I find that the war between Macintosh and Windows is at one level rather stupid. But that is because in the end, I hate all computers, I just hate the Macintosh the least. Ok, so I don’t really hate computers but there are times….
As to why Macintosh? There are a lot of subtle reasons, it is what I have used the most so I am most comfortable with it, and in the end, it lets me get work done and not work at making the computer work. When it comes down to it, most of us simply use the computer we have always used. It is like that big comfy chair that only we can sit in, everyone else hates it. Now I have three computers under my desks, Mac, Linux, and Windows XP. I use the Mac to do work, the Linux box to do server stuff, and I play games on Windows XP.
There is one difference that for me illustrates why I prefer Mac OS over other OSes. This difference causes others find the Macintosh hard to use. On the Mac, a window is almost always a document (or representation of some sort of data). On Windows (and most if not all X11 windows managers) a window is the application itself. Software developers that move from the Windows world to Macintosh often do not get this difference and write ( or port ) software for the Mac that is un-Mac-like.
This one difference is seriously significant! It affects all sorts of subtle areas of operation. For example, it drives me crazy that closing the last window also closes the application under Windows – and Windows people are driven crazy that closing all the windows on the Mac doesn’t quit the program.
To me, the Mac does it right. Just because I close a document up (analog: file the piece of paper) doesn’t mean I want to quit the program (analog: put a cover on the typewriter and put it away). I like having the app sitting there waiting for me to switch back to it to start some more work. I don’t want to wait for the app to relaunch. I frequently have 12 or more different programs running. Terminal, Mail, BBEdit, iTunes, Safari, Firefox, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Skype are almost always sitting there, many times without any documents open. But, I can switch to any of them and start working with a quick cmd-N or cmd-O to make a new document or open an existing one. No waiting for the stupid program to launch. ( and I only have 4gb of RAM )
The window as a document as opposed to an applicaiton is the reason the Mac has a single menu bar. Under Windows, practically every window has a menu bar which drives me crazy cause I am always clicking on the wrong menu. To frustrate me even more, many programs on Windows display everything inside a single window. Oh, that brings me to why this even started percolating in my puny brain.
I keep playing around with different IDEs (Integrated Development Envirornment) such as Eclipse (and the multiple variants thereof) and Komodo which has recently release a free version available for Windows, Linux and Mac. It finally hit me why I keep switching back to BBEdit, I can’t easily use my dual monitor setup with them because the whole application sits inside one window (ok, you can open multiple windows Eclipse but its like duplicating the whole thing and to me gets even more confusing).
When I am developing, not only do I have different documents hanging out on two different monitors but often sitting in different Spaces, to use the Lepoard term, or desktops as most people would understand it. Yeah, that sounds even more confusing, documents thrown everywhere. But with Expose on the Mac, I can quickly see all the files for a particular app and switch to it if I can’t find it by just looking at the mess. The IDEs make me feel confined, restricted, unfree even.
BTW: Komodo Edit is pretty good (although every so often it just quits unexpected like), and I am real tempted to plunk down the money for the Pro version (if I ever get the income to do so) even though it doesn’t quite match my way of working. I had been using Eclipse, primarily for debugging, but it has a few persistent bugs that drive me crazy. Its price, free is great and all so one can put up with the bugs. On the other hand, I beta tested the Zend Studio product based on Eclipse and the base Eclipse problems plus the costs make it a no go.
Anyway, the reasons why I use a Macintosh for my primary workstation are often subtle and not even thought out. The Mac OS just works the way I think. Other people think and work more like Windows does and they are comfortable with it and others really like the way KDE or Gnome works under Linux (or they prefer the FLOSS philosophical difference that Linux presents).
To argue which is best is to me a NASCAR race, Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge vs Toyota *sigh* One of them is going to cross the finish line first on any given Sunday and those of us who are NASCAR fans will cheer for our favorite driver and car make and think, thats why I drive a <insert favorite car here>. But in the end, any car, no matter what the make and model will get us to our destination, just some will do so in a way we will arrive happy.
I get where I want to go using a Macintosh because it makes me happiest of the major desktop operating systems – not that I am always happy. For you know, I hate all computers, I just hate the Macintosh the least. 🙂
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