Life After Apple: Month One

Life After Apple: Month One

As I wrote about before, I have always been the biggest Apple fan anyone’s ever seen. Especially with my background in graphic design, it only made sense to use an Apple computer. Naturally, as I transitioned into being a photographer, I continued to use nothing but Apple computers, and I do still maintain that they make an excellent, high-quality product. That said, it does come at a price, a rather hefty price that made me question things.

With the introduction of the iMac Pro and the lack of claimed production of any new Mac Pros at the time, I began to really lose my excitement for the Apple computers, as the entry-level price point is very high, and I have never liked iMac anyway since I like to be able to choose what display I use. This led me down the path of investigating whether or not it was actually feasible to use a Windows machine for my production computer. 

Before you say “of course it was possible, duh” I should clarify that what I mean is I am over-the-top picky with every little fine nuance of any platform: how well do all the little shortcuts work, how can I shave off seconds off of each image’s retouching, etc. And the Mac OS is very good at all those fine little details and efficiency; the Mac finder is an incredibly powerful organizational tool itself. Combining that with the stability and security of the base platform that Mac OS is built on, it was a very large pill to swallow to consider using Windows and all the hassles that come along with it. But the price point made it where I didn't have a whole lot of choice, so I purchased a new PC that was designed for gaming, since the specs also align well with graphic design, photography, and video editing.

Differences Between the Platforms

The hardware isn't really that much different between the Mac and PC, both using Intel processors, same hard drives, etc. The PC actually offered significantly more options in the GPU department, and I was excited by that and went with a balance of the good GPU versus not spending a ton (GTX 1070). So, I knew that as far as performance goes, there shouldn't be much difference between a well-equipped Mac and a similarly equipped PC except for the price. What concerned me was the stability, reliability, and overall hassles that Windows has been plagued with for years. The last Windows platform I had used was Windows 7, and needless to say, it had many problems and was quite clunky compared to Mac. I am pleased to say that Windows 10 is an unbelievable leap forward for Windows and the user experience and general overall feel of it is vastly improved over the old Windows versions. Windows 10 also is reported to be and so far has proven to be much more stable than prior versions as well.

Some Small Irritations So Far 

The transition from Mac hasn't been entirely without issues; there have definitely been some Windows-like things that are mildly annoying. For example, when I plugged in my CAD USB microphone, it worked perfectly and Windows automatically found a suitable driver and used it; however, after a couple of days, it quit working, and after digging around a little bit in the device manager, Windows had decided to make my microphone an output device simultaneously with being an input device and caused it to not work. This is the type of thing I rarely if ever experienced while using Mac OS. But we can't be too overly frustrated, because we must understand one fundamental difference between the two platforms; since Apple only allows their operating system to be installed on their own computers, the software is optimized for the different hardware configurations. On Windows, since there are so many different possibilities and configurations of PCs, ranging from companies that build custom computers to a do-it-yourself build, the software cannot possibly be optimized for any different hardware configuration, and it is up to you to make sure that everything is compatible and works well. If you truly want a computer you can just turn on and use without any issues, the Mac will almost certainly be better, as every one I have had has worked perfectly from day one.

A Major Drawback

Windows Explorer is vastly inferior to Mac Finder, without the column view and easy drag/drop shortcuts into things like save dialog boxes and browser upload windows. The workflow from within Windows is definitely a little more clunky there, and that is a huge deal since no matter what type of file you are working on, you are using this interface to save, open, etc. However, with some time, it’s working ok. I did lose a lot of my efficiency and shortcut capability.

Some Excellent Positives

I hated the basic Windows keyboard, so I purchased a new Logitech G910 gaming keyboard and G502 mouse, and wow, it’s awesome. Even though these are intended for gaming, the ability to customize these are exceptionally useful for photographers. The first thing I did was use the extra keys that the gaming keyboard offers and program them to specific actions and tasks within Photoshop, Lightroom, and Capture One. Then another nice bonus is that on the keyboard, you can change the LED backlight for individual keys to individual colors and have that change per application. So for example, if I'm using Adobe Premiere, I can highlight certain keys on the keyboard that are frequently used shortcuts and tools, and if I switch to Adobe Photoshop, I can have the keyboard highlight different keys that I use more frequently there. For an even deeper level of customization, the keyboard can store different profiles for different users or purposes, so for example if I were to play a game, I could switch the keyboard's properties such as custom key colors and shortcuts to a profile that is set up for that and then effortlessly switch back to my photography workflow — very slick for someone who is all about all the little customizations and efficiency enhancements. 

The Logitech customization options are awesome.

Summary So Far

The customizations combined with the modern feel of the operating system have meant I am enjoying using the computer. My workflow overall even with the small hiccups with the Windows Explorer has tremendously improved, and with a gaming PC for under $1,500, I'm running circles around my old quad core Mac Pro, which cost triple the price. Even though Apple has dominated the graphics and photography market, I feel they are losing ground since Windows 10 is much more stable than prior Windows, and the price point is so vastly different. If the Mac were a few hundred more than Windows, I’d stick with it, but when my sub-$1,500 PC can run circles around a $4,000 Mac, the cost wins out for me.

As I jokingly told a fellow photographer who is a PC user, I am really liking Windows 10. I'm still a little skeptical, but we’ll see if the typical Windows slowdown still happens or if we can stay on this so far great course.

Have you considered switching? 

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72 Comments

Leif Sikorski's picture

In my opinion Windows is very stable since years - the problem "can" be the many hardware options. They're awesome and I don't want to miss them, but if someone goes into the store and buys a full build system the chance is very high that it might have a bad quality mainboard, power supply and bad ram inside - because those components are something the Windows PC industry never used for marketing and always liked to save money on. Often they don't even say what exact model is inside. The average consumer just doesn't know how important they are for a good and reliable system.

As soon as someone pays attention to the mainboard, power supply and ram (self build system or a store you really trust) the system won't be less stable than a Mac.

This is something that I have recently learned. Most of my computer problems point back to a hardware failure of some kind. I was having major issues with Adobe Premiere recently and I got a new graphics card and everything was instantly fixed. My last computer was crashing all the time and it was a mobo failure. I wish Windows was able to diagnose these issues.

Zoli Tarnavölgyi's picture

Don't forget the power supply! The most underestimated component of the PCs! If it is a cheep sg, ALL the components in danger, no stable working because of the lack of the stable and consistent voltage and more!

Leigh Miller's picture

I haven't had a single failure of...anything hardware related since I switch back from PC. now Adobe's software is a whole other issue...

Yeah, 10/10 it's hardware incompatibility or driver issues when a problem pops up (PSU issues are a pain). These days I just look at ASUS ROG products exclusively for the components they choose.

Bill Larkin's picture

Lee, exactly. Now this is one of the great benefits with trade off of a Mac, the Mac's software is designed to work with only their specific hardware, which means excellent stability. With the tradeoff of less customization options, such as GPU choices. - And part of the high entry point cost of Mac, is you are buying quality hardware, such as power supply's that are used in Apple computers.

Chad D's picture

very true :)

why macs were stable is quality hardware and that is the same many PC folks build crappy cheap hardware and have issues ?

especially cheap power supplies and not realizing the sweet spot in them for efficiency (around %50) had way to many discussions I am only drawing 400 watts a 500 is plenty and you still get that today !!!!!

Matthew Saville's picture

"I have always been the biggest Apple fan anyone’s ever seen."

...The bigger they are, the harder they fall?

I freaking hate Apple. Therefore, you'll have to pry my Macbook Pros from my cold, dead hands.

I'm a camera geek, not a computer geek. Computer problems, whether software or hardware, only make me want to smash my computer with a baseball bat. I strongly dislike many of the things that Apple stands for, and their "luxury" price that attracts snooty people who think tech gadgets can be a sexy fashion statement. That's definitely not me. My phone is a $99 ZTE knock-off phone. It works. Just like OSX. It works.

Matthew Saville's picture

I don't like Macs. I simply hate PC's with the fire of a thousand suns, but I only hate Macs with the fire of a few dozen suns.

Julian Foglietti's picture

windows is really making leaps and bounds above Mac for the creative market. The power they’ve put into their surface line is proof of this. This being said, I have experienced such terrible reliability from my windows Gear that I can’t justify the purchase of another windows computer again. My Surface (one of the most perfect creative laptop designs I’ve seen). Has been replaced four times now. It’s gotten so bad that all editing is now done on my 2011 MacBook Pro which has proven significantly more reliable time and time again. This has thrown me for a loop as the large sums I spent on switching to windows have depleted my ability to upgrade for a good while. I’ve come to view Mac in a similar manner to Profoto gear. In the end it costs more than the competition, but what you pay for is a piece of gear that works every time you need it to. This reliability is what I found ultimately matters most in a professional setting. It’s a shame to, windows has some truly incredible ideas that Apple should take note of.

michael buehrle's picture

nope. i'm sticking with mac. to me windows is crazy and takes 6 more steps to do things than a mac does. XP was the last windows platform that worked.

Fritz Asuro's picture

I can say the same to MacOS. And if you're one of the people who is still stuck with the "XP is the best" ideology, you're missing a lot as Windows 10 is waaaaaaayyyyyy better in so many ways.

Lastly, it's like Canon vs Nikon, whatever works for you will always be the best option.

It is actually the other way around. It takes more clicks to perform most tasks using a Mac. It has almost always been that way.

I see a lot of parallels between Fox News viewers and Mac fans. There's a lot of misinformation they propagate among themselves and believe is true. Even the author of this article was doing this by implying that Windows 7, my favorite Windows as a network administrator, was unstable. It was more stable than Windows 10 by a long shot.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Lol, MSNBC is way worse than Fox :-)

Ben Perrin's picture

As soon as someone says "It's been all downhill since windows XP" or similar, you know that they have no idea what they are talking about.

Motti Bembaron's picture

"to me windows is crazy and takes 6 more steps to do things than a mac does"

I find this statement strange. I am not a Mac user, however, each time my wife asks me for help with her MacBoob Air I find it so frustrating. It takes so much more effort to use the Mac.

Chris Rogers's picture

lol that's how i feel about macs. it's just preference really.

David Love's picture

I've been a graphic designer for 18 years and every job I've ever had they used Windows. Even Turner broadcasting where I did flash and static banners for the NBA All-star game. Last time I used a Power mac was in school in 2003. I was curious then to see the trendy glory of mac in action and it behaved about like my pc, color wheel spinning forever, crashing, programs hanging, etc. Then I went to a computer store and saw all the software I could use on windows and the one tiny area for mac and that cleared the mystery up. Macs usually run better because Apple only allows what they allow on it. And the windows gets more virus attacks? Sure, hackers want their stuff on as many machines as possible so makes sense they would skip the smaller crowd using Apple.

Once you get over the fact that you no longer have a UI designed for 5 year olds to be able to work, realize that you can install anything with more customization (which is how most screw up their machines), you start to wonder why you're paying an extra grand or more for one over the other. Like you said, same hardware so basically you're paying a design and OS tax to be mac cool.

Anything broadcast, VFX/video/3D related you're going to see predominately Windows and Linux running off proprietary software. Most render farms are Windows or Linux, (heavily Intel/Nvidia) as well because of the openess and better connectivity of those platforms.

The big studios are all using Davinci Resolve for grade and Premiere Pro to cut on Windows. You will hardly ever see Final Cut Pro or Vegas in these top-tier pipelines. Apple is far too closed sourced and pricey for the scale of these workflows/pipelines and these studios require max compatibility.

I'm just going to come out and say it like it is, Apple is a boutique brand with boutique prices geared towards those that like the prestige of computing without having to know a lot about it. There is a market for that, but Industrial Light and Magic (Intel/Dell) isn't it.

LOL, that's funny because I been a graphic designer (now creative director) for over 20 years and I have been using Macs since my first job. Every prepress house, printer, agency and corporate art department I have work for or work with use Apple.

I also have done on-screen graphics, old school and with custom built systems explicitly created for broadcasting. Yes, not an Apple in sight, then again, Apple has never really entered that segment of the creative industry.

Last thing, UI designed for a five-year-old. So Microsoft isn't trying to simplify the user experience too. Wasn't that the point of Windows 10? Wow, you do know that in design, simple is considered sophisticated. Usually, that's how my clients interrupt it.

Alain Zarinelli's picture

I tried to like Windows 10, after reading all the "great" things Frank Doorhof was posting about his move from Mac to PC... I did spring the cash for a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro (the 13" edition, maxed out specs...) to replace my aging MacBook Pro on the road (no way I'd be replacing my iMac 5k in studio this early.)

Let's just say the experience was less than stellar. 1. I missed the Automator. 2. I missed the built-in shell. 3. Windows Explorer vs Mac Finder is like going back in time to the Middle Ages (dark ages?!) 4. That crappy Windows pen interface kept interfering with the Wacom pen tablet settings (making it jittery and imprecise.) 5. My MBP has never crashed out of the blue - the MSP apparently likes 'the blue' - not sure why, but I got the blue screen of death about once a week, while using the tablet normally (retouching photos in PS CC 2018). Needless to say, I am back on my MBP with the Intuos Pro; and have a 13" MSP for sale...

Not for ME.

It sounds like Windows is not for you, and that's totally fine. I give you props as a consumer in giving yourself fair trial. You are a better consumer than most because of it.

But I ask you this? (There's no wrong answer) Is the extra cash you pay for an Apple device worth those inconveniences you personally have with Windows? Some consumers would say yes, some would say no. It's a personal choice.

And yes, Wacom tablets are notorious in interfering with Windows Ink depending on model and driver. Windows ink can be disabled, and that's the power of Windows. Like Andriod you're given the choice.

If you force features on the user you'd better be damn sure that's what users want and the error rate is less than 10%. I feel like Apple has become less and less reliable with this over the years, and I have a feeling what is feuling that is a mix of legacy and complacency, not to mention the overrated celebrity designer that is Ives.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I am always surprised when people mention the "blue screen" on Windows. With all honesty I cannot remember the last time I saw the "blue screen", we are talking almost 10 years.

Th only time a PC will do it would be hardware conflict, however, if you stick to the likes of Dell, you will have a great Windows experience.

Motti Bembaron's picture

"Blue screen" is almost always (according to a very experienced IT person) a conflict between Windows OS and some hardware or its firmware.

Hardware and software optimization in the WIndows ecosystem is infinitely better these days. Add to that a solid OS like Windows 10 and you have pretty much zero chance of "blue screen".

As I was saying, I haven't had any in many years and I am not running thousands of dollar PC's. I used a bit above average components to build mine.

There are tools to automate Windows such as PowerShell, Bash and you can you get third party tools such as AutoIt.

PowerShell is by far, far more powerful than BASH and anything macOS has especially if you take the time to learn it. I use PowerShell to automate creating folders and backing up images at the end of each shoot.

I will say that I much prefer Windows, but Windows 10 has created a big teething process for reasons I can only guess. I don't know if it is because it is free or they look at this OS as more of a living product instead of one with a shorter life cycle like every iteration before, but there has been a lot more bugs that happen during some of their updates.

Lately this has been better, but after a few updates there would be new bugs that needed another update to remedy. They also have changed big things on the UI that sometimes needed more time in the oven and almost any UI change is difficult for consumers to accept, even if it is ultimately a good change.

So I was surprised to hear the author of this article say that Windows 7 was buggy, because it was solid. So was 8. Now 10 is the first OS in a long time that has created frustration. Not sure when you last gave it a try, but my guess it was around the time of those big updates. Lately I am very happy again and the OS was free for me.

To me it is unforgivable to charge what Apple does for hardware that is essentially a couple of generations old. They NEVER include a fully updated hardware suite for their PC's. You will always get an older video card, usually very old technology wise and that is a key component for a lot of people's computing experience.

Nope I've using windows since 3.1. Windows ME was hell!
I haven't had any problems with XP or Windows 7.
Now, I have a new PC with Windows 10 and I'm getting used to that transition from Windows 7.
Apple has never been a consideration with their closed ecosystem. My wife and I don't even own iPhones; it's Android.

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

I have a G910 Keyboard, that I bought for the same reasons you did, and I love it. Not quite the same as an IBM Selectric I learned to type on and use in HS and College but very nice. And the large lit letters on the keys make life easier when looking down at them from a bright screen.

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