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The 30 day MacBook Pro challenge week 1: Can a Windows user become a Mac convert?

24 Feb 2017

The 30 day challenge: Windows user takes on Mac - Week one. Here it is. A shiny new MacBook Pro. Welcome to a new blog series, which will answer the question: Can a Windows user be converted into an Apple lover in a mere 30 days? Let’s find out. This week I’ll be looking at how it performs at work.

The background

I haven’t touched an Apple computer since the days of the classic Apple Macintosh, with its floppy drives, chunky keyboards and grey interface. They were the days when ‘win an Apple Macintosh for your school’ was the best competition ever. This was also when I started liking tech and when I was exposed to yet another of the operating systems. I’d grown up with the Commodore 64, an Acorn Electron, a chunky laptop running Windows 95, and the Apple Macintosh. 

Once I shifted schools, there was no trace of Apple. My school computers ran Windows 2000. At home we got a computer running Windows ME, and then it was all versions of Windows from then on. At university, it was also pretty much all Windows. Except for those ‘creatives’ majoring in advertising. They used Macs.

I experimented with Linux a couple of times, but that was it. So there I was and here I am, a Windows girl for life. Apple was left in the dust. Here goes round two. I don’t think I’ll come out the other end a convert; but this is a fun experiment.

The physical specs - I C USB C

I hate to open with a negative, but it really is a big problem. USB C. Yes, it may be the future of USB connections and ports and whatnot, but some of us are still living in the past. I have an external monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse. I also use USB sticks regularly. 

Where are they supposed to go? Every single port is USB C. Those external devices go on a giant dongle (which, I’m informed by a colleague, is an accessory and costs extra). There is something rather perturbing about seeing a long tail snaking to the side of this computer. You also need the dongle to connect to an external monitor - whether VGA or HDMI.

I attended a conference (31c0n) this week so got to experience full portability. and managed to appreciate the benefits of a bright display and easy controls, but the fact that I was still learning how to use the computer made for an interesting conference experience. 

Typing on this thing is like typing on air, and yet somehow my fingers don’t even need that much sensory feedback to know exactly where to fall.

I’m liking the touchbar, although it’s taking me a while to remember it even exists. I haven’t used the predictive typing in the Pages word processor, although if I was feeling particularly lazy, I might just indulge. I also like the way the trackpad acts - pinching for launchpad, swiping this way and that. 

Unfortunately I’m having trouble mapping what would be termed a ‘specialist’ Microsoft wireless keyboard to work with the Mac, a problem I’m hoping to solve soon. I’ll keep you updated.

Luckily, the MacBook has a headphone jack. Bonus! Thank you, Apple.

The OS is actually kinda cool

I’m a journalist, so a web browser, internet access and a word processor are crucial for my job. I need to know how to access everything quickly without spending hours finding out how to change a font, for example. Luckily, the dock has Pages right there. Simple and efficient. I'll explore the dock in more detail in another blog.

After asking Siri, the assistant I’ve heard so much about, what the weather’s like in my area and if my cat looks handsome, I concluded that the Australian-accented assistant is useful. I need to experiment more.

Installing third party programmes (once you get around the security settings) is deceptively easy. Am I going to put antivirus on? I mainly write about cybersecurity.

While I was setting everything up, my Windows 10 laptop showed me a blue screen of death. Apparently that doesn’t happen with Apple. Apple still needs to restart after system updates though. Some things will be forever inconvenient.

I actually like the simplicity of the UI, although this thing is pretty much factory settings so there isn’t much to search through if I wanted to find a lost app, for example.

I like that the MacBook Pro has been built with performance and colour in mind. That a software provider can start thinking in NITS obviously means it’s a really big deal in the creative industry.

The next task is to use this baby at home to see how it stacks up in the image editing department. Bring on week two!