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.