For my entire career I been a Windows users. I have made my career around it, and it has been a good career. This has meant working on desktop and laptop PC’s of varying quality from really bad, and underpowered machines, through to some very nice laptops like the Dell XPS and the Lenovo Yoga 900. Back in August of 2016, I decided to switch over to using an Apple Mac to give it a try as we run a mixed Mac / PC estate at Buying Butler and RightIndem.
It took a few days to get used to some of the differences, especially around the use of the keyboard layout, but after a few days it started to feel very natural. For general productivity I am still using the Microsoft Office suite, and I must say Office 2016 on the Mac is pretty good. I have found it stable and I have not had any compatibility issues with any documents. One of my most used tools is OneNote and this works perfectly on the Mac. In fact, I am drafting this very post in OneNote whilst on a long train journey.
If I am honest, I always used to think that people who used Macs just used them because Apple seemed trendy and never really saw the point. After using one for a while though, I can see why they are so beloved of their users. They are very easy to use and they do indeed just work.
The Mac I started off with last August was the late 2015 MacBook Pro 15inch with a 512gb SSD and 16gb of Ram. The machine also had an additional graphics processor, so this machine felt very fast indeed. I initially had reservations around how future proof 16gb of ram would be, but in my observations, memory management seems to be a lot more efficient in MacOS. Working in a development team that still makes a lot of use of the Microsoft .NET development platform I still need to run Visual Studio 2015/2017 and this doesn’t run natively on the Mac so I still need to run Windows for development work. My 2 options here were to run a bootcamp partition and boot across to Windows, or run Windows 10 in a virtual machine using Parallels. I opted for the later to try It our and it runs very well. I run a VM with 8gb ram assigned to the virtual machine and it runs very well. I am literally only Visual Studio and any related development tools in this VM and any productivity tools natively on the Mac. Even with this virtual machine running, and office and browsers windows, I have still not been near the tipping point with Ram which is great.
In October, Apple announced the latest version of the MacBook Pro with the integrated touch bar. I know a lot of people complained about this, but personally I thought it looks like a really good idea. I kept an eye on the reviews and apart of some reviews where people just never seem happy, the general feedback was that it is actually quite nice to use. When my local store got them in to try, I spent about half an hour just playing around with it. I think from a usability point of view they are a great idea as they are context aware to what you are currently doing. Some people said they didn’t like it as it forces you to look away from the screen to use it, and I can see their point, but I am useless at remembering keyboard short cuts, so I would always look at the function keys anyway.
If you still want function keys by default though, they are still available though, so if your prefer F keys by default you still have them. If I could make just one suggestion though to Apple, it would be for the future models to have some kind of haptic feedback when you touch a button on the touch bar. Be it a small vibration or force touch feedback with a taptic engine. The touch bar is perfectly usable without it, but some feedback on the button press would be nice.
At the start of 2017 I decided to swap my existing MacBook Pro out for the new model. It may seem like a strange jump, but I decided to switch from owning the machine to doing a hardware lease through my company. This is a bit more tax efficient for me, and also after 2 years, I can give it back and get the latest model. If I hadn’t decided to move to a hardware lease then I would have just stayed with my existing laptop.
The other main criticism that has been made towards the new Mac is the removal of the USB ports and the SD card reader which has been replaced with 4 USB type C ports. This is more of an issue, but in all honestly it is not as bad as I thought. I have several multi port adapters with USB-C from when I used a Lenovo Yoga 900, so I already had adapters. I generally only need one anyway for HDMI when I need to connect to a monitor or projector. I have a few other USB devices like a microphone and portable hard disc, but I just bought new cables for them as opposed adapters. The cost wasn’t that great when compared to the cost of the machine.
USB-C is the future, so I understand why Apple want to push people to it. You could argue that they pushed to hard, to quickly and should have left some legacy ports. I agree somewhat with people that have expressed this view. Perhaps Apple should have staged the move to USB-C more gradually, and had the next rev of the MacBook pro switch over to USB-C only. For me it is still not a big issue, but I understand people who are annoyed by it.
Over all I am loving the switch to the Mac. I an genuinely finding these machine fun to use, and when you’re having fun, you are more productive. I still like Windows, and I even still run it for some software development work, but overall I am happy I made the right choice. I withheld writing this post for a while in case I didn’t stick with it, but enough time has passed now that I am happy to stay with the platform.