Are You Seriously Considering Switching To A Mac? - InformationWeek

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6/15/2006
03:58 PM
Valerie Potter
Valerie Potter
Commentary
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Are You Seriously Considering Switching To A Mac?

I've been using Windows since the Dark Ages, and never in a million years did I think I'd ever switch to a Mac. Oh sure, I admired the sleek lines and solid construction of Apple hardware, not to mention the cutting-edge look and features of OS X. But we live in a Windows world that depends on Windows apps, and for most of us it simply hasn't been practical to consider owning a Mac as our sole computer.

I've been using Windows since the Dark Ages, and never in a million years did I think I'd ever switch to a Mac. Oh sure, I admired the sleek lines and solid construction of Apple hardware, not to mention the cutting-edge look and features of OS X. But we live in a Windows world that depends on Windows apps, and for most of us it simply hasn't been practical to consider owning a Mac as our sole computer.Apple changed all that with the release of its Intel-based Macs earlier this year. New software products called Boot Camp and Parallels let you run Windows XP on these Intel-based Macs, which means you don't have to give up Windows if you switch to a Mac. In other words, you can still run those must-have Windows-only programs when you need them, right on your Apple computer.

But what about the other concerns many Windows users have about Macs? This week's feature story, "Switching To The Mac: A Guide For Windows Users" by John C. Welch, puts a lot of those fears to rest. For example, Apple computers have always had a bad rap as overpriced and underpowered. But as Welch explains, all of today's Intel-based Macs ship with either Intel Core Solo or Core Duo processors, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11g wireless networking support, Bluetooth 2.0, USB 2.0, FireWire 400, Serial ATA drives, and analog and optical audio in/out. If you match these features on PCs from other top-tier manufacturers like Dell, HP, or Lenovo, the prices end up being pretty comparable.

Although there are many similarities between OS X and Windows, many things about the Mac interface will seem strange to Windows users. What's that Apple menu all about? Where's the main menu bar for the application I'm in? And how the heck do I close out of applications? Welch answers those questions and more, carefully explaining those aspects of OS X that will be particularly confusing to Windows users. As with so many things in life, navigating OS X is easy once you know how.

What about that one-button mouse? No worries: Mac OS X has always supported two-button mice, and the current Mac desktops even ship with a mouse that can be configured for single- or multiple-button use.

Before making a decision, wouldn't it be nice to hear from a longtime Windows user who has made the switch to a Mac? Michael Brandenburg does just that in "The Joys Of Dual-Booting XP And OS X," sharing his firsthand experience of switching to a MacBook Pro with Boot Camp, which allows him to boot into either Mac OS X or Windows XP. It hasn't all been smooth sailing, but with a little tweaking he's figured out how to make Windows and OS X work well together. Now he can't imagine how he ever survived with just one operating system.

After reading both stories, I'm just about convinced. My current home PC is frighteningly long in the tooth (I won't say how old, but Microsoft is about to cut off support for the OS). There's no question I'm due for an upgrade. I've been wondering whether to wait for the release of Windows Vista next year, but now I'm leaning heavily toward the Mac camp. The fact that Apple will responsibly recycle my old computer for free doesn't hurt, either.

What about you? Are you seriously considering switching to a Mac--or have you already made the switch? Why or why not? Add your comments below.

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