mac_daddy At least once a year I go through a phase where I get sick of Windows and Microsoft and have the urge to move to another operating system. Thanks to Mike Rohde’s article entitled Happy Mac OS X User, I’ve thinking about switching again. Let’s face it, Apple makes some great looking gear and I haven’t met a geek yet that didn’t drool over some piece of Mac hardware. So I’ve entered that phase again of looking to make the switch, but I have to ask myself if it’s worth it. Am I mac enough? 😉

The first stop on this technology journey was to visit the Apple Web Site to see just how much the hardware was going to cost. Apple does have some low end machines that might help me ease into the Mac world, such as the eMac, but I like to think of myself as a power user. That makes the G5 my only option, which starts at $2000. These prices are not that far off from what you might find a Windows machine for, but I don’t usually buy off the rack. For the last 6 or so years, I’ve always custom built my PC. I buy the parts that I want from discount online retailers and assemble the machine myself. When I upgrade, I salvage the parts from the old machine and purchase upgrades as needed. This allows me to upgrade for about $500. So the idea of having to pay full pop for a machine is a bit of a change for me. Why not just build my own Mac then? Well, I can’t. Apple won’t let me.

Microsoft makes software. They make a few accessories, but they are primarily a software vendor. Apple on the other hand is both a software manufacturer (Mac OS X) and a computer manufacturer. Is this a bad thing? Well, yes and no. On the positive side, since Apple controls the software and hardware, they tend to be more reliable and easier to use. They control the entire product, so there are less variables and fewer 3rd party vendors. On the downside, there are fewer 3rd party options for the end user because Apple controls so much of what goes into your computer. So I can’t go out an just purchase a G5 processor and motherboard and build my own system like I can with the PC stuff and since the OS X runs on different processors than PCs do, I can’t just install OS X on my PC.

Of course hardware is just one piece of the puzzle. The other component that has to be considered is all the software that I use. None of that software runs natively on the Mac, so I have to factor in the cost of purchasing new licences for all my software. Unfortunately, I can’t purchase the upgrade version of the products because the upgrade is limited to the OS. In other words, even though I have a copy of Microsoft Office Professional XP, if I want to purchase Office v. X, I have to purchase the full version. Luckily, there are some OpenSource alternatives for an office suite, such as OpenOffice, but some software, such as PhotoShop, would have to be purchased. Since I use a lot of software, these costs will exceed the cost of the hardware real fast.

So after looking at the costs of moving to the Mac world, I have to sit back and think, “why not move to Linux?” There would be no hardware costs because Linux will run on Intel based machines and there’s a ton of open source software for the platform, so costs would be minimal and that’s when Microsoft’s domination ball and chain tugs at my ankle. Quickbooks, which I use for my business, doesn’t run in Linux and neither does Photoshop. Although Linux would be easier to move to, I still end up being tied to the Windows world. Gates has me hooked on his junk. 🙂

At the end of my journey I’m right back where I started. Or am I? Clearly, I’m always going to have a Windows based machine in my office because of my business, but I do have some options.

  1. I could purchase an eMac for Holly. I think she would like it better than the hunk of junk she has now and she doesn’t need all the software that I do. That would allow me to stick my toe in the water and not have my wallet soaked.
  2. My laptop can be reconfigured to allow me to dual boot into Windows or Linux and that way I can always switch back to Windows when the need arises. In other words, it might appear that I can have my cake and eat it too! So I’m beginning to save for Holly’s new computer and I’ll have to download the latest build of Red Hat.

Who knows, in a years time, I may be trumpeting the merits of OS X or Linux and trying to convince you that you need to switch your platform too. Or maybe I won’t – it’s not like I have a tendency to evangelize or anything. 😉