This is, quite possibly, one of the most difficult articles to write; for starters, it's not a review of hardware, and it's not actually a review of anything concrete - it is a review of an experience. We all go about using our computers knowing that if we don't like something about them, if they are too slow or too unreliable or don't do something we need them to do, then we can upgrade them, or we can swap out the faulty part and put in a new one. Now, it costs us money (sometimes lots of it), but it is possible. But much like the U.S. election system, although there may be the illusion of multiple options for your OS, in reality, there is really only one. If you want any sort of software compatibility, driver support and don't want to be made fun of, Windows is the way to go. There have been righteous attempts by smaller OSes to gain traction, and some of them have (e.g. Linux), but for the most part, we're dealing with a one-party OS system. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing; quite contrary, in fact. I believe that Windows XP is the best thing to ever come out of Redmond and I have very few issues with the OS. I actually liked the XP theme when it first came out and I've been happier with Windows XP than any previous Microsoft OS (except maybe the good ol' DOS days). When installed on the right hardware with the right drivers (and with an eye to be wary of poorly written apps), I found that Windows XP was just as stable as any other OS that I'd ever encountered. My personal machine would go months between reboots without a single problem. It's not that there is anything wrong with Windows; it's that if you want the option, if there's any particular thing that you don't like about the way Windows works, you're straight out of luck.

I think that a bit of me was feeling, after being a strictly Windows user ever since version 2.0 (with the requisite mix of DOS back then), that there were a couple of things that had started to annoy me about Windows, which I would rather do without.

For starters, heavy multi-tasking management under Windows had caused me a lot of grief. Maybe it's just because of the nature of my work, but I tend to have a lot of windows open at any given time. I like quick access to the information that I need when I'm working and much like a messy desk, there is a method to my window-madness that only I know. When writing an article (especially big NDA launches), I'd have around 20 IE windows open, Outlook with another 5 - 15 emails, Power Point with NDA presentations, Word with my article, maybe Dreamweaver if I was starting to put it into HTML, not to mention Acrobat, some sort of MP3 player, Trillian and a bunch of explorer windows as well. After a certain point, the cramped taskbar became difficult to use as a locator tool, and while I could ALT+TAB forever, I just felt like I was idle for too long. I knew what it was that I needed to get to, and I knew I had it open, but the process of getting to it was a pain.

The other issue was with the way Windows handled having so many windows opened; after a certain number of windows were opened, stability and performance both went down the drain. Sometimes applications could no longer spawn additional windows or dialog boxes, requiring me to close a handful before I could continue doing anything, and other times, applications would simply crash.

It's not that I was dissatisfied with Windows and the PC experience in general, but I thought it might be time for something new - to see what else was out there.

I've always been a fan of trying alternate Oses - I was even an OS/2 user (both 2.0 and Warp) for a little while in my early years. So, a while back, I conjured up this idea to try using a Mac for a month. At first, it started as just a personal experiment, but it later developed into the foundation for the article that you're reading now. After doing the necessary research to make sure that I could actually get work done on a Mac, I whipped out the trusty credit card and decided to give the experiment a try.

What you are about to read are my impressions, as a devout PC user, of the Apple way of life.

The Basics
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  • webchimp - Friday, October 8, 2004 - link

    When you compared multitasking performance on a Mac to a Windows PC, was the Windows PC also a dual processor machine?

    One of the major benefits of multiple processors is multitasking performance and it would be unfair to compare a single processor PC to a multi processor PC regardless of the particular CPU and OS.
  • insomn - Friday, October 8, 2004 - link

    "When writing an article (especially big NDA launches), I'd have around 20 IE windows open"

    20 IE windows = 1 firefox window.
  • CindyRodriguez - Friday, October 8, 2004 - link

    I'll try to only comment on the big stuff.
    Anand doesn't get the application install process at all. He's overthinking it way too much. Things don't have to be 'windows complicated' in OS X.

    In a drag and drop install, you aren't copying the "Application Installer" over to the hard drive. You're actually copying the Application its self over.

    Applications in OS X are actually bundles. They appear as binaries but they are actually directories with a hidden .app suffix on them. Select any OS X native App and control-click or rightclick on it. A contextual menu will pop up, select "Show Package Contents". This is the whole application.

    Contrary to what Mr. Shimpi said, there is no process were files are auto-magically copied to hidden and forbiden regions of your hard drive when you copy an application bundle from the installer disk to your hard drive. The application is entirely selfcontained so you are actually dragging everything over in one fell swoop. There is no disconnect because what you see in the install is what you get, a simple copy. OS X bundles are actually incredibly elegant ways to package applications.

    Some applications do require some additional files to be installed into the OS and this is where Anand was getting confused. Not all application installs in OS X are simple drag-drops. Many use more familiar installer shells. Some Drag and Drop installs also contain self repairing, Office is one example. Though the install is simply a copy, the application does require some files (like fonts for example) to be installed into the OS. This occurs when the application is first run, not when you copy the application over. On subsequent launches, if any of the required support files have been removed, they are reinstalled in much the same way. This is also a very nice feature.
  • Chuckles - Friday, October 8, 2004 - link

    With regard to your trouble opening folders and applications using the keyboard:
    Command-o opens whatever you have highlighted. I had never heard of Command-Shift-Down Arrow opening stuff before this.
  • CindyRodriguez - Friday, October 8, 2004 - link

    Argh.. I could only get through the first two pages before I was ready to pull my hair out.

    * The article is outdated even though it was published today. Apple rev'ed that machine in July.
    * G5s are expensive but so are similarly configured PCs. A dual opteron or dual Xeon from a real vendor with a real warranty will cost you just as much or more than the G5. I've actually spec'ed out dual G5s next to dual Xeons and dual Opterons and contrary to what Mr. Shimpi says.. do don't get "much more". Do it your self everyone.. but remember that a dual 2GHz isn't a $3K computer anymore.
    * Your overview of the Mac on page 2 is wrong. Apple didn't ship a Radeon 9600. The rev one shipped with a Radeon 9600Pro. That may seem like picking nits.. but I bet you'd consider is significant if I offered you a free 9600Pro or a free 9600 but not both.
    * Anand tells us in Page 2 to look at the specs to see how mediocre they are.. but he forgets to remind us that this computer is a Rev 1, not a rev 2.
    * Anand apparently didn't bother to look at Apple's new DVI monitors. He asserts that you loose the cable clutter cutting benefits of ADC but this isn't true. There is STILL only one cable to the DVI monitor. The cable breaks out to power/usb/dvi at the computer end.. in fact, Apple's new cable now includes firewire.
    * Once again, to pick nits.. the mouse cable on an apple mouse is short to plug into the keyboard not the monitor. Apple keyboards have always had pass through ports for the mouse.

    I'll try to trudge through the rest when I get time.. but it's pretty painful so far.
  • knutp - Friday, October 8, 2004 - link

    Sure there is a 2004 version of the Office pacage. Remember that this is a version only suited for Mac OS.
  • KutterMax - Friday, October 8, 2004 - link

    One aspect not touched on in the review is some of the other applications included with the G5, that being iMovie, iPhoto, and iDVD.

    I'm a PC user but my wife has her own G5. She does a lot of work with digital photography and video and uses these apps a ton. They seem to work really well and integrate nicely together. $3000 is a lot to justify for a machine, but certainly these apps add some value. Further, an iMac G5, which would be about half the price, would also include these same apps and provides a little more value for the money (but only a single processor).
  • ksherman - Friday, October 8, 2004 - link

    the current version of the MS Office is 2003, not 2004... But a very god article indeed... Though i dont think ill be slapping down $3000 down for anything except a down payment on a car! :) I do agree that the slow downs that exist are crazy, given such an expensive computer. The fact that over 1GB memory is practically REQUIRED is a bit of an annoyance. But thats the price for a sexy OS!
  • sgd2z - Friday, October 8, 2004 - link

  • ThatGuyPSU - Friday, October 8, 2004 - link

    Thanks, Provia. I realized that after I hit Post Comment. Regardless, MS Office 2004 for the PC doesn't exist and probably won't since we're just about at the end of 2004. If anything, you'll see an MS Office 2005.

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