I have an MBP from mid-2009. It’s a great little machine – a 13″ that I’ve bumped up to 8GB RAM. I’ve been a long time Windows user, however there are a couple of things you should know about me:
- I used Solaris almost exclusively at university, and I’ve been using Ubuntu on and off for the last few years.
- I’ve never had anything against OS X per se, I just have never really been exposed to it.
So, I’ve been on a mission to use OS X exclusively on my mac, without Parallels or VMWare, and only rebooting into Win7 when I have a major issue.
Here are my findings. I’m aiming to be as objective as possible.
- Better hardware integration
While improved drivers in Bootcamp have helped, Windows 7 still lags behind. The most notable difference is how long it takes to come out of sleep (seems to be USB driver issues). OS X is super snappy on the MBP.
- Intuitive UI
Nice use of gestures. System dialogs are less form-based than Win (ie. no need to click submit/apply/ok/save).
I love Growl – and it’s terrible on Windows. To be fair, this is partially an idiomatic difference. It seems that Growl has become a de facto part of the OS X experience, so the decision by developers to integrate with it is almost a fait accompli.
- Unix commands in terminal
The DOS command prompt has nothing on a linux shell. Using knowledge from unix on my native OS is a big plus.
- Good native applications
Windows is still behind the ball on this one. iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes are all a MUCH better than their Windows counterparts.
- Window management is cumbersome
Switching between, sizing and minimising windows on OS X is cumbersome at best. I find it very hard to believe that I’ll “get used to it”. I’ve asked Mac-heads to help me here, and more than a couple have just shrugged. (I even “lost” a window at one time, with the control bar out of sight. I tried apple scripting amongst other options to get it back – no banana). CMD + ~ to switch between windows I may have minimised – is there not a better way? What if I want to maximise something to the entire screen? I have to drag it across? Seriously?
- The Dock
Document handling is messy. I guess you *could* get used to it, but putting thumbnails of docs on the bar unrelated to their application feels wrong. Also, while the light under the application icons signify it as “open”, there is no easy visual cues as to how many windows it may have open (of course it heads to my docs area, and i know i can click and hold the icon, but still – not fluid enough for my liking). The Windows 7 solution of layered boxes and semi transparent thumbnails of each window on icon hover is enviable.
- Experience based on applications
A lot of the experience around OS X seems to resolve around a unified experience on the device. This comes via software which has the look and feel of OS X. To a user, it makes a lot of sense – I love the integrated feel of iOS (incidentally the exact direction OS X seems to be going in). It’s just that if you want/need applications that aren’t designed for the Mac-experience, you’re often bound for disappointment.
- Cannot write to NTFS
This is a big pain when you’ve got an external HD that isn’t FAT32. To be fair – NTFS is Microsoft’s solution, however this omission can make the transition to OSX from Windows a painful experience.
- It doesn’t always work
It just works? This slogan was immensely popular back when Windows still suffered those embarrassing blue-screens. But I tell you – in one week I managed to crash OS X twice. When I say crash, I mean the spinning wheel of death and a completely unresponsive UI – which included Force Quit and Terminal (to be fair, I was running Citrix one of those times).
Two noteworthy omissions:
One thing I haven’t decided on is the unified menu bar. I’m not sure if I like it or not… Logically, it makes a lot of sense – especially when you have multiple windows open.
The other is the context (right-click) menu. It seems that Apple has fought this one for quite some time. Even though right-click now exists, it feels as though it’s looked down on from a design standpoint. Maybe I’ve grown up in a Windows-centric world, but it makes a lot of sense to me when I see something on the screen, I want to interact with it to see what options are available – seems fairly logical to me.