Are you a Windows user thinking about switching over to a Mac? The huge popularity of iPads and iPhones has tempted many long-time Windows devotees into confirming their place in the Apple ecosystem with a home computer that will play nicely with their iOS phone or tablet. However, anyone thinking of making the switch has a few considerations to make beforehand — there are things about Windows that you’ll miss once they’re gone.
Being Part of the World’s Biggest OS Userbase
Despite the rise in popularity of Mac systems over the past decade or so, the Mac OS still can’t compete with the ubiquitous nature of Windows. While this might seem like more of an advantage for Microsoft than you, there is something to be said for being part of such a huge crowd.
For one, you can be quite confident that if you’re having a problem, someone somewhere has had it before and found a fix that you can use too. With less Mac users out there, the likelihood of that happening dwindles. This isn’t an exact science, but it’s something that you’ll undoubtedly find to happen in practice — the fact of the matter is, more users means a greater shared knowledge of the OS between them.
Possible Alternatives: The closed nature of the Apple ecosystem allows them to offer their own first-party methods of troubleshooting your device. Whether you sign up for AppleCare or take your problem to one of the experts at an in-store Genius Bar, there’s a culpability to Apple products that Windows machines don’t have.
Using the Programs That You’re Familiar With
While you’re more likely to be able to find a Mac alternative to many of the most popular Windows programs today than you would have been in the past, most are still not a perfect replacement. For instance, while broadly used email client Outlook is available for the Mac, the most recent version you’ll have access to is from the Office 11 suite and is showing its age somewhat. Even with the patches that have been supplied since its release to improve the capabilities of its sync functionality, it’s not a full replacement for the version you’ll be used to from Windows. The same can be said for other programs that many use regularly, for instance the popular image editing tool Paint.NET.
There are also programs that appeal to a more niche audience, but prove to be vital for the users that they cater to. Quicken is widely regarded as the premier choice in terms of money management software, but if you’re looking to switch from the PC version to the one released for the Mac, you might well be disappointed.
Quicken Mac 2007 has been much maligned by users looking for an equivalent to the Windows version for its lack of features, and early response to the recently-released Quicken for Mac 2015 seems to be undecided on whether it’s a true step forward. What’s clear is that Windows users making the switch to Mac can’t be completely sure that the OS X versions of their favorite programs will offer the experience that they’ve grown accustomed to.
Possible Alternatives: If you can work around their limitations, then you might well find that the Mac versions of the programs you use on a daily basis work for you. If not, you might want to check out Mailbox instead of Outlook, GIMP in lieu of Paint.NET and Mint to replace Quicken — but all of the above have compromises attached.
Using Your PC as a Robust Gaming Platform
While the outlook for gamers wanting to use their Mac to play the latest releases is better than it was a few years ago, it’s still not on a par with the PC scene. Valve’s Steam service has certainly played a major role in growing the Mac as a platform for gaming and encouraging developers to port their games across from Windows, but for the most part you’ll be looking at the very biggest releases and small independent games, and missing out on most things in the middle.
One of the greatest strengths of PC gaming is the sheer breadth of titles available to you, and that’s something that you won’t have access to with only a proportion of new releases being made available for Macs. Not to mention, if you’re planning on going back and revisiting titles from the past, you’ll likely be disappointed; while now there is something of a movement to release games on the Mac, this wasn’t so commonplace even just five years ago.
Possible Alternatives: Looking to the independent scene can be a good source of Mac-compatible games, produced by some of the most exciting studios working today. There’s also the option of looking into Wine as a means of running Windows games on a Mac; the process of doing so can sometimes be quite complex, but it’s very useful once you’ve got your head round it.
Being Given the Freedom to Upgrade Your Hardware
This is one for the desktop crowd rather than most laptop users, but one of the most overlooked features of a Windows PC is the freedom that you have to customize your rig with the components of your choosing. Say you want to swap out your hard drive for something a little bit bigger, or upgrade your graphics card to something top of the line — being given this sort of control over the innards of your machine allows you to keep it current without simply buying a new one.
Of course, the Apple system of simply having a few models to choose from can save a lot of headaches when comparing specs and parts, but it’s at the cost of having a real grasp of what’s going into your computer and what it’s doing for you. As well as being a cost-effective method of buying a high-spec machine, building your own computer can be rather rewarding, if you approach it with the right sort of planning and caution. If you’re looking to even open up your Apple computer to do your own repairs, you’ll have to buy a special screwdriver to remove their proprietary pentalobe screws.
Being able to open up your computer and get your hands dirty is not for everyone — and, in fact, some will much prefer the simplicity of buying an Apple machine — but for the more technical sort, it’s a prime reason to stick with a Windows PC.
Possible Alternatives: If you want to have this sort of freedom while sticking with a Mac OS, your best bet is to go the whole hog and perform an install of the OS itself onto a build of your own. However, this is easier said than done and not really a job for anyone who’s not completely adroit with this sort of endeavour.
Have another Windows feature that you miss as a Mac user? Or did you switch the other way and find yourself missing a Mac feature on your PC? Let us know in the comments section below.
Image Credits: Man working with computer Via Shutterstock