… you know the ones, cool Apple guy versus incompetent PC guy.

One of the ads is titled ‘Out of the Box‘. The argument being that, if you have a PC, you have to:

  • read the manual
  • download lots of drivers and updates
  • remove unwanted trial software

All this before you can actually get started. Unlike the Mac, which comes out of the box ready to go…

…or does it?

On Friday (the 13th, maybe I should have been warned), one shiny new MacBook Pro arrived on my door step. This is my first ever Mac. Prior experiences with Macs have been limited to:

  • Ripping out an Apple network 10 years ago. I was a network manager at the time and bribed the graphics designers over to PCs by promising they’d get much bigger monitors
  • Occasional playing with Macs in Apple stores
  • Peeking over the shoulders of Mac users at design-oriented conferences

So, I remove one Apple MacBookPro from its box. Switching it on is not difficult and the set-up automatically starts. Nice user interface (UI) to help you get started. But on to the first problem.

Attempts to connect to wireless (BT hub) network fail miserably – password is not accepted (I check the password by using it on my Nokia phone – has wireless support – and no, it’s not the wrong password). Quick check on the net (via my Sony Vaio) and it seems attaching Mac to wireless BT hubs is a bit of known challenge. Saving me the effort of having to phone support when I’ve barely left the starting blocks, a step-by-step guide shows me how to bypass Apple’s Network Assistant in order to get to the advanced properties and configure the password as a WEP. Joy. Set-up completed.

…but isn’t needing someone’s help a little bit like needing a manual? I didn’t need help in getting my PC (Sony Vaio) or mobile phone (Nokia) to connect to the BT hub.

So, now I’m staring at OS/X trying to figure out how I’m going to live without right-click. (Quite well so far, as it turns out, and loving the 2-finger scroll effect on the mouse pad – it works horizontally as well as vertically.)

I check out the icons on the little bar at the bottom. It probably has a name but I’m still trying to avoid reading the manual. Because that Apple vs PC ad made it clear, manuals are for PCs not Macs.

One of the icons gets me into System Preferences, where I discover Software Update. Hmm, like the sound of that. Knowing what a Windows XP installation is like in terms of needing updates, I’m assuming the Mac probably needs a few too, despite what the advert says…

…wasn’t quite expecting the updates to require downloading 300+ Mbs! Yes, 300Mb of updates that weren’t in the box….

To be fair, despite the hefy size, only 5 files needed to be downloaded (one was 163Mb – the core OS update) and the process was relatively painless. …Well, if you don’t include the forced reboot I had to resort to (i.e. place one finger on the power button and hold for five seconds) when the update got stuck convinced that I had iTunes open. Reading the manual whilst the Mac rebooted in a huff, I now know I could have simply gone into the Apple icon to quit and restart the update process.

One AppleMac, out of the box with a bit of assistance and needing some updates. Not so dissimilar from a PC… so what about the trial software claim? I have a peak in the Applications folder and what should I find? An Office 2004 for MAC trial evaluation 🙂 Hmmm…. somwhat ironic that the one piece of trial software happens to be from Microsoft.

Back to that Apple ad. It claimed the Mac wouldn’t need any drivers, I wouldn’t need a manual and there wouldn’t be any trial software to be removed. I did need the manual, the Mac needed 300Mb worth of updates, and it had a trial version of Office for Mac waiting to be removed (I already own a full copy). Not an entirely accurate picture.

That all said, the Mac is just gorgeous. Don’t get me started on the cute little remote that comes with it, and the backlit keyboard – wish the Vaio had that! So far, it is definitely living up to expectations. And I haven’t been a huge fan of those Apple vs PC ads from the start. Maybe it’s the choice of actors in the UK, the Apple guy comes across as a bit of a smug twat and some of the claims are stretching the truth more than a little bit. Although I do think the US security one is funny. (Update: embedded at the end of this post.)

I’m now a dual Windows-Mac user and it’s going to be interesting to see how the two OSs compare going forward. My existing Sony Vaio TX will continue to be my note-taking and admin client, its 7+hrs of battery life and miniscule size means it still wins on the portability front. The Mac will take over design and media duties and, depending on how we get on with Boot Camp, will be dual-booting Windows to run demos and prototypes.

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Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. My experience is, ads are ads. That said, the US Mac ads are based on truth, and sometimes exaggerate for effect. They are funny (at least on this side of the pond).I've gone in the opposite direction, loading XP on my iMac. I haven't played with Windows since 98. How quaint. The interface keeps asking me questions for which no immediate answer is necessary. Now that annoys. But maybe my problem with XP is the same problem most Windows users have with the Mac — trying to make it like what they know. My advice, let it be. Allow yourself to learn the new way. You may find yourself liking it more.By the way, your connecting problem is atypical. Most new Mac users just switch it on and let rip.Best wishes

  2. First, I agree with skribbler – ads are ads. Take their claims with a grain of salt. Do you really think all male beer drinkers are constantly surrounded by nothing but gorgeous women?That said, I'd have to say your experience was a bit atypical.(1) Each of my 4 Macs had absolutely no trouble hooking up to my wireless network.(2) I'm guessing your Mac shipped with 10.4.8, and that OS update, being about 2 weeks old, is something that is not the norm.(3) I agree with you about trial software. I would like to point out that from the "Intel Inside" stickers to desktop icons to the amount of trial software on a typical PC, there is NO comparison.So, how did you like how easy it was to remove MS Office? No Control Panel, Add/Remove Software, uninstall process. Simply drag it into the trash.

  3. A trial of Office comes with the Mac, but not Windows. Hmmm.

  4. looks like you are unaware yet that you can do a right click with two fingers on the mouse pad and you click. Wish they had that turned on by default. Find it in the System Preferences under mouse and keyboard, trackpad settings.

  5. Do your right-click with the control key. It's a control-click. This is the way Mac users have done it since time immemorial. In fact, I hate two button mice. If you were a graphic designer you would understand — nothing worse than having an carefully made selection outline destroyed in mid creation by an accidental right-click. If you don't do this kind of work then you naturally don't see the upside, but the control-click is very natural once you get used to it, although admittedly less efficient.I'm glad you admit that some of the Mac ads are very funny. Man I've got some die-hard PC-using friends (yes, it does happen that Mac zealots and PC die-hards become close friends), and they absolutely refuse to admit that some of the humour in these ads is really sharp. But true? Enh. It depends on where you're standing and what that does to your perspective. They're about as true as if I said to you, 'Tea is healthy whereas coffee has lots of caffeine, which is bad for you.' You could answer, 'But tea has caffeine in it, too!' Sure, you can focus on that bit of caffeine that is also in the tea, but what I said is still basically true in the greater scope of things, and everybody basically knows it. The same goes for the things that are said in most of the Mac ads. The PC users know that there is a basic truth to them; that's why they experience a sense of humour shutdown.

  6. "Ripping out an Apple network 10 years ago. I was a network manager at the time and bribed the graphics designers over to PCs by promising they'd get much bigger monitors"Yeah, 'cos us Mac users are so stupid aren't we?"Duh… me like shiny computer with Apple on it, me don't want dirty computer with Windows logo on it, but look! me got nice big monitor to draw pretty pictures on! me now happy with clever Network Manager!"Fucking asshole. I run a Mac network and I wouldn't let an arrogant Windows centric drone like yourself within a mile of it.

  7. Please ignore my fellow Mac user above, who is a complete asshole. Stay off of my team, pal!Anyway, there are vultures everywhere. You know how it is.

  8. Hi… not quite sure how I got here, but I'd like to temporarily break my general habit of not commenting on people's blogs, to agree with the last commenter: please ignore the Mac zealot above up there, who really needs to chill the f**k out.

  9. Wow, 8 comments! I think that's the most I've ever received on one post. Skribbler – your advice is already proving true, it's interesting to discover how easy it is to pick up the different UI by simply exploring the options. And the ads raise a chucle on this side of the pond too 🙂 DaveFD – sounds like it was unlucky timing to pick up such a large update (I was originally hoping that Leopard might be launched but couldn't wait any longer). Ah, you remind me of one of my pet PC hates – those darned stickers! Even my little Vaio, which rivals the Mac in looks, is spoilt by 2 stickers. And yes, amazing how quick it was to learn how to remove the software. Working with Apps folder is very different to what I'm used to, but starting to feel 'natural' already. I didn't expect that to happen…Anonymous (1) – a trial for Office 2003 came with my Sony Vaio too (along with a lot of other stuff)… and yes, as DaveFD highlights, more steps were required to remove itEytan – I've just discovered that you can have right-click using the mouse pad. Many thanks for showing how to turn it on (hadn't gotten that far) Anonymous (2) – Ah, didn't know about using the ctrl key to right-click. I will give that a try as well. Thanks for the tip! And like the tea-coffee analogy…I'll respond to Anonymous (3) in the next comment…

  10. To Anonymous (3). I'm sorry you feel the need to resort to abusive language. The reason you bribe someone is to get them to accept something when there are better alternatives available. I certainly didn't consider the graphics designers to be stupid, far from it. Asking them to give up their Macs was painful. The bribe (which included highest-spec machines the budget would allow and the latest versions of Adobe software) was the best I could offer to ease the transition. I was given a remit to standardise everyone on to a Microsoft platform (a decision I fought for a long time, I wanted the network software to be Novell NetWare, not Windows NT 4.0). Try not to be so quick to jump to conclusions…Big thank you to Anonymous(4) and Aussie Mac User for the supportive comments regarding this one. I know I should get a thicker skin but snarky comments like this do hurt. Makes you think twice about bothering to blog.The irony is how much easier it now is to integrate Windows and Macs onto the same network. If a user needs a Mac for their role, it's no longer a problem. Back in the 90s, it was a different story.

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