OS X: A Cry for Help!

Someone needs to stop me from moving to a Mac. I’ve looked at the applications I use lately, and with the exception of MSN Chat (which I’m told is being Mac-ified soon), my compilers (Visual Studio 6.0 and .NET), and CityDesk, everything else that I use is already ported to OS X. What’s OS X? That’s the latest version of Apple’s operating system, with a new user interface (known as Aqua) built on a version of Unix (mostly a flavor of Linux) – I’m assuming you’ve heard of it already, but if you haven’t Apple explains it better than I can in this little Rant. So not only do you get the warm and fuzzy feeling of stiffing the “monopoly company” of the PC world, but you also get the “hippie” feeling of OpenSource, Linux, BSD, etc. I think you get to show off not only an Apple Logo, but you also get to show off the Penguin – I don’t know for sure what’s proper in Geek-Etiquette.

Not that this has any real bearing for me – it’s a perk, to be sure, but it’s unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I’ve always admired Apple in many ways: I would covet their UI for most things, and respect their hardware designs (iPod a good example). The fact remains: by developing for Microsoft platforms, I get paid and make a living as a programmer. Also, using PC’s was a requirement in the old days “before Dell”, as you can easily build your own PC’s and repair them; it was not so easy for the Apple world. So guess who gets my allegiance, as well as my money? Intel and Microsoft.

So what’s changed? I have, I guess, in terms of what I use my PC for.

  • Internet applications are what’s key – E-mail, Chat, IM (AOL, MSN, Yahoo!), News, etc. These are all in abundance on the Mac already, including IE.

  • Microsoft Office is the 2nd most used. Office X has been out for a while now; enough said.

  • CityDesk, and that’s on my notebook mostly, for writing Blogs – as much as I hate to say it, there’s a lot of blog tools out there these days – CityDesk has been great to use, but there are other options.

  • Terminal Services Client – Available for OS X already.

  • Compilers – PC only and likely to stay that way.

  • Games – Most of which are on OS X.

  • Quicken 2003 – on OS X as well.

From the above list, there’s really only the three “PC-specific” applications that I’ve mentioned before, and even those can be worked around:

  • With the TS Client on the Mac, I can get to all of my Windows XP machines. That means I can remotely run CityDesk, my compilers, and MSN Chat if need be. On a 100Mbps LAN, the speed is just as good as if you were in front of the XP based PC, so that’s fine for home. On a DSL line, it’s nearly as good as if you were there; more than enough power to work efficiently at any rate. The only thing you “can’t” do is game, but that’s sorta moot with the PS2 that rests on my PC… I don’t game (much) on the PC anymore – not since it took RockStarGames a while to get GTA3 to the PC! When I game at all, it’s been mostly on the PS2.

  • Even if the TS Client isn’t enough, enter Virtual PC from Connectix. I’ve heard from “switched” users that it runs XP quite well on a Mac system, without worry – this means I could run my own applications “locally”.

Hardware (buying and fixing) is still an issue, but for the last few years, Apple has used standard parts in their Macs. You’ll see terms like PC100 RAM, Ultra/ATA HD, and ATI/AGP Video all over their spec lists, starting with the iMac Slot-loading edition in 2000. I can’t speak for the G4 Cube, the new iMac, the new G4 Dual CPU, nor the eMac, but Apple doesn’t seem to go backwards with stuff like this – if they started using off the shelf parts, they keep on using them; even FireWire is in the mainstream now. According to the MS Hardware site, I can even keep using my Natural Keyboard Pro and Trackball Explorer on a OS X Mac via USB.

So what’s stopping me? I have no idea, but someone needs to prevent this! The G4 Cube would look way too cool on my desk at home and I just spent a lot of time and energy getting my PC a new hard drive and backup system. Of course, since the Mac supports FireWire and USB, the backup system will survive and run on either platform. I have a 100Mbps hub and an 802.11b network already, so I know I can share files across the PC’s in the house. And I know that if I got a switch box for video, mouse, and keyboard, I could run both PC and Mac using the same hardware I have now… it’s too tempting to dismiss without considering it! I don’t want to be one of those people on the Mac Switch commercials! I will not comply!

Or will I?

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