Something has been bugging me for the last few months. Though I got my nice new Mac and switched to using it has my main personal desktop/laptop machine, it's been a frustrating experience at times.

Back in 2002 when I reviewed a Powerbook for Linux Magazine I was quite impressed with the hardware and the software. It seemed like the best of both worlds and months after that I began using it more and more—eventually deciding to buy a more modern version and make the switch.

But it's become apparent that my logic was flawed. I was comparing the Powerbook and Mac OS X to Linux. My old Linux setup was, well, old. A modern desktop experience such as Knoppix running KDE is actually quite more usable in many respects than Mac OS X. For starters, I don't find myself grabbing for the damned mouse nearly as often.

Class Warfare

More importantly, the open source software I want to use (vim, emacs, firefox, thunderbird, gaim, the gimp, etc) are all first class citizens on Linux. On the Mac I always feel like they don't quite belong—they are second class citizens. It's very difficult for me to articulate why this is or exactly why I feel this way. I'm hoping someone else who's had this experience can do a better job than I can.

Uncle Bill

I've recently started using the Compaq nc6000 laptop that I got at work. It runs Windows XP Professional and is a very nice little machine, though I'd prefer something with more than 512MB of memory. (Mental note: get a RAM upgrade in this notebook). It has 802.11g, Bluetooth, and very good battery life so far (on par with the Powerbook). And the keyboard kicks ass. Do not underestimate how important a good keyboard is!

The funny thing is that I spent quite a bit of effort making my Powerbook work on the Yahoo network as seamlessly as possible. Through quite a bit of SSH port forwarding magic, I got it 90% of the way there. I was able to access mail, LDAP, printing, CVS, TWiki, and so on. If any Yahoo's want to know what it takes to make your Powerbook work well on the corporate network, let me know. I've seen a more and more of them around campus.

Dog Food

But it never felt quite right. The Mac felt slow and awkward for daily "office" use. So I decided to begin using the Windows box for my work related activities in 2005. Instead of hauling the Powerbook to Yahoo each day, I now take the Compaq. A nice side benefit is that I can finally start eating our own dog food.

The vast majority of our users are on Windows. When product folks ask for my feedback on our internal Desktop Search betas, I want to be able to provide some meaningful input. New features in LAUNCH? Same thing. The newest Yahoo! Messenger? Ditto. (Though I do disable all the avatar, search, and random content bullshit. Sorry, I simply want an IM client. I'm so not the target audience in this case.)

I still lobby hard for increased Firefox and Mac support because I still use both. But it's stupid to let that get in the way of really understanding many of the products we're offering the world.

I don't run Outlook or Internet Explorer on this machine and can't imagine a situation that will change that. Microsoft has a lot of work to do on both products.

Open Source on Windows

Here's the funny thing. I've found that nearly every one of the Open Source applications I've installed seems to work better and significanly faster on this machine than on my nearly new Powerbook.

In other words, open source applications feel better on Windows than on the Mac. This was quite a surprise at first.

If you're less lazy than I am, you might look at The OpenCD for a collection of useful Open Source on Windows tools.

The Mac's Role

The Mac isn't going to collect dust. I still use NetNewsWire daily. iPhoto and the Flickr plugin are still my preferred way to deal with digital photos. iTunes, my iPod, and the iTunes Music Store are still the center of my personal music world.

I'm toying with an eval copy of FeedDemon, but I'm not sure if its style suits me yet.

But Office on the Mac just doesn't compare to Office on Windows. And does anyone seriously use The Gimp on OS X? Having to run stuff under X11 just feels so awkward and... dirty. And don't get me started on Open Office on the Mac.

The Mac is my media computer. I see it handling my audio/video/entertainment needs for the forseeable future.

The iPAQ Factor

I expect to be getting an iPAQ in the next month or two. I'll mainly be using it as a portable flight computer when I fly (probably with SeeYou Mobile or maybe WinPilot), but I want to play with other stuff on it as well. Since it runs Windows 2003 Mobile Edition, having a Windows box for it to talk to will make life easier as well.

Not Linux?

Even if I could run the applications I need on Linux (several are missing), that wouldn't be enough. Linux still has poor support for hardware—especially in the laptop world. I had hoped that by 2005 this wouldn't the case anymore, but the sad fact remains. Linux on a modern laptop requires a lot of effort.

The only viable choices (for me) are Mac OS X or Windows XP. And Windows lets me:

  • feel like I'm getting more out of the hardware
  • stop fighting the Mac's usability problems (the tab key being useless in most dialogs, the lack of hotkeys in most apps, the X11 requirement for some apps)
  • have decent power management—almost as good as the Powerbook
  • get full IT "support" at work (meaning that I get on the "real" network and don't need to do all that tunneling crap)

I'm not sure what it will take for Linux to get there. Microsoft wins this round.

Posted by jzawodn at January 08, 2005 11:03 PM

Reader Comments
# Marcus Rowell said:


Did you know that by default full keyboard access is not enabled on the mac.

Goto Preferences -> Keyboard & Mouse -> Keyboard Short cuts & tick the check box at the bottom to "Turn on Full keyboard access". This enables the tab key, arrow key, and other keys to select buttons, lists, and other items.

I got the tip from

on January 9, 2005 12:08 AM
# sj said:

your final assessment seems quite confused --

- how do you define "getting more out of the hardware"?

- some of you mac usability flaws can be fixed with the above comment.. but regardless, are there many apps that require X11 on the mac that don't require the same on windows?

- "almost as good as the powerbook". sounds like the powerbook wins that one.

- "getting full IT support at work".. no comment on that one.

on January 9, 2005 12:16 AM
# Jeremy Higgs said:

Hi Jeremy,

I've written a post in response here.

I tried sending a trackback, but it was returning errors (tb_id required... weird).

on January 9, 2005 12:18 AM
# mike demers said:

i recently moved full time to my new powerbook (from windows/linux) and the tab thing drove me nuts too, until i learned that it's a config setting. if you check "turn on full keyboard access" under the "keyboard shortcuts" pref panel it will work "properly".

also, for quick access to apps and other functions, you should look at quicksilver[1,2]. it's a free app that's... well... a bit hard to describe. it's sorta like emacs for the OS in that it lets you keep your hands on the keyboard and makes you crazy efficient provided you can get over the rather steep learning curve. plus it's extensible with all sorts of plug-ins[3].



on January 9, 2005 12:22 AM
# Roland Dobbins said:

Wow, this has to be one of the most insane/shocking posts I've read in a while. Quite frankly, I'd have been less surprised if you'd announced you'd undergone a sex-change operation, heh.

I switched from Linux to the Mac in 2003, and have never looked back. Never, ever, under any circumstances would I ever run a Microsoft OS - Windows is insecure and unsecurable, no matter how many kernel patches/antivirus/'personal firewall' things you install on it. And in terms of usability and elegance - OS/X takes the cake, hands down.

Tell me you're joking . . . if you're really serious about doing this, you've earned both my pity and my rank astonishment at such an act of technological self-immolation.

on January 9, 2005 12:44 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

"Did you know that by default full keyboard access is not enabled on the mac?"


What the fuck is Apple smoking?!?!

Give me three good reasons that's OFF by default.


on January 9, 2005 01:11 AM
# Gavin Foster said:

I bought an iBook earlier in the year so I could test website designs in Mac browsers, but soon moved over to it full-time.

The reason being that on the Mac, for the kind of things I do as coder, I get much more work efficiency and 'flow' from the OS inteface.

But what did bug me was the keyboard, trying to figure out the different key combinations required in different applications to do things like highlight a line in an editor or textarea.

Problem solved when I got a new iMac G5 (used with desktop extended onto a second LCD). I have a Windows box sharing the second LCD, which also runs Linux under VMware.

My iBook is now my pure web-surfing machine, I'm using it right now. And available for times when I need to work from other locations.

I can understand why for email checking and general tech office activities you'd not want to use the Mac.

But for work flow, efficiency and general satisfaction of use of the OS interface, for me the Mac winds hands down.


on January 9, 2005 01:18 AM
# Anonymous Coward said:

I don't get the bit about struggling to make it work on the corporate LAN. A 1-liner to request@ fixes the need for any sort of ssh forwarding tricks.

on January 9, 2005 01:19 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

I've given up the "getting a real IP address for a personal machine at work" battle.

I fought once, long ago, and won.

More recently I tried and was rejected. But I fail to see why I should bother again.

on January 9, 2005 01:27 AM
# Sumeet Mulani said:

Maybe you could try Ubuntu Linux on your Powerbook, to get back to good ol' Linux.

on January 9, 2005 01:43 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Uh, Ubuntu would seem to be even farther from what I need.

on January 9, 2005 02:01 AM
# david said:

On your first class vs second class argument:

I think I might know what you mean. In OS X, they look ugly with the X(takeyourpick) implementation. They also don't function as well as the Linux counterparts because they're..not native somehow. Hard to explain "native" in this context.

On trashing the PowerBook:
I've stopped using my PowerBook somewhat as well (I still use it when I need to be mobile, and hands down it can't be beat), but I haven't switched back to Windows. Instead, I built a RAID 1 box, slapped two monitors to it, a keyboard, mouse, six speakers and a nice processor to it.

You know what I do already, so your guess to OS of choice is already known. Its got nothing to do with religion though. It just works with my environment like how Windows works for your environment.

If a certain OS works for you, stick with it. Make sure you armor up though.

on January 9, 2005 02:29 AM
# Kevin Burton said:

Two words:



on January 9, 2005 02:34 AM
# Collin said:

Roland Dobbins wrote this:
Windows is...unsecurable, no matter how many kernel patches/antivirus/'personal firewall' things you install on it.

This is simply not true. One router + Firefox + common sense is all I've needed to keep myself virus/spyware free for years. Now, for an average user who clicks Yes or Ok on everything, it's definitely not so easy.

on January 9, 2005 02:42 AM
# Dave said:

You have way too much time, money, and stuff. Stop being so self-involved and donate to the tsunami victims.

on January 9, 2005 03:01 AM
# César said:

Launch on Windows without Explorer?? How do you do it?? I get a "Sorry, we do not support Netscape on the Windows platform.

Error Code: 25 - 0"


('Slightly' off-topic, I know, but I had to ask)

on January 9, 2005 03:21 AM
# Someone said:

Your PowerBook doesn't work on the Yahoo network because people think like you, "I'll go with the majority". Well Microsoft, the "majority", locks customers in with opaque formats and protocols. Instead of blaming the PowerBook why don't you blame the real culprit?

As to no real IT support, they could probably support some more OS's if they didn't loose so much time supporting Windows and all its flaws.

Microsoft's a bully, it has showed so time and time again, yet smart people just bend over and "go with the majority". It amazes me...

I'm sorry but I'd rather stay anonymous, I really don't feel like starting this kind of discussion but I tought someone had to say this.

on January 9, 2005 04:41 AM
# Jeremy C. Wright said:

Hey Jeremy,

Make a choice and enjoy it. You've got both machines, so if you end up being less productive on the Windows one you can always switch back.

I think it's sad that you're being lambasted for making a personal choice based on preference. If you'd stated the inverse reasons for moving to a Mac everyone would cheer you on.

Use what you enjoy mate :)

on January 9, 2005 06:07 AM
# Brock Tice said:

I just don't understand... and worse, you gave Scoble fodder.

X11 or no, I just can't see how stuff runs better for you on Windows than on OS X. Maybe you don't use the variety of FOSS apps that I do. Did you know that emacs is available in a native Aqua version?

Doesn't the lack of a proper command line bug you? I guess there's cygwin, but then you're back to UNIX again.

on January 9, 2005 07:20 AM
# Stephen O'Grady said:

interesting post Jeremy, and it sounds as if you made the choice for the right reasons. open source applications - GAIM in particular - are very well supported on XP, which is a fine platform.

i'd check back in with Linux shortly, however. i run Gentoo as my default OS, and with the new hardware support in Gnome 2.8/HAL/etc (which is also in Ubuntu), my hardware recognition and support is quite good. USB keys, Nikon digital camera, etc - all work quite well.

but meantime, good luck with Windows.

on January 9, 2005 07:27 AM
# Macwen said:

Let me offer my views:
1) I used Cygwin for years but Mac OS X is just better. Cygwin feels non-native... symbolic links aren't really symbolic links (NT only has junctions, but Cygwin uses shortcuts), there are lots of Windowsisms to deal with. Not a pleasant experience.

2) GUI-based Open source software on Windows - I would say SOME (or even MANY) are very usable. This really depends on what kinds of Open Source software you use. Miranda IM is a kickass IM - no equivalents on the Mac. (I use Adium on the Mac and it feels underpowered)

3) Lots of things about Mac OS X are hidden. This is really that bad part about Apple -- they think everyone is computer illiterate. So they hide the "difficult bits" from you.

For instance, did you know that:
a) you can Cmd-Click on a window title and drag it? ( active file gets selected, and in Safari's case, the URL hierarchy?)
b) In a File dialog, you can type / or ~ and a Go to dialog box will pop-up, allowing you to manually type the path to your file name instead of using the mouse?
c) The platform uses a lot of Keyboard shortcuts, but some keyboard shortcuts are not obvious and you have to read the help file or manual to discover them?

3) As for mouse usage, I use Sidetrack, so reaching for the mouse is no problem (the trackpad is just within thumb's reach). SideTrack's replaced my mouse... I'm more productive than I ever was with a mouse on XP.

4) For a Windows user, things are very unfamiliar on Mac OS X. I can't Alt-letter to reach a menu (I have to use Alt-~, which is my assigned key). The mouse acceleration is nonlinear, which sort of felt nonintuitive to me. The Fn key on the iBook is really in the wrong place -- I kept mistaking it for the Ctrl key the first few weeks.

5) Network - connects fine to most Windows networks, EXCEPT those configured for Peer-to-peer using NetBEUI. I can't mount any folders on my office network because it's using NetBEUI which Mac OS X doesn't support. I had no problems with other networks which run only on TCP/IP.

6) QuickSilver -- Windows has no equivalent (maybe it does, but I don't know about it). This is by far the best productivity enhancer I have seen and this alone makes the Mac OS X platform far more productive than Windows (even for a grizzled old Windows user and keyboard junky like me).

7) The Mac OS X platform does definitely feel a little sluggish compared to Windows where the UI is just faster. No question about that. In Windows I can zip around very quickly... on the Mac I have to wait for the UI to catch up. I have 768MB of RAM on my iBook and it is still sluggish.


There are flaws in Apple's implementation, but I wouldn't summarily dismiss the platform and switch back to Windows. Not for some of the reasons in the article anyway.

I use Windows at work because I need to run some optimization software that's not available on Windows (GAMS). The developer isn't too keen to recompiling for Mac OS X so there it is.

on January 9, 2005 07:48 AM
# Bryan Pietrzak said:

"Give me three good reasons [Full Keyboard Access]'s OFF by default."

1. For the majority of existing mac users it would be confusing and distracting behavior.

2. For the majority of new computer users it would be confusing and distracting

3. See 1 & 2 :)

For the most mac users, seeing little boxes around the UI elements would be very disconcerting. Likewise for folks new to computers in general. It's only switchers and UNIX folks that would really appreciate that by default, and since that's a smaller segment of Apple's market, the option is off by default. It's easy enough to find and easy enough to turn on.

on January 9, 2005 07:59 AM
# Brandon Paddock said:

"Windows is insecure and unsecurable, no matter how many kernel patches/antivirus/'personal firewall' things you install on it."

I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. Windows is perfectly secure and I don't think there's been a kernel patch for Windows XP aside from SP2 since its release. And I know for certain there hasn't been one since SP2 (which probably had more to do with supporting DEP and the changes to PAE than anything else).

And you don't need Firefox to be secure. IE, properly configured, is just as secure (if not more) than Firefox.

on January 9, 2005 08:17 AM
# Brock Tice said:


IE, properly configured, is just as secure (if not more) than Firefox.

Are you sure?

on January 9, 2005 08:26 AM
# Bruce said:

Thanks for the interesting perspective. I am a former old-school Mac guy and long-term Windows user with a case of modern-Mac and Linux envy/curiosity. As I'm approaching the time to replace my PC, I've been wavering over which direction to go. Your post provides some interesting things to think about.

on January 9, 2005 08:52 AM
# Kyle Brantley said:

A few recommendations:

1. Install black box for windows. . Explorer is by far the most buggy app that MS ships with windows, tho on 2k and XP it's rare that it crashes. However, blackbox is well..a port of blackbox to windows. It enables multiple desktops, the works, plus it's inherently more stable that explorer.

2. Install xplorer2. . Use this instead of the windows shell to browse for files, etc, for two reasons: One it's stable, and two, it's essentially the swiss army knife of file managment on windows. Grab the free version ( ), as the pro versions costs cash for not too many new features.

3. Install agent ransack. . It's second to none for file searching on windows, and it's free.

4. You've got an LCD screen, enable ClearType ( ) unless you haven't already.

5. Try out StyleXP. . See if you care that much, and if so, it can definitely help things.

6. Disable fast user switching ( control panel, user accounts, change how users login ) assuming you haven't already. It serves no real purpose, and if you have it enabled, ctrl+alt+del just brings up task manager (ctrl+escape was always better anyways :P), instead of the 2k style ctrl+alt+del screen, which is actually useful.

on January 9, 2005 09:14 AM
# Patrick Henry said:

Having been involved with, experiencing and using new technology since 1959 I read your comments with a long view perspective. Your perception speaks to your internal requirement to justify your present position. The statement you feel you are getting more out of the hardware says something about your lack of initiative to learn. Your lack of knowledge of the new is apparent, However there is hope. You will survive to see the decline of MS as more modern OS gain an increasing market share. Same applys to your IT folks

on January 9, 2005 09:24 AM
# setmajer said:


Do try and borrow/rent/whatever a Mac for a bit before making either purchase.

I've got both a Windows desktop (Dell from Mar '04) and a PowerBook on my desk at work, the PB and an '00 VAIO Z505 (256 MB RAM max -- what /was/ I thinking?). The PB is my fave, though I do agree that the UI feels peppier, esp. when using Firefox and Thunderbird. I don't know if that's FF/Tbird's fault or Apple's. I do know that when using other OS X apps, it's pretty apparent pretty quickly whether the app is Mac-specific or a Mac version of a Windows app, as the latter are almost always dodgy on the Mac (I'm looking at you, Macromedia). And OS X's GUI feels slower without actually *being* slower due to all the gratuitous fades/slides/shrinks/whirlies and what. At the same time the Windows GUI feels kludgier -- even 10+ years on it still occasionally shows it's CLI roots, and I've been forced through enough time-wasting wizards to last a lifetime. Then there's the whole window-focus issue, which trips me up pretty much every day in P'shop/Freehand/illustrator/etc. I'm also entirely in agreement with Macwen regarding IM clients -- Miranda rocks like Keith Moon on a speed bender ;-).

My perspective out of the way, OS X is a *completely* different animal from what went before. I adore it, but old-skool MacOS it ain't. Nor is it Winders. You really need to spend a couple of days/weeks with it as your main machine to get an idea whether you'll be able to adapt or not.

Regarding putting OS X onto a Windows network...umm, yeah. It's a PITA. Some of it is Apple's fault (bogarting the .local pseudo-domain, for example) some is Microsoft's (NetBEUI? Why? For the love of dog WHY?). Regardless, Google is your friend (as is Should be better, but sadly isn't.

Lastly, regarding security/spyware: yeah, one can secure a Windows PC reasonably well. Even using IE (oops, maybe not: -- but then IE is pants anyway). But it's not as easy as achieving the same level of security with OS X. No. It's. Not. That whole 'zones' thing is out-of-order time consuming for someone not steeped in Windows lore.

on January 9, 2005 09:52 AM
# David Magda said:

As to OSS apps feeling like "second class" citizens: is anyone willing to examine the thesis that since most people who use OS X depend a higher level of UI consistency, any non-trivial variation from the expected is noticed.

Windows (arguably) has less stringently following UI recommendations that variation is less noticeable since there is a larger variance in behaviour.

Case in point, what's the key combination in Windows to bring up an applications preference / settings menu? There is none: every add is different (and many (most?) don't have a shortcut to their preferences -- you have to go through the menu options). Under OS X the combination is CMD-,. However, the fact that MSN Messenger:mac uses CMD-; immediately becomes noticeable for its difference.

Another example would be Firefox's use of "Windows-style" radio buttons (and other UI elements).

I would argue that people's expectations are slightly different for Windows and OS X. (Especially geeks / techies which tend to pay attention to how computers work "under the hood".)

IMHO, of course. :>

on January 9, 2005 09:58 AM
# David Magda said:


So many typos in my post! Really should have spent an extra minute to proof read it before hitting "post".

(And chance of a "preview" button? :)

on January 9, 2005 10:02 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Pleasee don't use a fake e-mail address. I actually know who is, and I really don't think it's you.

What makes you think I did *not* donate?

on January 9, 2005 10:34 AM
# Adam Fields said:

I've tackled the "first-class vs. second class" question here:

on January 9, 2005 10:37 AM
# BL said:

Yahoo! is as unfriendly towards mac as any i've known. I think if you worked anywhere else in the world you wouldn't have nearly as much trouble making the switch.

The only things I can't do on my mac that make me miss windows at all are Yahoo! products: messenger, Launch videos, companion...

maybe the real problem here is that yahoo! makes it hard to switch. :)

on January 9, 2005 11:09 AM
# Anonymous Coward said:

If you fought and won the real IP battle once, that is all you need. Once you have one the 1-liner to request is a simple, "I upgraded my machine. Here is the new MAC addr". Or recompile your kernel so you can specify the other MAC directly. It's rather braindead than the default OSX kernel doesn't let you do that.

on January 9, 2005 11:26 AM
# Andrey Nikanorov said:

JetBrains Omea Reader one of the best RSS/ATOM feed reader, newsgroup reader, and web bookmark manager. Also it's free.

I use Omea Pro, but it's more Integrated Information Environment or PIM.

on January 9, 2005 11:40 AM
# Jon Hendry said:

A simple way of increasing the perceived speed of OS X, at least in one aspect:

Open a terminal, and type the following:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSWindowResizeTime .001

(Then hit enter, of course)

Applications started after you do this will have "sheets" that snap open, instead of slowly oozing out.

The change does not require a restart, and it is persistent, so you need not type this in at every login. It's stored in your defaults database.

on January 9, 2005 12:31 PM
# C.K. Sample, III said:

Have you tried NeoOffice/J? It runs like a native aqua version of OOo:

on January 9, 2005 01:09 PM
# Stomaphagus said:

Some of you guys are unfairly jumping on Jeremy.

For one, I can attest that of the OSS apps I've tried with both Windows and Mac ports, all work better on Windows. From Mozilla, to Firefox, to Eclipse -- no doubt about it, the performance on Windows is snappier and the UIs tend to be more polished. This isn't surprising, either, since the Mac is a minority platform and the porting budget should reflect that. I'd much rather that the Firefox team make the Windows version sing.

It's also a responsible decision of his to use the platform that his customers do. He can't stay a non-user of his own products.

I'd never accuse him of being an anti-Mac guy, and his reasons for using Windows are rational and very understandable. Get over it.


on January 9, 2005 01:36 PM
# DWalla said:

Don't let the door hit you in the butt.

on January 9, 2005 03:34 PM
# Zorg said:

If you didn't find the simple solution for something that bothers you in TWO years (!!!), you definitely have to stay on the platform you're used to or RTFM.

There's no way, someone ready to learn can't be more productive on OS X, unless specific missing apps (not those you mention though).

on January 9, 2005 04:05 PM
# Mike D. said:

Yowch. PC Office better than Mac Office? Not even close. I won't even argue the rest of the points because I think they are probably just legitimate personal preference issues, but there is no way in hell PC Office even comes close to Mac Office. In fact, Mac Office is probably the best piece of software Microsoft has ever designed on any platform. Now that Entourage 2004 fully supports Exchange, I have retired my work PC completely.

on January 9, 2005 04:07 PM
# MattJ said:

I have been using MS Windows for years with out any virus or security problems. I also use Mac and Linux and FreeBSD. Linux is improving fast, but I still don't think it is a very good desktop. The Mac is a good desk top of course. But I agee, there are just too many things you cannot do, or that are odd on the Mac.

on January 9, 2005 04:23 PM
# Adam Fields said:

I used Office on the Mac for a short while. I found it to be bloated, slow, and outdated in functionality. For example, it's really unforgivable that, in 2005, there are any programs that refuse to recognize long filenames. Yet, Office for the Mac still insists on truncating them.

on January 9, 2005 06:58 PM
# Ram Prasad said:

I have been using Windows/Linux for a long time and recently (2 years) switched over to OS X. There is lot more offered by OS X than windows. I find "Location" switcher very useful, for example. Since Linux which has not matured enough to be a desktop, and Windows lacks cmd power, OS X seems to provide best of both. Its an OS which my granny could use without much of learning, and still powerful enough for me to get my work done. Fink provides me with most of the best Linuxy stuff. Office on OS X is far better then the one on Windows (many a times office has crashed on Win than on Mac(never) .. and Entourage is quite "beautiful" and useful to work with).

The only problem I have on OS X is using Yahoo's launch and Yahoo Games (does not work on firefox but works not-so-good on safari)(IM is the other office product I use, but Adium takes care of that too). Launch provides good music, but WHY does it run only on Windows (does not even work with Safari/Firefox).

Working in Yahoo!, which makes many win specific tools, I would agree with Jeremy only on the reason that he needs to use his (company's) own product (which he could on a spare win machine, though). I would rather have the IT support to take care of OS X issues too rather than me switching my platform.

on January 9, 2005 06:58 PM
# DesterW said:

You're joining the MAJORITY?

You make it sound like people are abandoning the Mac like a raft on fire.

My experience is nearly 100% the exact opposite. In fact, just this past year I've had five friend's move from their PC's to Macs exclusively.

As far as Firefox being amazingly faster on the PC than the Mac, I've begun doing some benchmarks and noticing no real measurable difference in speeds on either platform. I nab the Firefox nightly builds at least every other day. I also use Omniweb, Camino, Netscape, Opera and just about to try out iSurf. On top of this, have you tried the beta of Safara 1.3? This puppy SCREAMS... especially when it comes to Javascripting.

Honestly, after reading your blog, it sounds more like you only have a rudimentary knowledge of the Mac.

on January 9, 2005 07:18 PM
# Collin said:

DesterW wrote this:

You're joining the MAJORITY?

You make it sound like people are abandoning the Mac like a raft on fire.

The majority of the world uses Windows, not Macs or Linux. So yes, he is joining the majority.

He doesn't state anything about other Mac users, just himself.

on January 9, 2005 08:02 PM
# ben said:

I won't use Windows just to eat Yahoo!'s Windows-only dogfood.

I have never, and will never, understand why Launchcast doesn't work on the Mac.

Desktop Search will be provided in Tiger, so no need for Google or Y! Desktop Search. Messenger 6 is nicer looking (than the old windows client) but wouldn't even fit in on the Mac, if it were ported.

Isn't Yahoo! about creating applications for the web that will work on most any computer, not Windows client junk? I also don't believe that future of Google or Yahoo will be based on Windows-only client side software.

At least My Yahoo has complete platform parity. :)

on January 9, 2005 08:18 PM
# Hobbes said:

Re: "... open source applications feel better on Windows than on the Mac."

FWIW: as far as Firefox goes, the next version (1.1, scheduled for release in March) on the Mac should "feel better" than 1.0 does. See:

Most multi-platform open source projects focus their energies on Wintel first and foremost. So do the people who create malware. That's life.

The nc6000 IS a nice laptop ( but so is a Powerbook, though it may feel like a "fish out of water" at work. It would seem you've found the best of what both platforms have currently to offer. Rejoice!

on January 9, 2005 08:49 PM
# justin said:

"Linux on a modern laptop requires a lot of effort."
weird hearing this.
Installed Mandrake 10.1 on my new HP nx9030 and it literally worked out of the box.

The ONLY thing that didnt was the wireless, but that's because i used the download edition of Mdk 10.1 -the pro/corporate version has the packages for that.

I did find the wireless drivers posted up on PLF eventually, and all i had to do was urpmi 2 packages (something to do with the intel drivers being proprietary so they cant be distributed in the free edition of Mandrake).

So, it's not THAT difficult.

on January 10, 2005 03:45 AM
# amit agarwal said:

Bad news for Penguins

The Indian Blogger

on January 10, 2005 07:04 AM
# setmajer said:

quoth Jon Hendry:

"Open a terminal, and type the following:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSWindowResizeTime .001

(Then hit enter, of course)"

Dood, that is *so* my new favorite trick.

Forget what I said about Windows feeling 'snappier' (well, OK, maybe a teensy-weensy bit in Firefox/Thunderbird, but that's about it).

on January 10, 2005 07:05 AM
# Chris Bailey said:

Here are some different and similar thoughts of mine, as I've recently been doing some platform shuffle (although I too still work on all three platforms daily).

on January 10, 2005 07:40 AM
# Allen Cole said:

I used vmware to put a XP window on linux. I only spend about 5% of my time on windows so that worked well. It took way too long to get Fedora working on my Dell M60. Linux is always faster. XP/vmware on linux is faster that on the native hardward.


on January 10, 2005 09:11 AM
# Brian Arnold said:

Jeremy, I really respect your opinions, and so it's interesting to see what you have to say here. I've been seriously considering buying a Mac, but it's a scary prospect because that's a really hefty price tag. I'm looking at going back into Academia and getting my Masters in CS, so the urge to buy a solid laptop arises - think that a Mac would be a nice purchase for academics, or would I be better off going with something x86?

on January 10, 2005 01:31 PM
# Lucas Burke said:

I'm the exact opposite. I use windows at work (of course) but I'm dying to use a mac: because of AppleScript (the #1 best thing in the universe by an absolute incredible amount) and Postgres (also really really great.) If I had AppleScript at work I would easily have to work 25% less right off the bat. Lucas.

on January 10, 2005 04:23 PM
# Larry Rosenstein said:

I'm not surprised you switched, given your requirements and I don't think you are missing anything.

From Apple's point of view, a PowerBook w/OS X is first and foremost a Mac. Apple supports the infrastructure needed to run open source apps, but that isn't their primary focus.

Conversely, I don't think OS X is the primary platform for the open source projects you mention. It is up to developers using OS X to add the necessary improvements to bring those apps up to "first class" status. I think the reason this isn't done is that there aren't as many OS X developers out there compared to Windows or Linux developers.

So if you're looking for the best experience running firefox or the gimp, then you should pick Linux or WIndows. Similarly, if you want to "eat your own dog food" wrt to Yahoo products, and those products are written for Windows, then you need a Windows machine.

For me, I have used the Mac since almost Day 1, and I have a large investment in Mac software. I'm also happy to be able to run firefox and other open source apps along side Mac apps, and I put up with their quirks under OS X.

on January 10, 2005 06:34 PM
# Anonymous said:

Re: "I used Office on the Mac for a short while. I found it to be bloated, slow, and outdated in functionality. For example, it's really unforgivable that, in 2005, there are any programs that refuse to recognize long filenames. Yet, Office for the Mac still insists on truncating them."

Yeah, now that it's indeed 2005, you might try running Office 2004 for Mac, which doesn't truncate long filenames.

on January 10, 2005 11:36 PM
# Michael Gilligan said:

As much as I have adored Macs in the past I'm with Jeremy on this one but not entirely for the same reasons. Most of my previous work environments have been exclusively Mac and we had our fair share of problems with them but we (my colleagues and I) still loved them.
In November 2003 I was committed to buying a top of the range Mac laptop. Going around some authorised resellers in London I realised that quite a few didn't know anything about thier products. Mind you the UK is notorious for it's poor service ethic. To give you an example: One reseller based in Kensington had never heard of Safari or various other products. A similar issue ocurred with a reseller based in the West End which sold both PCs and Macs.
In the meantime I read an item (I think it was in MacUser by Kevin Fanning) highlighted various weaknesses with current Macs including problems with some PowerBooks that Apple had yet to 'fess up to (see BoingBoing link below). What I also dislike about the newer Apple products is that at times they have confused style over substance. The RSI-inducing circular mouse they produced for the iMac a few years ago is a case in point.
Since then the Consumer Association (the closest thing the UK has to Ralph Nader) complained that iTunes was screwing we Brits about 20% more for each song than elsewhere in Europe and the US.

BTW: Before anyone launches into the usual Microsoft/PC/Mac disputes, save your breath; What I'm saying is that Apple is catching up with the same short-sighted strategies that it's evangelists have castigated it's competitors for. Nothing more, nothing less.

Here's three related links to back up my views:

BoingBoing: "There are currently 1650 signatories to this petition to Apple to do something about the widespread manufacturing defects with its 15" Rev A Aluminium Powerbooks"

BBC "iTunes under fire over UK pricing".

Apple iTunes 'overcharging in UK'

on January 11, 2005 03:38 PM
# Buzz Bruggeman said:

When you have a moment, I would like you to try our product on your notebook, i.e. ActiveWords, .

Beat on it for a day or two, and ping me, and I will walk you through some ideas.


on January 11, 2005 08:31 PM
# Bill Wood said:

I'm so with you on the speed thing - every MAC I've tried seems slow compared to a good IBM Thinkpad.

on January 11, 2005 09:15 PM
# Jeremy Higgs said:

Responding to Michael Gilligan's comment:

As much as I have adored Macs in the past I'm with Jeremy on this one but not entirely for the same reasons. Most of my previous work environments have been exclusively Mac and we had our fair share of problems with them but we (my colleagues and I) still loved them.
In November 2003 I was committed to buying a top of the range Mac laptop. Going around some authorised resellers in London I realised that quite a few didn't know anything about thier products. Mind you the UK is notorious for it's poor service ethic. To give you an example: One reseller based in Kensington had never heard of Safari or various other products. A similar issue ocurred with a reseller based in the West End which sold both PCs and Macs.

I don't think that's Apple's fault - it's the fault of resellers who don't train their staff properly. If you don't want to deal with salespeople, you can always go to the Apple Store or ring Apple itself.

In the meantime I read an item (I think it was in MacUser by Kevin Fanning) highlighted various weaknesses with current Macs including problems with some PowerBooks that Apple had yet to 'fess up to (see BoingBoing link below).
BoingBoing: "There are currently 1650 signatories to this petition to Apple to do something about the widespread manufacturing defects with its 15" Rev A Aluminium Powerbooks"

If you look at the date of the article, it's from May of 2004. The weakness you were talking about were the "white spots" that appeared on many of the 15" PowerBooks. Apple did "fess" up to it, and even have a program to fix the affected machines - here. Of course there are occasional defects, but generally Apple deals with them in a decent manner. If they don't, then you can always kick up a stink.

What I also dislike about the newer Apple products is that at times they have confused style over substance. The RSI-inducing circular mouse they produced for the iMac a few years ago is a case in point.

True, but I don't see the hockey-puck mouse anywhere today. Do you? You're always free to plug in any other USB mouse.

Since then the Consumer Association (the closest thing the UK has to Ralph Nader) complained that iTunes was screwing we Brits about 20% more for each song than elsewhere in Europe and the US.
BBC "iTunes under fire over UK pricing".

That may be true, but it could be due to a number of reasons. The record labels may have demanded more royalties in the UK. The US dollar may not have been performing so well against the Pound. etc etc... I haven't been able to find anything else about this. Was there a follow-up?

on January 12, 2005 03:52 AM
# Robert Gates said:

Hey, you know whatever works for you, works for you. I used Windows for some time and it was fine. I used Linux, and UNIX regularly also. I know OSs fairly well... OS X, at least 10.3+ has been the best for everything I need. I use it as a home computer and run my development environment on it. I run many X11 apps and couldn't be more satisfied with them. Sure GIMP et cetera are not OS X natives, but why not use Photoshop. And besides Linux runs on PPC, right? Additionally... what's that bullshit about slow and awkward... I see nothing slow or awkward on my Mac... Maybe try upgrading to a newer PowerBook or PowerMac and use OS X alongside Linux... By the way... if you don't like OS X's Aqua, what about Darwin with X11...

on January 12, 2005 10:24 AM
# Greggman said:

Just an idea but a major tenent of open source is that more people and more eyes = better software. That seems to me like it would easily explain why XP open source is better (in general) than OSX open source. There are 10x more programmers to hack at the XP version.

on January 12, 2005 10:59 AM
# Michael Gilligan said:

First of all thanks for taking the time to address the different issues I raised.
The examples used were only a couple of the ones of many that have cropped up and I selected them just to give a taster. However I'm not out to attack Apple. My issue is that Apple has developed its brand by castigating others (remember the '1984' advertising campaign?) and now it is just as guilty of the same issues.

Just look at today's Lost Remote: "Apple's bite out of free speech"

Deconstructing arguements does not necessarily undermine the underlying premiss of my previous entry. Nor do I want to spend most of my time Fisking Apple either.

on January 12, 2005 02:18 PM
# Dutch Rapley said:

That was really a nice comparison. I'm sure we've all seen our share of flame wars on why one OS and/or hardware is better than the other.

It's all about what works best for your needs. Like you said, you didn't totally ditch the Mac, you still use both.

Pretty much, like you, I use Windows XP for work and a Mac at home, b/c that's what works best for me.

BTW, have you ever tried porting the MySQL Administrator and Query Browser to Panther. I found the provided README file to be less than helpful and really can't find any info or instructions on using XCode to perform the port.

on January 14, 2005 08:26 AM
# Hobbes said:

See InfoWorld's Tom Yager "Try as I might, I can’t wreck a Mac", Ahead of the Curve article for a another perspective:

on January 15, 2005 09:58 AM
# FruJu said:

For a true comparison of your Mac laptop and a Windows laptop, you should ask IS to give you a company-supported Mac laptop (complete with standard, approved MAC address) and use a personal Windows laptop that you bring in to work.

It would be interesting to see how much better you think of the Mac when it's a first class citizen on the internal company network, and how much worse you think of Windows when it's a second class citizen (as your personal Mac is).

on January 15, 2005 12:04 PM
# bc said:

There is a reason open-source projects feel better on windows than they do on a mac. You see, most of the programs that most people use on a mac are made by apple. Adobe has some great ones, but they still don't have "that certain something" that an apple program does. Now, take away the cohesive planning and design that goes into even a third-party piece of software for the mac, and what you have is open-source crap that is designed not by a team of designers, but by hundreds of computer programmers and nerds with no artistic vision or strategic design in mind.

It takes a LONG time for open source software to feel "right" on a mac. Take firefox for example. How many years has this project been going on? I'm willing to bet that once apple decided to create a browser, it only took months... maybe one year to have a deliverable beta. Firefox has been in development for YEARS and it finally (and barely) has something to show for all that work. And it still just doesn't have that "certain something" that Safari does. Sure, it has more "features" ... but is it easier to use? Do those "features" aid in the operation of the program, or are they just frills that get in your way, like so many windows programs' "features"?

Open source software feels better on windows because, well, they both suck equally. Apple just knows how a computer should work. When you have the awesomeness of an apple program next to the awkwardness of an open-source program, of course the open-source program will not live up to the standard of the apple-designed program, and it will "feel bad". But this is not due to apple being bad, but rather the open-source program being not-quite-there yet.

Now, I love the concept of open-source projects, and Firefox is the best of all of them. But really, when you get down to it, designers make things good. Programmers are our tools. Until designers get involved in the open-source projects and have some way of contributing something other than code (like, hmm... ideas? concepts? drawings and plans?) then the open-source movement will continue to take too long to be effective and useful.

Oh, and all the other points he has in this article are moot. If you don't get it, then you just don't get it.

on January 19, 2005 02:08 AM
# Robert said:

I switched too. Windows XP is simply better. And I used to WORK for APPLE. I didn't realize how bad Mac was until I switched to Windows XP. And with Cygwin or Microsoft's own SFU, I can run any and all open source Unix stuff on Windows.

on January 20, 2005 11:04 PM
# Hatori Hanzu said:

"lack of hotkeys in most apps"

Are you insane? I find that not only does Windows use fewer keyboard command shortcuts it also uses them inconstantly (i.e. two different programs will have the same menu item, but the keyboard shortcuts will be different).

Beyond the widespread use of keyboard shortcuts and their general consistency between apps, _you can define your own shortcuts for any menu item_.

To enable use of the tab key in dialogue boxes take a look at System Preferences -> Keyboard & Mouse -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> Turn on full keyboard access.

on January 22, 2005 07:20 PM
# Brian Rice said:

There's PocketMac for hooking up PocketPC's to Macs. I use it all the time.

on January 28, 2005 11:53 AM
# Bill Gates said:

Did you cash the check I wronte you yet? I think they found us out... :(

on April 1, 2005 08:18 PM
# james said:

"Did you know that by default full keyboard access is not enabled on the mac?"
What the fuck is Apple smoking?!?!
Give me three good reasons that's OFF by default.

Ehm..just an advice...
Q: What to do as a computer novice when you have a problem?
A: Go to the menubar, open "help" and begin to type your question!

The simple search term "keyboard" would have worked wonders.

on April 1, 2005 08:19 PM
# Peter Bonte said:

So, a Powerbook from 2002 feels less responsive than a 2005 Compaq laptop? I can live with that, osX is a robust but slow UNIX OS that keeps evolving. Give Tiger a chance on some new desktop hardware.

on April 2, 2005 01:10 AM
# Jules Stoop said:

Just a small remark about Mozilla/Firefox on the Mac:

1. If it's about first-class citizenship: Try Camino. I feels a lot more OS X and isn't that much behind in features (compared to cross-platform Firefox builds)

2. If it's about speed: There are several places on the net (sorry for not providing you with an url) to be found quite easily, where you can download specific G5 and/or G4 optimized builds.

3. If only these two initiatives would merge...

on April 2, 2005 07:23 AM
# Brandon said:

I too have recently left the Mac platform. After being on OS X for the past three years, I have finally decided to join the majority.

Main Reasons
1) Office Suite. I often get slamed on this one, but I have yet to find a productivity suit that is as good for collaboration as Microsoft Office. Office 2004 for the Mac just feels like a poor imitation...and Entourage 2004 is.
2) Mail. I have not been satisfied with the email programs for Mac. And I have been through them all. Mailsmith, Eudora, PowerMail, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, and Entourage 2004. My personal preference is Outlook 2003, which is just excellent for office use, despite any vulnerabilities. I have recently used Apple Mail 2.0 that ships with Tiger. I find it a buggy, horrible program.
3) Security. Look, Windows looses hands down, but I have never had a problem with Windows security. Call is a mix of luck and user experience. I don't mind the maintenance required to run Windows, and have so far been successful at margenalizing viruses. For me the tradeoff of running more applications is worth it.
4) Software. I could not enjoy all the software that was out on the internet. Google's Picassa and Hello to me is better than iPhoto.
Goodbye Mac

on May 5, 2005 08:13 PM
# Robert said:

Count me as another Mac to Windows switcher. I've used a Mac since the original 128k model and have loved each upgrade in the OS right up until OS X. Because I develop Web sites, I have both Macs and PC's running to check platform compatability, and I've always prefered the Mac OS compared with the same generation PC OS.

But then Steve decided that what the world really needed was dot-three file extentions, a command line interface and regular security and virus updates. WTF? If I wanted a Windows machine I would have bought one in the first place!

It was a gradual process, but when I started using Jaguar on my Mac and XP on the PC I realized that the systems are not only very similar, but that XP feel more intuitive to me than OS X.

So I must say good bye Mac as a production machine. It's been a great relationship, but nothing lasts forever. I'll remember the good times.

on May 19, 2005 02:24 PM
# rose mensah said:

Dear sir,

My name is Mrs. Rose Mensah,and I am living with AIDS .Ever since my husband,Hon.Kofi MENSAH,the former member of the parliament of my Country Ghana who died of AIDS and I was tested positive of the AIDS virus, the mass media wouldn’t just let me and my family be. My only Son Emmanuel has stopped going to school inrespect of his nagative test because he could no longer stand the humiliations from fellow students.
The embarrassments are getting on my nerves but what can I do? I would have loved to travel out of the country to a place where I will have peace and spend the rest of my life with my only Son but I couldn’t make it for I am weak and severely sick.Moreover,no Embassy would grant me Visa to her country with my hairs withering and boils all over my body. This is the reason why I am doing my possible best to see that my only son Emmanuel J.Mensah who is 18years old and was tested negative should go out of the nation with his late father’s family inheritance of $19.5m USD.
From all indications, I know that my days are numbered.
In the light of the above, I have contacted you to assist me to transfer out of Ghana the SUM OF $19.5 MILLION U.S DOLLARS which my husband deposited as [DIAMOND/GOLD] with a safety company for the up-keep of my only Son who will be coming over to your country in due course to live and school and have a better life as I do not want him to live a reckless life like his late father lived.


For your effort, I am prepared to give you 10% of the total funds.
I am looking forward to hearing from you while thanking you for
your anticipated cooperation in this regard.

Your can reach my only Son Emmanuel J.Mensah on this e-mail address

Kind Regards,


on July 9, 2005 11:21 AM
# javier said:

"A modern desktop experience such as Knoppix running KDE is actually quite more usable in many respects than Mac OS X."

KDE is a memory monster and not even that stable, in linux one app is dome for Gnome and another for KDE, they may both run in both but it is weird. Many people make KDE or Gnome look as much as MacOX as possible, there must be a reason.

on September 22, 2005 11:10 AM
# Art Khachatrian said:

I entirely share BC's viewpoint.
i can understand the geek's pleasure in working in terminal, or in a Unix/Linux environment, but Is it not quite silly to dismiss Mac's superiority on the premises that it is not designed for obscure monkeying about with a system like Linux for the the sake of monkeying about in the first place?
OS X is a masterpiece made by people with exceptional taste in the first place. Of course, its degree of customisability is limited compared to that of Linux... why would one think that it makes Linux in any way better, or comparable at all? Don't tell me that one out of a ten thousand Linux experts could design a GUI remotely comparable to OS X without blatantly copying much of OS X.
Apple is a status symbol, as is Mac OS X, and with the best reasons.

on October 5, 2005 02:17 PM
# Wolf Harper said:

I've had the same spotty experience getting IP addy's for personal machines. Frankly though, I don't want them. There are very serious privacy issues with those. However the VPN cures these issues, as does the on-campus wireless. I'm not sure but I believe the wireless will work with any system, not just one blessed by IT.

As for your Powerbook's performance, it's not a G5. This is why Apple is switching to Intel. I've been very happy with Firefox/Thunderbird, they're my main workaday apps.

on November 13, 2005 11:39 PM
# Mike Van Camp said:

So I wonder if you have revisited this topic with the advent of Intel Macs and Parallels? I do most of my work in terminal or iTerm in OS X... fast, secure, and stable. I basically just use Parallels for VPN and MS Office... I may switch back to the Mac Office when the Universal Binary version comes out, but it is actually pretty nice having apps inside my work vpn in a window... or maybe not in a window, with Coherence mode turned on...

Anyways, Jeremy, just thought you might want to re-examine OS X on modern Intel macs with virtualization.


on February 6, 2007 10:27 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Believe it or not, I haven't touched an Intel powered Mac notebook yet. I'm afraid I might want one if I did. :-)

on February 6, 2007 11:37 PM
# Desenie said:

Nice work! I enjoyed reading your article. Keep up the good work!

on July 23, 2007 01:37 PM
# Doug said:

I was a Mac devotee, but switched to Windows about 7 years ago. After hating Windows (finally ending with XP Pro which turned out to be my ultimate hate), during those years, I headed over to Linux. I spent two years with SUSE and Redhat, constantly frustrated with software that never seemed to do what I wanted it to do. Nice that it was all free, but ...

Anyhow, I am back to Mac and for the first time in 7 years am pleased with an operating system. It isn't perfect ... it's built by humans ..., but it's miles ahead of either Windows or Linux from my experience.

on August 14, 2007 06:25 PM
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