In a mutual support meeting for amateur tech geeks we get quietly herded into a room, secure and sound-proofed, ready to tell our tales of gadgetry wow and our credit card bills ratcheted up for that new must have shiny gizmo. Here I can quietly admit, because I am among friends and like-minded techies, that once upon a time I used Windows. There is silence followed by a sharp intake of breath. 'But I'm OK now', I continue, 'I use macs now.' The relief in the room is palpable and common sense has prevailed.
I remember the first time a tried the iMac. In its sleek, white polycarbonate casing it looked beautiful and refined and - well, just down right gorgeous. But then I tried to use it and it was so different, so not what I was used to, that I decided against the purchase. Don't make my mistake. If you feel inclined to embrace all things mac - go for it!
Ten reasons to ditch Windows and get that Mac:
1: Different is good:
Give it time, just a little, and the power of the beautiful and expertly designed operating system will shine through. You may wonder where certain folder are. You may question why you can't get to this setting or that setting. The answer is screamingly simple. Because you don't need to!!! Forget lots of settings, forget menus inside menus inside menus - macs work. Really - they just work. And what about that operating system? It's stunning. It looks great and you don't get a headache using it. XP always gave me a headache and vista, well that dog's dinner produced migraines and a strange desire to attack the screen with a chainsaw. No more. All is calm and tranquil in mac land. No more rage. No more unpolished edges. Different is good.
2: It organises things so you don't have to:
I'm not a secretary - not that there's anything at all wrong with being a secretary - it's just that I'm not. I'm also not a musician, tightrope walker, juggler or international movie star. So when my computer makes me behave like something I'm not, I feel a kind of dislocation. Psychologists call it alienation - when there is distance between your true self and the way you are forced to behave. Windows wants me to be the secretary, organising files into neat groups, telling it where to put things. Why? In a world of satellites and GPS that can pinpoint your position to - well - a pinpoint, surely it's not beyond the realms of possibility that a computer should organise itself. Thankfully the good folks at apple think the same. So they went ahead and made a system that sorts out the mundane stuff so you can get on with doing something great.
3: Media rules OK:
Macs do media with real flair. Your photos will look so good you'll dispose of that cheap digital photo frame you got one Christmas - or stamp on it - or just chuck it through the window and marvel as it shatters into a thousand pieces on the drive. Your music will organise itself so simply you'll find any track you want in seconds. And if you want to buy that movie you've been dying to see, go right ahead. And then watch it on your iPad, or mac, or iPhone, or iPod or apple TV. Are you getting this. YOU CAN WATCH IT ANYWHERE! Is this magic? Is it witch craft? Not at all. It's just that someone cared enough to design something they'd be proud of. When did that last happen to you Microsoft? Oh, yeah, right NEVER.
4: Be creative:
Do you want to paint? No problem, David Hockney managed it fine on an iPad and the stunning results are in the tate gallery in London. Want to record music? No problem. The Gorillaz wrote and recorded an entire album on iPads. Garageband will do much the same on any Apple device. Want to write. No problem. Pages is elegant and simple and beautiful and easy to use. Are you listening Microsoft Office? EASY TO USE - apparently people like that sort of thing! And what if you want new apps to try out some of those creative urges you've been having? No problem. Apps are cheap. Seriously cheap. Click on what you want and it'll be downloaded and installed.
"Wow! You mean I don't have to install it myself and ask permission and click OK a thousand times until Windows realizes that I really do want to install that piece of software? Please windows, please - let me install it!"
No, it's simple, it's cheap, and it works just fine and absolutely nothing gets in the way.
5: It's great for kids:
I have two children. They use Windows at school, bless them, but at home they can use the family iMac. Why is this good? It's those little apps again, you know, the cheap as chips ones, the ones that just work and are generally really well designed. They can explore space, the earth, do math, write, draw, design and research. It's a tool they can utilise easily, intuitively, because it doesn't get in the way of what they want to do - it cooperates with them. The user comes first and the system comes second. In windows it's the other way around. The system controls the user - it demands your time and won't leave you alone. A bit like an annoyingly spoiled child that just wants all your attention, the Windows system demands that you look after it. It gets jealous when you're using other software and so it rears its ugly little head and says, 'look at me, I'm still here......'
Great for kids
6: Gaming, gaming, gaming
My kids have iPods - cheap, second hand ones off Ebay. We really don't have loads of money to throw around. Imagine my delight when I discovered that once I'd bought an iOS app, I actually owned it. Wow! So I pay once - and lets face it - iOS apps don't break the bank, and then the app is on all the devices I want it to be on. I paid once and get to use it simultaneously with my kids. We can all be on Angry Birds at the same time! Genius! So now when I want to entertain (bribe) my kids to tidy their room or let me watch the news it costs as little as 69p. This is an absolute bargain - and guess what - the apps work on everything. You could buy an android device, but then you'd have to stick needles in your own eyes to get over the frustration of bloatware, malware, a zillion and one different versions and growing issues around compatibility. You could do that, but why would you?
7: Virus - what virus?
Now I'm not going to assert that Macs have no virus issues - I'm sure they do and I've read plenty of stuff about various threats to Mac. The trouble is I've never actually experienced one. NEVER. I don't run any virus checking software - although I probably should - it just doesn't seem to be a problem. Let's contrast this state of affairs with the good old regular PC. Virus software sucks - full stop. But you need it because some trojan worm is going to eat the insides of your hard-drive for breakfast. So you do the right thing, get the software and install it (this takes for ever of course) and then you run it and guess what? The whole system grinds to a halt anyway. It's slow, unresponsive and there seems to be all kinds of little glitches. We're back to needles and eyeballs again. Or you could listen to that CD of fingernails scratching down a blackboard for a bit of light relief.
Now I'll be the first to admit that functionality trumps design, but there are some people out there who believe you can have both - amazing design and great functionality. Apple is proof of this idea. Of course you could get any number of similar computers and devices, all designed to emulate apple, but then you'd have to put up with terrible operating systems and rubbish software. In apple world you can use all this stuff and smile while you're using it because it makes you feel happy inside. If you want it all, there's only one place to go.
Home computing happiness!
9: Touch, multi touch and gestures
This is all about intuition. Stuff works the way you'd expect it to. Touch this, swipe here - it all happens like magic. My kids can pick up and use apple devices in seconds - no problem - no issues - no questions. From track pads to touch screens the interface is your friend and supporter. It helps you quietly like the humble genius it is. Try any of this on a PC and - well - I wouldn't even go there. 'What about Windows 8!' I here you cry. Apparently this will be optimised for touch - run on tablets and PC's - REALLY? I can see metro running beautifully on a tablet - but what about the traditional windows bit - the bit that hasn't really moved on much since the millennium (except it now looks slightly prettier), is that going to work on a tablet? I'm a fan of metro - I've tried it out and it has lots of promise - but why Microsoft insist on attaching the hunk of junk that is 'traditional windows' goodness only knows.
10: icloud, airplay and seemless syncing
The grandparents are visiting. We've been out for a walk. The sun is shining. We've taken a few snaps of the kids. As soon as we're home my iPhone picks up the wi-fi and within seconds the pictures I took just a few minutes ago are flipping across the TV in all their digital glory. My dad, who now has an iPhone says, 'Wow, that's incredible, I'd love to be able show the photos from our holiday.' I tell him he can - easily. We open the photo app on his phone, touch that little airplay icon and low and behold we are sharing their holiday snaps. Later he plays me a song he's got from iTunes. I like it so download it too - on my iPhone. When it's downloaded - less than a minute - it's on apple TV and ready to play via icloud. This is all real. It's not science fiction. It exists now. My first computer was a ZX81. I've grown up with home computing and watched and enjoyed its journey into the fabric of our lives. This stuff is amazing to me because it all works the way I always wished it would. Like a veritable genie Apple has made my home computing dreams come true.