Ever since Apple stopped developing Aperture and apparently moved developers from the Mac OS team to the iPhone and iPad team, I have been a little concerned about staying with Apple. I have been using Macbooks and iMacs since I moved over from Windows about twelve years ago. I loved the fact that everything just worked. The performance was good, the apps integrated together nicely and, in those days, Macs were the industry standard for serious photography or music. If you didn’t use a Mac, you were slightly suspect (although some brave souls fought against this.)
But, since then, things have gradually changed.
At the time they stopped development, Aperture was arguably better than Adobe Lightroom - the chief alternative. I swapped over, and now I am happy the Lightroom is miles better all round than Aperture was, although hardly surprising given the many years of development since then.
More recently, OS updates seem to be more “buggy”. The latest one corrupted my main user profile, and I have been unable to fix this despite applying all the hints and tips I can find on the Internet. All of a sudden, I can’t run Lightroom or Sibelius. I can get over this by creating a new profile and resetting my preferences, etc., but its a pain in the neck.
My wireless mouse suddenly needs new batteries every few days instead of every few weeks, and a Thunderbolt external drive I use for backup keeps saying it’s been ejected, for no apparent reason. It means I can’t use it for any jobs that might take an hour or two. It works plugged in to my slow USB port, but that’s hardly the point. I am told by my local Mac techie that many of his clients are getting him to re-install older versions of the OS because of other issues.
I used to get this sort of thing all the time on Windows, years ago, but could generally fix things by editing the registry or hacking the system in other ways. It’s much more difficult to do that on a Mac.
As far as I can make out, Apple’s direction seems to be gradually allowing iPhone apps to run under OSX, rather than the other way round.
But the thing that really started me thinking was that, last year, I had to send my iMac away to have it repaired. About the same time I bought a Windows tablet for only about 50 quid or so. And I found I could do everything on it that I could do on my iMac, although obviously slower. I could run Lightroom, Picassa, Photoshop, and Canon’s EOS utility. I could also plug in a printer. So, while less than ideal, I could actually use the tablet for event photography in a pinch - wireless from camera to the tablet, edit on the tablet, and print on my dye-sub printer. All using the Windows versions of software I would normally use. None of which could be done on my much more expensive iPad. True there are some lightweight versions, but no printer drivers, USB ports etc.
And I have recently been looking at the Microsoft Surface Pro desktop. It’s what the latest iMacs should have been. It tilts so you can use it horizontally, and it has a touch screen - ideal for photo editing with a pen (instead of a separate tablet or using a mouse), and I’d love to try it out for mixing audio, as I’m used to riding physical faders with my hands rather than fiddling with a mouse. And the 28 inch screen is awesome too. And there are still a few ports to plug things into, whereas Macs seem to be cutting those down to the minimum. And its very stylish.
Of course there are some disadvantages involved in swapping back to Windows after all these years. My emails, contacts, Pages documents and so on would need to be converted - I have found various ways of doing this, and I would need to sync my phone to Windows - can be done, but not quite as simple as for a Mac.
I am likely to buy a new machine soon. The latest iMacs are almost not upgradable. The Surface Studio is not a lot better, but there are certainly more options. There’s a new Surface Studio due out later this year. I’m waiting to see what it’s like, but my expectation is that I’ll pull the trigger on one when they come out.
Footnote: And now my wireless printer occasionally becomes invisible, meaning I have to reinstall it. I’m currently waiting for Microsoft’s news conference on October 2nd to see what the next Surface Studio will look like.
Also, I forgot to add that customers expect to touch the screen to select a photo. The lack of a touch screen was very annoying when I used to take a mac to events where I was printing on site. Less so now, but a touch screen would still be a bonus as far as I’m concerned.