Ok, so I lied – Back to Mac & WinXP

Yesterday, I posted about how I was giving up OS X after 3 months of use. Well, after 24 hours of use, I remembered why I tried to switch to mac to start with…activation.  I’m one of those people that likes to reformat a machine when it’s getting too much crud – after all, as a software developer, I try out new things when they come out and that’s not really a good thing for the system if you want to keep it clean and fast.  The problem, is that I don’t really want to tie Vista to my MacBook since I may want to go back to OS X at some point…  I remembered I had my dual core Athlon 64 desktop w/ triple monitors just sitting in a closet, so found some desk space and fired it up.  It’s so much easier to get my .NET development on using my desktop. I’m sure it’s just habit, but it just doesn’t feel right on the laptop (and I miss my third screen).

So, now my MacBook is transitioning back to OS X Leopard (looking forward to Snow Leopard though if they really do speed things up), but my main workhorse is my trusty old desktop.  I really hate not using Vista since I purchased it at retail, but XP just feels better (and Vista doesn’t like my desktop…but XP flies on it thanks to the ton o’ RAM and 10K RPM SATA drive).

I’m really surprised that I didn’t like having a dedicated Vista laptop, but it just didn’t feel right once everything was said and done.  With this new setup, things seem just right…old habits die hard.

Going Back to Vista After 3 Months of OS X

It’s been about 3 months since I purchased by MacBook.  Since then, I’ve been using OS X Leopard as my main OS at home – the only exception was when I needed to pop back to Quicken 2006.  Overall, OS X wasn’t a bad experience, but there wasn’t anything magical about it either.

Perhaps jumping into OS X with Leopard was the wrong thing to do.  I’ve read quite a lot about how Tiger was a very streamlined and efficient OS and how Leopard came along and added bloat.  I’ve had very little experience with Tiger (or earlier versions) of OS X, so I can’t compare first hand, however, I can confirm that Vista Ultimate 64-bit runs much faster than OS X Leopard on this MacBook, which is a shame.  From what I’ve seen, Leopard has plenty of flashy effects along with a few nice features (e.g. Time Machine), but the bottom line is that I’m not more productive using a Mac.  I realize that part of that is caused by the fact that I’ve been a Windows power user for quite a long time.  The other part of that, is that Mac apps in general are fun to use and nice to look at, but your options in that software are very limited.  I thought I would like the simplicity of Mail, iCal, and Address Book, but the reality is that I miss Outlook – there’s something nice about having one application open instead of 3.

The other catch is that I’ve stopped doing development at home because it’s a bit of a hassle to switch to the BootCamp partition whenever I want to play around with .NET.  I tried VMWare Fusion and it worked great until I tried to resize the Vista partition, then VMWare got confused and couldn’t figure out how to boot Vista.  I realize these are petty items, the reality is that I’m still tied to MS and using OS X right now just gets in the way (I can buy another dedicated MS PC, but I don’t see a reason to do that at this point). My day job is at a Microsoft shop, my financial software is Windows based, my hobby development is usually in .NET as well, so it’s just so much easier to just stay in the MS OS world.

Secondary reasons for the move are the fact that Vista just plain runs better on the MacBook that Leopard ever did.  Leopard wasn’t super sluggish, but it was never all that snappy.  The other reason is that everything on Mac seems to cost more – the hardware is comparable to higher end PC prices, but it seems like all the basic applications I liked would all cost $30-$70 a pop. Which isn’t that expensive, but it just feels like even the little things are a bit pricy.  Maybe that’s just perception though – I know the tools I use on Vista aren’t cheap either (in fact, they are much, much more expensive than the equivalent Mac software), but the reality is that I already own them.

In any event, I just finished by MacBook reformat so now I’m up and running with Vista and it feels like home – it may not be quite as fun to use, but for me, it’s really about the productivity, and that is one thing Vista can handle just fine.

Thoughts on iPhone 2.0

I’ve been thinking about whether it will be worth it to pick up an iPhone 2.0 on July 11th.  I’ve had the original iPhone for a while now (I picked it up when they discontinued the 4GB version) and I have mixed feelings about it. iPhone 1.0 is certainly the best PDA type phone I’ve ever used.  Everything is very well designed, the battery life is good, sound quality is at least as good as other phones I’ve had, the web browser is fantastic (unless you need to view Flash content), and it’s a great iPod.

So why am I not already getting in line for 2.0?  Well, the first thing is that the 2.0 software will run on the 1.0 hardware.  So any bug fixes, new core application updates (e.g. scientific calculator), and other improvements will work just fine on my original phone.  The only real hardware features that matter for version 2.0 of the hardware are 3G network chip and the A-GPS hardware.

2G is certainly not setting any speed records – but for the most part, it gets the job done fine for me.  I use the web more on the iPhone than I have on any other phone, but it’s still nothing at all compared to my web use on a real PC – so 3G would be nice, but it’s nothing I can’t live without.  The main issue with the 3G support is that my phone bill will go up by $10 per month for 2 years – so $240 total increase on top of buying the $200/$300 iPhone 2.0. It’s not a horrible price increase, but in my particular situation, it’s harder to justify the benefit outweighing the cost there.

The A-GPS is a bit more appealing though.  I have a handheld GPS unit from Garmin, but it’s meant for hiking/geocaching type activities and not for navigation.  I do like the idea of buying a cheap dash mount and then my iPhone could be a very decent auto navigation system that moves around to different cars easily.  Of course, this all depends on what GPS software is released for the phone, but I’m sure we’ll see great things in this area.  The other thing is that we really haven’t had a small GPS device that had an always on broadband-link internet link – that could allow for all kinds of interesting situations that make the GPS ability of the iPhone unlike anything we’ve seen (for better or for worse).

At this point, my feeling is that I’m going to hold off for a bit and see what applications come out that make use of iPhone 2.0 hardware features.  If they are compelling enough, then I may make the jump, but I’m starting to get to that point where I need to see real world benefits from new gadgets instead of just the conceptual greatness of them…  Even on July 11th, the really amazing applications for iPhone may not even be ready because of the way Apple has chosen to limit the developer program – from the latest Apple keynote, it sounds like some developers (and some SDK functionality) won’t even be ready until September anyway.  We’ll see how things play out, but for now, I think I’ll be keeping my $440.