Wednesday, January 12, 2011

IBM Thinkpad PC to MacBook Air Migration

3 years ago I tried to move from a PC to a Macbook and I struggled to the point of utter frustration. Folks know me as a pretty loyal PC user especially towards IBM Thinkpads. It was easy to fallback on the comfort of what I've been using since I was a child (yes DOS CLI and Windows 3.1 onward). It seems that it is harder on folks who are used to Windows than someone that starts fresh.

This time around I requested a Mac expert to give me a 15 minute quick start and I have to say that was invaluable. He showed me the equivalents on Mac; Explorer = Finder, System Preferences = Control Panel and the Applications folder. Also more importantly all the shortcut keys fn F8 - F12, etc. Another useful one is the Ctrl right bottom corner of the mousepad to right click. Figuring out the 2 finger scrolling and and 3 home and end scrolling really sped up my user experience. Then of course Mail, Calendaring, IM and VMware access.

With this quick start, the ease of us of the Mac took itself away. Right off the bat as I had my PC and Mac side by side, the Mac's multi-tasking ability (thanks to the good old Unix backend) is superior to the PC. On multiple occasions my PC was frozen and rebooting, the Mac continued to run seamlessly. We'll see in the long run if it can sustain this level of performance but so far so good. Since more and more applications run on the web/cloud/saas, there is less of a need for me to have windows specific software, though the ones I need all have a Mac installation.

MacBook Air Wins

- Sleek design and weight hands down excellent
- Stabilility - Thus far much more stable then a PC
- Faster Performance - Though lags occasionally still superior at this juncture
- Printer Setups - Very easy on any printer on the network including home!
- Mail Setups - Easy on every client, Entourage (bit slow on updating mailboxes), I am using Apple Mail now which performs well
- Calendaring - Took a little getting used to but decent on iCal
- Adium - Is an awesome IM tool, much better than Pidgin for IM's and Trillian for IRC on the PC. It's simple to setup and seamless to chat on this interface
- VMWare Fusion - I almost defaulted back to Outlook on the VM but found that iCal and Apple mail perform sufficiently so that I don't need to use calendaring or fallback to Outlook. Remember it's fn + control + alt/option + delete to unlock the desktop to login. I have not had a need to use the VM. But the VM provides a very nice native feel to using Microsoft application if a need ever arised. You could also allocate one of your workspaces for your Windows applications if so desired.

MacBook Air Shortcomings

- Disk space 128GB is a bit on the low side. I moved my documents and critical files over and I only have 40GB left (Did not migrate my Outlook pst file). I hoard e-mail beyond what the Outlook server allows and I move it locally to store in case I need it for the future. If I migrated these mailboxes, space would be chewed up very quickly. My concern is if folks need native applications to do their jobs there may not be enough space as well.- Does not allow me to dual screen on my 2-24 inch monitors- Lack of some kind of dock as I dock frequently at work and at home (no home solution yet)- Battery Life - It's not bad for the size of the computer but I've managed to get as much as 5 hours or as little as 4 hours if I am constantly working on the machine- I've heard complaints on the Network jack extension needed, I haven't had a need for it but with spotty wireless or need for faster download/upload times I understand the possible need for this

The Bottom Line

I will be keeping the MacBook Air and saying goodbye to my PC, I don't think that I can ever go back. It's a whole new world!


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