Thought Leadership

Shutting the Windows – moving to a Mac?

By Colin Walls

I have been using PCs for about 30 years. Initially, they ran MS-DOS. Windows was an option for some years, but was not compelling. Then Windows 3.1 was released and, all of a sudden, so it seemed, that was the way forward. I never looked back. I have used Windows ever since – both through personal choice and my employers’ requirement – through numerous versions: 95, 98, [avoided ME], 2000, NT, XP, [avoided Vista] and 7; have never tried 8/8.1

That was then; this is now. Sometimes in life, enough is enough …

Prior to 3.1, Windows was barely usable, but, with this release, it achieved a level of functionality and application support which moved into mainstream. Subsequent versions were better, with some new releases seeming to be a step back, but the overall movement was forward. Windows 7 seemed the pinnacle – to me anyway. However, Windows has always had its annoyances most of which just seem to persist, for example:

  • susceptibility to viruses and other malware
  • tendency to have “go slow” days/times
  • time wasted waiting for updates, which are applied without permission from the user
  • applications going into “not responding” state for no obvious reason
  • one bad application can affect others – the point of an OS is to avoid this

The list could go on …

Some years ago, I spent a while learning how to write Windows applications, so I gained greater insight into how the OS functions under the hood. What a mess! A simple example was window management. Each application is responsible for maintaining its own windows, even to the extent of tidying up if the window has been covered by another application’s windows. This is ludicrous. A properly designed OS should enable each application to run without affecting others – probably without having knowledge that they are even there.

For many years, a number of friends, whom I respect, have tried to persuade me that moving to a Mac would make my life better. I recall seeing a Mac when they were first on the market. They looked fun and seemed to be ideal for desktop publishing and the like, but not for much else. For years, my perception was that this had not changed – the software I needed on a daily basis was unavailable for Macs. I have come to the slow realization that my perception is outdated. As I have become emotionally attached to my iPad and iPhone, the idea of extending this pleasure to my desktop is compelling and I am preparing to make the leap to the Dark Side.

My plan is to invest in a high end iMac – big screen, lots of CPU power, tons of storage. Also lots of money! But I am a little nervous. What if I spend this money and then find that I just did not enjoy the world of OS X or found some “show-stopper”? I could have borrowed a machine to play with for a few weeks, as a friend kindly offered to provide one, but I had another idea. My wife’s laptop was also causing pain. Libby’s pain is also my pain – I am sure that most husbands, particularly those with a technical bent, would understand what I mean. 🙂 So, I decided to get her a MacBook [I got her a Pro with retina display – it is rather beautiful …] and then use it myself for a month or so. At the end of that time, I should be expert enough to support her on a day to day basis and, hopefully, I will convinced that my big purchase is sensible.


I am just starting out. I have several friends to turn to for advice. I have ordered the appropriate Dummies book. I have started a list of challenges that I need to overcome. Here are some key ones:

  • How do I work with MS Office documents? I think I am aware of the options and I am fairly sure that buying Office for Mac [maybe Office 365] is the best option.
  • I use MS Project, but only to do simple jobs. Essentially I need an application which lets me maintain a Gannt chart [and ideally export it as a spreadsheet].
  • I use online banking and the very convenient access that I use currently only works in Internet Explorer [I think it uses ActiveX controls]. I know it is possible to run Windows applications on a Mac, but I do not really want to mess with that unnecessarily.
  • I use Lightroom as my main tool for photography. I know that this is available on Mac too. I have no clue as to how I will migrate my catalog from Windows to Mac.

If you have any advice/suggestions on these matters or any other aspect of this project, I would be delighted to hear from you by email, comment or via social media. Wish me luck!

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at