I’m Not a Mac #11–Still a PC (and an Android) 15 Months Later

This post is part of my “I’m Not a Mac” series, chronicling my migration away from Apple after 15 years as a Mac user. Find other entries in the “I’m Not a Mac” series archive.

I was a confirmed Mac user for 15 years. Now it’s been 15 months since I last touched an Apple product. Recently readers have asked me if I’m still happy with my decision to migrate out of the Apple ecosystem. Good question.

In spring 2010 I finished blogging a 10-part series about that migration (see the I’m Not a Mac archive.) I left Apple behind because I was tired of Steve Jobs telling me how–and how not–to use my computer and smart phone. Along the way I jailbroke my iPhone, flirted with Linux, got attacked by Mac fanboy media, and questioned why anyone needed an iPad, among other exploits you can read in the archive. So 15 months since ditching my MacBook and iPhone for a Windows 7 laptop and an Android phone, do I still think it was it worth it?

More than ever–for several reasons.

To recap, last spring I switched to a mini Toshiba satellite laptop and a Verizon Droid Eris. Both were low-end for reasons of cost, but still managed to got the job done and keep me happy. Why?

First of all, not once in the past year and change have I felt deliberately and unnecessarily hampered by the operating system of my laptop or smart phone. I use the specific software and peripherals I want without any Steve-Jobsian roadblocks of incompatibility being thrown in my way. My computing devices simply work as I want them to.

Second, Windows 7 remains a pleasure to use, even after 15 months. Graphically and in terms of ease of use, it is what Mac OS X should be. In fact, I still believe Windows 7 feels more Mac-like than OS X. That means, it feels highly intuitive–as well as fresh and new, something you can’t say of the pickled-in-amber look of the decade old Mac operating system.

Third, the Android operating system still knocks me out with its lack of heavy-handed app-store policing (so endemic on the iPhone side of things) and absolutely perfectly seamless integration of Google Voice and Gmail–which is as it should be.

Fourth, I can easily afford to upgrade my devices. The MacBook I sold originally cost me $1,200. It replaced a MacBook that suddenly died a year before, which also cost a similarly exorbitant price–just like all the Macs I owned in my 15 years as a Mac user. That sudden replacement came out of rent money–and I had no choice but to replace it immediately since I used the computer for consulting work. The iPhone 3G that I smashed to bits with a hammer on camera cost me more than $200 with a contract, and replaced an original iPhone that cost me $400.

Things have been a lot cheaper outside the Steve Jobs reality distortion field. To wit: last spring, my Toshiba laptop cost me $399. My Verizon Droid Eris $99. My Toshiba died this March–it was a refurb of a problematic model, so I wasn’t surprised, and admittedly its anemic processor and tiny screen were never a match for my old MacBook. I replaced it with a surprisingly powerful mid-range $449 HP G62-series Windows 7 laptop that equals or beats a contemporary MacBook in every way for less than half the price. On the smart phone side, last month, I traded up my Droid Eris for a Droid Incredible 2. I paid $150 and got a smart phone that does everything I always wished my iPhone did–including not slow down and die every other time I tried to place a call in Chicago.

So, yes, after 15 months, I’m still a PC, and happily so. That’s not to say I would never switch back to Apple. But it would take a seismic shift in the way the company relates to its users, to developers, and to other hardware manufacturers. Essentially, it would take the exit of Steve Jobs and his caustic, highly narcissistic personalization of the company and a recognition that the customer really is always right. I’m not holding my breath that any of that will happen.

But I am paying my rent on time. And after 15 years as a Mac user, that may be the biggest change of all.

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