It’s now two weeks since I took possession of my Mac and I’m finding myself using it more and more. Sure, my Windows XP machine still demands a significant amount of my attention; Microsoft Visual Studio and .NET/C# is still my primary development platform.
My Windows machine is a pretty tricked out rig that I built myself from Newegg (the BEST place on the web to buy hardware). QX6700 processor, GTX8800 video, dual 20" Samsung monitors, etc. I’ve got my Microsoft ergonomic keyboard and can touch type on it like the wind. I’m still running XP SP2 on it – mainly because my experiments with Vista on my HP laptop have been very disappointing.
Both of these machines sit right next to each other. As you can see by the pic above I’ve really oriented my entire workspace around my Windows XP machine. Yet I find myself constantly moving my hands to the Mac keyboard.
At first I thought it was the typical obsession with a new piece of technology. After spending the last 17 years using Windows I’m now just enamored with something new, right? That is indeed part of it. But there’s something else about this.
OS X is a really slick operating system. There are little features that make it a pleasure to work on – you can just tell that a significant amount of human factors work went into the system. Sure, there are little areas where you can see that someone missed but the vast majority of the system is really clean.
Two small utilities that come bundled with OS X are examples of this: Spaces and Exposé. As you can see from the pic of my Windows workstation, I’m a screen real estate whore. Yet now I’m spending a lot of time confined to a 1280×800 world. I tend to multi-task like mad, often having quite a few applications running at the same time. Exposé is great because at the touch of F3 it shrinks all of the windows on the current screen down and let’s me click on the one I need.
Spaces is great because I can have four different primary screens and alternate between them by hitting Control-X (1-4). The switching is handled nicely with animation and it’s very quick. I can also simply Command-Tab between application, much like I can on Windows with Alt-Tab.
After investing a little time training my fingers to use the shortcuts I can rip between my applications so quickly I feel like I’m on a much larger screen. It’s a really nicely done piece of software and not the gratuitous "because we can" app-switching that is included with Vista.
What I’m doing now is finding all of the things I keep turning back to my Windows machine for. Foremost is my development environment. I’m considering getting VMWare and running Windows XP and my development tools inside of that. I’ve got additional memory coming in next week for my Mac (bumping it to 4GB) so that I have plenty of headroom to run everything I need.
I don’t know that I’ll be able to fully switch to Mac because many of the tools I’ve become accustomed to are Windows based, especially on the development side. I’d love to find a really great web development platform that’s native to my Mac but I haven’t had much luck yet.
But I will say this – I really love this Mac.