Pretty well since the first time I turned on a computer I have been using a Microsoft operating system. From the days of DOS, to DOS with a the Windows stub that let me use programs like PageMaker or Corel Draw; and right up to Vista it has always been Microsoft. There were times when I got adventurous and tried some of the different flavours of Linux at various times. Right from the bare bones install of Slackware up to Ubuntu and SUSE I have tried them. The only operating system that I have never been able to try is Apple’s Mac OS of any version.
There has been more than one occasion when, for whatever reason I was pulling out my hair over something that Windows was doing that drove me nuts. In the end though I always come back to it like a whipped dog with its tail between its legs. Much of the reason for this was that a large part of my involvement with computers for many years was either as a programmer or as a tech. When it came to the tech part of my career where I live played a definite role in using Microsoft products, as at that point Apple was either a real niche product or it was headed down the tubes. My programming life revolved around first Clarion for DOS and then branched out to VisualBasic; which with except for a brief flirtation with Visual FoxPro because of a job was where I stayed.
Things have have changed in the last couple of years as in that time I hung up my developer tool belt and the last thing I want to do is to put together machines for anyone other than myself. Between the required hand holding and the disaster in waiting that the Internet brings to any machine with things like trojans and other nasties it just isn’t worth the stress especially for someone with heart problems. Luckily though during this time I have been pretty lucky with this blogging thing and it suits my creative needs pretty well and I’m quite happy with the choices made.
The interesting thing is though that as I have made this transition my requirements as far as a computer have also changed. No longer am I tied to a platform because that is the development choices I have made. Along with that while being able to put together my own machines is nice it no longer is a make or break type thing. So I have been questioning the last little while what it is that keeps me using Microsoft Windows and surprisingly enough it boils down to two programs. Everything else can be replaced regardless of the platform by either web based applications or native OS applications.
I’ll get to those programs in a minute because really that problem only really affects my decisions if I was to consider switching to a flavour of Linux. After all Linux is free and will run great – if not better than Windows – on my current hardware. Along with that it’s not like I’m not geeky enough to be able to manhandle my way around a Linux system and I have enough friends who are heavy into Linux that I would never be far from a solid help line – once they stopped giving me a hard time. The problem is that I don’t like Linux and for no other reason than I don’t like it. There are no tangible reasons why – I just don’t.
So this leaves me with Apple. Now, I will admit that I would really like to try a current Apple product but there are some inherent problems with this. The problems definitely have nothing to do with the programs I talked about above because of the excellent virtualization support that comes with the Mac. The problem with me switching to a Mac is a combination of what I call hard dollars and soft dollars. The hard dollar problem is the actual cost of me switching to a Mac. Where I can put together; or even buy, a very good PC machine for under a $1,000.00 an Apple Mac would be around the $3,000.00 mark by the time you add in taxes. Think I’m kidding then just take a look at the graphic which displays the Apple prices in Canada.
Then there is what I refer to as the soft dollar costs. If I need replacement parts in an emergency I can either make a single phone call to a local friend or head to any of the computer stores in town and get what I need. Whether it be the fact that I am building a whole new machine or repairing one it is usually done by the end of the day and I am up and running. To switch to a Mac would mean finding someone willing to drive me to Toronto (Ontario) to one of the three Apple stores there to buy what I wanted. Now, before any one mentions buying it online I don’t have a credit card and unlike Tiger Direct where I can use PayPal to buy PC components or whole machines Apple will only take credit cards online. Along with this take into account if something goes wrong with the machine I either once again have to find a way to Toronto or pay for shipping. So rather than being down for just one day I could very well be down for a week or longer -sorry but that doesn’t work for me.
It’s very easy for the Apple diehards to advocate switching to a Mac but I’d be willing to bet that a very large majority of them probably live in the same city as the local Genius Bar not over 150 miles away (one way). By the shear economic of the hard and soft dollars it just makes no sense at this point to consider switching regardless of the Mac just works. I really got thinking about all this after reading TechWag’s post today where they suggest that Apple’s tipping point is coming. As nice as this dream might be for the Apple diehards to believe in the reality is something totally different. I am not the only person who is in this situation where they have to make the same evaluations.
As much as Apple believers might like to think that Apple will move relentlessly forward and challenge Microsoft think again because I don’t see it happening for a very long time – if at all. Now, as to the two programs that are keeping me on Windows well they are both freeware and I wouldn’t want to blog with either one of them. Windows keeps me coming back because of FeedDemon and Windows Live Writer and at this point for no other reason. If Linux had two programs that even came close I would think twice but Apple – well they would have to do some pretty severe price cutting because at least I could run those two programs virtually.
$2,000.00 or two free programs – which would you decide on?
Hey, like this post? Why not share it with a buddy?