September 25, 2006

Switchback: Horrors of a Windows Power-user Trying to Switch to Apple OS X

I have been a dedicated Windows developer and user for over 10 years. I am a nut about efficiency and ease of use (and also a professional in this area). While Windows has worked well for me, it is regularly frustrating in it's lack of "pleasingness". I wanted to experience Apple's OS X and take advantage of Apple's attention to fit and finish that has appeared more and more compelling - from their advertising and my casual observation of Mac users, not to mention users' general gushing adoration of their Apples. Plus, their new line of hardware is compelling - and now provides a safety net of being able to fall back to Windows if OS X didn't satisfy me or there were things I needed Windows for.

So, on September 6th, I went to my local Apple store and bought a Mac Pro, once of those nice gleaming high-end desktops w/ two dual-core Intel chips, and a 30" cinema display. My frustration started with my experience at the store and has not yet ended. The problems run the gamut from availability and stability to features and design. Many of the problems are with Apple's software, but they extend to 3rd party software.


The Apple store did have three Mac Pro's in stock - but with no ability to change disk size or memory. Since I could buy those less expensively from third parties anway and I didn't want to wait for shipping, I took home the base configuration (two 2.66 GHz processors, 1 GB RAM, 250 GB disk) and a 30" display. However, I also wanted bluetooth and wifi, and it turns out they weren't available at all. Seems that they haven't shipped yet by Apple for the Mac Pro's. And the nice iSight camera I wanted for video conferencing is backordered until the end of October. So much for Apple's promise of "available today".

Plus, the 3rd party children's typing software I bought from the store didn't completely load - some of it seemed to be only for Windows. When I tried to return it to the store, they said they don't accept software returns but would give me a store credit since there was a problem with the software. After *much* complaining to the manager and a wasted hour of my time, I convinced them to give me a refund since it wasn't a matter of my changing my mind - it was a matter of them selling me a defective product. The manager never asked for any details about the product, didn't investigate it, or ever apologize for selling a product which didn't work on their machines. Nor would he commit to removing the product from the store's shelves. So much for Apple's promise of "it just works", or their store's "genius bar" helping users with their problems.

A major reason for my trying Apple now the ability to run Windows at near-native speed within the OS X environment using Parallels. I knew that Parallels had not yet released a version that worked on the Mac Pro, but that it was expected "any day", and in fact it became available at just about the time I bought the MacPro. However, it turns out that it doesn't run at all and in fact causes an immediate Kernel Panic upon installation. So that option doesn't really exist (more later). And Boot Camp, Apple's solution to running Windows separately on reboot is also available only in Beta and has its own problems.

So, when Apple says Mac Pro is shipping today, what that apparently means is that part of the system is shipping today and you can use it if you stick to certain basic features.

Features & Stability

My intention was live in OS X at home, and Windows XP at work and on my laptop. Through the magic of file synchronization with FolderShare which does run reliably on Windows and Mac, I could keep my files in sync across machines and keep all my personal information (email, calendar, contacts, tasks and notes) on my university's exchange server. As long as common file formats were readily usable on OS X and I had good exchange server access, I figured I'd be home free.

Well, common file formats are generally usable on OS X. Acrobat reading works well and fast. Apple Pages reads Word documents, Apple KeyNote reads PowerPoint documents - and well, there's always Microsoft Excel for Apple to read Excel documents.

But it wasn't that easy. My first set of problems came from an inability to really work with an Exchange server. There were several potential solutions, but it turns out that none of them actually works well. First I tried using Apple's products. Apple mail was the one success story syncing my email. However, that was not very useful without my contacts, and calendar, notes and tasks are also important. Apple's iCal and Address Book do not have built-in exchange synchronization. Fortunately, iSync is supposed to sync contacts and calendar. However, despite many attempts, I was never able to actually get it to work.

I then turned to a third-party solution, snerdware - which did sucessfully sync iCal and my exchange server. However, their product for contacts only syncs the exchange Global address book, and not personal contacts. Finally, I gave up on a native Apple solution and tried Microsoft Entourage - Microsoft's equivalent of Outlook. This connected right up to my exchange server and nicely synced email, contacts and calendar. However, it turns out that Entourage doesn't sync notes or tasks - which I found only upon significant web search. So, with no complete exchange solution available, I turned to running Windows virtually.

I started with Parallels which had just released an update for Mac Pro. I installed it and to my delight, it initially worked just fine. I had started to set up my virtual Windows machine when iTunes 7 became available from Apple. So I installed it using Apple's Software Update – which immediately resulted in a Kernel Panic and a pretty gray shade that came over my display (Apple's equivalent to Microsoft's Blue Screen of Death - BSOD). It turns out that I now got BSOD on boot and was totally hosed. A 30 minute call to Apple taught me how to boot in Safe Mode, clean out my "startupitems" folder - which removed Parallels, and I could now get OS X running again. However, whenever I tried installing Parallels, I got a BSOD on installation!

Searching Parallel's website, I found no indication whatsoever of any problems, so I submitted a tech support request by email. They offer no phone support, and when I tried calling their offices they refused tech support by email. Their website promised 3 day response (however, after a week, I still have not gotten a response). Searching Google for problems, I discovered that Parallels runs an open discussion forum - which it neglects to link to from its website. Here I discovered literally thousands of posts of miserable users that get BSOD’s on a variety of hardware in a variety of situations. There is one unlucky Parallels employee that responds every few days always promising that their engineers are working 24 hours a day, and that a solution is imminent. In fact, his latest post says that the current version is stable on all platforms except Mac Pro's with more than 2GB of RAM (at the time I had these problems, I had only 1 GB).

So, giving up on Parallels, I tried Apple's Bootcamp to boot Windows and skip OS X. This had the most promise as I had not heard of significant problems, the software has been around for a while, and Apple was up to version 1.1.1 (beta). Bootcamp consists of 2 components: 1) some software that runs on OS X that lets you configure your disks and repartition them for Windows and set the default boot disk; and 2) Windows drivers that get installed within Windows XP to emulate the BIOS and to work with Apple hardware. I had a few BSOD's at various points of initial setup which scared the bejeebers out of me, but happily, they seem to have gone away and Windows is running with reasonable stability. This seems like a tenable solution, however, I still have several significant problems:
  • Disk access seems incredibly slow, but in a weird way. If I am only doing one thing, everything is fine. However, when I attempt to do two disk-intensive tasks, the system thrashes and grinds to a halt. Task Manager shows all 4 CPUs active at about the same rate, so I am highly suspicious that the OS is not multi-tasking properly.
  • Device Manager still shows a few unrecognized hardware devices. I don't even know what the devices are and thus can't even attempt to get the drivers for them.
  • OS X can see and read the Windows disks just fine, so that gives me nice OS X access to all my Windows files - but I can not modify those disks. The entire Windows disks are read-only, so I don't really have the option of using OS X for my regular work based on my Windows files.
  • Despite bootcamp's promise, my borrowed iSight camera is not recognized by Windows.
  • Despite Apple's Mighty Mouse theoretical two-button design (it looks like one button, but the right half can be configured as a second button), the hardware is flaky. Most of the time, the right side of the mouse generates a left button, but sometimes it generates a right button. I guess I'll have to go buy an actual two-button mouse.
Oh yes, the rest of Apple's software isn't that stable either. On my first use of iPhoto in OS X, it hung the entire computer when importing my photos from disk. What happened to OS X's Unix promise of keeping naughty applications from crashing the computer? Apple is supposed to "just work", but the reality is that Windows is much more stable. Dead applications do not kill the operating system, Microsoft applications almost never die in the first place these days, and except for this week on Apple hardware, I haven't seen a Windows BSOD in quite some time.

Similarly, even printing doesn't work. I have an HP OfficeJet d145, a standard multi-function inkjet printer. Setup with OS X was fine, but unfortunately, printing is not reliable. For some documents, it works great, and for some documents, the print queue just stops and I have to restart it. It then stops again, and I can not get it to successfully print that job. There is no error message or explanation of why it stops. It just doesn't work. The only solution at this point is to uninstall and reinstall the printer drivers. It just doesn't work.


Ok, you might think my problems are all because I'm trying to live a Windows life in an Apple world, and that is neither the point of Apple's life nor it's responsibility. First off, I disagree with those objections. Apple regularly advertises how compatible it is with the Windows world, and heavily recruits the concept of switching by saying how easy it is to work with your stuff. And I'm using Apple hardware and software to run Windows with bootcamp. All of this stuff *is* Apple's responsibility, and it doesn't work.

But it turns out that even when I try to live an Apple life, that is a pretty lousy experience too. How could that be, you say? The apparent point of Apple's existence is to create a beautiful and polished user experience. Well, it turns out that what Apple does is beautiful and polished *graphic design*. Actually interacting with the system is something else.

The essential problem is that using OS X is slow, slow, slow. It seems as if Apple has never heard of Fitts' Law - the essential human performance concept that it takes longer to move the mouse farther, or to click on small things. There is a related human perfomance issue which is that it takes a huge amount of time to switch between mouse and keyboard (roughly 2 seconds). This may not seem like much, but it is crucial - not only in terms of time, but also in terms of human concentration. (Important digression: to understand why these kinds of small interruptions are important, read my essays about "Flow" and the importance of supporting human concentation).

So, why is OS X slow? Because it is fundamentally designed for mouse access to all functions. Yes, there is keyboard access for much of the interface, but appears as somewhat of an afterthought. Not everything is keyboard accessible, and the keyboard shortcuts that do exist are often inefficient and inconsistent. It wouldn’t be obvious that there was a problem if I wasn’t familiar with how consistently and efficiently Windows supports keyboard access to just about every function in the operating system. For example, in the Finder file browser, there is a special keyboard shortcut to switch between views. In windows, you would either use the menu shortcuts which are mnemonic and easy to remember (i.e., Alt-V D for View->Details), or use the standard UI keyboard navigation using tab, control, and page up/dn to access any part of the interface.

The single biggest issue is how hard it is to explore menus through the keyboard. While there are keyboard shortcuts for common function, it takes a long time to learn those shortcuts, and many people never do. Instead, on Windows, people commonly use the keyboard to navigate the pull-down menu by pressing the Alt key, and then selecting the first letter of the menu item (or faster yet, pressing the Alt key and the first letter of the menu item at the same time). Because it is efficient, and easy to explore, people often start doing things like pressing Alt-F, A for File->Save As without even realizing they are doing it.

With Apple on the other hand, a few seemingly subtle design differences make keyboard menu access so slow as to hardly provide any advantage over a mouse. To access the menu, you press Control-F2. Now, unless you are an orangutan, there is no way that a touch typist can press this key combination with their hands in their natural position. Instead, it requires a significant posture change which is nearly as time-consuming and disruptive as moving your hands to a mouse. (Yes, I have swapped Caps Lock for Control which makes it easier, but still not really touch-typable.)

The other major slow-down issue is that there is a single menu on the top of the screen at all times. I know this approach has been debated for years (decades, really), and there is some good justification for it. I always viewed it as a trade-off between the Windows approach of having a menu at the top of each window rather than a clear negative. However, actually having used it for a couple of weeks, and doing so on a 30" display, I am entirely convinced that it is much slower than the Windows approach. Because of Apple's mouse-based design, you are obligated to use the mouse to access the menu more than you ever do on Windows. And when you do on a big screen, the fact that the menu is so far from many of the windows means that you have to move the mouse several times to even get to the menu (and yes, I have configured the mouse to move as fast as Apple will let it). And what if I had a two-monitor setup - yikes! Apple defenders say that the single-menu design is fast because since it is against the edge of the screen, you don't have to move the mouse carefully to target those small little text labels. This argument may have made some sense back in the days of small screens. But now moving the mouse pointer two and half feet relegates that argument to the dustbin of history.

And of course there are numerous other design details that slow users down as well. For example, while there is keyboard support for navigating the folder hierarchy in Finder, if you are in the middle of a long list of children and you want to move up to the parent folder, you are obligated to press the up arrow key many times until you reach the parent. On Windows, you just press the left key. Why Apple didn't do this is anybody's guess. Yes, the multi-column view supports the left arrow, but why not the other views?

I think the real problem is Apple's narrow view of their users as novice home users that don't care about compatibility with the big player. They can ignore the reality of the world, but that won't serve their user's day-to-day needs. Worse, they seem to disregard their user's time - offering a design that continually gets in between a user's thoughts and the ability to execute them on their computer. Apple has thrived in their role as the underdog. But I'm afraid with the attitude they have taken in the development of their products, they are destined to never get past it.

Postscript - September 25, 2006

Potential Mac Pro buyers will be happy to know that a combination of Apple's firmware update and a new version of Parallels made Parallels work. However, the only way I could get past the BSOD problems was to format the Apple disk and start over. A complete install of the OS did not fix the problems. And because of the three week delay, I'm now committed to a Bootcamp installation which means I don't see OS X unless I reboot. Maybe I'll try again when Leopard comes out...

So what have I learned from this experience? Is Apple really much worse than Windows? Absolutely not. I am aware of many of the benefits of the Apple approach which is why I wanted to try it. And I agree that many of my problems come from: 1) trying to keep a windows life on a mac; and 2) using hardware that is new. Apple does do many things extremely well, but they communicate that pretty clearly. My aim here is to point out that Apple life isn't all roses. Technology remains hard and that there is almost always a set of trade-offs associated with the choice of any platform. I would recommend an Apple for many users, and in fact I plan on buying one for my 7 year old daughter for her birthday (sshhhhh - don't tell). But I would not recommend one for someone that also has to continue working in a Windows-oriented environment, or for someone that is a real Windows expert and an efficiency nut, like me.


Jonathan said...

There's no doubt that Apple routinely lies to its customers (or at least deliberately misleads them) about the capabilities of its products, so I'm not surprised about your complaints. Customer support seems to be under instructions at times not to admit there are problems when there obviously are, which just adds to the hilarity.

A few responses to your post:

--To use an exchange server on a Mac, you need MS Entourage, which works really well.

--For everday academic use and music (the two things for which I use my Mac) I actually don't mind the slowness, and if you really wanted keyboard access in OSX, you could create your own keyboard map to accomplish it. Even with the lack of keyboard shortcuts (and I do use them when available) I find the interface much more pleasant to use than Windows.

--The stability stuff is just a lie. Macs crash all the time. There is, however, a good user group on that's actually often much better than their paid tech support.

That's it. Good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

You can be fast on any machine but you have to let go of your internal blocks (blogs?). I am a fast user of Mac OS X, Windows and Linux, and nothing stops me when I want to get stuff done fast. It is assuming that machines work the same which will slow you down. Yes, Mac OS X is somewhat mouse heavy, but so are aspects of the Windows explorer, definitely the CDE (Common Desktop Environment) on AIX, and so all you have to do is work your tyres and get the stuff one. They all freeze, they all are slow or fast - depends -, they all require constant backuping, and ultimately, they all excel at something particular which is what you should be working on.

Anonymous said...

This is just one more rant of someone that is having problems thinking about where the problems lie. If you are having issues with microsoft, which it seems most of your problems lie in the microsoft realm, then the problems are there, not with Apple. The fact is that you are deeply embedded in an information monoculture and can't escape because microsoft doesn't use standard, universally compatible file formats and systems. They don't want you to be able to use the full capacity of exchange server outside of their environment. You are 'locked in'. You are about as much of a 'power' user then as a 'slave'. I suggest you move to Unix and learn what being able to 'use' a computer, because you seem to be only able to use an interface, and... it is slightly different to be able to use a computer. Once you build out from there, with your expanded knowledge base, you'll easily see where the issues lie.

Anonymous said...

Ben, good article and sorry to hear about your troubles with the Mac. I only disagree with the comment about Windows experts staying away from Macs. I am a Windows "expert" (if there is such a thing) (an MCSE) and I administer my company's Windows network from a Mac Pro, a Mac PowerBook and a Mac mini. Not that I need all of those to do that, I just have them all. I too have had problems with Parallels, but the remainder of my Apple applications have worked as advertised.
BTW - your 7 year old will love the Mac. I have 5 kids who use our iMac and have no problems switching between the XP machine and our Mac, but they prefer the Mac.

Justice~! said...

Wow. My experience with my Macbook Pro has been almost *completely* opposite to your own. I'll have to start a series of posts about it - it's not to discount your own experiences but it would probably be good to have a counterpoint.

aaron said...

Solution to your problems:

Repeat the following 10x every hour:

"The macintosh is superior to windows in every way."

Visit only macintosh loving discussion forums. Hang out with mac speaking friends. Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to quantify or qualify the statement with meaninful, measurable metrics.

After 30-60 days, you should be appropriately numb to the eccentricities and differences and the mac will, indeed, be better...

Ok, maybe not. Excellent, objective post. And one that parallels (heh) my experience, albiet 10 years later. I supported Mac OS 7 in college, but used PC's and windows 3.11 and/or DOS for all my CS major work.

Upon graduation, I sold the Mac Classic II the school gave me as part of my tuition, bought a PC, and became very confused. The machine didn't lock up daily. I wasn't forced to "reinstall the system" every couple months. I could get around quicker...

Odd. Very, very odd, thought I.

I think you nailed it with the observation re: the mac is designed for "the rest of us". Not power users. Not folks for whom 2 seconds of "move hands to mouse" time is begrudged.

Macs are beautiful. Macs are slick. They are not, however, the end-all-be-all. Something about design being a series of tradeoffs, I guess.

Anyway. Good post.

Anonymous said...

I would agree that OS X is slow, but i believe it is going to be better.
Your comments were related to items that are not big concerns for everybody
Like myself, I never was concern to sync my contacts, and calender with Exchange server, because all of them on the web now.
What I really like about the mac, is the rich OS that is available for programmers.
Compare Apple pages to word
Apple pages is only 2-3 mgbytes, comparing to word which (with the common library with the whole office) close to gig.

Anonymous said...

Why do people insist on buying their kids expensive technology that degrades life experience? You daughter should be outside, running around in a park, not turning into a vegetable on a damn computer. Buy her a bike instead.

Anonymous said...

A friend forwarded me the link to this post and I have to say that really take issue with many of the ways you hold Apple to the fire. I won't "debunk" every single point you make (although I believe that might be possible), but I did want to point out just a few things.

Whenever people complain about beta versions of Windows or Microsoft development tools, I frequently see one message, repeated by several users: "It's beta software, what do you expect?". I believe this completely applies to your circumstance.

I don't own a Mac Pro - I own a MacBook Pro. I have heard about the issues you mentioned with regard to Parallels, but like I mentioned above - the bits you're using are beta bits. Parallels clearly states this. I use the released version on my MacBook Pro and I have literally not had a single problem. In addition, I run Boot Camp 1.1.1 and I've installed RC2 of Windows Vista. Again, it installed and worked flawlessly. And 1.1.1 is still a beta build. But even if things didn't work as they should, I'd have the right to be frustrated but not necessarily the right to complain.

I did install something called "Crossover" which is supposed to allow you to just run Windows apps without having to boot into Windows (or run Windows) at all. That product didn't do so hot :) But like I said, it's not a released product. So while I'm frustrated that I can't run the application I wanted to run, I don't feel like I have any right to complain.

With regard to that kids program you bought, I don't think it's right for you to hold your local Apple store's feet to the fire on that either. They didn't write it. They sell it, obviously, but dozens of PC stores sell software that doesn't work well (or at all) on Windows XP either. So I'm really not sure why you'd choose to make this point. Quite frequently I overhear people in stores trying to return opened software, and in each of those stores the managers virtually always tell them they can't get a refund.

With regard to your point about Apple's false claim that things are "available today", I'm not sure why you would make this "an Apple issue". Stores sell out of things. Before I became a Mac user I normally ordered Dell machines. Sometimes I'd have to wait just over three weeks for a shipment because certain things were out of stock. That's just life, man. If you think it's "an Apple problem" or a false claim by Apple, I wonder if you're probably in the heat of the moment due to your frustration surrounding your first Mac experience. You also mentioned "so much for 'it just works'". Although I have no experience with that particular application you mentioned, my experience has been absolutely fantastic. I haven't had any of the issues you mention.

You spend some time discussing the keyboard shortcuts and how they differ from Mac to PC, with Mac's keyboard shortcuts appearing as "somewhat of an afterthought". You talk about how in Windows you can type ALT+F A to do a save as. In Apple you don't have to do CTRL+F2, right arrow, right arrow, and then down 7 times. Just type SHIFT+APPLE+S instead of just APPLE+S. Unless, of course, you're using Microsoft Word for the Mac, where Microsoft decided not to put a keystroke in for the "Save As" command.

I think it's really unfortunate that you've had such a bad experience but I really feel like your blog post is quite unfairly weighted against Apple. But they're your experiences, and your words, and of course you're entitled to your opinion. My only advice would be to hang in there. There were some things that frustrated me about the Apple OS in the beginning, but that was simply (and only) because I hadn't used it and I was used to Windows. Now that it's been nine months, I actually find Windows FRUSTRATING to go back to. Even Vista.

Take care!

Tim said...

Welcome to the Mac world. Good to have someone with a balanced perspective of the relative strengths of both platforms.

As a self-proclaimed efficiency nut, you may want to check out Quicksilver, which is an indispensable add-on that allows you to access any application, bookmark, file or other record just by typing a few letters of its name. It's got a little learning curve but has made working with my MacBook Pro faster than just about anything I've used before.

More info on Quicksilver and other Mac efficiency tips on Merlin Mann's blog 43 Folders, particularly his OS X-tagged posts.

Anonymous said...

You have two complaints: my Mac doesn't work with Microsoft's Exchange server, and it's slow to access menu items.

The first is probably true; I've never tried to use Exchange with OS X. However, with regard to your second point, I find OS X to be more keyboard-friendly than windows. Most important menu items have key shortcuts associated with them (look to the right of the menu item text). If you find you're using a shortcut-less menu item often, you can give it a shortcut through System Preferences (Keyboard & Mouse / Keyboard Shortcuts). Usually on the mac you don't use the control-f2 thing like you would on windows with alt.

Apple's menus are also designed with Fitt's law in mind - anything on the edge of the screen is effectively infinite in height. To get to the Mac OS menu bar, all you have to do is throw your cursor towards the top of the screen -- in windows, more precise targeting is necessary.

Anonymous said...

I "switched" to Apple a few years ago, and haven't had any problems integrating my Windows life into it. My Macbook Pro runs Parallels, which hosts my "work" laptop (i.e., a Windows image). When I go home I can have Parallels running fullscreen on the laptop, while using OS X on the external display. I think you really needed a larger adjustment period to the Apple way of doing things. Your software gripes are reasonable. Nothing is perfect, but the benefits from not using Windows often out-weigh the downsides to these glitches. Once you become assimilated a bit more, you will might become aware of the subtle ways Apple changes your perspective on using a computer. I found that going to work and sitting in front of a Windows workstation become quite painful...

.02 ...

malak said...

Wow, I had forgotten about all the frustration I had when I first got a Mac a few years ago... the complete inconsistency in keyboard shortcuts and the menu at the top of the screen (where it anti-burns in my LCD screen because it never goes away!)

Thanks for reminding me... it'll make me think twice about the next computer I get.

Anonymous said...

"And I agree that many of my problems come from: 1) trying to keep a windows life on a mac"

Amen. Learn to use OS X software instead of trying to install Windows on OS X with Parallels et al.

Anonymous said...

If you're a keyboard guru (espescially one with a customization streak), you probably want to look into QuickSilver ( To first approximation, it seems to be a launcher, but with the right collection of plugins it can be much, much more.

Essentially the plugins provide nouns and/or verbs, many of which can be composed in interesting ways, all in a system that is doing context sensitive incremental search.

For instance, the User Interface Access plugin provides access to menubars, via the "Show Menu..." actions that can be triggered off of any running application (including one that isn't the foreground). Or one can set a trigger key to bring it up off of the "Current application" proxy object. Or display them in a radial menu (go fitts law!) Or any number of other tricks :-)

malak said...

As a follow up to my previous posts, there are definitely things about Windows that are really horrid from a HCI perspective.

Case in point: associating files with a specific application. I downloaded this application that creates files with a certain extention. I also downloaded a few sample files in the save format it uses. But guess what? Somehow windows wants to open them in Notepad, and when I try to open them in this app, even though the extention is right, none of the files show up unless I click "show all files". I'm not even sure what the right way is to fix this. It's very non-intuitive how you change associations. Windows doesn't even show the app in the list of possible choices when I do find my associations.

I've also found it very hard to find files and other things in Windows explorer (or whatever its called in XP). Where is the desktop? Oh, I have to go to my computer, documents and settings, my user name, and then I find it. How intuitive. There are always these default places on the left "My Network Places" and whatnot, and I never wind up wanting to go any of these places.

Anonymous said...

Interesting story! I agree on a lot of things about the bad keyboard usability for Mac OS X. Also, the apple menu position is a nobrainer, agreed! Get rid of it, Apple! As a switcher myself and had a lot of problems with crashes but it really turned out to be bad memory! Please the first thing you should do before it screws up your new installation is to run the memory check that is included on the install DVDs. It turns out memory caused OS crashes that in my case corrupted the disk to the point of no return. On any new computer you should start run memory test before using it. That would have saved me countless hours.

After that I have not had a single crash. I now run parallells with XP and Linux all at the same time as the Mac OS X and it runs beautifully. (on MacBook w 2GB)

Anonymous said...

It's good to hear that another switcher has had similar issues as I am . I too am very concerned about productivity and usability. I consider myself a power windows user of about 10 years.

My opinions;

1. mac osx is not necessarily better than windows xp
2. mac osx is not more stable than windows xp
3. apple should more consistently bring in context menus
4. mac osx has a more polished ui in a cosmetic sense
5. the close and minimize button on osx should be larger
6. program menu access should be better implemented on osx....but changes would be hard, since osx has already a large user base. Evolution is the key.

7. Last but most of all: I personally think both OSes have their place and both apple and microsoft can learn from each other to improve their OSes in all aspects. Apple certainly take more bold moves and bring in innovative technology more quickly. They build the hardware and ship the OS, they have less risk than say Microsoft, that hold a good 90% something of the desktop computing market. They have a larger user base and must test their software to ensure it works with all the different possible hardware configs. That takes time. They look to other "smaller" and hence nimbler companies when it comes to new stuff. Certainly Microsoft has let themselves be inspired from other competitors, what's wrong with that? They do their bit too in innovation. They cater the larger market. NOT EASY. They have to be very very careful to what they put out in their products, cause once its out, it's not easy to take back. So please Apple fanatics, give microsoft a break. If apple and macs work for you, great, if microsoft and windows work for you, great. No need to look down on the competitor.

I just hope my expectations on osx actually emerge soon.

r3m0t said...

"Where is the desktop? Oh, I have to go to my computer, documents and settings, my user name, and then I find it."

You mean, C:, documents and settings, user name, desktop.

Alternatively, type "Desktop" in the address bar. Or type "Desk" and use the autocomplete. Or type "C:" and press Up twice.

Steve said...

Hows it going now? I use parallels and all the apple software and many third party apps with success every time.

My MacBook Pro edits video, edits audio, runs parallels perfectly. It constantly amazes me how well windows works within it. It connects between my windows pcs beautifully every time.

I'm on a first gen MacBook Pro. Hmm.

btw, this is my first mac since 1996. I have been windows since Win95.

cfiguy said...

Great post -- very helpful to someone like me who is considering making the switch to a Mac.

What's the latest in this saga? Still problems or have they been resolved? I have had concerns about being able to integrate my data (contacts / calendar / notes / tasks) as seamlessly as Outlook does it. Eventually, I would want to wean myself off running two OS's. Not sure if that's possible though. Thoughts?

Ben Bederson said...

It's now a year and a half later and I tried again, and things are definitely working better.

Leopard, Entourage and VMWare Fusion all add up to a solution that is workable for me. However, after spending a fair amount of time in Mac-land, I still find it to be significantly slower for every day tasks than Windows which has much better shortcuts and design for showing denser information displays - which makes things faster for me.

So, now I'm living with Outlook in Windows-land running in a VM. I can switch to mac-land when needed, but this approach works for me.

I'll have to write a follow-up poat

Anup said...

I use parallels and all the apple software and many third party apps with success every time.

My MacBook Pro edits video, edits audio, runs parallels perfectly. It constantly amazes me how well windows works within it. It connects between my windows pcs beautifully every time.
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