50 Reasons to Switch from Microsoft Windows to Apple’s Mac OS X

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ProTip: Get Parallels to Make the Switch Easier

I love my Xbox 360s; I think Popfly rocks (Silverlight will bring much needed competition to Flash). Plus, I can’t live without Exchange and its server-side rules. I love my Microsoft mouse more than any other mouse in the world. Surface looks totally awesome, too.

Microsoft does some amazing things – very amazing things. My choice, however, for a primary desktop operating system is no longer Windows – it’s Mac OS X. Duh. It’s rather difficult to admit that officially, if only because… well, I think Microsoft does amazing things. They’ve also been quite supportive of my own efforts over the years, if only because they understand the value of one user.

I’m still openly willing to give feedback to Microsoft’s product teams – Windows included.

If you’re also looking to Switch, let me tell you that VMware Fusion signed on as a Video Show sponsor – and would be more than happy to help you with the transition. Realizing that many of you are hooked on Parallels, I’m guessing that VMware would do just about anything to win your attention. I also have great sponsors like Plasq.com (who make Skitch.com and ComicLife.com) and Shinywhitebox.com, who makes iShowU, Stomp, and Chatter. These are independent Mac OS X software developers with widely-accepted products.

While I don’t need to justify my actions to anybody, I feel I have 50 strong reasons to finally make the move. This is after posting a list of my favorite Mac apps a few months ago, and inspiring Brian to create Appster (so that you could blog your favorite Mac apps with ease, too).

Anybody in my chat room who watches the live video feed with any regularity knows that I’m a platform neutral geek. Keep that in mind as you read the following list:

  1. Seems that the future of Windows development is happening largely for corporate environments and customers. I don’t take issue with this other than being someone who doesn’t live or work inside a corporate environment at home.
  2. Excellent power management in OS X. When I close the lid to my MacBook Pro, it falls asleep. When I open the lid to my MacBook Pro, it wakes up. Imagine that! Seems to be the case 99% of the time, and it happens quickly.
  3. I’m ready to experience different frustrations. OS X isn’t perfect, certainly – but I already see its noticeably more stable than Windows Vista has been. Kernel Panics at least look prettier than BSODs. :) Seriously, I just find OS X’s update schedule to be more to my liking – instead of waiting for gigantic service packs, I get minor point releases along the way to major revisions to the OS. Bugs are going to happen, but knowing that showstopping / security bugs are likely to be squished quicker gives me amazing peace of mind.
  4. There’s more interesting, useful, beautiful, and affordable software being developed for OS X. If you still believe that there’s no software for “the Mac,” you’re simply a fool who hasn’t done his or her research.
  5. VMware Fusion makes it possible to have every operating system at my fingertips (as well as every app that runs on ‘em, FTW). Performance and stability is a reality, not a dream. More importantly, with USB 2.0 support in VMware Fusion, I have near complete compatibility with any external hardware. Parallels is also there, which should keep competition lively.
  6. I believe that the future of Windows (or any OS software layer) will be experienced in a virtual machine of some sort. People have been dual booting for years – now I can triple-task cross-platform in seconds flat.
  7. Not to say that Microsoft or Linux haven’t made great strides in recent years, but… at least Leopard feels like only one team was developing the UI. It’s not quite perfect, but closer to what perfect should be. I’m not a huge fan of iTunes or every other Apple utility – but at least with Leopard, they’re trying to make them look and work the same way.
  8. I love the fact that most programs and their associated libraries are self-contained (apps). There’s no stress in installing / uninstalling most programs, and for true cleanup jobs there’s always AppZapper.
  9. I’m not a huge fan of the Dock for task management, but Quicksilver has virtually no Windows equivalent (in terms of elegance and scriptability, although it’s still completely overwhelming to me right now). The dock isn’t a shining example of where OS X is “better,” but I do appreciate the context menu options for each of the Dock’s icons for “Open at Login” management.
  10. Spotlight is to Windows Desktop Search as a BMW Z4 is to a Ford Pinto (in terms of performance, usability, and UI). No contest. I’m sure some would argue the opposite, but… they’re also probably the extreme developer “but it works if you just learn how to use it right” types. Feh.
  11. The Apple community has been infiltrated by enough people who aren’t smug. You’re not better than me just because you run another OS or support another vendor, nor are you any less of a geek. Not every Windows user is a neanderthal, although some of their dated arguments would make them out to be. I think that most consumers are caught up in the idea that you NEED Windows for everything at home. You don’t.
  12. My iPhone is not going away anytime soon. Would I switch for better compatibility with a communications device? Not necessarily, but if the future of OS X is in the present of the iPhone… they’re going to gain consumer market share at blinding speed. Remember, I wanted to hate this device – after years of being a dyed-in-the-wool Windows Mobile advocate.
  13. The spyware / malware / virus threat is diminished by an extreme degree. Not to say that one should avoid running protective layers of software or hardware, but… I’m just not as nervous when I try a new app on OS X.
  14. Many of my friends are considering making the switch as well. This dovetails nicely with my first point. I can tell you that just by showing off the fun features of CamTwist and Colloquy with my live stream, a few of those community members have already purchased MacBooks – or are strongly considering doing so in the not-too-distant future. Interestingly enough, those are two FREE apps that work amazingly better than most overpriced Windows shareware titles.
  15. Microsoft Windows completely abandoned its power users, period. Where are the Windows Vista “Ultimate” add-ons? Where are the new Power Toys? Why doesn’t Windows Media Player have podcast support yet (despite me telling them to integrate RSS back when WMP9 was in beta, years before podcasting was a buzzword)? I’m not saying that Windows is dead – not by any stretch of the imagination.
  16. Boot Camp, if all else fails.
  17. A single SKU of Leopard is both 32-bit and 64-bit compatible. This, alone, is a fantastic reason to embrace the platform. It’s seamless. Why should a consumer have to come to a decision on which code to run – or understand the differences between them in the first place? Remember, I’m to be considered a “home” user.
  18. Time Machine. Wow. Can it really be this simple? “Simply select your AirPort Disk as the backup disk for each computer and the whole family can enjoy the benefits of Time Machine.” Do you understand what that means? And no, Windows Volume Shadow Copy is not the SAME thing.
  19. Leopard’s Finder will allegedly search networked computers seamlessly, as well as allow you to access those results remotely (through a paid .Mac account, which would totally be worth purchasing at that point).
  20. Java app performance is decent on OS X, and the same code looks infinitely better when it’s not running on Windows. In fact, most third-party apps are very well designed so as to integrate seamlessly with the entire OS. That’s beyond refreshing.
  21. You never need to defrag a Mac’s hard disk.
  22. Adium is there – an Instant Messaging client that allows you to use AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, and other accounts through a single client. It’d be my replacement for Miranda IM. Skype also works on the Mac. I expect to see even more universal IM apps reveal themselves over the coming months.
  23. Bonjour is proving to be quite useful on my home network. Computers with Bonjour-enabled services are automatically discovered with virtually no fuss – even my networked Windows machines have been playing along.
  24. Joining wireless networks in OS X is easier and more refined, easily accessible. The tools for networking don’t seem overly complex, either.
  25. Setting up services such as Windows File Sharing, FTP, and even Web sharing can be done on OS X with just a few clicks. If you’re telling me that I could set up FTP just as easily in Windows, then… it obviously can’t be done as easily.
  26. Almost all of the audio and video formats out there can be played on the Mac with Video LAN Player (VLC). One less barrier to entry.
  27. Great Web browsers that work in Windows also work on the Mac (Firefox, Opera, SeaMonkey, Flock). The only exception here is Internet Explorer, or any third-party overlay to IE (such as Maxthon, which has been taking a slight turn for the worse with 2.0). Of course, there’s always the “invisible” virtual machine possibility (read: VMware Fusion’s Unity mode). Moreover, Safari / WebKit is gaining speed on all platforms.
  28. Erasing deleted files placed in your trash (also known as a Recycle Bin in Windows) can be securely erased in OS X. No need to mess with third-party software.
  29. You can still right-click in OS X – and the way Apple decided to implement it is far more convenient than you’d think. In fact, I find double-tapping the mouse pad far more intuitive than using a second mouse button. Didn’t take long to get used to it at all.
  30. Wanna set up a VNC server on your Mac? No problem, its already apart of the operating system! Moreover, the feature isn’t buried three levels deep. It’s sitting right there in the Finder. Moreover, unlike Windows Remote Desktop, a Screen Sharing session doesn’t lock the remote user out of his / her session – one reason I’ve always loathed RDC.
  31. Microsoft doesn’t have an iLife. Not even close. It has a set of multimedia applications, but they don’t seem to be cohesive in the slightest. Maybe things will get better as Live continues to evolve?
  32. You really don’t get to play the blame game with Apple. They make the hardware AND the operating system, so… they really know what’s going on, and they really know if the problem is widespread.
  33. A Mac costs about the same as a comparable Windows PC – for hardware and (for argument’s sake for those who don’t believe me) bundled software. And for those who still claim that Macs are still more expensive, they obviously have never seen or priced a gaming rig. Price / cost is relative. If you want a cheap machine, that’s your prerogative. The resell value on Macs has always been higher than that of an equivalent “Windows” machine.
  34. You can record audio and video conversations from iChat 4.0 (natively). That’s pretty amazing, as it takes the idea of “video chat” and puts it into a time-shifted space. This isn’t just useful for those of us who conduct guest interviews regularly, but for home users who want to save calls for posterity.
  35. Dashcode appears to take the geekery out of widget-building. Moreover, the new “Web Clippings” widget appears to work better than anything I’ve seen come from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, et al. This is putting the user first…
  36. With a .Mac subscription, you can save common local settings as global ones. You only have to configure your Dock or System Preferences on one machine to have those same changes appear on all machines connected to your .Mac account. Unbelievable.
  37. Unlike Windows font management, you can activate fonts as you need them within Leopard. This translates to less wasted overhead by fonts that remain largely unused in memory. I can only imagine this results in far less resource-intensive sessions. Genius.
  38. Automator now supports UI Recording and Playback, which means you can create “macros” without understanding a lick of logic. The last time I saw a native macro recorder in Windows was… v3.0? You don’t have to be a geek to gain access to geeky-cool features.
  39. Can’t tell you how much I love Spring Loaded folders. Love ‘em.
  40. Wikipedia information, while not always accurate, certainly stands to be updated a lot more frequently than documentation that ships with (or from) the operating system designer. That Apple has taken the step to integrate access directly from within the Dictionary tool…? It’s just kinda nice to have there. They’re placing trust in the idea of community rather than trying to hide it from us.
  41. Mail comes with “Data Detectors” which will highlight phone numbers, addresses, etc. You can then choose to do something with that information, like map it or store it as an appointment, contact, etc. This is a feature I had not seen outside of a pricey plugin for Microsoft Outlook. I may not use Mail.app, but at least they’re continuing to improve its functionality – ugly capsule toolbar icons notwithstanding.
  42. The Preview tool ain’t no joke – with annotations, basic image editing, Core Animation zooming and scrolling, GPS Metadata support, batch operations, etc. It’s all at your fingertips.
  43. Expose works. ‘Nuff said. The only thing that surpasses OS X’s open window management is Compiz Fusion. None of this Flip3D nonsense.
  44. Help. No, seriously – Help is the way Help should have always been all along. I related my “Help” experience a few weeks ago, with the system not just finding what I was looking for help on, but taking me directly to the spot where I needed to be. I’m pretty sure the Help system isn’t 100% accurate, but it hasn’t disappointed me yet.
  45. Guest accounts are purged after every session in Leopard. Wow. Guest privileges, on the other hand, seem to be lacking somewhat on the security front (but most of my Guests are computer clueless).
  46. I love the Universal Access zoom feature – and have used it so many times for countless reasons. Really comes in handy when you’re trying to show something to someone from across the room. Never found anything close to its simplicity anywhere else.
  47. Call me crazy, but I love the fact that in OS X, the keyboard shortcut for opening Preferences is always the same (Command + Comma). Convenient. Dependable. Quick.
  48. Device compatibility doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue as it used to be with the Mac. While I couldn’t get my brand new HP LaserJet to work inside of Vista, it works flawlessly inside of OS X 10.4 (despite having to use HP’s scanning software). Still, with any USB hardware hiccups in Leopard, compatibility issues are erased with VMware Fusion until newer software is unleashed.
  49. Thanks to another one of our sponsors, GoToMeeting, I’ve had the opportunity to see quite a few of my friends’ desktops. Quite a few have gone to great lengths to make their installation of Windows look and feel like Mac OS X. At that point, what’s the point of sticking with Windows? Just about the only thing Mac users might want from Windows is the Explorer (FTFF) – and even then, there’s ‘Path Finder.’
  50. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Windows users need Apple’s software more than Mac users need Microsoft’s. That’s just a cold, hard fact. And given my severe disappointment with just about everything in Mac Office 2008, I’m even further driven away from Microsoft’s desktop software.

Please don’t take this post as an all-out lovefest for Apple (and it’s definitely not a hatefest for Microsoft, either). The two can co-exist peacefully if you let them, and if your routine supports it. I wasn’t ready to switch before now for a lot of reasons. This has been a long time coming.

I think it’s lousy that Apple charges for QuickTime Pro and Remote Desktop, I believe iTunes and iPhoto are inelegant management tools (Picasa for OS X would rule). At least Aperture 2.0 looks promising for me. And, for whatever it’s worth, I’ve yet to hear from anybody at Apple in respect to marketing, sponsorship, endorsement, support – or otherwise. I’d imagine they’d be interested in knowing my background, and why this leap is relatively monumental for me – and a sign of things to come for the greater part of our community.

So, let’s say that the next version of Windows is amazing – for argument’s sake. Would I switch back to the “PC” for my primary computing needs? Doubtful, because I’m guessing that virtual machine support will continue to improve in leaps and bounds (with greater hardware support to boot).

Microsoft Windows isn’t in trouble, necessarily – but I do believe that it’s better (read: somewhat safer, more affordable) to run Windows in a virtual machine with USB 2.0 hardware support than it is to run it directly on the desktop.

If you’re a gamer, all bets are off – you’re a different kind of user. Gamers are likely the reason Windows is still alive and well at home today. If the gaming industry shifted gears and started to develop OpenGL-based entertainment titles for Linux, you’d see Ubuntu adoption skyrocket. I’m a console player – still in love with my 360, as noted before. I’m a casual gamer, and I can casual game anywhere.

I’ll still have traditional PC hardware around the house – especially since Ponzi may or may not be making this switch with me. We’re still living inside of Outlook, with no other usable PIM in reach (on any platform). I’ve been showing her a few cool things that you can only do with “the Mac,” and she’s certainly seen me try Outlook 2007 in VMware Fusion. I’m also looking forward to tinkering with new systems as they’re released from a variety of OEMs. I couldn’t abandon my beloved HP All-in-One LaserJet!

Point is: I’m not going ‘all’ Apple.

In time, this will all become easier to manage – but there’s no time like the present to shelve the last ten years of Windows enthusiasm and… switch. I’m fine with being a Microsoft enthusiast in other areas, mind you – very much so. They’re doing too many good things for me to ignore, and their community involvement puts Apple to shame. My choice for an operating system is just that – my choice for an OS.

And before anybody jumps in and claims that you can achieve the same level of “happiness” after installing 50+ third-party add-ons, plugins, extensions, and utilities to Windows… you simply don’t get it, and you probably never will. 

I can’t be alone, and I’m predicting that by the end of next year, even more people will choose (and use) Mac OS X over Windows Vista. I can’t open up the phone lines anymore without being inundated with calls that suggest such a tipping point. Everybody is curious…

…and curiosity is what keeps me going.

As a power user, Mac OS X has far more to offer me in terms of tweak-ability and modularity. I learned that by trying it, not by guessing that it wasn’t possible.

I heart MacOSXHints.com. I heart TUAW.com. I heart DaringFireball.net. I heart TidBits.com. I heart so many Mac software developers (like Steve Green and Wil Shipley and Randy Green and Brian Skrab and others). I heart watching for news of some new application, though I’m not quite on any review lists yet – it seems like a simpler nut to crack than it was in the world of Windows shareware.

It’s fun again.

To end this with a bit of humor, my live stream chatters (largely Windows and PC enthusiasts) gave me other title suggestions for this post:

  • C:\DIE.EXE
  • 50 Reasons Why I Left Bill for Steve
  • Losing My OS Religion
  • Windows Broke My Heart
  • Obama Says It’s Time to Change to the Mac
  • /Volume/chris/switched
  • How to Switch to a Mac
  • The Wow Stops Now
  • Got Mac?
  • Once You Go Mac, You Never Go Back?

And now, I’d like to challenge any Windows enthusiast to publish 50 Reasons to switch from Mac OS X to Microsoft Windows. ;)