On Switching to the Mac...

I am a developer. I am a 'Switcher'. I am, for the first time in a long time, happy with the computer that I do my day to day work on. Oddly enough, this comes as a complete shock to me. You see, I am a Windows developer. I write code that targets the Windows platform every day. I have been doing so for several years now.

Over the years, I've used, and developed on the Microsoft platform, because it was what I could afford and what I knew. It was not because I was happy doing so. I can say that at times I enjoyed working on the platform. These times are usually followed by bouts of severe annoyance and anger at poor design, poor documentation, or more often the Microsoft Marketing Machine pulling the rug out from under the legs of the small developers.

During this time, I've tried almost every alternative available on the x86 hardware. I have been tinkering with Linux in it's various forms since the Walnut Creek Slackware CD-ROM's first became downloadable. FreeBSD and QNX both made appearances on my desktop. None of them offered what I needed and wanted. None offered a complete package, of a good GUI, a strong foundation, and enough of a professional development community to bring the high quality applications to the market to support me as a user, and my customers as potential buyers.

You see, that has always been the other problem. Despite the technical inferiority of Windows in many ways, it still had the thing that the other platforms lacked. The appearance of commercial support. That little edge that means that my customers don't look at me like I just said something in another language when I tell them I want to deploy something using it.

Then, a couple of years ago, a former Apple executive brought BeOS to the table. Nice looking environment, but on proprietary hardware. I wasn't willing to buy a Hobbit based machine. But then they transitioned to PowerPC hardware, and started moving to the Mac hardware too. So, it was that I bought my first Mac.

The truth was, I hated the MacOS at that time. I was used to true multi-tasking. I bought it to run the BeOS, my wife used it occasionaly in MacOS 7.6, and later, when BeOS went x86, it was hers full time, in MacOS 8 and 8.5. I never touched it again. As it became apparent that BeOS was in a downward spiral, I went back to Windows. Windows 2000 shipped, and was an utter dissapointment. XP was to be the bext big thing, so as a good Windows user and developer, I went to XP, and was dissappointed.

In the end, I was becoming frustrated by what I was doing and having to go to such great lengths to get things working the way I wanted them to.

By this time, Apple had released Mac OS X. As a regular reader of Slashdot and OSNews, I had been following this release with some interest. On paper, it was everything I wanted. It offered a commercial grade UNIX, a solid GUI, and lo and behold, free, good quality development tools. Tools that had already been recognized as some of the best around. A toolset that Fortune 1000 companies had happily paid $1400 per developer for when they were being used as NeXT.

So it was that about a year ago, I decided that it was time to take a look at the platform. So it was that I found myself buying the second Mac of my career.

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dru 02/05/2003


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