, I have been very concerned that it produces a lot of heat. Given that, I was not surprised to find out that there is a sensor on the iMac drive which will shut it down if it gets too hot. I've never seen that on anything but 1U servers. It makes me wonder if the design of the iMac is a poor one and that hard drives in the machine will be prone to failure.
I didn't buy my iMac because it was stylish. I bought it because it was the least expensive way that I could continue to use a Mac with a DVD and a SD slot. In retrospect, I was too trusting of Apple's engineers and too willing to accept what Apple wanted me to buy. In fact I ended up buying the huge 27" screen because that was the only way at the time that I could get an I5 processor.
I would have preferred to have purchased an inexpensive Apple tower with a couple of drive bays. Apple has ignored the market for a product like that and forced us to choose between the MacMini, the iMac, and the very expensive Mac towers.
While the inaccessibility of the hard drive is a major flaw on the iMac, the proximity of the SD slot to the DVD drive is also a major design flaw. Of course Apple just fixed that by eliminating the DVD drive and moving the SD slot to the back of the computer. Does anyone seriously believe that having a SD slot behind a 27" monitor is convenient?
Beyond these hardware design issues, I am convinced that Apple has forgotten what made the Mac great. I have used Macs because they made my computing life easier. Increasingly I find that not to be the case. I think Apple's decision to mess with the "Save As" command might go down as one of the dummer decisions in the history of computing. As a writer, I cannot imagine what they were thinking. I am still smarting from the more recent versions of iPhoto abandoning the elegant return to the library command of the "Escape" key. Now I have to hit a button with my mouse.
Perhaps the final proof for me in Apple's quest to make their user interface less useful is the change that they have made to their Preview app when opening a PDF. If you remember from Mac OS X Lion, you could easily mail a PDF from the menu. If you have migrated to Mac OS X Mountain Lion, you will find that the option to mail a PDF from the menu has disappeared. Unfortunately mailing a PDF directly was one of my favorite Apple shortcuts.
Adding to the insult is that one of my favorite apps, Pixelmator, has obviously "downgraded" their app by replacing the "Save As" command. If has gotten to the point that I am afraid to upgrade apps because "Save As" will disappear.
I'm not sure if Windows 8 or Linux will be the answer, but I am increasingly convinced that Apple will not be part of the solution. Certainly my very positive experience with Windows 7 has given me the confidence to give Microsoft a shot at my desktop.
For more on my perspective on Apple, check out my book, The Pomme Company.
If you are looking for perspective on my recent comments on Tim Cook, try my post, Sometimes words get twisted or the post that I did on April 27, 2012, Tim Cook, the right person for Apple's evolution?. The last six months don't give me a lot of confidence in Apple's direction.