24 Inch Reflections: Mac vs PC vs Smurf

It’s been a while since I posted, this time however my hiatus was not fueled by a creative lethargy, but by a state of flux surrounding my computing environment. Thanks to a financial windfall, I found myself capable of purchasing a new box and after much deliberation I finally decided to invest in an iMac 24″”. Its been roughly a week since my purchase and aside from a few OS switches and re-installations, I am still very happy with my decision.

In terms of hardware this box has easily met any demand I have thrown at it including achieving a respectable 5.6 WEI rating and providing an excellent experience while playing Flight Simulator X.

The transition to Mac has been an interesting one, because it has allowed me to experience the Apple platform as participant rather than external observer.

I would certainly support the statement that Apple have a user experience that is significantly more polished than that of Microsoft, however i don’t believe it is necessarily superior to the degree that a Mac sycophant might suggest. To make such claims fairly, one must take into account the higher degree of work required to support the heterogeneous platform Microsoft maintain by comparison to the tightly controlled homogenous platform Apple have developed.

Given the complexity of maintaining reasonable parity of experience across such heavily varied hardware configurations, it is not unreasonable to expect less of Microsoft with respect to overall user experience by comparison to Apple for whom my expectations are greater given the level of control they have over hardware and the company’s reputation for product design and intuitive user experience

Evidence of this more polished user experience can be found in the subtle use of animation to give user feedback, as well as the vastly simpler “click-and-drag” application installation experience which appears to be the standard for the platform.

One disadvantage of this approach is that there is often a lot less user feedback about the precise changes being made to the system during software installation; while basic feedback is provided, if an installer were to crash, leaving the system in an inconsistent state, I’m not sure I could reliably assess or repair the damage as easily as I could with Windows.

While Mac OS has a good user experience in general, I have noticed that Apple do take a less aggressive approach to security and user awareness of security threats. This more relaxed approach is reflected in the lax configuration of the firewall which will accept all connections by default. This would be less concerning if Apple took a more aggressive approach to making users aware of security as a concept, however as it stands I suspect there are many iMacs running with this firewall configuration in combination with users who are unaware of the concept of a firewall, or the need for computer security in general. It appears negligent for a major platform vendor to ship with a poor firewall configuration while also proudly touting the security and stability of their platform and UNIX lineage.

With the hardware upgrade comes an upgrade to a 24″” display. This is the biggest display I have ever owned, and for all the criticism I have just leveraged at Apple I can not find fault with the quality and clarity of their monitors. I anticipate that this monitor shall provide ample screen real-estate for years to come, although given my shortsightedness and the rapid pace of change in the field of computing, it is highly likely that my prediction will prove untrue.

In summary, I am very satisfied with the purchase I made and slightly less satisfied, but still generally happy with Mac OS X 10.6. While I am not running Windows now, I anticipate that this may change when Windows 7 becomes generally available, but there is an equal possibility that my emersion in the Mac platform may veto the aforementioned change.

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