Despite working in the technology sector, I'm the type of person to continue using something until I can't use it anymore. I do this with cars, I do this with mobile phones, and I do this with laptops. I found that the laptop that I had - a four-year old Gateway with an Intel Celeron M processor, 512MB of RAM, and 60GB hard drive space - was not working with the new projects that I'm currently working on. I had to get a new laptop. The question was - what brand?
With the push from Microsoft to go 64-bit with its new server releases (SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Windows 2008 R2, Microsoft SQL Server 2008), I needed to have 64-bit capability. However, I still needed 32-bit backwards compatibility because I'm still working on projects in the 32-bit world. Based on research, I found that the 64-bit "PC" laptops would do well for my work with 64-bit technologies, but I would have to trust my luck with the 32-bit technologies, because the 64-bit Windows OSes don't necessarily play nice with all 32-bit applications all the time (although Hyper-V supports 32-bit and 64-bit apps).
A few of my students, as well as a teaching colleague of mine, use MacBooks. They frequently talked about their MacBooks as if it was the second coming. Although I'm interested in diving into Apple technologies, I wasn't quite sure about purchasing the MacBook, since the majority of the work that I do is with SharePoint and Microsoft technologies. One of my students replied, "there's always Parallels". After some convincing from the students, my teaching colleague, and the Apple representative, I went for the glory and purchased a MacBook Pro 15.
When I started using it yesterday, the first words out of my mouth were, "why haven't I done this sooner?"
The Selling Points
I know that some people are sold by the design (it is designed very well, by the way), but I'm concerned about the performance. I have to admit, I was blown away by how quickly my laptop booted, even with applications installed on it (OpenOffice, Jing, and Parallels).
I was also very impressed with what I got for my money. Not only did I get a lightning-fast machine, but I got a lot of useful applications with my MacOS (I have Snow Leopard).
All of my peripheries worked well on the Mac. It could read my portable hard drive and flash drives, so there was no problem.
The Mac applications worked very well. So how about Windows? After all, most of my project work is with Microsoft applications. Although I could create a partition to run the Windows OS (using Boot Camp), I had to have virtual machines because I work in different Windows (and Linux) environments. That's where Parallels came into play. I created two virtual machines in Parallels. One machine has Windows 2003 Server SP2 with IIS 6.0 configured on it, Visual Studio .NET 2008 and SharePoint Server 2007 in a single-server configuration. The other machine just has Windows XP SP2. I couldn't believe it - both virtual machines booted considerably faster than the same configurations on a PC! I haven't tried setting up a virtual network with Parallels just yet, but from what I can tell, it's quite easy to do.
For someone who is coming from the PC world, it was pretty easy to get the hang of the command button instead of the control button. The part that I'm getting used to is the touch-pad mouse. It doesn't work the same way as a touch-pad mouse on a PC laptop, but I'm working on it. For now, I'm just using a Bluetooth mouse (yes, Macs support Bluetooth).
I Can't Wait to Try....
As many of you know, I make training videos to accompany some of the tutorial posts in this blog. I haven't made too many of them lately because, based on some of the feedback that I received from the viewers, some of the broadcast quality wasn't as sharp as they would like it to be. I agree with that assessment. In order to make better quality videos, I need new software. Unfortunately, a lot of the software costs hundreds of dollars.
Mac OSX comes with software to allow me to create top-quality videos. I also installed Jing, an open-source software that will allow me to record screen demos. I'm going to be creating a new video tutorial in the near future, so I can't wait to see how it turns out. If I like Jing, I may purchase Jing Pro for $14.95.
I can see why people love Macs so much. I am completely sold on it, and I'm kicking myself for not getting one sooner.