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Mac OS X Switcher Stories
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Switching From Windows

Many of the Windows switchers echoed the theme from the article "Windows by Day, Linux by Night" that I wrote a few years ago. That is, they have needed to use both Windows and Linux/Unix to get their job done. Some still use Windows at work, but use OS X at home.



Professor William Arbaugh:

I'm a reader of IP and one of Dave's former students. I'm now an Asst. Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park and I just this week switched to OS X from Linux and Windows XP. I say both because I needed to use both to do the things that I wanted to do.

I've been considering switching to OSX since it was announced. I decided to switch when I saw a friend at the IETF in Japan using an iBook. This person is a devout NetBSD hacker, and I asked if he was using NetBSD. He said "No -- OS X," and proceeded to show me all of the cool things one can do under OS X. I ordered a new Powerbook that day. It arrived this Monday. I played with it for a day,and decided to switch everything over from my Thinkpad.

Needless to say -- I'm very excited about OS X. It is everything that I've been looking for in a "stable" OS. It has the BSD undercarriage and the commercial UI. I love it, and I'm showing all of my friends and associates. And -- some of them are converting now as well. So -- I think you are correct in your theory about a "new mac market."

p.s.s. A bit of history -- my first computer (one that I bought) was an Apple IIe. I upgraded to the fat Mac while in grad school the first time, and I remained loyal to the Mac family until the Linux kernel was around v0.80. At that time, I realized that I could run UNIX at home on a PC. At that time, I switched from Macs to Wintel and Linux until this week. I'm back to a Mac!

Lixia Zhang of UCLA wrote:

I moved to OS X from windows+unix (my old laptop was windows, desktop Sun). Now OS X alone is enough (or almost enough).

Our dept. computing staff (all Mac fans :-)) is trying to convince all faculty members to move from (mostly windows, some linux) to Mac; they might have succeeded in moving a dozen of us over by now if not more (I dont really know the exact number)

In some cases, the user has managed to turn a personal switch into a work-related switch. For example, network administrator John Lyon wrote:

I've been using PCs since 84, or 85. Since the mid 90s, I've been making my living at supporting them. At some level, I think they're monstrous. Well, maybe not monstrous. But at Indiana University, I'd be one of three or four guys answering the support lines for PCs, while the lone Mac guy would be downloading audio files off the net. Sometimes, I'd even go into the student labs and download DOS shareware on the Macs, because it was easier. And I used to pray that the people wanting the Internet on their computers were Mac users, because all I had to do was give them a floppy diskette. But I still didn't switch. I continued to support PCs, and became a network administrator. I got my first laptop, a Dell. I quit having fun with computers. Windows 2000? No fun. Windows ME? No fun. Windows 98, Windows XP? No fun. Then I got a new job, where I had to support Macs. So I got a used PowerBook G3. OS 9 was OK. But OS X? Shiiineeeeey. And fun! Computing was fun! A computer, was fun. Laughing at the viruses that tried to infect my computer, was satisfying ... and fun! So in January, when I wanted a new laptop, I started lusting after a PowerBook G4. I wanted fun. I wanted style. I wanted ... no, I needed, OS X. I got a PowerBook G4. It's fun. It's stylish. I love it. And I can even run Windows on it, if I really, really need to.

My wife, who's also a network admin type, was confused at my choice. She likes her Dell, with WinXP, but I can hardly stand to touch it.

I still have to use 'Doze at work, and don't mind 2000. But it's the last MS OS I'll put on a box of my own. I'm not pleased with the GUI in XP. I'm not pleased that it's an incremental upgrade sold as a new OS (ver reports it's 5.1 -- while win2k is 5.0). I'm not pleased that MS seems to rearrange where all the admin tools are from NT4 to NT5 to NT5.1. Active Directory is crap. It makes NDS seem like child's play. Or maybe I'm really dense about the DNS server.

And I don't like the service packs that update my OS so that MS can automagically install whatever functionality they want. They already render old versions of MSN Messenger useless -- what's to stop them from doing the same to Win2K in a few years, with a sleeper function in Service Pack 6 for Windows 2000?

And let's not get started on the crippled "home" version of XP, or the activation scheme.

My wife took over the old Dell laptop I was using when I got my G3 Wallstreet. When she upgraded, I got the Dell back, and after futzing around, ended up turning it into a 2K server for file, print and Web services, as well as a home automation (X-10) server. But it's still not fun to play around with it. Actually, the most fun I have with it is using the OS X RDP client MS released to connect to it.

That's pretty much my story. -- John Lyon :: http://jelyon.com :: Random Abstracts - JELyon's Rampage

One exception to those mentioning Unix as well as Windows was Brian Dear. I will note that since Brian previously worked at mp3.com and Eazel, both heavy Linux shops, even he may not qualify as the sole Windows-only switcher in the poll. Brian was also one of the only correspondents who was critical of OS X despite the switch. He wrote:

I moved from Windows98 to Mac OS X primarily because I was a NeXT developer back in the good old days of NeXTcubes, NeXTstations, Canon Object.stations, and NeXTSTEP. When NeXT acquired Apple (at least that's how I tend to view that particular merger) I was hopeful that NeXTSTEP would come back, and it has. I'm very happy using OS X. However, there are some issues, specifically related to Apple's "Switch" campaign.

In my view, Apple and some of the software vendors out there have done a poor job helping users switch. In my own case, I still use Win98 for email -- I'm an old Eudora user who used to use NeXTmail (which is essentially what OS X's Mail app is now) and looked forward to migrating my hundreds of megabytes of email over to the OS X platform. Unfortunately, I've been unable to. No matter what tricks I use to get the Eudora mailbox files massaged, converted, or otherwise imported into Mac email apps, nothing works, so my mail stays on Win98 in Eudora.

I've been disappointed with Qualcomm's support to help users migrate easily from Eudora for Windows to Eudora for OS X. I've also been disappointed that Apple has not done more on their own or encouraging ISVs to create tools that make the "switch" happen for users in a "point click done" way.

Networking is another one: I've had bad luck getting my Win98 machine to share files with my new G4 and vice versa. I'm using ftp until I get Samba or something like that working well in Mac OS X, but I refuse to spend weekends and late nights fiddling, Linux-hacker-style, with the scripts and codes and config files of Samba and the same on the Windows side to try to get it to work. I just don't have the time, nor do the millions of mainstream users who, theoretically, Apple wants to encourage to switch to OS X.


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