I'm coming up on my first full year of being a Mac user since my Lenovo died last August. In honor of the the Apple WWDC 2011 keynote and event, I thought I would take a few minutes to reflect on my transition to the Mac and how I feel about the computer after a year of dedicated use. Despite a few flaws, which I'll cover, the experience with my MacBook Pro has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, I can definitely say that when this computer no longer holds its value, my next upgrade will also be to a Mac.
For this retrospective, I want to start with the bad and progress to the good so that we can end on the positive notes (which are far greater in this case).
NOTE: Everything beyond this point is 100% personal opinion! I am sure my experience will differ greatly from yours.
Things I Dislike
Without a doubt, the worst feature on this computer is the way it handles windowing. Everything from maximizing, to minimizing, to alt-tabbing is just not up to the level of the Windows OS yet. I have felt this pain from day-one and it is not something that I've ever been able to ever get fully used to. Every time I ALT+TAB when I meant to ALT+~, I reminded of the incompleteness of this feature.
Things I've Discovered Aren't Useful
Spaces. When I was a Windows user, I saw everyone using Spaces at the conferences and it made me really jealous. I always thought it would be awesome to be able to jump back and forth between logically-grouped sets of applications. Then, I got my Mac and realized that Spaces was useless. The problem was that my original perception was founded on a completely false notion: that apps are grouped.
Application are not grouped; rather, there is the currently active application and then there is everything else. With the exception of an IM client, the "current" app is always that huge window maximized in front of me. In other words, it's the one I'm focused on. Everything else is an ALT+TAB away - the space on which it resides is completely and utterly irrelevant.
So what do Spaces do? For me, they only added unnecessary animation (read: delay) between my application toggling.
Expose (ie. Corners). This is another one of those things that looked cool from afar but quickly lost its attractiveness when I started to use it. The only time I ever really triggered an Expose feature was by accident. Though, there was actually one action that I did like for a while; but then I discovered that I could program my mouse's thumb-button to do the same thing and the last useful corner became irrelevant (and the slower option).
Things That Really Whip The Llama's Ass
The good news is, aside from the few items above, pretty much everything else about my MacBook Pro kind of rocks it hardcore style. One of the things that repeatedly surprises me is how much functionality is built directly into the Mac. Every time I wonder if the Mac can do something, a quick Google search typically will reveal that such-and-such feature is already built directly into the operating system.
Need FTP? No problem, it's built-in. Need to turn your Mac into a wireless hotspot? No problem, it's already built-in. Need Apache? No problem, it's got that. This operating system appears to be jam-packed with tons of goodies.
And, I'm quite sure I've only scratch the surface.
One feature that I feel the benefit of on a daily basis is the incredible speed with which the machine Sleeps and Restores. When I tell it to "sleep," it does so instantly. When I hit a button, it pops back on almost immediately. This is amazing! When I was on a Windows machine, waiting for the machine to come out of sleep mode could take upwards of a minute (on a new Windows 7 machine). State-change on the Mac, in general, appears to be a highly optimized and completely pain-free experience.
Now, I know this might sound crazy, but also I believe this MacBook has made me a more well-rounded individual. There's something about it that just makes me feel more adventurous. Whether it's playing on the command line or installing a new programming language and interacting with its REPL, I'm continually finding ways to step outside my comfort zone on this computer. I don't know if it's the machine or it's just where I am in my life; but, there appears to be a correlation (if not a causation).
The machine itself also feels very solid. Even before I was a Mac user, I would have gladly admitted that Apple makes a beautiful machine. And that magnetic power cord - come on! It's like a delighter every single time I go to plug it in.
It took me a couple of months to really get situated on this beast; but all in all, I've been extremely happy with the switch. I have to admit, I am now a "Mac" person. Unless something critical happens, I can't see myself feeling any strong need to switch back to Windows.
UPDATE: Regarding the start-up speed of the Windows machine, David McGuigan may have been correct. I may have been thinking about Windows XP machine, not my Windows 7 machine. Honestly, it was a while ago. And, it's even possible that I was thining about Windows Vista which is what I had restored onto the Lenovo before I then installed W7 on the machine.