|I’m a front-end engineer with a side hobby in video production. I have a Macbook for personal use. I use a high-end Mac desktop at work. For my video editing, I use a high-end machine I built myself that has Windows 7 on it.On my Macs, the system acts the way I expect it to. There are of course little UI things here and there that aren’t exactly how I like to work, but Leopard is very configurable and it only takes a couple of minutes on a new system to get it running the way I like. I am able to use VirtualBox to run VM’s of every operating system I have to test against, all in one machine. Basically, the Mac is sane. It lets me get things done that I need to get done. It also just gets out of my way and leaves me in peace.
I have a different relationship with my Windows 7 machine. I chose to go with Windows for my video editing for a few reasons. First, all of my video experience has been within the Premiere/After Effects suite. The latest versions of CS4 are really quite good. It was a relatively inexpensive upgrade to the latest versions that have better support for multicores and GPU acceleration.
Cost was the biggest decision maker for me. I absolutely love the desktop Mac Pro I have at work, but I couldn’t justify the cost of spending close to $3k on an equivalent machine for my hobby. I was able to build a high end desktop for about $1500, with 8gb of RAM, terabyte HDD, dual video cards, etc. To top it off, when I built the machine Windows 7 was available for free.
After many years of working with XP, Win7 was a breath of fresh air. So much of the OS was revamped. It got rid of many of the annoyances of XP, it runs so much faster. Installation was a breeze. It had automatic support for some of my specialized hardware. To sum it up, Win7 seemed like an automatic win, and indeed in many ways it was. For any average user, its a must-have upgrade if you’re going to stick to the Windows world.
But then, there’s no point in writing this if I don’t illustrate my frustration with Windows 7 compared to my Macs. Its not a single thing that bothers me so much that I can just point at it say, “THAT’S THE REASON!” Rather, its a collection of many small things.
The best way to say it is that Windows doesn’t get out of my way. No matter what I’m doing, whether browsing the web, doing an application update, or playing a game, its always there in some niggling little way. It ranges from every time I install an update in Firefox or Chrome and the UAC pops up and blanks out my screen to how the start menu works. The big thing that got me today was after manually initiating the Windows Updates, it politely downloaded them and asked me if I wanted to restart. I said, “No, but thank you. I’ll do that later.” So it goes away and I continue writing a rather lengthy forum post I had been working on. As part of that post, I had several tabs open where I had been researching parts of the answer I was working on. About 15 minutes after I said “No” to the restart, the OS decides to install the updates anyway. Without warning, it shuts down all of my open apps, logs out, and then reboots. It quickly reboots and does the updates, and is back on my desktop within a minute. The actual update experience is nice. The fact that is did so against my wishes is not. So yeah, I lost everything I had been working on. Anger ensued.
So the point of all this is that for a product that has been tested, debugged, and gone through all levels of Dante’s circles and back before being released, Windows is just not good enough. It seems like its so close. You just start to like it, and then it does something weird again. Its like an old friend of mine. She drinks and can be really raucous. But she’s a great person but has off moments. Its like hanging out with her on a good day and everything seems awesome, and then she randomly punches a cop. You kind of expect it, but you let your guard down for a minute and then wham, you get reminded again.
I’ve basically come to the personal conclusion that an artifact really reflects the culture that makes it. Clovis arrowheads tell us about the people in ancient North America. Neanderthal burials tell us a lot about how they loved their families and friends. Apple’s culture is expressed in every product they make. They’re sleek, well-made, and durable. They don’t try to do more than they need. Microsoft has their own culture, and unfortunately it gets expressed in even their best product offerings. The Zune is a great mp3 player, but its 3 or more years behind the curve. The Xbox is a GREAT gaming machine, but the UI is both pretty and weird. IE8 made some big improvements, but their best effort just wasn’t good enough. Windows 7 is gorgeous, but the team behind it can’t make it what it needs to be because its still a product of that culture.
So in the end, I just fell for Mac because she’s really my type of girl. We fit well together. Windows is really pretty, and we have some good times, but she’s just not the one. We’ll still be friends, but that’s all we can ever be.