To Mac or not to Mac?

So recently, I went on a little experiment. I’m an Apple fan-boy, I admit it. I love Apple stuff. I want a Mac. I want to be one of those cool people. I have a Dell. It’s very business-oriented. It’s not fancy. It has no built-in camera or aluminium case.

And it runs Microsoft Windows.

If you read this blog, you know I’m not a fan of Microsoft. It could be said that I really dislike Microsoft. Part of the reason I wanted to do this experiment was to see if I could actually do my job on a Mac. Mostly because I know the Mac has a few limitations.

I was issued a 17″ MacBook Pro (we don’t do regular MacBooks here, and as cool as the MacBook Air is, our view is that it’s little more than a display device due to its limitations and cost), loaded with Leopard, Microsoft Office (as much as [[I hate Microsoft Word|I dislike Word]], I still need to use it), Entourage (the Mac version of Outlook), Adobe Creative Studio 3 (Photoshop and Flash being the two big things), and Parallels so I could run Windows apps.

I knew walking into this that nothing was going to translate directly — I would have to make a few concessions here and there to adapt to a different way of working. One of those concessions was realising that, yes, I could quickly log in and out of things instead of waiting an hour for Windows to make up its mind.

Okay, that was a cheap shot. I also started to fall in love with Spaces, which runs like butter, even with Parallels running. (Although I should point out that Parallels runs about as fast on a Mac with OS X already running than Windows XP runs on my Dell. Take that for what you will.)

Office is a little different on the Mac, which although comes a little jarring, isn’t the end of the world. You can overcome that pretty quickly, too. Photoshop is pretty much the same as in Windows, even if the layout is a little confusing at first.

So why am I still on my Dell? Why am I turning the Mac back in?

Entourage.

My major issues with Entourage:

  1. No functionality for finding related messages (exceedingly handy when you’re dealing with a long email thread, common in my daily life).
  2. More-or-less inability to manage meetings at all. It doesn’t detect conflicts, it’s almost impossible to handle resourcing effectively, and you can’t readily tell what’s a reoccurring meeting.

It sounds trivial, I know. But this — no word of a lie — can add up to 50% of my time. I’m bound to email. I’m a email slave. It’s hard to get out of email, since that’s the best way to ensure clear communication between a disparate set of people without having to use up more of their time for phone calls.

Far from perfect, I know, but experience has taught me that phone conversations are best used sparingly.

Beyond that, it’s comparing Apples to … well, Dells, but it’s more like comparing Golden Delicious and Gala. Both are extremely tasty, both are fulfilling. It’s the subtle differences that matter at some level. In my case, the Apple has a rotten core that I can’t get around.

Yes, I know, I could just as easily open Outlook in Parallels, and boom I have everything I need. Believe me, that’s been considered and tried. But here’s the thing — why on Earth should I have to boot two computers just to read my email?

In the end, the biggest detractor on the Dell is Windows and its assinine management structure (worst invention ever for an OS: the Registry). But unless you really muck around with it, the system works. And the tools work. (I also can’t run Visio on a Mac without Parallels.) So as uncool as it is, on a Windows machine I shall remain.

‘Cuz at the end of the day, it’s about doing business, and not how cool I look while doing it.

6 Replies to “To Mac or not to Mac?”

  1. You should run VMware Fusion instead of Parallels — Fusion supports “seemless” app integration; that is, your Outlook (or Visio) runs like an Outlook app within the Mac as opposed to running it like a “remote desktop session”.

  2. Yeah, but that still requires me to boot two OSes just to read email. And I just can’t get past that as being an effective way to do my daily job. If there was a way to run Outlook natively, I’d be all over it. But even with VMWare, you still have to run Windows.

  3. Crossover for mac (www.codeweavers.com/products/cxmac/) is a professionally-supported Wine app-manager that lets you run all your Office programs for Windows on your Mac with no Windows. Its limited – check the compatibility chart – but most popular Windows apps are supported. I have a 15in MacBook Pro and I got Crossover because I was tired of using Parallels to do the Paltalk comms program… which Crossover doesn’t work with, live and learn right? But it allegedly works with Steam/HL2 so I’ll probably use it sometime anyway…

    Entourage does stink though. I have it, I hate it, it doesn’t work as nicely as Mail.app and iCal do in my opinion… though iWork doesn’t really measure up to Office 2008, it is definitely a nice suite for what its worth.

    Crossover doesn’t do anything that you can’t do yourself with a standard Wine installation (downloads at http://www.kronenberg.org/darwine/ and http://darwine.sourceforge.net/) but it is a lot easier, cleaner, and friendlier than doing it… the hard way. Your Mac will run Windows, it will run Outlook, it just takes some coaxing to get it there to begin with. http://www.wine-forum.org/index.php and http://winehq.org are good information sources.

    Rumors were flying about that Apple will support Wine in the next Leopard update… but I won’t hold my breath. Wine itself is pretty hit-or-miss, Apple doesn’t seem to like miss’s.

  4. Oh. You hare Word… switching to Open Office sucks for Macs, because the Open Office people decided to say F a Mac and just hack together the Linux distro, toss it in a .dmg file, tell it to run under X11, and pretend that’s a real solution for Mac software.

    Fortunately, they guys at http://www.neooffice.org took Open Office, made it into a real Mac program, and re-distro it themselves.

    Now… regarding my comments above, all windows software that you use with Wine has to go through X11. That’s just how it is. Wine’s not a fantastic thing, its just a way to get Windows software to run in the Mac/Darwin/Unix environment… but it works. Well, for most software anyway.

  5. Crossover sounds pretty cool — something we’ll definitely have to send through the Tech team and see what they say (just for support reasons). But if it makes it possible to run Windows apps on the Mac without a secondary OS, that solves a lot of potential problems.

    As for Word, as much as I hate it, I know how to handle it. Running OpenOffice or NeoOffice just raises my “uh oh” alarm. Mostly for compatibility reasons. We all know M$ loves to hide things that cause problems with other apps.

  6. Geoff,

    I suffer the same issues. I got took my MacBook Air to a trade show and the entire audience was on my side. The presentations went well, the people like the content better just becuase is came from a Mac … although it was originally a ppt … I am currently experiementing with Office 2008. It seems to work and Entourage as far as I can tell after a week seems to work too.

    Cheers,
    Daniel

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