In late 2006 I wrote an article about how I switched from PC to Mac, and through frustration over a few petty things I switched back. The main reason was simply that the Mac didn’t allow me to play my PC games, nor did it (perhaps more importantly!) allow me to continue developing MS-based applications using the .NET Framework (a Windows only set of application libraries).
I switched back, and was happy for a while. Then I starting listing all the things I couldn’t do on the PC that I’d gotten used to doing on the Mac. In particular, I use Final Cut Studio on a daily basis at work – it seemed a shame that I couldn’t use those tools at home. Despite this, in 2008 I sold my ageing G5 iMac as it was becoming increasingly useless. It “ran” Final Cut Studio, but it didn’t compare to the speed and responsiveness I was used to on my 8-core, 8Gb, Fibrechannel monster I had waiting for me at work.
Having briefly toyed with ideas like ‘should I learn Adobe Premiere?’, ‘Should I drop .Net and learn a new programming language?’, and one drunken night I even found myself saying, ‘Actually, MS Outlook’s not that bad.’ Things were clearly not good, and I needed a solution. I found myself stuck between to OS’s – wanting half of one and half of another. However, the more I thought about it the more I found that I actually only wanted a Windows PC for two things: Gaming and software development. Then I thought some more and realised that in the last two years I’ve purchased a Nintendo Wii and an XBox 360. Clearly I didn’t need a PC for gaming either. I was reluctant to give up my software development, but the penny finally dropped when I thought “Bootcamp!”. The new Macs will happily (apparently!) run either OSX or Windows. That seemed like a sensible solution, given that for the first time in my life I found myself saying “I need a Mac!”, and oppose to pleading with my wife that “I want a Mac!”. With this new revelation I realised that I no longer needed my PC at all – and that it would probably sell well on eBay. Later that night, following several glasses of wine, I had an accident with the internet and a credit card, and two days later a 27″ Quad-i5 iMac arrived.
I have one thing to say about the new iMacs: “Wow!”. That sums up so many aspects of it – it’s looks, screen and power. Once I’d installed Final Cut Studio I realised that it’s easily as powerful as the machines we use at work – I’m so happy! But then I discovered something else – I rather sceptically installed Parallel 5 for Mac, then created a virtual machine to run my copy of Windows 7. After a few hours of installing and tinkering I managed the following:
Yes, if you look closely you’ll see I’ve achieved Nirvana. That’s MS Visual Studio running happily alongside all of Mac applications. The performance is startling, and the ability to transfer control of USB hardware directly to Windows makes my Windows software development within OSX a serious proposition. In fact, I havent even bothered to install Bootcamp yet – although I probably will one day just for the added fun of playing my PC games on that gorgeous 27-inch screen!
So there you go – I’ve gone back to the Mac. I feel an eerie sense of deja-vu, but I’m reassured that this time is different. As my friends will attest, I’m a man who want’s to have his cake AND eat it (after all, isn’t that the very purpose of cake?) – Well, it would appear that’s now possible with a solution like this. I’m stubborn when it comes to letting go of Windows. At least for now I’m reassured I can visit Windows when I want, but from now on I’ll be looking in from outside.