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 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.

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