Thoughts on Going PC: A Decade-Long Mac User Makes Peace with Microsoft

My post from a few weeks ago, detailing why I’d decided to switch to a PC from a Mac, really got some of your blood boiling. While there were a few folks utterly aghast at my decision to nix the shiny world of Apple for the starker, more sterile world of Microsoft, on the whole, I think most of you were pretty supportive of my choice. (As an aside: Mac Mini was still too expensive!)

The rundown: All in all, the whole computer cost us about $300 or so (including Windows 7), and a third of that was from an Amazon gift card we had. We used spare parts from a Dell we had on hand, as well as a new motherboard, processor, and power supply. An awesome friend of ours gave us the video card (both the first and second, more on that later) at no cost other than the promise we’d play WoW and D&D.The biggest expense ended up being Windows 7.  Now it all sits comfortably (and quietly) in an obsidian black box near my feet.

One of the things commenters on my first post asked for was an update as to what life was like after the switch. And indeed I wondered the same thing: what would working on a PC be like, ten years after starting with Macs? Truth be told, I had a short stint with Vista in about 2005 — but that experience was akin to some sort of torture. So I’ve got to say, initially my expectations really weren’t that high.

So, here are my first overall observations now that everything is fully functional and Tyrol the Cylon PC is now my day-in, day-out companion.

The Joy of the Buy

Buying parts for your own computer is both really exciting and really frustrating. I’ve never just been able to traipse into a computer parts store and buy stuff to put in my computer. So the experience has been kind of novel for me. I picked out my own power supply, ordered my processor and motherboard. Then I put them into my computer — with the help of my far more technically-inclined husband — and everything, after a fair bit of troubleshooting, actually works. It’s kind of magical!

However. Buying parts for your computer can also be frustrating. Finding cables and power supplies and then bringing them home to find out they don’t quite work, for example. Or having a video card simply fail. These things happen. But it’s part of the experience, this troubleshooting. And it’s super empowering to find the solution yourself! Which, most of the time, is the case. And if you’re having weird errors? Oh, Google Search is totally your friend.

The Operating System

Windows 7… is pretty awesome. I learned to type on an Apple IIe. Not until I was in high school, and my parents got an Aptiva (through which I became horrifically addicted to the game Torin’s Passage), did I have any schooling in the ways of Microsoft and IBM. And even then it was kind of crappy. Then I had that whole Vista debacle I mentioned before. I won’t even get into how much trouble Vista gave me, as these discussions are like beating a dead horse. Thankfully, Microsoft listened, and finally have an OS that is a breeze to use.

Windows 7 is easy to organize and, dare I say it, very Mac OS-like. It’s streamlined and easy to get used to. I no longer have the problem of files downloading into the netherspace (which was always my gripe with previous versions). Not to mention the search function is great. I think I’m doing more than I’ve ever done on a PC before, simply because it’s easier.

Plug and Play… No Really!

Devices. Oh, sweet little devices. I have a really cool phone that takes pictures and videos. But it wasn’t compatible with my Mac. I just plugged it in to the PC and, voila! Pictures. Videos. Right there. Extremely cool, magical, beautiful, awesome, fantastic. Peripherals and networking have also been a snap. Of course, this is somewhat expected as the vast majority of gadgets and whatnots are designed for use with PCs; however, having never had the money (or the available contract) to get an iPhone, this is still really exciting for me (and probably slightly annoying for the people I keep sending pictures to). Sorry, Facebook friends. The thrill will wear off soon enough.

Other Considerations

Shortcomings? I’d be lying to say it’s been easy. We had a video card meltdown, as I mentioned. We had some pretty weird errors as we went along, too. But all in all, it’s been over a week of me exclusively using the PC and, with so much of my job now in the cloud (at last count I had something like seven separate WordPress accounts), I can honestly say the experience isn’t really that different than it was on my Mac. Gaming is better, sure. Media sharing and networking is easier. But so much of the computer experience these days has less to do with hardware than it does to the internet at large that it’s really not as big of a transition as I expected.

My only significant complaint? The beta version of Scrivener has too many bugs, which means I’m back to using Word for writing. Hopefully when it’s out of beta, Scrivener won’t eat all my formatting and send me stomping into the next room. For now, it’s Notepad for posts and Word for novels.

If I had the money, would I splurge on a MacBook or an iMac? It’s possible. I don’t know if Apple will ever stop being appealing to me, even if I know better on some level. They are great computers that work for a very long time and do some very remarkable things. However, the price of that dependability and greatness is high–far too high for me. For now I’m pleased as punch — and admittedly proud — of putting this really nifty little computer together.

Geek Achievement… unlocked. 40G.

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26 Responses to Thoughts on Going PC: A Decade-Long Mac User Makes Peace with Microsoft

    • 1) It was slow as hell on most computers that regular people bought. Yes, I know it may have fun fast on YOUR (ie – GaS readers, not you specifically, mepel) computer, but even the least geeky reader of this site is bound to be geekier than the regular computer user with a cheap as chips laptop.

      2) Even if it was fast on your computer, it still looked like a metallic version of XP – there were no real huge design overhauls except a bit of transparency. Admittedly, this is still the case for Windows 7 a little, but at least it has the new taskbar.

      • Vista was fine. People complain because it's "cool" to hate MS and to be some sort of snob technorattie hipster.

        Supposedly it robbed a few frames per second while gaming. Admittedly, if true, that is bad, but, most people don't play games on their PCs anwyay. I had Vista on my work PC, which was a spec clone of my custome built box at home, which ran XP, and the Vista system was every bit as fast, and awesome to behold, and never had ANY problems at all.

        BTW, P4 3.2 32-bit w/2GB of RAM. That is the system that ran Vista (and the same specs ran XP at home). The home system actually had a good nVidia card and Sound Blaster, while the work Dell box had cheap integrated crap.

        Outside of gaming, any problems with Vista are IO errors (Idiot Operator). Pure and simple.

  1. I'd have to second the question … no linux? I'm guessing that you'll quickly state "no Scrivener", which was as I understand your reason for sticking with Mac originally. I'd point out that you can use crossover (If your not too linux tech) or Wine but given that Scrivener is still Beta on Windows probably wouldn't recommend it!
    I will state one thing from my testing of software on various O/S. Having a PC here that boots into Linux, Win XP and Win 7 and an older MacBook Pro – Windows & is by far the slowest of all the O/S. Noticeably slower, not just slower if I have a timer running in the background. For an instant "click" on all the other operating systems Windows 7 has a 2-3 second lag performing the same operation. Given that you have this shiny, fast PC I'd guess you'll not notice the lag … but it does leave the question open .. why do the Windows coders write such inefficient code (And man is it BAD!).

  2. Again, why not Linux?
    Having most of your work on the cloud, this would have been a great chance to move from proprietary to free software.

    Only one week with Windows? It's not too late: stop using MS Word, get Open Office. Then you can move to Linux any time.

  3. Congratulations! And as for mepel's post about the gripe with Vista:
    1) it was rated to be used with inadequate hardware. x64 should have been a requirement for Vista and it wasn't.
    2) it had the User Account Control turned on by default which annoyed the heck out of everyone and turning it off was a pain for people not schooled in MS OSs.

    I teach Microsoft classes and I can say with some certainty that Vista was a great OS, if installed correctly, but you had to know about the x64 performance gain and the UAC settings. If you did, it rocked! If not, it was teh sux.

    –D

  4. I suppose you now had realized what was lost of your ten year love affair with Mac. You had lost precious time of tinkering with your own pc. With Mac, yeah it is a wonderful machine that is given to you with not much choice. All are given to you for a hefty price.

  5. Anyone telling you or crying about whether you doing right or wrong choosing one thing or another is dumbass being used by a huge corporation that would run you over if it could.

    Try things, and then pick what fits YOU the best for what YOU need to do. Anything else is meaningless waste of life and time.. and you most likely want to spend that on much more interesting thing than reading an online rage party between two militant crying-jolt drinking vs health fruit furry drink camps waging a shitty and meaningless arguement orgie online.

  6. Anyone telling you or crying about whether you doing right or wrong choosing one thing or another is dumbass being used by a huge corporation that would run you over if it could.

    Try things, and then pick what fits YOU the best for what YOU need to do. Anything else is meaningless waste of life and time.. and you most likely want to spend that on much more interesting thing than reading an online rage party between two militant crying-jolt drinking vs health fruit furry drink camps waging a shitty and meaningless arguement orgie online.

  7. As an alternative to Notepad (or perhaps Word), you might want to try Notepad++. The official site calls it a source code editor and that's where it excels. It may be that Notepad++ proves to be overkill for anything you do on Notepad, and that it doesn't quite suit your word processing needs, but it is some pretty good software that can be customized quite a bit.

  8. Glad you made the switch to pc. No go and install Ubuntu on that machine. :P Just joking!

    About Scrivener, when you go back to it, you might get formating problems just like every other office suite that opens MS Office's documents. That's not Scrivener's or any other writing app's fault. MS makes it difficult for everyone just to stick the users to their apps.

  9. Glad to hear your experience is going well. I too had trouble with Vista (probably because I got it as soon as it came out and none of my peripherals – not even keyboard – worked with it).

    And I love Windows 7!

  10. It makes me sick when people write: "Mac = Apple, PC = Microsoft". Especially on a site somewhat connected with IT.

  11. It's actually far better than MS Office, in my opinion. Even discounting the whole opensource/freeware element; if it was marketted for money and randomly froze development, Microsoft have a good two editions of catch-up to play.

  12. Love the post, and share your feelings in moving from Mac to PC. Have you tried Windows Live Writer to your list of great tools? I find it will manage multiple blogs and keep me from having to use notepad to write my posts.

  13. after trying Windows XP, Windows7 & several distributions of linux; Windows 7 is the best & fastest, while linux sucks specially ubuntu

  14. Yet another cloud-based solution, not a shameless plug, but a truly useful home and office tool, it's called Sugarsync, it lets you sync folders between any number of pcs and macs, plus it keeps a backup of your stuff on the cloud, which can be accessed through your phone.

  15. @Sami 5:
    Linux is amazing. I’m sorry you had a bad experience with it, but it really does work extremely well. I’ve been using linux as my desktop OS for 5+ years.

  16. Been a PC Repair service and owner for over 20 years,And have to say I had a friend tell me I should try a Mac,And of course I thought they were way to much money so my friend gave me one to try,2 weeks later I bought a Mac Mini and I have to say I will never own another PC again,And I also have been using Linux for about 10 years and nothing runs as nice as my Mac Mini I can't say enough about the Mac and how well it works no more blue screens or having to find a driver it just works.