Mac vs PC: What did it for me...
I haven’t historically written about technology on my blogs, because I do quite enough of that during the day. I’ve written about some pretty thorny topics over the years, but none of them is likely to attract as much righteous autistic ire as what I’m about to say.
I regard laptops in the same way I regard cars: I like a nice one, but I don’t like paying new prices. I’ve always bought them 3 years old, knowing that they’re every bit as good as a brand new one for what I want, up to and including running multiple VMs. Even today, a 5-year old quality laptop with an i5, an SSD, 16GB and a full HD screen is far more than most people need.
In spite of working in the tech side of the publishing industry for years, it wasn’t until 4 years ago that I first decided - after 20 years of Windows laptops - to get a Macbook Pro. In 2018 I bought a top spec Mid-2015 MBP 15” from a work colleague.
I was smitten and I still run it today, but there are a few reasons why it will most likely be my last before I return to commodity Windows laptops. Why?
As a techie, the idea of a well put-together, consumer-friendly Unix OS was a powerful itch that I wanted to scratch while I had some easy money floating around. I’ve scratched that itch now, and I got tired of having to google everything when it came to lifting the lid on the engine room. In spite of a fair bit of Unix experience, stuff I knew how to do under the covers in Windows just didn’t ever come naturally to me on the Mac. There is a great deal of departure from that industry standard Unix on which OS X is based. I appreciate that this is personal, and if you’ve worked with Mac for 20 years, you’ve every right to feel this way about Windows.
Let’s be honest, at the time they were far more aesthetically pleasing than anything that Dell, HP or Lenovo could come up with. Huawei hadn’t even been heard of in the west at that time. Yes, what little vanity I have is flattered by my Mac.
I liken my MBP to an E39 BMW 540i. Every offering since has been somehow flawed in comparison. The butterfly keyboard shambles was a black mark against Apple that I will never forget. The fact that they’ve now had 3 completely different CPU architectures in 17 years is not just alarming - it stinks. The fact that the ability to run Windows natively came and then went again is plain annoying.
Still to this day, I cannot run Visio or Project on MacOS, and most games are a non-starter even with a dedicated GPU, when compared to my old PC with a GTX1080 in it. Conversely, many tools that were the preserve of the pervert in the old days (Photoshop, Illustrator, CoralDraw etc) have long since become viable on Windows. The Mac no longer has its functional USP for creative people. Form subsumed function.
These days I run Windows 10 on my MBP more often than I run MacOS.
This last point is worth exploring. The reason is that a while ago, realising I’d never be going back to the office or on the road much, I started plugging my Mac into a proper keyboard, mouse and screen and leaving it on my desk.
When you run MacOS on an Apple laptop and use it as a laptop, it makes perfect sense. The ergonomics are breathtakingly good. The screen, the touchpad, the keyboard, the integration between the OS and the hardware is tight as a drum. This is something that I don’t think any Windows laptop can do to this day. Maybe except for the Surface devices, which benefit from the same unification of hardware and software that Macs do, but have an appalling reliability record.
But when you plumb the MBP into a desk, the whole MacOS paradigm falls apart. I am far more productive in Windows than trying to use MacOS on the desktop.
I know how people love to hate Microsoft and I feel it too, but let’s not pretend that a properly treated Windows 10 installation running on good hardware is any less reliable than MacOS. Windows has come a very long way since the heady days of Windows XP. There was a bleak period when we all ignored Vista, and again when Windows 8 needed to be run with a Windows 7 skin on it, but Windows 10 has it nailed. I’ll look at Windows 11 when that’s 3 years old.
And let’s not pretend that Mac users are essentially without risk from malware, viruses and other cybershysters. When I bought that Mac, I consulted a colleague who was a senior security consultant from the NCSC. His name was Nigel and he was a very nice man. We agreed that you still need more protection on a Mac than the OS alone offers. He recommended Bitdefender. I went with Norton and later switched to Bitdefender when Symantec started politically censoring the web.
Then there’s build quality. Remember when you could drive a Mercedes into a house and drive away again with nothing but a bit of brick dust on the bonnet? That went away, didn’t it. So too with the Macbook. Mine is as tough as a T2000. A 2016 one would be hard pressed to stay open in a moderate breeze, let alone survive the beating a laptop takes from a full-on road-warrior.
And while Macbooks peaked in 2015, Windows devices have improved continually. Take a serious look at a Dell XPS or a Huawei Mate laptop. They’re really very good indeed.
So, while I’ll fondly remember my Macbook Pro, I’ve just smashed together two Lenovo T470s that were being decommissioned at work, and what I have is just as useful to me today, and I have a drawer full of spare parts. It may take me a while to get over the battery being removable like they all used to be. No, it doesn’t have a backlit keyboard or a Retina display, but it’s nice to type on and the full HD display is crisp. Besides which, none of that matters when it’s closed, in a docking station on my desk. And when I do hit the road, it weighs half what my Macbook does, which is always a pleasant surprise.
In other news, when I joined the current slave auction, they proudly assigned me a brand new iPhone 11. On day one I diverted calls to my personal Android device, put the iPhone in a drawer and never touched it again. Speak-and-spell piece of shit.