Since I got an iMac at home, I have the pleasure of using it with an otherwise Windows only home network. I used to run only Windows machines because Mac has always been a bit too pricey for me. But with Windows Vista being a bit of a disappointment and Windows XP was getting to be a bit outdated, late last year I found some courage to switch over to the Apple platform.
There were a few issues I ran into in the beginning when I first got the iMac. Coming from a Windows background, adopting OS X is not as easy as Apple has advertised. For example, Windows users are very used to the Windows key on most modern keyboards and the main function is to bring up the Start menu. However in the case of OS X, the equivalent Command key does not provide the same functionality. This can be problematic when your wireless mouse decides not to work and there is no way to shutdown or restart the machine unless you magically know the shortcut keys. In the case of resetting the Mac, it is Control-Command-Eject. Here is a link to the official OS X keyboard shortcuts: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1343
There is also a lack of tabbing to cycle through the application controls in Mac applications. On Windows, one could tab their way around a Windows application to get to certain buttons or dropdowns. This functionality is quite important if one does not want to switch between the keyboard and the mouse. However tabbing in OS X is not universally implemented.
I also tried to run VMWare Fusion on the iMac. It was working fine on the surface. But later I found out that it caused problems with the SMB client on OS X. SMB client can be used to access Windows network shares. There were times I tried to stream music or video files from my Windows Home Server to the iMac, the SMB client would hang. Of course the player stopped playing the media, but what is more severe is that Finder would also stop responding. When that happens, “force quit” would not be able to restart the Finder, and your menu bar would also not be functional. After I uninstalled VMWare Fusion, the problem went away. This could be a problem with the version of VMWare Fusion I ran but it is hard to believe that an application can cause Finder to hang.
Another aspect of OS X that is not as superior as Windows is that the menu bar is static on the top of the primary display. At first, I thought of nothing about this as you can do the same with the task menu in Windows. However, technically that is not the correct comparison. The task menu in Windows actually gives you the Start menu and the programs that are currently running. The menu bar in OS X gives you the Apple menu, and more importantly, the application menu. This becomes a problem when you decide to hook up a second monitor to your Mac and drag your applications to your secondary display. Now your application is on one display, the menu for your application is on another.
Despite all these problems, I love the iMac. The 24″ screen is gorgeous. The design is world class (aluminum vs plastic). The OS is speedy. Backup and restore using Time Machine is seamless. ExposÃ© makes switching between applications easy. The Apple keyboard layout is universal across all Apple computers, and that makes switching from one Mac to another does not force you to learn a different keyboard layout. And the cost…. if you like me who don’t mind getting refurbished Macs directly from Apple, you could save a lot of money.
Applications I tried on the Mac are intuitive and easy to use. I have almost completely cut my dependency on Windows applications except for Microsoft Money because I still haven’t found an easy way to export the information to another Mac application. Also, VPN to work is still a bit easier using a Windows machine. For tasks like these, my MSI Wind running Windows 7 fits the bill perfectly.
I am still learning my way around OS X. If you have any nice tips to share, I would really appreciate them.