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by Alan Graham

Editor's note -- Alan Graham is our Aqua columnist for the Mac DevCenter. He was one of the first writers to come on board when I was launching this site a year and a half ago. He was so excited about Mac OS X that I never knew he had just escaped from Windows.

Let's just say I was thrilled to see the new Apple ad campaign that features everyday Windows users who have switched over to the Mac. Seems to me that this is an approach that's way overdue. Finally, Apple is taking the gloves off and no longer marketing just to the converted.

Through the years many of us felt that Apple's desire to run a stylish, yet neutral ad campaign, such as Think Different, was preaching to choir, when what Mac users really wanted was Apple to put its marketing muscle behind our already screaming voices.

I like Switch. Even if it fails miserably to attract new Mac users from Windows, it's nice to see Apple on the attack. That said, I thought I would add my own Mac to Windows to Mac switching story to the mix.

My Two Cents

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First I have to say that I wasn't a Windows user my whole life, it just seemed like it.

Early in my career, I was one of those Mac power users. I worked with high-end (and high-dollar) Mac animation and video/audio systems. I delightfully remember my 8100 PPC (64MB RAM) with a Media 100 system, and a 10GB RAID system. In those days this type of system would run you (with software) $50-$100K. (Today I can perform the same tasks with a $1,500 iBook and $1,000 in additional hardware/software.)

One Friday, before I could finish rendering my project, I ran into a problem with my system that required a new driver to fix a conflict. When I couldn't get the new driver delivered to me until the following Monday, I knew I was hosed. If you have ever worked in post-production, you'll understand that three to four days isn't fast enough when you have a 1,800 frames to render.

But there was an alternative solution: they could email the driver to me. Now I had heard of email and the Internet, but I had no personal experience with it. So that day I signed up with a local ISP and within a few hours, I had the new driver and was able to finish rendering the project, on time.

Wow! That Internet/email experience just blew me away, and I wanted to become part of that. I decided to leave my background in imaging and move over to the Net. Eventually I landed as a VP of Business Development and Sales for a new Internet company. During that period I was required to leave the Mac world and move to Windows. Apparently, it comes with the suit. Eventually I moved on to start my own consulting and design firm, and I decided to continue my already strained relationship with Windows. (However, now without an IT department.) I would eventually own three Dell towers and one Toshiba laptop.

Thank You Dell

I would like to take this moment to personally thank Dell, Toshiba, and Microsoft for helping me to change my mind and move back to the Macintosh platform. It was during a particularly bad USB/printer installation experience (and a chain of previous PC disasters), where I was trying to get a printer to work on any one of my PCs, that the clouds parted and I had an epiphany.

After three hours of mucking about and still no working printer, I turned to my wife and said, "Plug and play my a**. I never had these problems when I used a Mac." I realized that what I cared about most was being productive, not fiddling around with settings and drivers. Every minute I spent configuring or fixing Windows, it was billable money flying out of my pocket. Finally, I had rediscovered religion.

That day I put my laptop up on eBay, bought a clamshell iBook, and sold all but one of my PC towers (which now rattles noisily in a corner, desperate for some attention).

Flash Forward

Since my return to Mac, not only has the productivity and quality of my business improved, but during that time I successfully switched my wife (a designer and long-term PC user) and my in-laws over to Mac OS X.

Recently, I've been doing FileMaker design and development for large companies with huge PC installations. My last project required a marathon of work where I was programming on my iBook from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. every day for three weeks to meet a deadline. During that time I ran iTunes, Word, FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Server, Explorer, OmniWeb, LiveMotion, Acrobat, Entourage, Excel, and PowerPoint, with zero restarts or system crashes, and I'm still married. I will say that without a Mac and OS X, the project would not have been possible, especially on a PC. I can't say that Apple is directly responsible for the success of my marriage, but there's a possible link.

My switch back to Macintosh was not just a good business decision, it was a life-changing experience. Being a Mac to Windows to Mac user, I can honestly say that the Mac changes you from being a victim of technology to a master of it.

Alan Graham is the creator of the Best of Blogs book series and is a frequent writer on the O'Reilly Network.

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