Thursday, July 04, 2013

Switching to OSX

An interesting thing happened the other day.

I forgot my MacBook Air 13" inside the aircraft on my flight back from Greece. I was using only Windows 7 in that machine.

The laptop was thankfully retrieved a week later, but meanwhile I had to travel to Canada within 2 days. As a result, I had to take with me and 11" MacBook Air, which only had OSX installed. This was the first time I continuously used OSX for a prolonged period of time.

I realized I can actually use that operating system instead of Windows. Here are the reasons:

1. There is a certain mathematical elegance about it. A strict, ordered, geometric design, almost godlike. Windows on the other hand still feels like an assortment of code put together. Even OSX application developers seem to care more about the looks of their app, being more consistent with the overall OSX look (much like the design consistency between iOS apps).

2. It is stylistically way more beautiful than Windows 8 (although on par with Windows 7).

3. The multiple desktop experience in OSX is very efficient for me, combined with all the touch gestures to manipulate between applications.

4. Incredible restore capabilities. By pressing command+R during boot, I can connect to a wifi and completely restore my machine from the cloud. No need for discs or usb drives. When I got my 13" Air back, I re-installed OSX and then transferred over my programs and settings from the 11" Air OSX account. I smoothly continued work where I left off.

5. Innovation.

The last point is the most critical one. My workflow under Windows hasn't changed since I started using Windows Vista in 2007. A left side taskbar with program shortcuts, fast switching between apps, gadgets on the right side, done. I am extremely efficient with this setup and two screens. With the advent of Windows 7 and 8, that has largely stayed the same (I had to restore the taskbar in Win8 to regain the efficiency).

In that same period however, OSX has introduced several tweaks that are actually focused on improving my workflow: touch gestures, multiple desktops, full screen apps, notification center, Airdrop, etc. These are features that I actually use and improve my workflow.

Then I looked at the future. OSX Mavericks and Windows 8.1 were both announced in June. OSX will be adding many more useful features I will probably like to use, such as tabs in Finder & notification syncing. Windows 8.1 is adding several nice features in the tablet interface (which I still think it's the best tablet OS out there), but nothing really for the desktop user. It has stagnated, and I feel like Microsoft has given up trying to change anything in the workflow of the desktop user.

Combining all that with the superb support for high-res displays that OSX offers, and the poor outlook of Windows for such displays, I see that Apple is truly trying to innovate in the desktop space and make everyone life's easier.

I'll still be using Windows for a while. But my time devoted to that OS will be shifting.