Something very exciting happened last week: I got my new iMac set up at work. And the heavens opened, the angels sang, the earth shook a little (gently)… then I got straight back to work, because let’s face it, things are busy.
This wouldn’t be such a big deal, I guess, except that until recently Raised Eyebrow has been a PC shop. Why? Well, back in ye olden days of the web, we felt it would be best to use PCs as our primary testing grounds because it’s what 95% of end users were using. Mac testing was part of our process but the majority of our everyday needs were better met by Windows machines.
Then for years, we felt trapped by the software investments we had made for our PCs. Moving to Macs (oh shiny, pretty, elegant Macs!) would entail purchasing a bunch of new software, and the specialized software we use (hi, Creative Suite, we’re talking about you, you pricy thing!) is expensive enough that it tends to add up to more than the hardware costs of a new machine. The whole enterprise was daunting enough that every time it came time to buy a new computer we defaulted back to PCs, though each time that time came we would torture ourselves at Apple.com, checking out the new models and all the sexy things they were capable of. But we were like car buyers test-driving Jags and then heading back to the minivans when the chips were down (gazing sighingly backwards at the ultimate driving machines we were leaving behind).
Something changed a while back, though: Apple started building Macs that are capable of running Windows. This isn’t news, really, but I’m surprised how few people seem to know this, so I figured I would share it here. This changed everything for us, because our “we need to test on Windows” argument was suddenly irrelevant; if we need to test something on Windows, we can simply fire up Windows like any other software (we use VirtualBox to run Windows within OS X, so we don’t have to reboot) — and then close it down when we’re finished. Ahhhhhhhh…. That’s the sound of a very, very satisfied customer getting the best of both worlds. (Quite honestly, I feel like I walked out of the car lot with a Jag and a minivan, for the price of a single car.)
What about the software, you may be asking? Well, a few other things changed in the last few years. There’s now a free and viable alternative (or two) to Microsoft Office, for one. (You can get MS Office for Mac, but at this point I’m on the “Why bother?” side of that argument.) And for another, we learned that Adobe, in its wisdom (and perhaps a wee bit of experience with the design community’s undying love for all things Mac), is willing (with a bit of paperwork) to transfer software licenses from one platform to another — so if you bought, say, Photoshop for PC and then switch to a Mac, you can get a Mac-licensed version of the product with minimal cost and hassle.
So with our software fears allayed, we were left comparing operating systems (which, um, felt like a totally unfair contest in which Windows was the undisputed 97-pound weakling), productivity potential, and sheer gorgeousity (again, unfair competition, n’est-ce pas?).
Here’s what we discovered about Macs that makes them a productivity boon for our office:
- They take way less time to configure when they arrive brand new. It took me all of ten minutes, tops, to be up and running, and even my software installs went faster because of fewer (and faster) reboots.
- The 24″ iMacs have beautiful, big screens that enhance our staff’s productivity. (If you haven’t read about what a difference large and/or multiple monitors make to productivity, here’s some info on that.) Plus, they have a kind of built-in multiple-screen functionality called Screens that’s worth looking into. (I use Screens and like it, but it’s not without its quirks, and it’s not a total replacement for multiple monitors.)
- They crash way less frequently than PCs.
- They don’t get bogged down with viruses and sneaky systray apps that sloooooow dooooooooown thhhhhheeeeeeeeeee sysssssssssteeeeemmmmmmmm tooooooooo aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawlllll.
- They come bundled with useful software and a minimum of extraneous crap. (And all of it is configurable without arcane knowledge.)
- They really do deal with plug-and-play devices like magical mind-reading machines. Plug in a camera; the computer recognizes it immediately and imports the photos. Plug in an extra mouse, and your old one keeps working while the new one functions without any setup required. This still blows my little geek mind after so many years in PC-land, fiddling with drivers. Thank you, Apple, for not making me download drivers.
- They sync beautifully with our iPhones and iPods. (Yeah, we totally drank the Koolaid. But it’s yummy, we swear!)
I could go on, but I think I’ll stop there for now. Next time I’m going to wax poetic about my favourite app for Mac (and iPhone), which I hope will bring some of my fellow productivity hounds over to my side of the Mac-PC Red Rover game.
Want more reasons to consider Macs for your office? Here’s Apple’s list — and although they’re obviously a little biased, I can vouch for their claims. (And hey, can you believe they’ll actually transfer your files over to your new Mac for you if you buy from an Apple store? Holy cow.)