Think twice before loving Apple

August 7th, 2006 by Marius Hanganu in Tools

Some time ago I switched my development environment to MacOS. This means I used it intensively and tried to discover all those nice usability things Mac is well known for and if no trick available, try to emulate the little things that made my life easier on Windows.

But I found Cedric Otaku’s entry about MacOS-Windows comparison as being an excellent confession of all the problems MacOS has. And since everyone embraces Apple and all its products with unconditionate love, I welcome Cedric’s pragmatism. Apple lovers need to open their eyes a little bit.

I loved MacOS for its design. The UI of MacOS looks better than Windows: you have all kind of interesting concepts like the finder or very useful things like sticky notes, calendar, calculator, available on one shortcut and so on. However, when you start using it more seriously and try to move your development environment entirely you’ll soon see the gripes of MacOS.

Here are some quotes from Cedric’s entry:
– “I can only resize from one corner and the cursor doesn’t change. Windows has let me resize windows from all four corners and even from all four edges of windows since the early 90’s. What’s taking Apple so long?”
– “Mixing up the quicklaunch bar and the taskbar is a mistake. The little arrow under the icons to indicate which ones are open are confusing, and I find Windows’ solution (two separate and distinct-looking bars) much more intuitive and more practical.”
– “There is no right mouse button on the laptop. Are you kidding me? Yes, I know that you can plug in a mouse and the right button will work right away, but I never use a laptop with a mouse, so I find myself doing the insane Control-click all the time. This is preposterous. And coupled with the absence of a Delete key (see below), I am finding myself doing finger aerobics much more often than I should.”

And there are more… These 3 were some of my biggest frustrations in using MacOS. And looking at the replies, you can find some “solutions” for some problems, but noone talks about the first two. I bet the Apple fans wish inside their hearts they would have those problems fixed. It’s just that they should let it out :-).

Some Apple fans say that: “Hey, Apple invented this and we should be grateful and full of respect, while Microsoft copied it”. Well, we are respectful, but sometimes inovation comes from copying an existing idea and taking it few little steps forward. Being stubborn and maintaining one style won’t help Apple too much. Everyone is going to take their good ideas and improve them.

One other argument is that for users moving from Windows environment to MacOS, you will be frustrated at first, but once the true power of MacOS will be revealed you will never go back to Windows.

What is that? Some sort of a masonic organization – the Holy Grail of computing and user interface usability is hidden in using MacOS for some time? I don’t know how he pulled it, but Steve Jobs has definitely managed to create a network of Apple fanatics. I bet if he’d start a war he would imediately gather all Apple users, while on the other side, Windows would have too few soldiers since they are not fanatics or interested in such a war.

I see MacOS as an illustrious figure in IT history. Although brilliant and well respected, it’s sometime like a dinosaur who refuses to see the inovation, keeping some things “the old way”. This is not healthy for them and it’s too bad, since a company such as Apple could really make a difference and maintain a higher standard of usability.

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5 Responses

  1. renyedi Says:

    Good point on the right mouse button. But what about the lack of a scroll wheel?

    A Slashdot post (http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/08/09/2044238) also mentions some annoying hardware problems on the Intel based laptops. Fortunately Apple Care seems to deal well with frustrated users. But I wonder what kind of customer care one would get on an Apple product here in Romania.

    On the other hand a Digg post points out that Intel based Apple hardware might not be that expensive after all, especially when compared with Dell: http://www.digg.com/apple/New_Mac_Pro_a_bargain

  2. Marius Hanganu Says:

    Since Macs support now booting also Windows, I guess they’ve suddenly become more attractive to a broader range of users. Apple has made a name from the innovations and quality. I think if Apple would not have existed, it should’ve been invented.

  3. pax Says:

    yeah… and the reduced number of shortcuts, no alt + letter,
    same – the ‘ok / cancel’ dialog box – with no keyboard control.

    I am both mac/pc user, I love the smart / smooth / sexy touch of apple but that’s no reason to get fanatical :)

    Kit (kitblog.com) cares for a comment? :)

  4. kit Says:

    As much as I love Macs, I don’t believe in a machine that can equally satisfy all needs and workflows. A tool is just a tool and we have different affinities for– and different skills with different tools. For me, the way a Mac works can be a bliss but for a different person can be a pain in the ass.

    I think this is especially true for recent switchers and people who use more platforms and tend to have similar sets of expectations from different platforms. I do not get frustrated because I cannot resize a window the way it can be resized in Windows because I cannot remember Windows, while a recent switcher does.

  5. Jesse Kuhnert Says:

    In response to the reference of apple inventing this and microsoft copying – that’s just not true.

    Apple copied from a windowing system they saw at xerox parc first. Then microsoft copied from them ;) You should watch “the pirates of silicon valley” sometime, it’s somewhat entertaining.

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