Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Your Agency On PCs

Your Agency On PCs
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Over the past year, we’ve been working through the switch to Macs in our agency. Our reasons for the switch were a mix of aesthetic desires and perceived efficiencies through that particular ecosystem.

This isn’t the first time we’ve tried to make the switch, but I feel that we were perhaps more committed to it than before. I like the way Apple machines look and I like the way they feel. Buying new Apple hardware is generally delightful, whereas, unboxing a PC is a little like buying a bag of potatoes.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the Macs delivered all we had hoped for. I can’t stress enough how nice it is to have a single cable leaving the back of a Mac, versus the rat’s nest that accompanies our PCs. Any perceived efficiencies turned out to be wishful thinking, though. In fact, as a result of the experience, I’m even more convinced that the PC is the right choice for today’s agency.

Following are a few of my reasons behind this claim. (Forgive me if I carry on a little.) I’ll start with some observations related to our Apple experience, and then move on to why I’m so fond of PCs in the agency.

Macs Aren’t Built for Pros Any Longer

Part of the beauty of a Mac used to be how it seemed tailor made for the creative industry. The problem with creatives, though, is that there just aren’t enough of us. So, Apple has shifted to servicing the everyday user much more than the pro user. This makes complete business sense, but it also means that their focus is more on the home user than ever before. This is leading to a dumbing down of the UI, and conventions that aren’t power-user friendly. Want to do a “Save As”? Sorry, they’re taking that away from a number of apps. Thus means when you want to access the actual file you created, you’re out of luck. (These are increasingly stored within the application and inaccessible from the Finder.) Yes, these are great features for grannie, but I’d prefer my OS not come with training wheels.

“iOS-ification”

I love the iPad and the iPhone. They’re great devices. Apple sells a lot of these, and I worry that as a result of doing so, they’re suffering from a kind of tunnel vision. First of all, OSX isn’t advancing as it should. It’s a decade old OS that’s showing its age. Additionally, the changes coming in Lion seem desperate to bring the mobile experience to the desktop. Thing is, though, these are different spaces. I don’t want my screen filled with a grid of apps (à la iOS), nor, do I want to pinch, zoom, and rotate on a trackpad. The advances pitched in Lion are all about glitz, without any real improvements I can actually put to use in our agency. The desktop may be boring, but it’s still the environment we live in most.

What’s Inside Isn’t That Different

I’m not a hardware guy, but my business partner is. We both agree that the iMac is a pretty solid value. Once you move into a tower, though, the cost of a Mac skyrockets. This was easier to justify when Apple had us all convinced that the PowerPC chip was superior, and that Intel’s was poop. Lately, though, when you look at what’s actually in each case, the parts look increasingly similar. From hard drives, to video cards, to RAM, the parts are interchangeable… except when it comes to cost. Adding an SSD to your PC will cost about a hundred bucks and take ten minutes of your time. The cheapest SSD option for iMac will set you back $650, and don’t even think about trying to upgrade this yourself. We really need to come to grips with the fact that what’s in the box is largely commoditized. Put together your own desktop for $750, or pay Apple several times that for what’s ultimately the same configuration. It’s your call, but if I pay that much more, I’d really like to think that the parts aren’t identical.

What’s Outside Is Style

When we started buying Macs for our staff, I suspected that any complaints about computers would end quickly. I was wrong. First of all, Apple seems incapable of building a good mouse. Sure, they all look great, but, from a usage standpoint even the most ardent Mac fans seem to loathe the mouse experience on a Mac. One of our designers brought in his Logitech to get away from the Magic Mouse; another is using my old Mighty Mouse from home. This doesn’t seem like an unfamiliar thing in Apple-land. What’s on the box is thrilling. Once it’s in use, it seems like people either make excuses or get cranky. Our colleague’s iMac screens are turning yellow from running too hot. My MacBook batteries have stopped taking a charge. Are these the only hardware problems in the world? Of course not. I find myself a little less forgiving, though, from all I keep hearing about Macs never having any problems.

The Apple Store Sucks

If Apple cared about user experience, they’d build a store with a fucking cash register. I’d rather stab myself in the eye than have to walk past all those glassy-eyed zombies to talk to a “genius.” If I go to the London Drugs down the street, a real person will address my problem, without booking an appointment a week in advance. That’s for any product they sell, and there’s little likelihood of anyone there calling me “dude.”

Not Being Steve’s Bitch

I’m one of those suckers who waited in line for the iPhone 4. It started as what seemed like a two-hour wait. Somehow it turned into six. That’s embarrassing. Actually, until now, my wife didn’t know that I wasted that much time on a phone. When I finally got into the store, some 20-year-old hipster doofus “congratulated” me on my new purchase. I wanted to pop him in the face for that one; instead, I sneered, “I’m buying a phone, not giving birth.” Apple has a brilliant marketing machine in action. That’s great for them. It doesn’t really matter to me, though. I have a business to run, and have little time for this sort of nonsense. I will never again wait in a line to buy equipment. Plenty of fine hardware can be had without the hassle (or the feeling like I’m joining a cult).

Windows 95 Is Long Gone

When did you last use a PC? I mean really use a PC? A number of the folks who tell me that they could never switch are still operating with the memory of an experience they had with Windows 95. A lot has changed since then. The “blue screen of death”? Not so easy to find any longer. Full system crashes? Very, very rare. Application crashes are also infrequent, even though InDesign and Chrome sometimes run into hiccups. I (personally) run one PC and three Macs. I see that spinning beach ball an awful lot; whereas, my PC is incredibly stable and dependable.

Windows 7 Is Very, Very Good

You can slag Vista all you want. (Heaven knows I do.) When I look back upon it, though, I have to admire that Microsoft took such brave step. I see Vista as a beta version of 7. Yes, it was a buggy pile of poop. It also was a complete tear down and rebuild of an OS. I could say all kinds of good things about Windows 7, but the most important one is that I don’t really think about my OS any longer. It’s fast, responsive, and generally bulletproof.

Metro Represents an Exciting Direction

While I really like the iPhone, I hate how the icons work. Treating each one like a little picture, makes it hard for me to actually find what I need (I, for example, always mix up the camera and the photos). Microsoft has always had a tough time with visual design and the Windows 7 UI still feels unnecessarily gimmicky. The work they’re doing with the Metro system is quite exciting. I’ve played with it a tiny bit on the new Windows phones and it’s quite nice. For the first time, I feel like Microsoft is really concentrating on good, glitz-free design. The buttons are easy to identify, the icons feel like symbols, and the tiles seem more appropriate than the iOS/Android “icon grid thing.” While some will forever see Microsoft as the evil empire, there’s innovation happening in Redmond. The rumor is that Metro will be a key part of Windows 8, and I’m pretty interested to see the results.

Everything Runs Faster with Windows

Recently, we installed Windows 7 on an iMac in our office. To our surprise, the hardware is capable of getting network speeds of 100 MB/s (as a Mac, it can only reach a third of that speed, at best). Similarly, @shelkie’s Mac Mini is one of the most painfully slow machines we’ve ever seen. The funny part is that when we put Windows on the machine, it started to be reasonably snappy. Am I obsessed with speed? Yes, very much so. I don’t want to wait 30 seconds for Excel to load any more than I want to wait 30 seconds to use my pen. (I also don’t particularly like how logging into my MacBook has turned into a 5 minute ordeal.) A good looking machine is a nice treat; a fast machine makes me money. (I like money.)

The FCP/Vegas Debate is Muddy

One of the big reasons for switching to Mac was to have access to Final Cut Pro. As we started to use it, we asked ourselves if we should have researched this decision better. FCP is finicky, does endless renders, and requires almost everything to be converted in order to work with it. This felt like a step back from Sony Vegas, in which we could drag and drop almost anything and preview live. Sure, we’re not fundamentally a video company, so perhaps we’re missing something. In all of our subsequent research, though, it seems that there are people who like using either. Apple’s marketing team is really good at convincing us that things like Final Cut are the industry standard, but a lot of this is (again) marketing over actuality.

Built for Power-Users

I see a computer as a tool.  The more efficiently I can control it, the faster I can produce results. As a result, I’ll go to some lengths to learn the most expedient ways of working. When you work on a PC for a while, you realize that options are a good thing, and that the tool is really built for performance. A few examples:

Easy Organization

On a PC you can create a new folder, reorganize files, or delete files all from Save/Open dialog boxes. On a Mac, the only way to do this is to open the Finder, navigate down to the respective folder, make the changes, and then go back to the application.

Keyboard Friendly

I don’t like using the mouse unless I need to. It’s simply less efficient than keyboard commands. On the PC, I can do things like toggle from OK to Cancel in dialogue boxes with a simple tab. I get more done this way, and when I watch most Mac users, it just seems like they’re unnecessarily dragging their asses.

Copy a URL

Day in and out, I need to provide the paths (for local files) to the people I work with. Windows’ inclusion of a URL field in the file explorer means I can cut and paste this into an email very quickly. There’s no easy way to do this on the Mac.

Intuitive Taskbar

I find the Apple launcher to be counterintuitive. For example, if I minimize a program, it tucks into that area on the right, and I can’t “Apple-tab” to it. The taskbar in Windows 7 seems more logical. I can tab between all active applications, it shows me document previews instead of just icons, and it just seems to work.

Responsive File Explorer

The Windows File Explorer seems to afford a greater number of ways of seeing files, and faster access to them. For example, tapping CTRL-N opens a new window open to the location I’m already in, instead of having to navigate to it separately. Meanwhile, the twirl downs in the URL field allow for access to any folder related to your path in one click. (This is very, very handy.)

Shadow Copies

This has saved our bacon on a number of occasions. Our Windows Server has Shadow Copies enabled, so from any PC, we can just right-click a file or folder, go to the Previous Versions tab, and roll-back to the state that item was in at any point in the past. Sure, Mac has Time Machine, but it’s nowhere near the seamless integration that has been achieved by Microsoft.

Group Environment

OSX doesn’t fit nicely in a network-centric workflow. The “connect to server and map a drive” paradigm makes it feel like a throw-back from 1995. And we’ve tried diligently to get OSX to connect reliably to our Active Directory infrastructure, including calls to Apple tech support. Their response: “Yeah, we know there’s a problem with AD in OSX. In the meantime, here’s the number for Microsoft tech support. Maybe they can help.”

All the Little Things

When people asked me why I used Macs back in the 90s, I told them it was all the little things. When Mac users ask me why I’m now big on PCs, I tell them the same. I like that I can resize a window from more than one location. I like how easily I can launch apps with two or three keystrokes. And there are dozens of other little advantages like this. Admittedly, these are all small points. Having grown accustomed to them, though, I dislike how there’s no provision for such things in OSX.

You Still Need to Create PowerPoint Templates

Most of us create things that will be used by people who use PCs. You might not like this, but it’s true. As a result, the websites we build are largely viewed on PCs. Similarly, the brand assets we build are likely to be edited on a PC. So, in spite of how good Keynote can be, most of the slide decks we create will need to be used in PowerPoint. Sure, you can make these on a Mac, but the translation between operating systems is rarely as smooth as the marketing seems to imply. Although I wouldn’t use this as my key reason for choosing to use Windows, I have to acknowledge that using the same tools as our clients does remove some headaches.

Apple’s Mobile Devices Are Still Available

Apple ships more mobile devices than computers these days (by a landslide). There’s good reason for this. The iPhone is excellent, and there’s currently no tablet in existence that touches the iPad. (Microsoft’s efforts in this category would be laughable if they weren’t so bloody painful to watch.) As I talk with a number of other agency owners, I see the same trend emerging. PCs for the primary machines, the odd Mac for testing, and iPhones/iPads for the mobile devices. Apple may still create desktop machines, but I haven’t seen mention of one in a keynote in a heck of a long time. Apple is a mobile company, and I will continue to use their mobile products… because they’re better. (Even if OSX isn’t.)

Built for Work

I’ve met far too many shitty designers who have some kind of a superiority complex because they work on a Mac. In my opinion, this is representative of the amazing hoodwink Apple has achieved in its marketing. People actually think they have skills because they selected one platform over another. I admit that PCs don’t turn heads, but such points don’t really matter to me. What does is that our tools help us get the job done. I like how Public Folders in Exchange allow our team to share email and client correspondence rapidly. I like how programs like QuickBooks work fully, instead of being limited like their lighter Mac counterparts. I like how shared contacts allow us to add contact info once for group use, after which we can use the note fields as a simple CRM of sorts.

It Looks Like 1984

I never thought I’d say this, but the Apple of 2011 looks a lot like the Microsoft of 1998. At the time, Microsoft seemed like they were hell-bent on “owning” computing. Perhaps they were, but, what finally led to the anti-trust suit was the bundling of their browser with the OS. In light of the stuff that Apple’s pulling these days, I can’t imagine it being long before Apple’s monopolization of sectors becomes an increasingly common cause for concern. Perhaps I’m getting carried away here, but when I see Apple’s practices with publishers, and the App Store approval process, I’m increasingly weary. This post has gone on too long to get into this in greater depth, but Jobs and Co. don’t really seem like the “good guys” any longer.

Final Words

Macs are great for a number of folks. If you’re a freelancer, they’re a solid, functional (even lovely) tool; meanwhile, no PC laptop matches the form factor of a MacBook. For that matter, if you’re a home user and you just want a simple, clean machine, you can’t go wrong with a Mac.

If, however, you’re in a growing agency, where working collaboratively and efficiently is important to you, I think you owe it to yourself to consider Windows. It’s a stable, mature, and surprisingly responsive ecosystem. It plays well with varying hardware, configures beautifully in a multi-user environment, and is a lot more open than some marketing might have you believe.

Put simply: smashLAB uses PCs because they just work. (And yes, we’re currently in the process of installing Windows 7 on all those Macs we started switching to.)

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Comments & Trackbacks

  1. Reading about half of your very full post I grok that you made the decision to switch to Macs as fast as your decision to return to Windows. Is that really what happened?

  2. Neither were really quick decisions. We did a lot of research before starting the switch--as noted, we'd been toying with it for years, but really dived in late last spring. The machines have been in use since then and continue to be (around 10 months). It's only over the past month that we've made a definitive decision to abandon them.

  3. Adrian says:

    Pretty awesome article, since you seem to have articulated many of the reasons I've remained with Windows--It's strange how some people just can't admit both OS's are fine.

    I wrote an article, more on the concept of not caring which OS a person uses and less about specifics: http://blog.staydecent.ca/entry/logicalism-over-minimalism

    Also, if you do care to bring the Win7 UI up a notch, install the "Soft7" visual style.

  4. I like that visual style, but it seems like an awful lot of work to get it installed.

    For now, I've just turned off all the (rather horrible) Windows wallpapers and backgrounds and switched to a flat grey. (I'd really like it if Windows 8 used a little less chrome than the current OS.)

  5. psalmplasma says:

    Running windows 7 on a mac pro (with a logitech mouse, obviously) is the best setup i could ask for. At least until i need to think about upgrading my video card or my ram.

  6. Pingback: Your Agency On PCs | ideasonideas « The Orange View

  7. I've been thinking about the same configuration myself. :-)

  8. Héctor Muñoz Huerta says:

    Yeah, also consider the crappy trash can in OSX and the fact that overheating will damage the gorgeous imac hardware within two years, adding extra cost to the already over priced machines.

  9. Geof Harries says:

    Three cheers for PC agency freaks.

    As you know, this is an "issue" I've been dealing with for years. As you mention above, there are those of us who deliberately choose Windows because it's more compatible, more efficient and easier to use. Simple as that.

  10. Pingback: Article: Your Agency On PCs | ideasonideas « Jonathan Tregear

  11. Swami Atma says:

    Excellent article even though I have switched to Macs over 3 years ago and don't see myself switching back in a long, long time.

    You made some very good points and I applaud the tone of your writing. Logical arguments free of fanatical dogmas.

    Good to know that Windows 7 is such an improvement over previous versions.

  12. David says:

    Great post Eric, articulates a lot of concerns I've had about potentially buying a Mac for my freelance work. I've never been convinced it's a necessity (more a 'nice to have').

    Yes, Mac mice. What the hell were/are they thinking there? Baffling. Anyway...

    I have a custom built PC running XP. It's 6 years old - getting to the point I could do with an upgrade, granted - but upgrading will be relatively simple and cheap (new mobo, CPU, maybe a new gfx card, hard disk). Rather that than buy a whole new machine, which I'd have to do with a Mac, and probably sooner than 6 years after investing in one, right?

    XP is solid, but the Windows Explorer sucks (with a capital SUCKS) :) Solution: Directory Opus ('explorer replacement' is a succinct way of describing it but doesn't do this app justice - I've known of it since my Amiga days).

    I highly recommend you take a look at DOpus if you haven't already - http://gpsoft.com.au/ - it sounds, from what you say about liking to work quickly and efficiently, that it could be right up your street. Things like dual listers (save-able - no more endless navigating), app toolbars, built in FTP, lots of file display options (like explorer's details mode but way more flexible), to features like standard pattern matching batch file renaming... can make a big difference. All in the one relatively small, efficient (from the Amiga days, remember!) package too.

    Anyway, thanks for the reassurance I'm not wrong in thinking I don't *need* to buy a Mac. Good luck to you in getting your systems sorted and hey, like the new site design, it's a while since I stopped by.

  13. You really should try the File Explorer in Windows 7. It's really functional--a big step up from XP.

  14. Lee Grant says:

    Lovely article.

    I don't run an agency but I fix computers for a living and see scores of different users and computer configurations.

    I always get asked about Mac vs PC and I have to try and dissolve the Apple marketing magic and balance it against the well-known reality of Windows land.

    I’m a big fan of Apple iOS products because they are very clean and simple to use when compared to the opposition in their sector, it is not hard to see why they are so popular.

    However the non-handheld Mac does have competition and the one thing that really annoys me is a company that doesn’t give value for money and I don’t believe the Mac range does.

    Look at this report (http://bit.ly/ghSMPP) about how the new Macs have their Sandybridge gear turned down so they don’t boil – does the average Apple customer know that they’re paying full whack for technology that is being deliberately throttled?

    Thanks for a great article regarding real life experiences.

  15. Eric, I expect so much better from you. You speak about “a lot of research”, but I don't see much evidence of it in your main post. For example I don't know where you get your information about FCP and Vegas, it doesn't reflect my experience working with video editors in all sorts of industries… and you know I get about! You've essentially presented a lot of skewed arguments as inalienable fact, when really it seems more to be a matter of personal taste. That's fine, but have the courage to stand by your convictions, without disparaging others in the process.

    I think it's treacherous ground you're on when you divide the world into those “hoodwinked” by clever marketing and the enlightened few who see the world as it really is. I can't believe you're that cynical about your own work?

    In a similar vein I'm not clear how you reconcile the contradictions in your criticisms about the cost of Apple hardware (as though all SSDs and RAM are created equal) with your proselytising about how elegant and effective that same hardware can be? Is it not just a matter of perceived value?

    May I suggest that perhaps smashLAB is able to work successfully with Windows because you have already acquired the knowledge to make it so? I don't underestimate the value in that, but a little bit of support from someone who really knows what they're doing when it comes to working with a Mac in a multi-user environment and some training, especially with FCP, might help you gain some perspective.

  16. I'm not suggesting that FCP is bad. I'm simply saying that there are many who espouse Vegas, and that in our experience it has some clear advantages.

    As to your other question: Of course I'm cynical about my own work. I don't know many in marketing who aren't cynical about what they do.

    You asked about contradictions in my criticisms, I think that's representative of an effort to maintain objectivity. I admire Apple's industrial design; meanwhile, I think the cost of their towers are out-of-line. Personally, I'm not entirely convinced it's good value for our agency. (On the other hand, I'd easily buy an iMac for my home, as I believe it presents good value.)

    While I acknowledge that others clearly have more experience than us in a Mac-only environment, I find that those same folks often have no real experience in a Windows environment. We've used both quite heavily. Are there good reasons to choose a Mac? Certainly. That being said, from all of our experience, the benefits of a Windows environment are too great to ignore.

  17. Martin Baker says:

    There is no perfect OS, suitable for everyone. However I'd say that many of these usability gripes are easily solvable by digging deeper into 'power user' territory. For instance,

    "On a PC you can create a new folder, reorganize files, or delete files all from Save/Open dialog boxes."
    New Folder button is standard in all OS X save dialogs that I've seen. Other functions (and many more) are possible with third party utilities such as Default Folder X.

    "On the PC, I can do things like toggle from OK to Cancel in dialogue boxes with a simple tab."
    As you can on OS X if you enable "All controls" in System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Full Keyboard Access. Or just press Enter or ESC keys which are much quicker anyway.

    "The taskbar in Windows 7 seems more logical. I can tab between all active applications, it shows me document previews instead of just icons, and it just seems to work."
    Use Expose, if you want to visually see what windows you have open and switch between them.

    "I like how easily I can launch apps with two or three keystrokes."
    Command-Space to bring up Spotlight search, type in start of the app name, press Enter.

    "Want to do a “Save As”? Sorry, they’re taking that away from a number of apps. Thus means when you want to access the actual file you created, you’re out of luck. (These are increasingly stored within the application and inaccessible from the Finder.) "
    Am confused by what you mean here. I haven't seen Save As disappearing from apps. Examples?

  18. I agree that there are ways to enable some of those functions. The problem is that because they aren't turned on by default, few ever go and flip those switches. For example, I haven't ever seen a Mac user use a keyboard command to toggle between options in a Save dialog. (Most don't even know you could do that sort of thing, so they don't think of turning it on.)

    Expose is nice (you can use it on a PC too). That doesn't get me past the weird experience of minimizing an app on a Mac and not being able to Alt-Tab back to it. For what it's worth, I didn't have big hopes for the Windows 7 taskbar. It is really very good, though.

    Similarly, I like how spotlight search will allow you to launch a program. It's a little jumpy, though, and I see that most designers turn it off and use Quicksilver of Alfred instead. I just find the Windows version works without needing any third-party install.

    You asked about "Save As" disappearing. You'll already find that in a number of little apps like iMovie, which bake the file right into the OS (that means you can't navigate to it through the Finder.) For a lot of people, this will be great. For an agency, it's a bit of a pain.

    I don't see this as something that will come into applications like Photoshop anytime soon, simply given the associated data usage to do so. That being said, I do think it's indicative of a move towards more consumer-grade devices. I don't know about you, but one thing that really frustrates me about my iPad is not being able to actually navigate to the files on it. (For example, I wanted to upload an image to Facebook last night, but had to email it in, as the browser on the iPad ccouldn't follow a path to a file.)

  19. andrew says:

    "First of all, OSX isn’t advancing as it should. It’s a decade old OS that’s showing its age. "

    What an utterly clueless comment, favouring windows which is even older and has had a modern compositing system hacked on top of a hacked on theme system when under everything it's basically still the same system as Windows 2000 UI backend wise and UI elements from that still crop up.

    OS X is far more modern and with far less antiquated cruft.

    "Keyboard Friendly"
    You can do what you described on a mac, just turn full keyboard access on. Also macs have an extra meta key and far richer shortcut integration in applications. Also you can customise or add any shortcut in any app via system prefs. Again you're acting like you haven't even looked at these things.

    "Copy a URL"
    cmd+shift+G

    "Shadow Copy"
    Yep might be better in an enterprise environment, but Apple managed to make the same solution in a way that everyone from my dad, my project manager and myself can set up and understand in minutes.

    "I don’t want to wait 30 seconds for Excel to load"
    _Facepalm_ why would they make a half decent piece of software on their biggest rival? Again… clueless

    Looking forward to your studio facing it's first virus, had to chuckle the other day when one of our two windows users got a virus just by visiting a webpage, in firefox 4 and with antivirus running. Should be a laugh having to shut down for the day and reimage to ensure it's 100% clean.

  20. It's strange that you say OSX is more modern. It's built atop UNIX, which dates back to the 70s. Out of curiosity, have you used Windows 7 on a day-to-day basis at any length? I use both a lot. 7 feels more advanced to me.

    I tried your cmd+shift+g suggestion. I think we're talking about a different thing here. For what it's worth, I've received dozens of suggestions on how to get around this, from add-ons to hacks. None have seemed as elegant as simply having a URL field in every window.

    I agree with your reference to Time Machine. It is a simple solution that anyone can understand (particularly home users). Shadow Copies are particularly handy in an agency environment, though, as they allow you to roll back to any state of a file on the network, using a simple right click. Time Machine seems more home-user geared.

    As for Excel taking 30 seconds to load, I'd say the same thing of apps like Photoshop. Much, much faster to load on my (similarly equipped) PC than on our Macs.

    While it's fine that you like Macs, I really wonder if you've actually given a PC a fair look. I say this as I read your (rather snarky) virus comment. In 10 years of running Windows in our agency, we've never had one. (Windows comes with this crazy thing called a "virus scanner.")

  21. James says:

    I tried running a powerbook for a while a few years back after being a windows user for a long time and I have to say I always hated the experience but put it largely down to me being very familiar with a windows environment.

    The argument that "everything works" on macs didn't really prove to match my experience as there were the occasional bug/issue as much as on my various PC's.

    We use PC's at work because primarily we're a .net agency and it just makes sense for us.

    I'm also amazed how many agencies switch or start on macs because they feel they're aesthetically superior products. They sit under your desk dammit.

    Good read, I suspect the mactards will descend soon enough to ridicule you for not switching to Steveworld though.

  22. Yael says:

    I'm a Mac user for many years (starting with a 75mHz Powermac 7200). It's a matter of what I'm used to I guess. I hate the i-everything and the 'we are so hip' attitude that Mac now exudes ad-nauseum. I bought an iPad thinking that it would free me from my desk a little and quickly returned it when I realized it was a glorified entertainment gadget (consumption of media vs. creating it). I'm a creator, and yes, Apple is paying less and less attention to us. I will still replace my 4-year-old iMac (which served me faithfully until recently) with a new one. I think older PC's suffer from similar ills to the new ones. Mac is good at designing hardware and pretty and intuitive UI's, but very bad at designing a mouse (for a long time now) and not over-designing the UI to appeal to dummies and not annoy the long-standing Mac users who don't need more bells and whistles. Apple needs to wake up and renew its relationship with the audience that made it the little computer company that could - the creatives. Mac stopped being the company "By Creatives for Creatives" when the first iMac (in 5 colors) came out.

  23. Thanks James. I think we're on the same page here. I'm not disparaging anyone for choosing a Mac. It does frustrate me to hear some folks simply dismiss Windows. (Particularly if they haven't even used it.)

    Yael, I think you're right to stick with a Mac. They're nice machines, and if you're comfortable with it, there isn't any big reason to switch. At the same time, if you do end up using a PC someday, I don't think you'll hate it as much as some might have us believe. :-)

  24. Very interesting article, thanks.
    I do agree with most reasons you give.

    I've always been a PC user, the main reason is financial matter (hardware upgrades, etc...) and also the fact that I can get my hands inside the unit without any deep knowledge in computers.

    PS: I must admit that most PCs look ugly besides Macs, but design doesn't justify the overcost.

  25. Adam says:

    I can't help, but wonder; On one side, you "dislike" Apple for bringing iOs into OS X, on the other hand, you're "pretty interested to see the results [of putting Metro into Windows 8]."

    That seems somewhat unfair – you say Apple did bad with this 'mobification' of Mac, but are interested in 'mobification' of PC.

    It just seems you should point out, that the execution is wrong in these little things, rather than 'Macs are being shifted slowly to be another mobile devices. Bad macs'.

    Other than that, your points are quite fair and show how little things going against your workflow annoy you. ^^

  26. christo says:

    I have no interest in starting a mac vs pc debate but most of your reasons are not because you can not do it on a mac but more so it is done differently and depending on who you ask done better. It is simply ignorant to think growing agencies should switch to pc's just as it would be ignorant to assume the creatives need macs.

    I am forced to use a pc from time to time and nothing is more frustrating to me. Preference.

  27. I agree Laurent. The notion of pulling out the suction cups to get into our agency's iMacs to upgrade hardware is a rather chilling notion at best.

    Adam, I think iOS is nicely designed, but I feel like that grid of icons has some real usability problems associated with it (whether it's in iOS or on Android). The thing I like about Metro is that it isn't about one device; rather, it's a design system. I like how it feels and what it seems to stand for. In fact, as I read thorough the documentation around it, I feel like it's written by people who love design. Things like: "Clean, light, open, and fast," and "Content, not chrome." More here: http://gu.nu/bxP

    I think we can agree that most agencies won't switch to PCs, Christo. (I also don't quite understand why you think the notion ignorant.) There's no personal gain for me to write a post like this. I don't sell ads on the site, and Microsoft certainly doesn't pay me a royalty for the kind things I do say (probably because I make fun of their gaffs). The reason I share this here, is that I believe the debate is often lopsided, and that there are some real advantages to consider. If people can gain something from that, great!

    And one other thing. The reason you find a PC frustrating is that you only use it from time to time. Such an argument hardly buys your claims any credibility. For what it's worth, I only speak French from time to time, and therefore find it frustrating.

  28. Robin Rice says:

    Great article: It's horses for courses as usual, there will never be a perfect machine...

  29. Thanks Robin. You might enjoy this: http://gu.nu/cEV

  30. Jeff Hilton says:

    You are trying to explain to everyone that the titanic is a really big ship built for long sea voyages, so don't worry. Windows is so over. By the way, what genius do you go to for problems with your PC?

  31. @shelkie is our genius.

    You can't have him, but I'll let you follow him: http://www.twitter.com/shelkie

  32. christo says:

    "I think we can agree that most agencies won't switch to PCs, Christo. (I also don't quite understand why you think the notion ignorant.) "

    What I found ignorant was suggesting if your a freelancer, sure macs are great, but if your a "growing" agency then not so much. In my experience I have seen it work the opposite way. Most growing agencies have switched to macs to avoid deep IT problems.

    I have unfortunately been using PC's since Windows 95 all the way up to Windows 7 but I choose not to use it when given the option. Again usually the opposite is true. Most PC people have very little experience on a mac.

    Either way, I agree this is your house and you can share your opinions. Of course there is a fight for both sides and there is absolutely nothing wrong with chosen and even loving the system that works best for you. Regardless of my own preference it is a refreshing article. Carry on.

  33. Fair enough. :-)

    Incidentally, my reason for suggesting a Mac for freelancers, is rooted in how many tools seem to be built in that environment for just those folks.

    Perhaps this is a biased perspective. It's just that if I were only working on my own, I'd probably be on a MacBook Pro.

  34. Tanner says:

    While I agree with most of the points made here, the one thing Windows machines just doesn't seem to have is an inspiring design.

    Where's the inspiration in those grey or black window boxes? There's nothing there to make me say "I want to create today." Rather, PCs give me the feeling that I need to be producing TPS reports, not creating something that will change the world.

    Maybe that's what you're looking for though, right?

  35. I'm completely with you there. I'd love for a PC maker to create a beautiful piece of hardware. PC laptops, in particular, are so cheap and clunky looking that they make me want to gag.

    My desktop's design doesn't matter to me very much, because it's largely hidden. It's a nondescript black box that sits under my desk. The Dell monitors we have are quite capable, but feel over-designed, with too many bevels and forms. My Logitech mouse is very nice from a usage standpoint, but a little "techy" looking.

    As for laptops, the Samsung 7 is looking quite nice (in spite of being derivative of the MacBook Air). I'll likely get one of those, or an Air for my travels. If I buy the Air, I'll just install Windows 7 on it.

    One thing, though, and please take this for what it's worth: You should never look at your machine to leave you saying "I want to create today." Find interesting projects and big problems you can use design to address. As you do, you'll find yourself looking less at someone else's hardware for inspiration.

  36. Tim Davis says:

    My CEO from day one decided every computer on the floor will be the iMac 27", A few week's in I started dual booting win 7, several other defectors joined and now the entire IT crew are sporting PC's as they reflect the design/writing flow better for a real coding group.
    We found them to be underpowered and slow, and alternate OS's like Ubuntu just don't cut it under Parallels. Also as a long time Adobe Suite user I found it to perform far better in the Win 7 then IOS. Just my $0.02 from a agency user experience.

  37. Thanks for sharing that Tim. While I'm quite satisfied with our decision, it's nice to hear that others have experienced the same.

  38. Margaret says:

    What about fonts? A lot of fonts simply don't work on PC.

  39. OpenType works in both environments.

  40. Rachel says:

    Great article highlighting many of the things that I have been feeling increasingly uneasy about with Apple, despite being having a mac for many years. Most of all, I can't stand the propriety control they want to have over everything on a computer - I never touched iWork after finding out you have to Export your files to have them in a format anyone else could use. More recently, the App store coming to the desktop is taking it too far - I want to buy a programme for my computer, not a simplified, controlled app.
    I still favour using a mac over a PC any day, but I admit to missing Explorer - Finder does not match it.

  41. Daniel Lopez says:

    I've used my IMac for almost 4-5 years. It's dated in terms of power and storage but it has served me very well allowing me to work as a freelancer. I can't really complain or consider moving to another platform because the machine just works so well for me. It's funny how some people have so many issues with their macs but I've had zero problems with mine. The most problematic piece of Apple hardware I have is my 7-8 year old IPod that just needs to be restarted from time to time.

    I guess I could still be living in the age of Windows 95 (or ME *shudder*) and I just remember the plethora of issues it had. My folks bought a Windows laptop and it too has had more issues in it's setup than my recently purchased macbook.

    I guess at the end of the day it's all about the experience you have with the hardware. Eric - you're clearly having more hits than misses with your PC and Windows software and if I were in your shoes I would make the move as well. It just seems logical.

  42. Kevin Cannon says:

    I've worked in agencies that use both Macs & PCs and i really believe it just doesn't matter all that much any more. Right now, I work in an office with nearly 50 people and there's a mix between both types and we rarely have any of the problems you're describing. The same is true in all our offices.

    Seriously though, this article is mostly opinion and personal experience. It also seriously reads with a lot of confirmation bias to your arguments.

    Just to point out a few of your issues.

    "You Still Need to Create PowerPoint Templates"
    - Powerpoint is available on OSX, this is such a non-point.

    "Built for Work"
    "Group Environment"
    - We use all of these features on a daily basis with both Windows & Mac fine. Shifting your entire companies platform is a pretty big deal, maybe you underestimated the IT time required to do it properly.

    "All the Little Things"
    "Intuitive Taskbar"
    "Easy Organization"
    "Keyboard Friendly"
    - OSX is different to Windows. It's got a different UI model. You have to accept that work with it, not just moan that it's different.

    "Everything Runs Faster with Windows"
    A gross generalization based on very little objective evidence.

    "It Looks Like 1984"
    - Honestly, why did you even try switching in the first place if you felt that way.

  43. Some quick responses:

    "Powerpoint is available on OSX, this is such a non-point."
    Yes, but it doesn't mean that templates created in one environment transfer over to the other seamlessly. (This goes both ways.)

    "Maybe you underestimated the IT time required to do it properly."
    Aren't they supposed to "just work." ;-)

    "OSX is different to Windows. It's got a different UI model."
    I know. I've used Apples since grade school, and worked with them exclusively for a decade. These machines aren't sacred. Comparing OSs is fair game.

    "Faster with windows ... A gross generalization based on very little objective evidence."
    I just look at the PC and Mac (similarly configured) that sit side by side machines in the office. One goes fast, the other keeps showing me a (rather pretty) beachball. A perfect test environment? No. Enough to make me pick one over the other? Yup.

    "Honestly, why did you even try switching in the first place if you felt that way."
    I didn't feel that way. It's when I look at the things they do that I'm left with that feeling. Here's some further reading: http://gu.nu/5JN

    While I agree that my argument is biased at times, I wonder if you're any less so. I see that you work at Frog. Isn't that the same company (in part) famous for the design it has done for Apple?

  44. Michael Reilly says:

    First, I agree, as Apple gets larger, they are advancing towards where Microsoft was with draconian user agreements and app store restrictions. But that's almost inevitable with any successful company that is required to "maximize shareholder value" over all else.

    There are a number of valid issues with OS X and even Apple hardware.

    Enterprise Integration
    Apple dropped out of focusing on business long ago when Microsoft had nearly the entire market. I agree, it seems like it shouldn't be hard to create a shared calendaring system that does what Exchange does. But frankly, MS Exchange is no simple product to setup or administer, and it didn't get to where it is overnight. Many of your complaints in this area are not so much about a lack of an Apple option, but difficulty integrating with the MS option which isn't the same thing.

    Hardware
    The magic mouse is a pain. The touch surface seems like a good idea, but it's too easy to get unintended movements. Third-party software helps it some, but ultimately I got the wireless trackpad because I come from a Mac laptop and I prefer that.

    The rest of their hardware though is pretty high end. They were largely responsible for forcing the move to USB. They made CD/DVD burning, wifi and Gigabit ethernet standard on their systems long ago. Even today, many Dell systems have only CD burners by default.

    They don't fool around with specs either. Sure the iMac is considered a consumer model, but mine has quad-core i7 with hyperthreading so appears as 16 processors. The towers do add up quickly, but if you build a Dell with the same processors and specs, it's really not all that different in cost, in fact the Dell is often more.

    Hardware problems will exist and nothing can really change that. If you look up hard drives on Amazon, you would think that there are no reliable hard drives. But all you see in reviews are those that failed, not those that didn't. That said, I would always get Applecare extended coverage on laptops. Abuse of laptops is almost unavoidable, and I've had Apple repair/replace components that were damaged through that abuse under this coverage.

    My last laptop had a persistent problem where the wifi card would die over and over. It really sucked when it happened, but they were always very responsive, ordering the parts and doing the repair in the store usually same-day. After they were unable to fix it reliably, they declared the machine a lemon and gave me a brand new i5 model to replace my 2.5 year old Core 2 duo.

    Speed
    Contrary to what the TV commercials tell us, the computer we bought years ago that seemed fast then and crawls now, is probably less about viruses and more about the fact that the software we use grows ever more powerful and demanding. Websites may look the same, but there is a tremendous amount of AJAX chatter going on in the background. If you browse with ads, sites are slowed by overloaded ad servers, etc. That's not to say I don't see my share of spinning balls and feel like my machine is sluggish. But when I felt that the other day, I looked and found it had been 30 days since I last restarted. I'm willing to live with memory/cache fragmentation that doesn't become burdensome for 30 days.

    Quirks
    I'm a lifelong Mac user, and have been forced onto PCs in a few prior jobs. I experienced many of the same reactions you outline in your move to Mac. While it's useful to be able to select buttons from the keyboard, the keyboard shortcuts from program to program are completely different for common things like opening a file or quitting the program. As a web developer, I was blown away by the need to install a program to get SSH functionality. While it's not useful to most average users, having the Unix command-line available is immensely useful.

    I'm using Windows 7 to interface with some equipment for the work I do now. I got the 64 bit version since Mac has been 64 bit for a while now and it seemed pretty common. But it turns out that Corel Draw X5 isn't really 64 bit, but my print driver is. So it has to go through this splWOW64 utility and every 10 times or so, that utility crashes. I have to kill that process, and Corel Draw, then reload to continue.

    I also run Quickbooks Pro 2011 on that machine because while the Mac version does have feature parity now, it doesn't have the "web connector" to integrate with web-based services. Windows 7 64 bit doesn't come with Outlook Express, and QB needs that to send emails natively. I can't see buying Ms Office for that purpose alone. QB supports SMTP but not with my domain provider for some reason I can't identify (since it provides no logs.) So I send through a gmail account setup for that purpose. But when I have to kill Corel, etc. QB can't send email anymore until I restart.

    And whenever an application hands in Windows 7, it pops up a dialog saying "windows is searching for a solution to this problem" and it has literally never found such a solution. The solution is to end the process and try again. My assessment of Windows 7 is that it's "uselessly informative." It will tell you that there is a problem, but you knew that already... My copy tells me that there are 2 issues that need my attention, but when "windows searches for a solution to my problems" it finds nothing. Great... I don't even know what the problems are.

  45. That's a thorough and thoughtful response Michael. I think you make a number of good points. Frankly, though, you’ve responded in such great detail that the only way I’m willing to respond is if you come over with a bottle of scotch. It’s a fine debate, but if we touch on each of these points, it’s best that we both have a drink in hand.

  46. David Spratte says:

    I can't help but to think that a lot of this for you is "institutional muscle memory. I've seen tweets where you complained about something with either iOS or OSX and it was simply an option to change that you weren't aware of. That's a function of expert expectations with limited seat time.

    Years of memory will help you adapt to a new version of Windows much faster than the switch to OSX. Time is money, so I can see deciding to bail now and cut your loses, but long term I wonder how that will actually work out. You've given yourself just shy of 9 months to adapt. How long had you been in a Windows environment?

    I'm not discrediting the value of that at all. No matter what OS you're using—scratch that. No matter what tool you're using, when you achieve a degree of familiarity with it that you no longer have to think about it, that's worth gold. Whether that's an OS, a camera or a brush with a specific type of paint.

    I have a philosophical issue with the virus thing: Why should any modern OS require an additional application to protect it from malware? That rings of a fundamental design flaw. The OS is so insecure to rely on additional or third party programming to make it safe. To be fair, I'd like to know how many "infections" are a direct result of poor user judgement.

    As far as "Save as. . . " going away. I've yet to encounter any of that in the applications I count on for work. I don't spend much time in iAnything and I'm surprised that your agency is doing that much work there either. This part rings false to me in an otherwise well-reasoned discussion.

    I think the touch thing is interesting. While obviously a fundamental component of iOS, my jury is out on how it works on a desktop. I find myself falling back to the Slimblade / Wacom for detailed Photoshop / Illustrator work. But, again, I wonder. Is that a function of habit rather than an indication of the interface's value. What can this bring moving forward for UI though? I don't know the answer to that. But it'll be interesting to see it evolve.

    I think you're seeing the glass half full in Lion. Having the server components baked into every copy is nod to professionals as smaller shops can take advantage of that. Upgrading OSX over the years has always been, relatively painless with little to no down time as a result. Comparing that to the effort it took to upgrade a machine from Vista to Win7? Abject misery.

    Having said all this, we'll likely Boot Camp a Win7 install or two. And that's the one benefit that the Macs have: The option to have both on the same box. And that makes it easier to be OS agnostic.

  47. Lots of folks suggested fixes to points of frustration I noted on Twitter. The unfortunate part was that few of them actually worked.

    In spite of my current preference for Windows, I've used OSX a great deal. I started in that environment and moved to using a PC about 10 years ago. My brain still says "Apple-Z" for undo, but I've found that other than that I can work with either.

    My point isn't that Macs are bad. Rather, I argue that a Windows environment has a number of advantages. Admittedly, this goes both ways. I simply think the benefits on this side of the fence outweigh those on the other.

  48. jaklumen says:

    Eric...

    I do have an idea of how linguistics, etymology, etc. goes, but just because people say "PC" when they really mean "Windows" doesn't make the term correct.

    "PC" originally meant Personal Computer, as you know, and continuing to use it to mean "Windows" suggests that Linux users just aren't worthy of consideration-- and that's not quite fair, in my view.

    Yes, I am a Linux user. I have also used Windows and Mac OS systems a fair bit, however, even recently. Granted, I am also a home user with little money and plenty of time to tweak/tune.

    Jack Yan suggested to me that Linux likely lacks the specific tools a design agency needs. That I can accept, although I would say Novell and Canonical (among others) are supporting means to close the gap, albeit to the great chagrin of F/LOSS fanatics at times.

  49. That's true, but it's the popular nomenclature, so, I'm using it to keep things easy.

  50. jaklumen says:

    Nope... I don't quite see how saying "Windows" instead of "PC" is somehow more difficult. Five more letters and yet more specific, everyone still understands what you mean, and you allow us on Linux some legitimacy.

    We have every bit of right to be considered as much as Apple and Microsoft's products, even in the professional world.

    Sorry, Eric. Even Jack affords me that much.

  51. Fair enough.

  52. David Spratte says:

    If more of these conversations happened over a bottle of scotch I suspect the world would be a much better place. . .

  53. It most certainly would be.

  54. O says:

    I have compared the experiences of Windows 7 and Mac OS X and whilst Microsoft have made some massive strides from Vista to 7, OS X still offers a more complete out-of-the-box user experience. I don't need to install Adobe PDF reader, or disk mounting software, screen sharing software or a Word-compatible editor - all of these things come working out of the box. On Windows I have to download and install these things separately - or even have to buy them. For other features, there just aren't any comparisons - Quick Look, Time Machine, Spaces, Expose and App Store. These features are untouched on Windows.

    Then there's the comparable features like Dashboard vs. Sidebar Gadgets. Dashboard is extremely useful place to hide/show those non-essential items like calculator, unit converter, dictionary/thesaurus and weather. Gadgets on the other hand remain on your desktop whether you like it or not. And when it comes to the dock, the OS X with Stacks is more useful than pinning items to a shortcut icon - it becomes my transparent explorer/finder which lets me open, move or delete a file without opening a window. Apps like Mail use live icons - Mail for instance shows the number of unread messages which in my view is the better way to prompt the user to new mail.

    The list goes on.

    I've read your views and can relate to some of the issues, but I think some of it is more of a give and take - switching will inevitably result in lost familiarity with what you're so used to - but the other side of it is that you gain new things that you wouldn't otherwise be able to do on Windows.

    Saying that Mac's aren't built for Pro's anymore is not and never will be true. Apple continues to choose the most current hardware from the best vendors for its Mac range to suit its targeted audience. Take the recent MacBook Pro revision - not only adopting the latest Intel refresh, they're introducing new superfast IO (Thunderbolt) which will naturally be applicable to the Pro market at first before filtering down to the consumers. The argument that you don't have a Save As option for some apps is not really a valid point - as you state, it's designed for the inexperienced and unfamiliar. Pro apps will always be around - they have to be, there's no option and Apple can't abandon its Pro and Dev audience - they'll have nobody developing apps on their platform if they did - and I'm pretty sure those apps will have a 'Save As' option where appropriate.

    hat Apple are doing by adding iOS to the OS X mix is to try and redefine the computing experience from what it has always been. Nobody, not even Apple, knows what the future holds and what will and wont work - they know iOS has been extremely successful from a consumer and development perspective and they're trying to bring that success that the consumers and the development community have enjoyed to the desktop platform.

    The mouse I have to agree isn't great. But it's a damn sight better and more functional than the default ones that ship with the Dell and HPs out there. Likewise with their keyboard - I have a colleague who has a HP laptop but prefers to use the Mac keyboard despite the labelling of keys being incorrect for her setup.

    I don't get your point about using Active Directory - if you're switching your entire office to Mac, then networking should work beautifully. Whenever I'm connected to a network with Macs, I'm able to with zero configuration connect to public/shared folders, connect as a user for root access or activate remote desktop with zero configuration. I have never ever been able to do any of this on a Windows machine without tinkering with the settings.

    I could carry on and give a different perspective to your points but I think these are some good points from someone who was introduced to computers through Windows 95 and carried on being a Windows user for a good part of when Windows XP was around. Then I ran side by side with Mac and Windows doing daily comparisons to workflows until I realised that working in a 'Mac way' made more sense, made me more productive and ultimately felt like less maintenance. I always felt like I had to defrag my hard drive, delete temp cache files, virus scan, scandisk, on a weekly basis, and fork out £50/year to a guy with glasses (Norton) just to feel safe and stop the machine from grinding to a halt.

  55. While I don't agree with you on a few of these comments, you raise some good points.

    Again, I'm OK with the notion of folks using Macs. All I'm saying is that there are a number of reasons to consider using a Windows environment.

    I'd say more, but I think I've likely commented as much as I can above already.

  56. Robin Rice says:

    ...way too many people get so angry about the whole pc v mac thing.

    Both mac's and pc's can be tweaked to do pretty much the same things but never eveything and you will have to have an indepth knowledge of your machine, the right software and expert on tap to constantly keep running smoothly and not everyone has this.

    Any professional in any industry buying a machine should always look at both options all the time (and more if available) and pick what works for them, anyone who dimisses this theory, is not thinking logically and buying a machine because of its looks...seriously!

    I like the video too Eric, cheers

  57. I'm with you there Robin. :-)

  58. Cocolio says:

    nice article, but i dislike the "I like the way Apple machines look and I like the way they feel. Buying new Apple hardware is generally delightful, whereas, unboxing a PC is a little like buying a bag of potatoes." good lord how old are you to make such statement? anyway the box is meant to be thrown away right, is the product inside that interests me not the box with a faggy picture of the device on it.

    Anyway the superiority complex that Mac users have is really awful, i really hate the "macs" design, is crap (my opinion) i hate the keyboard minimalist design, mouse well averyone knows how are mouses by crapple, and most of all i hate to say that a computer is called mac, that´s so queer that makes me sick, really.

    Now you say to install Windows on a "mac" why to do that? it makes more sense to install Mac OS X in a PC, its more afordable and nice, i have it installed on my old HP DV6000, and it kicks out an 17" MBP from early 2009, both with 4 Gb of RAM, both with a 5400 RPM disks (mine is 250 vs 500 of the mac) 2.1 vs 2.8 ghz, well i have no reason to buy (again) a Mac since they are overpriced PCs and the i can make whatever i want on my PC when in a Mac you cannot, cheers.

  59. Cocolio says:

    And... i was forgot, the stupidity of mac users: you will have a virus tomorrow while surfing the web, there is only one word to those jerks NOOB!!!! learn to use a computer then talk.

  60. Pingback: Mitch Portfolio » Blog Archive » L’article polémique de la semaine

  61. Cocolio, you're welcome to share any opinion you'd like here.

    My only request is that in the future you avoid using the words "queer" and "faggy."

    Not having the sense to avoid such terms leaves me with the worry that your parents might be cousins, or, that they let you to snack on lead paint chips as a child.

    I'm sure neither is the case, but why give anyone a reason to think such things, right?

  62. Cocolio says:

    hahahahaha okay, but everyone has its own opinions right? cheers.

  63. Opinions are fine. In fact, they're welcomed.

    My concern with those words is that they're mean spirited (and actually quite ugly).

    I understand that you likely didn't intend them in that way, but I think we'd all be better off if we could avoid such words altogether.

  64. I can't tell if you're being disingenuous in your post or responses.

    When you state:

    “I'm not suggesting that FCP is bad. I'm simply saying that there are many who espouse Vegas, and that in our experience it has some clear advantages.”

    I don't think you're simply saying anything of the kind. Scrolling back up the page to make sure I've not lost my mind, I see that you wrote:

    “Apple’s marketing team is really good at convincing us that things like Final Cut are the industry standard, but a lot of this is (again) marketing over actuality.”

    Except that Final Cut Pro *is* used broadly and in a wide variety of industries. That isn't marketing overhype. I think the vast ecosystem of third-party products available to support and extend FCP could be taken as evidence of the state of play. You claim to have researched your position yet your conclusion is so patently wrong.

    “All I'm saying is that there are a number of reasons to consider using a Windows environment.”

    I'd like you to understand that I'd have no problem if this were true and I wish you were. So many of the arguments you've currently put forward are so outlandish and so full of vitriol I can't see how you can genuinely believe that to be the case. I've actually been holding out hope this is an April Fool.

    “Ultimately, [Speak Human] is about finding your own voice, articulating it clearly and using it to connect with your customers”

    I didn't understand that statement to be the words of a cynic.

  65. Yes, it's a highly used piece of software. It isn't, however, the only one that can get the job done. Many believe the alternatives are equally viable.

    Apple's gets us to people believe all kinds of things that aren't really the case. The GUI came from PARC, but Apple presented it as their own. Then they claimed Microsoft stole it. Apple and Microsoft aren't so different: just companies trying to convince us that they present the one right choice. (Like almost every other company in the world.)

    I don't want to seem offensive here. When I read your retorts, however, I can't help but believe you are a hardcore Mac user. My hunch is that you've not used 7 for more than an hour at a stretch. Conjecture? Probably. I'd wager that I'm right, though.

    What's interesting to me is that you find my comments "outlandish and so full of virtiol" and that you're "holding out hope." My question is, why do you care? Apple is just a company. OSX is just a piece of software.

    I'm not asking you to not use it. In fact, this post has little to do with you. I'm not asking you to change anything you do. I'm just proposing that Windows is a viable environment. If you don't like it; don't use it. At the same time, if you really believe the Mac to be in a different class (as some do) I worry that you've lost the ability to look at the situation objectively.

    As for the quote from the book about speaking human, I ask you to read it with a little more complexity. I'm a cynic and a believer; a pragmatist and a fool; sincere and sometimes an asshole. Just like this argument, it's all shades of grey.

    I'm not an Apple guy, and I'm not a Microsoft guy. I'm an idea guy. When Microsoft made crap (and they still sometimes do) I mocked it mercilessly. When Apple makes crap I do the same.

    When I read your comments, I feel like it's an almost religious debate. Your thoughts are your own, but the (sorry) fervor kind of freaks me out. I'm not putting you down as a human being. I just think it's important to think critically. And I can't imagine any company being immune to such observation. (Even one with really nice industrial design.)

  66. Josh Bobb says:

    I laughed when I read the part about the mouse. Yes, Apple mice suck, for as long as I can remember. I guess my question would be, why wouldn't you get a 3rd party mouse? I don't use the mouse anymore, but when I do, I just use the Wacom one. I also have one for traveling as well (some 3rd party Bluetooth one). If you're buying a PC, you wouldn't necessarily use ONLY the mouse that comes with it (and on that note, it's a separate add-on item for most purchases). As for the gestures on a trackpad, I use those on a daily basis.

  67. Derryl says:

    "Not being Steve's bitch"

    ...says the guy who waited six hours in line for an iPhone.

  68. Touché.

  69. I would be up for chatting over scotch some day, but it'll have to wait until one of us is nearer to the other. I run a specialty laser cutting shop in Dallas TX which is quite a ways from Vancouver.

  70. Joseph Wu says:

    Amen, Eric, amen. I've often had similar discussions at home because Nancy is a non-techie Apple fan and I'm a former techie who's used both but has stayed on the Windows side of the fence. I totally agree that both platforms have their pluses and minuses. It's the Mac fanboyism that bothers me, not the Macs themselves.

    (For the record, I got about halfway through the comments section before I gave up. The fanboyism was starting to get to me.)

  71. It's kind of a funny one. If I wrote a post that said Macs are great, there would be very little discussion. When I say that PCs are getting better and seem to have some advantages, some people get really angry.

    In all honesty, I know that I should expect such things when I write an article like this. Additionally, I have to point out that there are a number of good, balanced arguments and points being raised in the comments.

    I'm with you, though. When people think it's a "cause," I get weirded out.

  72. Héctor Muñoz Huerta says:

    I have not used Windows 7 or Vista, ever. I work on an iMac on the office and in a Compaq laptop with XP in my house... Why? Because it is all I need to get my personal stuff and family-friends jobs done, and I feel very comfortable on it.

    The only real advantage I see on OSX are the previsualization capabilities it has, but really, I can work very comfortably on both machines. I know some designers I really admire who use Corel Draw or who don't even touch computers and they do awesome work.

    People, don't get caught on silly brand loyalties, they don't deserve it.

  73. You've surprised me again by taking this tangent to challenge my credibility and cast me as an Apple apologist. That seems a little unworthy.

    I didn't intend my comments to be about Apple, Mac OS X, FCP or Windows per se, but about the approach and tone you've adopted. Silly of me to care about what you get up to perhaps, but I think you're aware that I've been a supporter for a long time — from way back on that NewMedia BC project we worked on, through to the release of your book.

    To be clear, I think that it's reckless of you to publish conjecture as researched fact. I think that your arguments could be compelling without running a negative campaign (I say again, as a follower of your writing, I would've been interested in reading that post). I believe that people are generally more critically aware and media literate than you've acknowledged here.

    It's none of my business if you want to play the role of agent provocateur, I'm just not interested in that game.

  74. Perhaps I've misread your comments, Jonathan. For what it's worth, I certainly don't mean to be rash, cavalier, or inaccurate.

    I've come to believe that the decision to embrace a Windows environment is a sensible one. The arguments I present may very well be biased, given that I've now committed to that decision. That being said, it does seem that some felt my reasoning was clear-headed enough.

    If I've taken an overly sensational tone in my comments, it's likely a result of me not being a stronger writer. It seems that when I present these ideas in person, many tend to find sense in them--even if they don't agree with me.

    If I've offended in any way, please accept my apologies. In spite of how things may read, I'm not meaning to be a jerk here.

    One final note, though. You imply that I believe the readers of this blog to not be "critically aware and media literate". Please don't assign such notions to me. I haven't said that, nor, do I believe such a thing.

  75. Thanks Eric, I appreciate your candour and of course I accept your apology.

    I do think you have been misreading me. For example, I didn't mean “here” as in your blog, I meant a more specific “here”:

    In the main post you wrote, “In my opinion, this is representative of the amazing hoodwink Apple has achieved in its marketing. People actually think they have skills because they selected one platform over another.”

    To which I commented, “I think it's treacherous ground you're on when you divide the world into those “hoodwinked” by clever marketing and the enlightened few who see the world as it really is. I can't believe you're that cynical about your own work?”

    And you replied, “Of course I'm cynical about my own work. I don't know many in marketing who aren't cynical about what they do.”

    I'm not trying to trick you or twist your words, but this is one of the threads that jarred with me and why I quoted from the speak human description in my next comment. These sentiments seemed out of character and I thought it was reasonable to seek clarification. I'm pleased to hear you state emphatically that it's not the case at all.

    (Now here's the part where you could invite me out for a drink too…)

  76. That's an open offer. I'm always happy to grab a coffee, and at this point in the day, it's rare to find me without a glass of scotch or wine in hand. :-)

  77. Clayton says:

    A good read and a lively debate.

    Eric,
    The new Windows Phone UI also impressed me. Is it perfect - no - but I think it's a step in the right direction. I want my software free of blatant skeuomorph,and while Apple exceeds at product design, I can't stand to see any more faux leather, steel, or wood chrome.

  78. As an old fogey whose first computer was an Apple IIe (Yes, you actually had to write the code to get it do something) and who learned layout on a MAC Classic with Aldus Pagemaker in the 1980's, I'd like to say that like Nike, Apple has done an amazing job building a brand. It's now rocketed into cult status.

    Just because Apple is now a powerhouse brand does not mean it's computers are better. Nor does it mean they are worse. Different brands meet different needs. Depending on your need, you choose your computer.

    My personal opinion is that the last truly great desktop Apple built was the Quadra. It used to sit next to my souped up Windows 95 machine and win every time. However, a lot has changed since then.

    I haven't used a MAC in over 10 years. I can get a better computer with more speed and better graphics rendering for a lot less money and aggravation than a MAC. Those are my needs.

    The other agency need which wasn't stressed enough here is that most businesses use PCs. Clients need us to understand them and their needs. We can't really understand them if we don't understand their tools.

    I also never hire designers who work on MACs. Here's why: clients often need graphics and treatments created to run on their systems and their software. If the people who work with me can't do that, I can't delight my customers.

    To the person who complained about the fact that some fonts don't work on PCs: Yes, that is true. And there is nothing worse than telling a big business that they can't buy their brand's font for their users because it won't work on their computers. You bet your ass you're going to be fired for not doing the proper due diligence and selecting a font that is available on PCs.

    Overall, I find that many designers who work on MACs are so myopic that they can't truly meet client needs.

    One last note, Apple as a company is structured incorrectly to be successful without Steve Jobs. They run on what I call the Visionary Model. The Visionary Model for business can create the most amazing, elegant products and services but this model is not sustainable because there is not a built in succession plan and, just like a family business, it usually fails once the visionary is gone.

  79. One thing I forgot to mention. If you really want to be on the cutting edge of computing and beautiful design, get a Rain computer. If you're going to spend more on a MAC, your should truly consider spending it, instead, on a Rain.

    http://raincomputers.com/why-rain/

  80. Thezenmonkey says:

    I agree with you on many points. Apple has many flaws

    Many have pointed out that you can enable keyboard in dialogues, but they fail to mention you can activate any dialog button with a command key. OS 9 used to underline the corresponding key on the button, but OS X did away with that. cmd-s to save, cmd-c to cancel. Unless I'm performing mouse tasks in AI, PS or ID my hands never leave the keyboard. I even use numbers instead of excel because it has better keyboard navigation support.

    True some of these features should be more obvious, and something like Quicksilver or Alfred should be baked in instead of a launch pad, for keyboard ap launching.

    I do believe a lot of features being added to lion are a step in the wrong direction, but I can't for see moving to a winbox with software investment and muscle memory retraining for all the keyboard shortcuts I use.

    I always preferred the Mac document-focused model over the MS application-focus model (though yes they're moving away from it in lion). I think doing away with the file management may be a good thing if implemented properly, as well as versioning at the OS level even for the consumer (we'll see how it plays out with 2gb photoshop files)

    I still find my Mac has less issues than any of the win7 boxes in the office and even our IT guys run MacBooks with windows boot camped or virtualized.

  81. Andy Mullins says:

    I run a shop with both pcs and macs and the pcs are not faster or more productive. At best, they are equal but only if you uninstall the AV software, diconnect them from the internet and hire a full time IT department to reinstall the OS every 6 months.

    ...and pc's are ugly and don't fit my cool persona and popped collar...

  82. Craig says:

    You keep saying how great Windows 7 is and asking Mac users if they use it on a regular basis.

    Well, I use Macs at home (for over 5 years) and I've used Windows 95 all they way up to 7 at the office all day for over 15 years. Windows 7 is the worst OS MS has ever produced. They keep removing options so that power users can't get any real work done.

    I spend the majority of my time removing thumbs.db from FTP uploads because they removed the ability to turn that off from Vista.

    Explorer now shows detailed info about selected files in the footerbar, but it reorders the info based on file type. So web developers can no longer quickly see dimensions in a consistent manner across all layout options.

    The Explorer path bar segments suck. I don't understand how a power user thinks that is a feature. P.S. you can turn on footerbar path segments that don't interfere with the actual path in OS X... Apple did this the right way so that you can actually get things done.

    I don't think you really are a power user if you think that 7 is a leap forward.

    Windows 7 is just as guilty as catering to "granny" as OS X is. The only difference is that Apple gives you an option if you are a power user. MS does not.

    My 3 year old Mac mini on SL runs circles around my less-than-a-year-old top of the line PC running 7.

    This article is a joke.

  83. This discussion is always an interesting one. Folks get so awfully angry when you challenge the status quo, and designers are certainly passionate about their Macs.

    For the record, I'll likely be buying a MacBook Air later this week. There isn't another PC laptop on the market that matches that hardware on a performance/cost/elegance standpoint (yes, I've looked at the Samsung 9, ThinkPad X1, and Sony Vaio Z). Looking objectively, though, all fall somewhat short at one point or another. Additionally, I'm quite interested to see how Lion performs.

    At the same time, I'm not optimistic. Many of my initial concerns seem to be popping up in early reviews like this one: http://gizmodo.com/5819418/mac-os-x-lion-this-is-not-the-future-we-were-hoping-for; similarly, the direction with Final Cut X certainly seems to favor the (likely more profitable) prosumer market over professionals: http://www.qbn.com/topics/657872/

    If Lion is good, I'll happily use it. If not, I'll just install Windows 7 on the Air (go figure--a stable OS that will run on almost any box).

    And to Andy (Mullins), should your comments not be plain hyperbole, I have some bad news. If your IT department actually re-installs the OS every 6 months, you may have morons in your employ.

  84. kate says:

    What you have written about Apple's move towards the consumer market is so true. Just look at Final Cut X. I am a video editor and motion designer and was a Windows advocate for a long time until Apple went to Intel and 8 cores. And now I really can't see myself going back to a windows machine. I have worked on windows 7 machines and frankly the interface always gets in the way. And unfortunately I see BSOD alot if you deal with video and external capture cards...but then that's because Apple seems to deal with video a bit better and I have never had the need to install any 3rd party capture cards into an Apple machine.
    Great article, I might have to try Windows on one of my macs.

  85. John says:

    Don't trust anyones opinion, especially when they state that they're a designer but use "--" instead of an en dash. Ask why is that? Is it because the PC doesn't have a simple keystroke that allows them to do something as simple as 1914–18, or a pause that uses —
    the correct characters?
    My guess is that they use those out of sheer laziness rather than being unaware of the alt *** keystrokes available for the PC. Special characters are one area where thing are easier on OS X.
    Just my 2¢ (or $0.02) if you use a PC

  86. The symbols you're referring to are called an em dash and an en dash--depending on the use case.

    For the record, accessing these characters on a PC is different than on a Mac, but not necessarily worse.

    While I'd generally use a proper em dash or en dash, in some cases it's harder to do this. For example, I'm typing this response on an iPhone.

    Most typographers would quite readily use a double dash in this way--even if they wouldn't while setting the text for a printed document. Similarly, most typographers find underlines a little gross, but understand the utility of such a treatment on the web.

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment, but I feel yours is a rather weak retort. Using a double dash in place of an em dash hardly puts the overarching argument into question.

  87. John says:

    "The symbols you're referring to are called an em dash and an en dash--depending on the use case."

    They are always called an em or en dash just like I quoted in my post.

    "For the record, accessing these characters on a PC is different than on a Mac, but not necessarily worse".

    That is a matter of opinion, an en bash on a Mac is alt & hyphen on a PC its alt (numberpad) 0150
    Honestly which is easier?

    "Most typographers would quite readily use a double dash in this way--even if they wouldn't while setting the text for a printed document."

    Never make excuses for incorrect use of ugly characters, if its wrong it's wrong-don't use it—no excuses.

    I find your arguments rather 'weak'

  88. John says:

    By the way I missed
    "While I'd generally use a proper em dash or en dash, in some cases it's harder to do this. For example, I'm typing this response on an iPhone".

    There can be no excuses for laziness, never use anything but the correct characters, you wouldn't use "--" on a clients work, why use it in you professional blog?
    Everything you do should have standards, don't be lazy—

    If you are using an iPhone and need an en dash just hold the hyphen key down and select it.

    Most poor hacks would quite happily use the incorrect characters, but they're not Typographers–no excuses always use the correct glyphs especially if you want to be taken seriously when voicing you opinions.

  89. It feels a little like you're making a mountain out of a molehill (which would seem less silly if you took the time to spell properly).

  90. John says:

    Well spelling has nothing to do with it– I guess I type in a hurry on my iphone, unlike you I'm no designer but at least i can use an en dash.
    What the issue is, is that some designers use Macs because glyphs are a single keystroke µ ™ etc are easy on a Mac, on a PC...
    Just an illustration of one advantage.
    The fact you think it's 'silly' pretty much nails you and why no-one should take your thoughts seriously.

    No excuses just use the correct glyph, you're supposed to be the pro after all.

  91. Fine enough, but then why are you using an em dash incorrectly in your own comment?

    And there's no hyphen in "no one."

  92. Joseph Wu says:

    Having just read the latest exchange, here's a capsule version for those unwilling to wade through the verbiage:

    "I am a Mac fanboy posting under the name 'John.' Unable or unwilling to come up with a relevant response to Eric's post, I will instead pick on a very minor point and blow it out of proportion in an effort to attack Eric's credibility. I will state clearly that I am not a designer, but I can and will out 'non-designers' based on that one very minor point. No, I am not a designer. I am a writer of political attack ads."

    Now that that's clear, can we please move on to something that is either (1) important or (2) relevant? Sheesh.

  93. Thanks Joseph. I like that summary. ;-)

  94. Cocolio says:

    "What the issue is, is that some designers use Macs because glyphs are a single keystroke µ ™ etc are easy on a Mac, on a PC..."

    Thats a lie, i have heard a lot of "reasons" of why do designers use those "computers" and one of them is that CMYK looks better on a Mac than on a PC, and many other estupid reasons that i dont want to remember because how silly and stupid they are.

  95. John says:

    No Coco it's no lie, to get a character like the ¢ is just alt $ another instance is the µ which is just alt m.
    Many people who own Macs find the access to extended characters useful.
    When using the PC you can access these characters too but they're a lot harder to access and require you to use alt number pad **** (four digits)
    The reason some people prefer to view CMYK on Macs is that they have system wide colour management, this makes documents look similar on Macs , but these days it makes little difference, just like the system wide PDF creators a PDF from any document or web page is easy on a Mac.

    Lots of reasons to like the system, just like iOS once you understand how things work even Eric should be able to access an en dash on his iPhone– no more excuses.

    "I am not a designer. I am a writer of political attack ads."
    LOL
    Hyperbole? Even though I'm not a designer, I'm not English either, I can still have an opinion based upon something without being master of that discipline.
    Sorry for my poor English-
    宮本 茂

  96. Cocolio says:

    hahahaha okay, i still see these points very stupid, why? its just simple, how many often do you use those characters? if so how mop you have to be to type those numbers with alt? and there´s an advantage from real computers over those toys, REAL COMPUTERS HAVE NUMERIC PAD, to the hell with the minimalistic design, its useless in the computer world.

    The other point regarding CMYK, do you know what is that? and do you know what type of colour management is used in monitors? yes its RGB! so no matter what OS you are using, the colours are still presented in the same way!!! and its restricted from monitor.

    One more thing (hahahaha) iOS is another crap, and its because you have to jailbreak that in order to it to function as it should be intended to, unless you only use it to make and receive calls and store phone numbers, if you do that i think its better to get a Nokia 5100 which has a battery that longs last and has a real lantern.

  97. John says:

    "The other point regarding CMYK, do you know what is that? and do you know what type of colour management is used in monitors? yes its RGB! so no matter what OS you are using, the colours are still presented in the same way!!! and its restricted from monitor".

    Absolute rubbish what colour management is 'RGB' it just makes no sense?. RGB is the device or final destination space not a CMM.
    Colour management is when you take a document with any gamut or colorspace, the color management engine (colorsync on the Mac ACE in PSCS) maps the document color space to the monitor space–you see better colour (close to intended)

    So if you have a system wide colour management engine and your devices are all characterised you can get a better idea of how things will look.

  98. John says:

    "hahahaha okay, i still see these points very stupid, why? its just simple, how many often do you use those characters? if so how mop you have to be to type those numbers with alt? and there´s an advantage from real computers over those toys, REAL COMPUTERS HAVE NUMERIC PAD, to the hell with the minimalistic design, its useless in the computer world".

    I use those characters all the time because I use different languages é ü å etc are all quite common as are dates 1977–84 and lots of scientific functions µ °C ≥ √ ∑ ÷ all used all a single keystroke.– if you can't see the utility you don't have the ability!
    In fact I use them on a PC at work and have 2 A4 sheets with alt *** number codes which can be tedious.
    My Mac has a numeric keyboard too, but I rarely need tedious strings of alt codes.

  99. John says:

    Copy a URL

    Day in and out, I need to provide the paths (for local files) to the people I work with. Windows’ inclusion of a URL field in the file explorer means I can cut and paste this into an email very quickly. There’s no easy way to do this on the Mac.

    There is:
    Actually two ways either click on the file when in finder then click the big blue 'i' (for info) you then get the path in the where field–just copy and paste, all very easy.
    If you aren't in finder just right click the file to get the info.
    Most of you can't do's you list can be easily done if you have some basic knowledge-Missing Manual David Pogue?

  100. That's right you can do that. (And if you want to do it more quickly, you can select the file and click Command + I.)

    The implementation just isn't as good as on a PC. The URL field in the Windows Explorer allows you to paste a path into it, edit it, access drop downs to other areas of the system. This makes it something you can really use, instead of a largely forgotten workaround.

    There are third-party tools available that seek to remedy these sorts of shortcomings (i.e. http://www.cocoatech.com) on the Mac. That being said, it seems strange that some of these—rather useful—features aren't just baked into the UI.

  101. John says:

    I think it's easy, possibly the Window s method is marginally quicker, but it doesn't equate to 'no easy way to do this on a Mac'

    In fact after reading your 'points' it seems like you aren't that familiar with Mac a lot of what you say it can't do it can, some things like file management within save dialogues are plain weird (You can create a folder in a Mac save dialogue)
    Then you say mac users think Win 95 when 7 has been re-written totally, then say OS X is 'old tech' ignoring that it has been re-written completely twice in ten years once in 10.4 when they moved from PPC to intel and a second time when they moved from Carbon (32) to Cocoa (64) in fact the OS is so different from tens years ago that it's impossible to install on a modern Mac.
    Your log ins taking 5 mins and low speed are probably problems with poor network configuration, I note you seem to blame Apple for not supporting AD when MS would be better for advice using that technology.
    We have 90 Macs and 850 PC's on a network using AD and it works very well–zero issues on a daily basis even with iPads/Phones all work.
    I think you are blaming the slowness of your macs on the inability of your IC team in integrating Unix based clients more here:
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/bb463152.aspx

    Or do you think the problems you have are 'just the way it is'

    Seriously this article sounds like someone who is more comfortable with Windows who felt like a mid life 'fling' with Macs; unsure about the technology now seeks the familiar, accusing OS X of being 'dumbed down' or for grannie (sic) not a real computer.
    It's the 'Steve's bitch' bit that gave you away. language like that along with all the other hyperbole, make for a poor opinion piece.
    Just stick with PC's and save your angst for the guys on the freeway

  102. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, John.

  103. Cocolio says:

    its not purpose to change someones mind, but regarding colour managament i can switch between profiles in Windows, something i cannot do in Mac, or at least i havent seen yet that on my hackintosh, and concerning to the characters, well you better buy a keyboard made for your contry right? (just kidding).

    "Then you say mac users think Win 95 when 7 has been re-written totally, then say OS X is 'old tech' ignoring that it has been re-written completely twice in ten years once in 10.4 when they moved from PPC to intel and a second time when they moved from Carbon (32) to Cocoa (64) in fact the OS is so different from tens years ago that it's impossible to install on a modern Mac.", first of all when OS X was launched there was rumours that Apple could switch to INtel processors due to the IBM´s processor upgrade vs Intel schedule, so i dont think that it was completelly rewritten, and of course those early versions of OS X are for PowerPC processors, or the RISC architecture in contrast the CISC arch. of current Intel processors.

    Anyway, if you are more comfortable with your "mac" (i really hate that term to reffer to a computer), that´s OK, its your decision and your money, but i preffer to install any OS in my computer, than keep "married" to a crappy piece of overpriced junk that macs are, i really hate those "minimalistic" designs, i go for Bauhaus, and once again, this is my opinion against yours, cheers!!!

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