Tshaj ib xyoo caum dhau los Alex Hern hloov los ntawm PC rau Mac thiab yeej tsis ntsia rov qab. Tab sis tus tshiab MacBook Pro heev kim li yuav nws thaum kawg raug ntxias mus hloov dua?
Kuv twb tau ib tug Kua neeg siv rau ntau tshaj ib xyoo caum, puas tau txij li thaum kuv khaws ib refurbished 17in PowerBook rov qab nyob rau hauv 2005 los hloov kuv ailing lub qhov rais XP box. Tab sis lub hlis tas los, tom qab kua tshaj tawm nws kim tshaj plaws tshiab MacBook Pros nyob rau hauv yuav luag 15 xyoo, Kuv reconsidered kuv txiav txim siab rau thawj lub sij hawm thiab, rau yav dhau los ob peb lub lis piam, Kuv twb tau rov qab rau lub qhov rais PC.
Kuv tsis yog ib txwm ib tug Mac neeg siv. Kuv thawj peb computers twb PCs, Txawm hais tias lub tsev Kuv loj hlob nyob rau hauv muaj ib tug ailing, ntxub fais fab Mac Performa. Kuv yog vim li cas rau switching nyob rau hauv kuv cov hluas twb yooj yim haum: Kuv tau ua si tsawg thiab tsawg dua PC ua si, thiab siv kom nqi ntawm lub sij hawm siv kuv lub computer mus tswj cov suab paj nruag tsev qiv ntawv txuas rau kuv iPod. Kuv yog ib tug ntawm cov neeg switchers, ras los ntawm cov elegance ntawm kua music neeg uas ua ntawv thiab ntxias coj cov plunge rau hauv lawv daim ntawv qhia txog desktop operating system.
Lub laptop yog tsis pheej yig, tab sis nws ua shuttling ntawm kuv cais cov niam txiv 'tsev yooj yim npaum li. Thiab thaum kuv mus ntsib tsis tau ua tau mus ua si rau tag nrho cov tsev qiv ntawv ntawm PC ua si kuv tau ua li ntau lub xyoo, nws yog ib lub sij hawm yuav tsum tau tsiv mus rau lub Mac OS ntiaj teb no. Ntau, World of Warcraft yog tus ntoo khaub lig-platform, uas yog tag nrho cov gaming kuv yuav tsum tau rau ib tug zoo thaum.
Kaum xyoo nyob rau, Kuv yog ib tug ncaj neej ntawd hais kua neeg siv. Kuv nyob rau kuv thib rau iPhone, thib ob iPad thiab peb Mac; Kuv muaj ib tug Kua TV nyob rau hauv tsev, Kua branded keyboard rau hauv kuv lub desktop, thiab txawm ib tug kua AA roj teeb charger, los ntawm lub hnub thaum lawv ua rau lawv.
Tab sis tus ntxaib punches ntawm ib tug Brexit-coj kev luv nqi ntawm lub phaus, thiab kua tso ib tug tshiab ntau yam ntawm MacBook Pros muaj qhov pag-rau-koj-ib tug phaw nyob rau hauv tsis ntev los no nco, ua rau kuv xav hais tias ob zaug. Cov uas pheej yig tshaj Mac uas yuav txaus rau kuv xav tau kev pab, ib tug 13in MacBook Pro nrog 512GB ntawm qhov chaw cia thiab 16GB ntawm ram, los nyob rau hauv zoo tshaj £ 2,000, tsis tau yog NW nyuam qhuav ntau haib tshaj lub tshuab nws hloov, ib tug 15in retina MacBook Pro los ntawm plaub lub xyoos dhau los uas raug nqi cia li tshaj £ 1,500 thaum lub sij hawm.
Li ntawd, kuv switched rov qab. Rau lub hlis tas los no, Kuv twb tau siv cov Nto Phau Ntawv, rau sab saum toj-ntawm-lub-line laptop muag los ntawm, ntawm tag nrho cov neeg, Microsoft.
Nws yog ib qho kev.
Great-ish cov miv nyuas
Kuv cov miv nyuas yuav nyob rau hauv twb tsis paub tseeb. Kuv paub qhov rais muaj evolved radically txij li thaum kuv kawg siv nws, rov qab nyob rau hauv lub XP era, thiab tau txawm hloov txij li thaum lub sij hawm tas los kuv siv nws nyob rau hauv txoj kev chim siab, sai tom qab lub community launch txog Lub qhov rais 8.1. Tus tam sim no tseeb version ntawm lub operating system, Lub qhov rais 10 (confusingly, tsuas yog ib version tom qab tshaj 8.1; zaj dab neeg mus hais tias ntau dhau lawm developers sau code xa mus rau lub qhov rais 95 thiab 98 raws li "9 *", lub ntsiab lus ib sij lub qhov rais 9 yuav tawg compatibility), yog feem ntau yog ib tug zoo tshaj plaws. Nws meshes lub qhov rais tshiab kev version 8 nrog ib tug laus-style desktop ntau elegantly tshaj yav dhau los versions, thaum consigning puas tau ntau tshaj ntawm cov cruft sib sib zog nqus rau hauv nested menus thiab muab ib tug slick kev rau thawj-lub sij hawm cov neeg siv.
Kuv twb tseem muab kev cia siab los ntawm lub tshuab. Tom qab ib qho txawv txawv pib nrog tus thawj version ntawm lub Deg rov qab nyob rau hauv 2012, ces pitched li ib tug iPad competitor, Microsoft kuj yog ib qho ntawm qhov zoo tshaj plaws manufacturers ntawm qhov rais PCs muaj. Lub Deg Phau Ntawv yog ib tug qab tshuab, masquerading raws li ib tug MacBook Pro-class laptop tab sis nrog ib tug tag nrho detachable touchscreen uas opens nws mus rau ib tug tseem tshiab ntau yam ntawm kev siv.
Qhov zoo tshaj ntawm cov Deg machines tau tshwm sim los muaj teeb meem thaum nws los txog rau Microsoft lub kev sib raug zoo nrog nws cov kho vajtse nrog ib tug neeg, uas tended cia siab tias Microsoft yuav tsum tau cov ntsiab lus raking nyob rau hauv lab nrog rau cov ntawv tso cai cov nqi rau lub qhov rais, es tsis sib tw nrog lawv ncaj qha rau profit los ntawm kho vajtse raug. Tab sis rau tam sim no, lub tuam txhab tau cov ntsiab lus mus zaum rau ntawm lub ntug ntawm lub lag luam, ua me me li rau lub hwj chim neeg siv.
Txawm tias tag nrho cov uas, I had a fair amount of trepidation. Memories of blue screens of death, of driver conflicts, of cleaning out my registry and restoring the system after a malware infection, are hard to shake, as is the general hangover from my youth of Microsoft as the Great Satan of the tech world. As Zuckerberg is to the 2010s, Gates was to the 1990s: ever-present, professionally amoral, and incredibly, unflappably, successful.
But Gates is gone, as is Ballmer. This is Satya Nadella’s company now, and the Microsoft of this generation is everything the Microsoft of the 90s – or the Facebook of today – isn’t: humble, quiet, content with success where it can win and partnerships where it can’t, and as proud of working with competitors as Gates was of crushing them. Nyob rau hauv luv luv, it’s a Microsoft that I could consider being friends with. It couldn’t be that bad.
The worst thing about switching, it turns out, is switching.
I’m not trying to be tautological. But the bulk of the unpleasantness I’ve experienced actually making this change hasn’t been inherent to Windows, but has either come about because of the differences between the two operating systems, or even just the difficulties in actually getting up and running from day one.
Some of the problems are as simple, but nonetheless infuriating, as different keyboard shortcuts. A lifetime of muscle memory has told me that Command-Space brings up Spotlight, which is the main way I opened programmes on my Mac. The same shortcut on Windows 10 is to simply hit the Windows key, which invokes Cortana, Microsoft’s AI assistant, and then typing in the name of the programme you want to open.
Similar mismatches appear in areas like window management, alt-tab behaviour, and programme installation. It’s a push to say which is better (though I maintain that running an installer is less elegant than just dragging an app into the Apps folder), but whichever you’re used to, the other will be worse until you re-educate yourself.
That’s not to say I didn’t have plenty to complain about, tab sis yog.
That Spotlight/Cortana mismatch, Piv txwv? It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that Windows maps the alt key to the location of the command key on Macs, and alt-space is the Windows shortcut for switching languages, so every time I failed to invoke Spotlight, I would accidentally switch the language my computer was set up in, resetting my keyboard to a US English layout.
That was an annoying problem. Worse was that I didn’t actually have two languages set up on the Surface Book in the first place. thiab tsis tau, hovering in the bottom right, permanently, was a little box showing whether I was running in UK English or US English, with no option in sight to remove it.
In the end, I had to turn to Twitter for troubleshooting advice. We determined that there was no option to remove the US English language because there was no US English language set up. So to remove it, all I had to do was go into a language menu, add English (United States) as an option, and then remove English (United States) as an option. I know. But it worked, so who am I to complain.
I’m also firmly aware that a critical eye on Mac OS will reveal many similar bugs. Mac users, particularly long-term, slightly jaundiced, Mac users, have long become familiar with the hollow laugh and invocation of Apple’s erstwhile marketing slogan “It Just Works” as something emphatically continues to not Just Work. Nyob rau hauv qhov tseeb, that phrase has been uttered in irony so many times that it’s easy to forget that it really does come from a place of competitive advantage for Apple.
That advantage has largely been eroded over the years, as Microsoft has cottoned on to the joys of vertical integration, plug and play accessories, and standards-compliant behaviour.
But not entirely. Plugging in an external mouse (an utterly standard Microsoft-made laser mouse), Kuv yog khib kom paub tias kuv yuav tsis rov qab tus scrolling tus cwj pwm nyob rau scroll log kom phim hais tias ntawm lub hauv-ua trackpad. Nws yog ib tug tshaj plaws mus rau relearn cwj pwm thaum koj hloov cov tshuab, nws yog lwm tau rov kawm rau lawv txhua txhua lub sij hawm koj ntsaws rau hauv ib tug peripheral.
Txog ib teev ntawm fruitless Googling tom qab - nrog rau ob peb cov tswv yim rau nruab obsolete hlauv taws xob, hack lub npe, los yog yob rov qab mus rau ib tug ua ntej lawm version ntawm qhov rais - thiab kuv sab txoj kev yuav ua li cas kuv xav. Kuv muaj mus download tau tsav tsheb rau kuv nas.
Yog hais tias koj nyob nraum hluas, ib tug Mac neeg siv, los yog tsis yog tshwj xeeb kev, uas tej zaum yuav tsis tau txhais hais tias npaum li cas. Drivers are the small pieces of software that tell the operating system how to work with hardware, from complex components like graphics cards to simple accessories like this mouse. But the necessity, los yog tsis, of drivers for accessories was a big part of that competitive push by Apple, which made a point of ensuring out-of-the-box support for many of the most commonly used peripherals like printers, cameras and mice. When Steve Jobs said “it just works”, this is the sort of thing he was referring to: the ability to plug in a mouse and have it Just Work.
Installing drivers for a mouse to enable a niche behaviour is no great hardship, but it still left me moderately concerned. Microsoft made both the mouse and the laptop, yet the two weren’t able to play nicely together without my intervention. This digging in the nuts and bolts of the machine was not something I had missed.
Touching the void
The Microsoft of 2016 has a split personality. In many ways, the split is the same that it’s had for the past 20 xyoo, between its desire for continuity and its desire for reinvention and technological leadership. Where the company is successful today is where that latter desire is ascendant, and the Surface Book is the best example of a forward-looking Microsoft you can find.
It’s a fantastic machine. Small and powerful, with a long battery life, it impresses as a laptop, but its real strengths are revealed when you undock the screen from its base. Being able to carry my laptop around the kitchen when doing the weekly shop, before docking it back and typing up some recipes, was genuinely cool.
Tu siab, cool is all it was for me. The ability to pop out my laptop and write on it with a (very accurate) stylus was never that useful. If anything, it served to underscore how efficient the keyboard-and-touchpad combo is for a lot of hefty tasks.
I had a similar experience with the ability to use the touchscreen while the Surface Book was in laptop mode. I simply didn’t do it much, and most of the time when I did, it was just to see if I could.
Occasionally, the touchscreen was actively bad. My first time opening Windows Mail, I was greeted with a helpful popover showing that I could swipe mails to the left to archive them. But I couldn’t work out how: click and drag? Two-fingered swipe on the touchpad? Lub teb, ntawm chav kawm, is to reach up to the screen, and swipe that way. A shortcut it is not, particularly if the screen is up on a dock and you’re already using a keyboard and mouse.
Incidentally, unlike many hybrid laptops, the base isn’t just a keyboard: it also contains a second battery, and a number of hardware components including a discrete GPU. (One downside of that setup: if you let the screen run out of battery while undocked, you can’t re-dock it until you’ve charged it separately, even if the base still has some power left).
PCs are from Mars
If this sounds like a long list of nitpicks, it’s because … zoo, it is. For all the existential battles that have been fought over Windows versus Mac, there’s little to distinguish the two on any important level. The platforms have converged on everything but aesthetics and personal preferences. Both have a locked-down store which power users ignore; both are fighting for relevance in a world of web apps and mobile-first design; both feel the weight of versions past sitting on their shoulders.
If you asked me to explain why, despite it all, I’ve put my money down for a MacBook Pro rather than buying the Surface Book from Microsoft (which loaned the device for this trial), I can give you some reasons that feel solid enough for me.
I was shocked by the amount of advertising and cross-promotion riddled throughout the OS, from adverts for apps in the start menu, to a persistent pop-up offering a free trial of Office 365.
I was surprised by the paucity of solid third-party apps in general, and particularly by the lack of any good consumer productivity suite. When the most common recommendation, for services from photo storage to calendaring, is “just use Google’s web apps”, there’s a hole waiting to be filled (though maybe that’s just my dislike of web apps in general). It feels like the Mac dev scene is full of teams making fully featured apps that compete with the big companies, while Windows devs are more content to make niche utilities which serve particular needs without needing to start a war.
I disliked the lack of a smart sleep mode, meaning my computer would often be flat when I opened it up in the morning because some utility had been running in the background.
I hated the difficulty in typing special characters, from foreign accents to ellipses and em-dashes. I hated the lack of a universal paste-as-plain-text shortcut, and I mourned the loss of iMessage access on the desktop for texting my girlfriend.
Most of all, tab sis yog, I couldn’t stand the small irritations, from the failure of Chrome windows to correctly adapt when dragged from a high-res screen to a low-res one, to the trackpad’s inability to accurately click when I used it with my thumb rather than my finger.
I don’t pretend that those irritations are unique to Windows, or even that they aren’t things I couldn’t have fixed with time, effort or re-education. But the problem is, fixing them isn’t worth it: the difference just isn’t there.
That’s true whichever way you’re thinking of switching. If you’re a Windows user nodding along with my problems, I can guarantee you that within a month of switching to Mac, you’ll have a list just as long. Maybe one day, one or other platform will have a commanding lead. For some use-cases, that’s already happened: gamers have Windows, while iOS developers have Mac, to state two obvious examples. Tab sis rau tam sim no, for the vast majority, it’s hard to say there’s anything in it.
Except, ntawm chav kawm, for price.
Because these problems are minor, and a price difference of up to £1,000 isn’t. The Surface Book is around the same price as the new MacBook Pro, but many other high-quality laptops aren’t: you’ll easily find models like Dell’s XPS range or Lenovo’s Thinkpads for hundreds of pounds less than a comparably-specced MacBook.
Rau kuv, with four years of saving for a new Mac, good credit, and risk-aversion to digital irritation, it’s worth paying through the nose to stick with what I know. But it might not be the case for you.
Switching isn’t a panacea, and there’s no silver bullet out there – no Windows computer that will be anything better than a bit annoying for former Mac users – but before you get too complacent, I have a feeling the same is true the other way round. Thaum kawg, the question comes down to how much you’re prepared to pay to keep things the same as they have been. Rau kuv, it turns out that figure’s quite high.
guardian.co.uk © Tus Saib Xyuas Xov xwm & Media Limited 2010