Today is the ninth anniversary of my first Mac. As long as I was working in a corporate environment I was forced to use Windows. I had often looked at Macs and wondered what it would be like to own one. But it just wasn't possible. One day, nine years ago, I took myself off to the Apple Store in Regent Street. A friend had bought a Mac Mini for just over £200 and was enthusiastic to the point of boredom. She was using it with her old keyboard and monitor and having a blast. It occurred to me that this inexpensive Mini could be an ideal suck-it-and-see opportunity to scratch the Apple itch that had been bothering me for some years. After all, if I really hated it, I could put the Mini on eBay and get a fair chunk of my outlay back.
I returned home with the new tiny computer, plugged in my peripherals and entered the strange new world of Mac. I was smitten. Within days I was back at Regent Street buying a 15in Power Book G4, a computer I still keep on the shelf for old times' sake. Within a month I had transferred everything from the PC and I was wholly committed to Apple. Some experiment.
This was pure happenstance born of a long-time curiosity of what it would be like to work with a Mac. It was certainly not the halo effect of the iPod that I had owned for several years. Sure, I liked the iPod but, alone, it wasn't enough to convince me to ditch Windows and opt for a new future. The opposite is now the case because the iPad, and the iPhone to a lesser extent, is definitely a catalyst for Mac sales.
Moving to a Mac in 2005 was not as painless as it is now. For one thing, the library of software for Macs was very limited. I soon realised that I couldn't do without several PC programs and had to install Boot Camp on the Power Book just to remain productive. I had to compromise a lot and, where I couldn't compromise, I just continued running stuff in Windows. It took eight years before I was able to ditch Windows completely, uninstall Parallels Desktop (which had by then supplanted Boot Camp) and move entirely to OS X.
Since 2005 the Apple scene has changed beyond recognition. For starters, one of the biggest problems when I moved to the Mac was synchronising PIM data with my HP iPaq. It wasn't easy, nor was it accurate, despite several helpful bridge programs. I remember asking for help on the Apple forums and offering my opinion that it would be useful if Apple produced a PIM manager and phone to compete with HP or with Palm. I was shot down in flames. Diehard Apple fanboys told me categorically that Apple would never make a phone. Absolute nonsense, they said.
To this end, the arrival of the iPhone was a godsend although it took me a year, until the second iteration of the device, that I felt confident enough to ditch my Palm Treo which, by then, had ousted the HP. That was the moment things came together in a big way and my new-found reliance on Apple reached maturity. There was no going back, not that I wanted to return to Microsoft. For me, nothing signifies the advantages of the Apple system more than the seamless synchronisation of calendar, tasks and contacts. Once fraught with difficulty, duplications and errors, unification of data is now so commonplace and reliable that we don't even think about it.
The iPhone was followed by the App Store and the iPad; and Apple as a company has been transformed into a completely different organisation to what it was in 2005 when I joined the clan. Apple is now the word's largest company and presides over an eco-system that has removed much of the fear of computing from the minds of non-technical users. It has also improved security and minimised the threat of malicious attack―largely, it has to be said, because the Mac operating system still holds a relatively small part of the market. There are richer pickings in the Windows field.
I can now look back on nine years of Apple and understand that my first steps in buying the Mac Mini have changed my outlook completely. Not only do I feel happier and more in control thanks to Apple, I also have the advantage of being able to write about technology from a new and exciting perspective. Three years after buying my first Mac I was starting Macfilos and writing about my experiences with Macs, iPhones, iPads and all the wonderful software we now take for granted.
I feel a great debt of gratitude to Apple for making my life easier, more productive and certainly more organised.