My experience (so far) as a new Mac user

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I've been using computers since my first (yes, I had more than one) Commodore-64 in the early 80's. My only PC experience since has been with Windows. In 1998 I was lucky enough to land my first job as a FoxPro programmer, and I've been working in various capacities as a Windows developer and systems analyst ever since. I've quite often dabbled in Linux, because I liked the blend of a Unix style OS with a functional desktop environment.

Like many a Windows user, I always thought that Macs were way over-priced cash cows for the folks at Apple, squeezing the trendy, hipster crowd for all they're worth. I thought it was all marketing and hype. However, I began to notice more and more .Net developers walking around with Macbooks, so, being the inquisitive type that I am, I began looking into why. I was surprised to find that Windows and Visual Studio run so well in a virtual machine (or with BootCamp). The more I read, the more intrigued I became by the hardware, itself. Current Intel processors? Check. High quality keyboard (this was of great importance to me, as I had been a long-time ThinkPad user)? Check, by most accounts. Pointing stick? Negative. I thought that might just be a show-stopper for me, quite honestly. I have always detested trackpads.

I decided to take a trip to the Apple store and play with a couple Macbook Pros. I immediately noticed two things: the all aluminum unibody is nice. I mean really nice, both sturdy and light. Secondly, the display was stunning. I had been toying with making the switch full time to my Surface Pro 3, and it has a pretty nice display, but with the Mac OS's ability to seamlessly and accurately scale at pretty much any resolution, the SP3 display just doesn't compare to the Retina display on the Macbooks. A week later I had sold my SP3. A week after that I was driving home with a brand new MBPr (rMPB?) 13.

I absolutely loved the size and weight of the 13, but after just a couple of days, it became apparent that I was going to want the quad-core, non-ULV processor (and, I'm not gonna lie, the discreet GT 750M GPU did appeal to me for some gaming). Compiling code and spinning up the local IIS web server in the Windows VM was just a little bit sluggish. Having been assured that I could return or exchange it within 14 days, no questions asked, I took it back to the Apple store, where they again took great care of me.

So, here I am with my MBPr 15 and VMWare Fusion VM's installed for both Windows 8.1 and Linux (Fedora 21 at the moment). This thing powers through everything I've thrown at it. I really can't say enough good things about it from a performance standpoint. Everything is snappy, probably due in large part to the 512GB PCIe SDD.

And the trackpad? Honestly, I never knew the trackpad experience could be this good. I immediately began making full use of the various gestures, and they just work great. It is really nice to simply be able to bounce back and forth between Mac OS and a couple of different running VM's with the mere swipe of my fingers. I don't know how to explain it, but tasks just seem more fluid in Mac OS. It's kind of funny, when I first booted into the OS, my first thought was, "Huh, this looks an awful lot like [insert distro] Linux." Everything from the system properties screen down to the individual window controls like buttons and text boxes looked extremely similar to what I've seen in several Linux distros. After using it for a week or so, I would have to say it looks more like Linux *done right*.

Lastly I want to address my initial misconceptions about Apple products. For starters, from now on, anyone I find looking to buy their first Apple product, I will advise them to buy it from an Apple store. I couldn't have asked for a more pleasant purchase experience. I know I spent an hour or more hemming and hawing and bugging the sales reps with questions - all of which they answered more than adequately with smiles on their faces. Prior to this, my experience was based on uninformed/apathetic employees at brick and mortar stores like BestBuy and Fry's. This was like a breath of fresh air. I really felt like my hand was held through this unnerving process of switching platforms. This in itself is worth a couple hundred bucks extra, as far as I'm concerned.

The "Apple ecosystem" was another aspect I never thought I would like. However, I've also just been accustomed to buying a new phone, downloading drivers and fiddling with it, so I could connect it to my PC and basically learning a new process for doing so with each phone I purchased. That was normal to me and I just expected it. I'm due for a cell phone upgrade in a couple weeks, and at this point I'm planning to try an iPhone for the first time (5S). It will be interesting to see how that interoperability is improved in the Apple space.

Long story short - I'm quite impressed with the Macbook Pro and Mac OS in general.
 
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Well welcome from the "dark side" ;D I too have a long history with Windows - over 30 years. I purchased my first mac and fell in love.

If you get an iPhone you will love how it interfaces with your mac.

Enjoy!

Lisa
 
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You'll enjoy the way the iPhone just works with the Mac. Like you I had many years prior to making the switch. It's a relief to let the ecosystem take care of things.
 

bobtomay

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Welcome aboard and thanks for sharing your story.

I've actually been considering the SP3 - went and played with one today and it looks and feels really nice as a tablet and a full blown OS.
 
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Welcome aboard and thanks for sharing your story.

I've actually been considering the SP3 - went and played with one today and it looks and feels really nice as a tablet and a full blown OS.

The SP3 is a really nice device. For most people it really can replace their desktop machine. I was surprised at how capable such a small form factor could be. The problems I had with it were few, but a couple of them were deal-breakers:

  • The ULV processor. It just didn't have the kind of horsepower I want from an i7 machine. Don't get me wrong, it's no slouch by any means. It just felt like i5 performance by desktop standards. I need more from it than that.
  • Windows' inability to scale high res displays properly. The display on the SP3 is excellent, but that's a non-factor, when the scaling is wonky so often. Honestly, I probably could have lived with that, but I found the 12.5" screen just a bit too small for my needs.
  • The pen and inking is one area where the SP3 really shines. Unfortunately I just couldn't incorporate it into my workflow. Guess I'm just not a stylus guy. For those who are, it's fantastic.
  • It requires more room on your lap than a conventional laptop. Some of us...ahem..."full figured" fellas just don't have that much lap space available.
  • Lastly, it's just a tad on the heavy side as a tablet. It's certainly usable, but is noticeably heaver than, say, an iPad. This was another one of those really nice features that I found I just didn't utilize that often.

I would still recommend the SP3 to others, depending on their needs.
 
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....Honestly, I never knew the trackpad experience could be this good...

This is a common experience. You will often see Windows laptop users with a mouse. Why? Because trackpads on Windows PCs are of unpredictable but often poor quality. I just got a brand new Windows 8.1 ultrabook, the Asus UX303LA. It is essentially a clone of the MacBook Air. However the track pad is clunky and laggy. Compared to my MacBook Air it feels coarse and unrefined.

It's just a matter of polish, fit and finish. The MacBook track pad and external Apple Magic Trackpad are slick and fast.

Ironically this leads to the issue of touch screen vs non-touch UI design. I commonly hear people say how important a touch screen is. They often say this because their only experience with a track pad is on Windows. Yes, that is often so poor that anything is better by comparison.

Once you become accustomed to how well the Apple track pads work and learn the additional gestures (which are graphically shown in System Preference->Trackpad), suddenly a touch screen doesn't seem as vital. Apple might eventually go toward touch for OS X, but the current design works so well that (unlike Windows PCs) it's not vital.
 
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I commonly hear people say how important a touch screen is.

Honestly, I have just never understood the desire for a touch screen on anything but a tablet or phone. With laptops and PC's touch screen just feels like training wheels on a boat.
 
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Honestly, I have just never understood the desire for a touch screen on anything but a tablet or phone. With laptops and PC's touch screen just feels like training wheels on a boat.

There is a logic to touch screens. How many times has somebody put their finger on the screen and said: "make this go here".

But ergonomically it doesn't work well for long term use, which was Steve Job's point. For apps like Photoshop, Excel, etc. your fingers are constantly moving from screen to keyboard. Not only is it tiring to hold your arms out for hours, but much greater motions are required as you switch between screen and keyboard input.

Touch screens are suboptimal (but still usable) for non-touch apps. E.g, Desktop apps on Win8 can be manipulated by touch, even though they aren't designed for it. The OS must remap certain touch gestures to mouse events. E.g, touch and hold means "right mouse click".

Touch is understandable on Win8 -- Windows laptops typically have crappy trackpads. On Mac the trackpad is fluid, responsive -- perfect.

Historically touch screens had a significant penalty in price, or screen clarity. Very recently that has mostly gone away so at least that one issue is resolved.

There is no question Win8 was an unmitigated disaster but MSFT will fix most of the problems in Win10. That will leave MSFT with a touch capable desktop OS and Apple without one, OTOH Apple doesn't really need it like MSFT did.
 
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chas_m

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Touch screens will never be popular on computers until they invent a truly oliophobic surface. I can't stand fingerprints on my Mac screen, and I bought a (great, recommended) matte Moshi screen protector for the iPad Air 2 not because I wanted to "protect" the screen, but because I didn't want to be wiping it down every 10 minutes (I have oily skin). The iPhone I've had to learn to accept, but I still keep a eyeglasses cleaning cloth handy for it.
 
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Today I visited the Apple Store to purchase a power adapter. The music was so loud it was difficult to talk or hear the employees. Was it this way in Indiana?
 
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Touch screens will never be popular on computers until they invent a truly oliophobic surface. I can't stand fingerprints on my Mac screen . . .

This is why I like playing with Leap Motion with my iMac, thats integrated into Better Touch Tool ;) No sticky fingers here. . . .

@OP, great story and welcome to the forum. We see this every other day here, and "Why didn't I switch sooner" . .
On the trackpad, use it well, but also look at the App I mentioned above, called Better Touch Tool, where you can really set up KB Shortcuts, and lots and lots of other gestures to do so much more on your Mac. Its one of the 1st App, I always install on my Macs, because I can't now, live without all the gestures I have set up, to do specific things.
You can make them System Wide, or App Specific, and the Dev is responsive to any queries or suggestions you have, within 18hrs usually.

Enjoy your new toy, and stay around here, a while, because you will learn quite a bit from the knowledge thats around :)

Cheers
 
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Today I visited the Apple Store to purchase a power adapter. The music was so loud it was difficult to talk or hear the employees. Was it this way in Indiana?

Well, I don't recall noticing the music, so I'd say no. Something else did strike me, though. The Apple store here is in an upscale shopping mall. The couple times I visited it, the mall was pretty quiet - not too much in the way of shoppers milling about at that time of day. Still, the Apple store was always packed. It was a little surreal.
 
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Well, I don't recall noticing the music, so I'd say no. Something else did strike me, though. The Apple store here is in an upscale shopping mall. The couple times I visited it, the mall was pretty quiet - not too much in the way of shoppers milling about at that time of day. Still, the Apple store was always packed. It was a little surreal.

Same here in Ohio. The Apple Store I go to is a new one in Beavercreek - which is by Dayton, Ohio. It is very upscale and always crowded. No loud music at all.

Lisa
 
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I had a similar experience in 2011. Hard to believe it's been that long already. The Mac and iDevices still feel fresh and convenient after years of tweaking Windows and pda operating systems. I work on Windows at work and miss the Apple world there. I've been troubleshooting more than my liking since the Yosemite update, but only on my main machine, a mid-2011 iMac, not the 2010 MacBook. Resist the urge to install "helpful" utilities.
 

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