Anniversary: My Mac experience is eleven years old
I do own an eleven-year-old Mac, a G4 PowerBook, which sits on a shelf as a reminder of the day I forsook Windows. Every year on June 16 I dust it off and open the lid in a sort of homage to the sea change in my computing life. You hear many people saying things like this. But you seldom hear of anyone boasting of having left Apple to go back to Windows.
Before I was freed from the business-orientated Windows world I had had no opportunity to try a Mac. And I wasn’t all that interested, truth be told. Until, that is, a friend bought a Mac mini which was then selling for £299 (in 2005). He told me how he had connected an old monitor and keyboard and was in business with the Apple system within minutes.
I decided I had little to lose. I could try it and, if I didn’t like it, return it to the glittering Apple Store in Regent Street. First, though, I had to go and buy the little computer. I was immediately captivated by the enthusiasm and general ambiance of the Apple Store.
It was worlds away from the cluttered and rather dingy general computing emporia in Tottenham Court Road that had been my habitual haunts.
I had never set foot in an Apple Store before and I was half convinced I’d like using a Mac even before I got to the Mac mini display.
After returning home with the mini in its little box it took me precisely 24 hours to decided that the Mac operating system was going to be a big part of my future. Paradoxically, the friend who had persuaded me to try the mini took the opposite view. He returned his Mac and went back to Windows.
Not me. In fact, I was so enthusiastic that the following Saturday I pitched up back at the Apple Store to buy the G4 PowerBook to complement the desktop mini set up. And it wasn't long before I was buying an Apple keyboard, mouse and monitor.
Using the Apple system removed a lot of stress from my computing life. No need for virus protection (I still don’t have it, despite dire warnings), no unexplained crashes, no repeated calls to reinstall the OS. In every way I preferred the Mac experience.
There was just one problem at the beginning—the absence from the Mac system of many of my favourite Windows programs. For several years I had to use emulators to run mission-critical systems, including my personal accounts program. It wasn’t until three years ago, eight years after moving to Mac, that I was finally able to ditch the emulator and concentrate entirely on Mac.
Now, if anything, things have gone in the opposite direction. There is nothing (to my knowledge) that cannot be done on a Mac. The software market, bolstered by the admirable App Store, is vibrant and capable of meeting the needs of most consumers.
Today, exactly eleven years since I bought that first Mac mini, I am wholly committed to both the newly-minted MacOS, successor to OS X, as well as to iOS, with a doff of the cap to tvOS along the way. I held off buying the original iPhone but entered the market with the second version and have stuck with the iPhone ever since. Now I have a small iPad Pro to add to the collection.
The greatest joy of the Apple eco-system is its uniformity, its seamless synchronisation of data and its relative security. There are new and growing threats out there (many of them coming directly as a result of the success of Apple in the past decade) but I feel more confident than I would if I were still using Windows.
Apple is often criticised for its nanny attitude in its efforts to protect consumers. Computer literate users sometimes rile at this over-protection but, for the vast majority of users, they do need to be protected from themselves if not from the wider world. Apple makes well-intentioned decisions on security which, by and large, are for the general good.
Of course, Macs, iPhones and iPads aren’t without their occasional problems. Only last week I was describing how I had had to reset the PRAM on my iMac to get over an annoying problem. But, most of the time, things go well and I am able to get on with my work without worrying too much about the tools. And I know that if I have a real problem a Genius Bar is not too far away.
All this—the hardware, the operating systems, the security and the excellent after-sales service, makes Apple users feel as though they are part of a large club. I get the same feeling with Leica, for instance, but not with other camera manufacturers.
When I moved to Apple in 2005 I started to take a much greater interest in the tech world. I read blogs endlessly, listened to podcasts and generally educated myself in the world of Mac computing. It was a steep learning curve after a life with Windows. But three years after buying the Mac mini I was confident enough to start this blog, adopting the title—Macfilos—that seemed appropriate at the time.
Since then, while I have not lost my enthusiasm for the computing side of things, photography has rather taken over the blog. The London Mac User Group, which regularly reprints Macfilos articles, complain that these days I don’t write enough about Apple. So this little spot of reminiscence, on my first Mac’s 11th birthday, will go some way to keep them happy.
I have moved on, as is natural, but my Macs, iPhone and iPad are an integral part of my workflow and are essential for my photographic peace of mind. I am still interested and knowledgeable about developments in the world of technology but no longer have the white hot zeal of the newly converted.
I should perhaps add a rider to this eulogy of the Mac system before the complaints start rolling in. My bad experiences with Windows ended in June 2005 and, since then, my less-than-positive views of the Microsoft operating systems have been preserved in aspic. They are no doubt now unfair. I can fully believe that things in the Windows world have kept pace with Mac developments and that owning a Windows computer or a Surface notebook these days is a far cry from when I had my last real Microsoft experiences. None of this is to suggest that Windows users are somehow missing out. It's just that I found my spiritual home with Apple and have had no reason to question my decision.