Apple Mac versus Windows 10 – the verdict

Last year I mentioned that I was going to buy a refurbished Apple Mac Mini (the 2014 model) to run Vellum (publishing software that would help me produce cleaner, better-formatted manuscripts).  In that article, I concluded:

It’s too early to say yet, but I might be tempted in due course to transition entirely to Apple hardware and software, and move away from the PC altogether.  Being my own boss as a writer and not having to run an employer’s PC-specific software, I have that flexibility.  I never thought I’d say that (yes, I’ve joked about Apples and their fanbois for many years, along with the rest of the computer world), but now that I’m actually using an Apple computer, I’m enjoying it very much.  We’ll see what the next year or two brings. (I can hear the catcalls now . . . “Come over to the dark side!  We have Apples!”)

Initially, I found enough differences between the Apple and Windows worlds to be frustrated by them.  Vellum was a good enough program to warrant using a Mac to run it, but I didn’t (at first) make the effort to do the rest of my work on that platform.  However, having made the commitment to Vellum, I decided to persevere.  Over the next few months, I learned that the Mac came with software that allowed me to do almost everything I did in Windows on that computer instead.  (It helped that a lot of popular programs such as LibreOffice, password managers, VPN’s, etc. have versions available for both operating systems.)  What’s more, programs like LibreOffice have improved to the point that they can genuinely replace Microsoft Office and other higher-powered proprietary packages, making it much easier (and cheaper) to justify switching to them.  I therefore canceled my subscription to Office, which was a useful saving in annual costs.  I haven’t missed it.

While I was experimenting with the Apple ecosystem, my frustrations with Microsoft and Windows 10 were growing.  On more than one occasion I lost work when Windows arbitrarily decided to install updates and restart itself, without giving me an opportunity to save my documents.  This could happen at the drop of a hat, even if I walked away from my computer for a moment to make a cup of tea.  I was also irritated by the growing “bugginess” of the whole Windows ecosystem.  It just felt top-heavy, as if it had added line after line of code, to the point where new code was arguing with old code and they couldn’t come to any agreement.  Compared to the relatively slim-line and efficient Windows 7, Windows 10 was feeling more and more clunky.  Along with most users, I’d hated Windows 8 – but Windows 10 was beginning to behave more and more like its notorious predecessor.

I considered a hardware upgrade to a faster, more powerful computer to run Windows 10;  but my experience with Apple gave me pause.  I’d bought a 2014 model Apple Mac Mini, far from that company’s most powerful product;  yet it was humming right along, running LibreOffice with my biggest files, Vellum, and other programs, and clearly not suffering from “software bloat” to anything like the same extent as Windows 10.  If it was that efficient, why not switch to Apple architecture entirely?

The long and the short of it is, that’s what I’ve done.  A few months ago, I purchased a refurbished 2018 model 13.3″-screen Apple Macbook Air to replace my HP Envy laptop for mobile use.  (Buying refurbished gear from the Apple Store can save several hundred dollars compared to new hardware.  With two good experiences now under my belt, I intend to go on doing that.  I apply the savings towards purchasing an extended hardware warranty from Apple.)

It was initially astonishing to feel how small and light the Macbook Air was, compared to my former boat anchor;  but I rapidly got used to it.  To my surprise, the much smaller screen and keyboard proved perfectly usable, provided I took care to position them appropriately and adopt the correct body posture to avoid aches and cramps.  The new laptop meshes seamlessly with my Mac Mini, so much so that I’ve already used it (along with Apple’s support software) to recover passwords and update files for my earlier system.  It appears to be a far more efficient integration of desktop and laptop platforms across a single infrastructure than I experienced with Windows 10.

My latest novel, “Taghri’s Prize“, is the first book I’ve written using both computers, the Mac Mini and the Macbook Air, depending on my location.  I used Vellum on the Mini to format it for publication.  Vellum kindly offers the facility to load a second copy of their software on another computer, so I’ll be doing that on the Macbook Air shortly, to have it available as a backup if needed.  I’ve never owned an iPhone, but it looks like it integrates with the computers as well.  That’s a good argument to get one when I next upgrade – not the latest model, because I don’t need that much horsepower in a phone, but one that will talk to my computers if necessary, and vice versa.  I don’t know whether the iPhone’s operating system is as much better than Android as the Mac’s is to Windows 10, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

The more I use the Apple ecosystem, the more I find I like it.  It’s just better integrated, more logical, and more seamless than what I was used to under Windows 10.  I’m glad I made the switch.

Peter

24 comments

  1. IPhone os gets updates, Android is spotty since it needs to go through the carrier.

    iWatch may be something else to consider as a way to track your fitness.

    New releases should be in September, when the prices will go down.

    A negative with the iPhone is how they went away from the audio jack, so they can make the phones more water proof.

  2. My iMac and iPhone integrate seamlessly. Copy on one, paste on the other. Transfer photos and videos quickly with airdrop. If the phone rings, you can answer on the computer.

  3. I’m just now using an iPhone 8 that my brother gave me. I’m using it alongside my work phone, which is a Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

    The Samsung is a nice phone, but I’m finding the iPhone to be pretty intuitive and easy to use as well. It also seems to be slightly faster and doesn’t hang up as much as the Android OS phone.

  4. Microsoft is moving hard to a cloud subscription model, meaning that you really don’t own your software (or even a license for it). If MSFT went full SJW, they could cut you off from your software for CrimeThink.

    I like LibreOffice a lot, in part because of this.

  5. A few tips.
    If they are not already maxed out consider upgrading RAM on both Macs. It can make a noticeable difference. And offload most seldom used support files to an external drive. Best to keep your boot drive at 50% or less.
    A rather pricy upgrade would also be to swap the magnetic disk hard drive for a flash drive which greatly improves access time. That said, if you are happy with the current setup there’s a lot to be said for not messing with anything at all.

    Main disappointment I have with Apple these days is the consistent yearly upgrade of the Mac OS which means that to stay current you must have a model that supports the upgrade. So far I’ve had two of the high end Mac Pro machines age off to the point they will no longer run supported software, Apple deciding to only continue support two revs back.

  6. I’m a 90s UNIX guy (I was going to say “old UNIX guy”, but they have to be an 80s UNIX guy at least….), and I was one of the first people to try to run Linux as a desktop. At work, I even had a surplus West German Army AIX laptop for a little while.

    As soon as Apple went to Intel laptops, I switched and never looked back. I told people “I am a sysadmin, I fight computers for a living. I am tired of fighting my work desktop to get to the real computers.”

    When I got a smart phone for the second time (yay Kyocera 6035), I went iPhone. All my co-workers told me “go get X Android, install Y root kit, and then Z ROM, and it’ll be perfect”, and all I heard was “blah, blah, you want an iPhone”. I’ve been happy ever since.

    Do NOT buy an Apple Watch though. You will get addicted to acknowledging alerts and messages on the watch, and unlocking your laptop and desktop without a password. Then if the watch breaks, you’ll realize that you’re doing the ultimate First World whining because you can’t click on your watch to answer your phone in the next room. Seriously, if you have any fall risk at all, go get an Apple Watch 4, and set it up to do automatic calling on a fall; I’ve all but begged both parents to do so.

    That said, I do hold one thing against Apple: soldering on the RAM and the hard drive is offensive. I hate that. However, I won’t give up my MacOS because of that offense; I just buy as much of each as I could possibly afford.

  7. How hard was it to transfer your PC files to the new Macs?
    I am at the same crossroad?
    I have an iPhone and an iPad, but two PCs and am sick of 10!
    Thanks,
    ~ rdc

  8. rdc, I just ran a network cable from my windows box to the iMac, and the windows hard drive showed up as an external hard drive. Just drag and drop!

    The hardest part is getting used to a mouse without buttons or scroll wheel. The magic mouse has a touch sensitive top that you use to scroll, and you just click on the left top or right top.

  9. George, thanks. Looking at refurbished Macs now.
    The mouse thing may take some getting used to but has to be better than 10!
    ~ rdc

  10. My PC at the college was “upgraded” to Windows 10 and now it is almost unusable. There is about a 4-5 second delay in mouse response, scrolling and typing.

    If any of you smart PC guys know how to fix this, please let me know.

    I have a refurbished Mac Mini at home and a MacBook Pro for travel, and yes, they are easily synchronized. As well, I have a iPad and iPhone which all work together nicely.

    I even fixed my old Mac Mini myself when its hard drive was failing.

    I have been very happy with Apple products and their performance through the years. Yes, they are expensive, and not all software will work on them, but I would be hard pressed to use a PC, especially after my experience with Windows 10.

    Chacun a son gout.

  11. Ironic because my increasing frustrations with Windows 10 is that it’s becoming more like MACs every day. Needless to say I’ve sworn them off when they started charging for system updates on one of my family’s computers. Then later I found it quite frustrating just to transfer simple video files from an iphone or tablet to my own systems so I could work on them. A stupendously stupid and monumentally painful effort.

    Apple’s a cult. Works great as long as everyone else is a part of the cult too – but heaven help you if you have to do much outside of the controlled system.

    Windows 98 was the pinnacle anyway. XP wasn’t bad, 7 finally started getting decent towards the end of its life, and I’m still bitter on 10 not allowing a retro version and taking control away from me.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRlPTbKHIPQ

  12. @LibertyMan

    “There is about a 4-5 second delay in mouse response, scrolling and typing.”

    Step 1: Turn off and Disable Smartscreen.
    Step 2: Go through Win Defender Firewall, Allow an App or Feature, Change Settings, and uncheck Public for all except Core Networking.
    Step 3: Reboot, and check that the unchecks stuck. (Each time MS updates, you have to check that it hasn’t changed things; takes about 5 minutes once a month or so.)

    There are other tweaks to anonymize and speed up, but those above are the basics.

    My Win 10 (admittedly with 16GB of RAM) is so fast I have to consciously move slowly . . .

    (I started building, using, repairing MACs in the 80s, and still tweak ’em, but my main work and play machine is Win10 Pro build 18362.267, released yesterday.) (I no longer beta test for MS, nor Apple, but update on my schedule, not theirs.)

    If anyone’s interested, I can put together a package of tweaks, with explanatory notes, that anyone can use, try, and if need be, revert to previous settings.

  13. I’m of the opinion that one should go with whatever platform it is that has the best apps to get the job done. But I also think keeping it off the Internet or at least as much as possible is a good idea. For my net stuff I use a Linux box that I can wipe and restore from backups in 20 minutes.

    An acceptable Linux box can be picked up refrubished for under $100 without a monitor and you can get a KVM switch fairly cheap to conserve desk space. I’m a big fan of the small HPs, not the tiny SFF ones though as they tend to run hot and noisy.

  14. @Ray: Quickbooks is available for the Mac. Turbotax isn’t, but its online version can be used with the Mac. There are also packages available through Apple’s App Store that can replace either one.

  15. With regards to Vellum, have you ever used Scrivener? I use the latter, and I’m curious to know how Vellum compares to it.

    I find Scrivener is able to do the things I want it to do, but its layout is counterintuitive.

  16. @Scott M.: I tried Scrivener, and didn’t like it. It was too complicated for me, and its structure didn’t mesh well with my writing style. I prefer to write an entire manuscript as a single document, and keep my research notes, links, etc. separate from it.

    You can’t really compare Scrivener to Vellum. The former is a document processor; the latter is a document publication package, improving its “look and feel” to the consumer. You wouldn’t use Vellum as a word processor to write your book – only to fine-tune it for publication.

    I’ve standardized on LibreOffice for all my basic office software needs, particularly because it’s available free in versions for every likely operating system out there. That makes using it on different platforms a no-brainer.

  17. Thanks Peter!

    For tax I need both the regular version and one for a trust, which is their business edition, which does not seem available online or for a Mac.

    H&R tax I need to look unto.

  18. I use Turbotax on my Mac each year, and I usually buy the DVD. I have Quicken as well, I used to use Quickbooks in my business days, but I don’t have use for it anymore.

  19. TurboTax as an application is available, though the do their best to hide it…

    I use my computers to get work done, not work on my computers. Been back on a Mac since OS X first came out as a beta. I was soooo glad to get rid of Windows 95…

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