What would make me touch a Mac

2012 or early 2013 will be the time I finally take the plunge and buy an Apple iMac.  This might surprise those of you who know me as, being a Windows MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) awardee and a Windows author I'm certainly not the typical Apple, Mac or OS X type.  I don't even currently own any Apple products, I never have.  So why am I now pretty determined to buy a Mac and what is it that's standing in my way?

The main reason for buying a iMac is aesthetics.  While some PC all-in-ones are certainly pretty and unobtrusive, they don't hold a candle to what Sir Jonathan Ive, the recently knighted British lead designer at Apple has achieved in the last decade or so.  Nobody is going to complain about Apple's product design or the quality of those products, and they are as desirable as they have ever been.

There are problems associated with this however, and some people do see them as insurmountable.  The main one is the price premium you have to pay for any Apple product.  Not only are the computers far more expensive than their counterpart PCs to begin with, but once you start configuring them on the Apple website the price really begins to rocket.  For example on the Apple UK website (which will forever be apple.com/uk and not Apple.co.uk after the company had an argument with the Beatles, seriously yes the 60's band!) an upgrade from 4Gb of 1,333MHz DDR3 RAM to 8Gb costs a whopping £160.  Conversely a full 8Gb of the equivalent Corsair memory can be bought online for just £37, making the Apple markup quite substantial.

When you buy an all-in-one computer though, be it from Apple or any other manufacturer they are not intended to be upgraded by the user, and Apple's machines can be considered even less upgradable given the way they're assembled and the attention to detail that goes into them.  This all will make the specification of the iMac I would like to buy a staggering £2,500 which is double the price I'd expect to pay for an equivalent PC.

So why would I bother you would think, other than to say that I own a Mac?  Well being a Windows author it would be extremely useful for me to have a Mac for work both so that I can regularly use Windows in Boot Camp, but also so that, as my mother keeps telling me, I don't get blinkered by Microsoft Windows.  I could just then buy a Mac Mini and plug it into my existing set-up of monitor and keyboard, but that's just over-complicating things when the whole point of the exercise is to buy a new all-in-one that will look great in my home.

The price, you might be surprised to hear, isn't a barrier.  It isn't for me and it's not a barrier either for the millions of people worldwide who go out and buy a Mac every year.  So what is the barrier and how would I get over it?

The barrier is simple and singular.  Touch.  Apple are an odd company when it comes to supporting new technologies.  They like to do things their own way and in their own time.  There's still no BluRay drives in their products and they refused to include USB3, despite its obvious advantages and the cheapness of the components, instead going for Thunderbolt, but a copper-based variety and not the original fibre-optic version (originally called Light Peak) that Intel had first planned.  This latter decision, while also made with Intel, mostly concerned price but price doesn't seem to be a subject that Apple executives tend to spend much time debating in meetings surely!?



Touch-screen technology is certainly the way forward however and it's now an important enough technology for me to be able to say that all of my new computers going forward will have to include support for it.  Currently there are no Apple iMacs or Apple monitors that support it and while it may be built into the next version of OS X, Apple are certainly keeping it quiet if it is.  If you want to use touch on a Mac you're currently limited to the magic trackpad, which I've used and personally find frustrating.

So is this a deal breaker?  Well I began this article by saying that "2012 or early 2013 will be the time I finally take the plunge and buy an Apple iMac."  I mean it too, I will.  It won't be a wholesale move away from PCs for me as I'll still need a PC for work but neither does it mean that I'll use Windows exclusively on the Mac.  It's a very interesting time in the computer market at the moment, and there have been so many interesting and, indeed, fascinating technologies coming into the arena including touch, Kinect, Thunderbolt, USB3 and sensors.  I just wish that Apple would start supporting more of them!

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Responses to What would make me touch a Mac

  1. B March 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    It's Jony Ive.

    • Mike Halsey MVP March 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

      Well spotted, it's all that talk about the Beatles probably getting my knights confused :/

  2. Morely the IT Guy March 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    It would take two things for me: (1) it has to be free. I'm not paying that kind of money for a mid-range PC. (2) Windows 8. I'm going to avoid Windows 8 for as long as I possibly can. Both the Dev Preview and the Consumer Preview suck.

  3. Robert Palmar March 5, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    I would stay away from the iMac and
    make the plunge with the MacBook Pro.

    You can load Windows on it too and the sleek
    hardware will not get too old too fast and
    for me the industrial design is the most
    attractive feature and not the OS.

    • Ken March 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      I too have been an IBM platform-o-phile since the mid 1980s, switching to Windows shortly after its inception. However, about five years ago, I had to get a MacBook Pro in order to run certain software for my photography business. I added a MacPro two years ago.

      The MacPro, as pointed out, is very different from the iMac. It is made for do-it-yourself upgrading. I bought it with the minimum recommended Apple-supplied memory, and then bought additional "Apple approved" memory from another vendor for about 30% less. Installing the banks was so easy that I kept re-reading the two-paragraph illustrated instructions, because I figured that I had missed something.

      Instead of Boot Camp to run Windows, I use VMware Fusion which simultaneously runs on my second monitor. I use the two OSes in tandem, dragging and dropping between the two.

  4. FalKirk March 6, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    "Touch-screen technology is certainly the way forward..."

    Touch-screen technology is an ergonomic dead end.

    Source: http://catb.org/jargon/html/G/gorilla-arm.html

    Touch screen technology is most certainly NOT the future for desktop computing. Apple knows this. Microsoft seems determined to ignore this reality.

    • William Grubaugh March 6, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

      You're spot on FalKirk, touch is a "DEAD END" for the general consumer Desktops/Notebooks, except for the obvious necessity on Tablet Devices and Smart Phones. Touch Screen technology is market specific for specialty use and application only and forcing it on OS's for Desktops/Notebooks is idiocy! Note, as an iMac user OSX Snow Leopard, the Trackpad is Apple revenue generated GARBAGE! The Wacom Tablet with Pen interface is the only way to go!

  5. Raymond March 6, 2012 at 6:40 am #

    Now that you've mention it, can I assume the you will consider getting an iMac if tomorrow's Apple event would reveal touch-capable versions?

  6. bazza March 6, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Sigh :(

  7. Mark March 7, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    I don't know how much of Jobs' legacy lives on at Apple, but he was firmly against the idea of touchscreen on desktop or laptop systems. Apple spent a lot of time doing user testing with touchscreen on those form factors and came to the well-founded conclusion that it didn't work.

    "We've done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn't work. Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical. It gives great demo but after a short period of time, you start to fatigue and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off. it doesn't work, it's ergonomically terrible. Touch surfaces want to be horizontal, hence pads." - Steve Jobs.

    Apple was smart enough to pioneer touch on phones and tablets, not because it was the Next Big Thing in human-computer interaction but because it was the most viable input method for devices constrained by size. Their larger devices don't have this constraint and already have superior input methods like keyboards and mice, and so they are also smart enough to leave touchscreens well away from those products.

    • FalKirk March 8, 2012 at 1:04 am #

      Great comment. Well said.

  8. Sylwia March 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    Yes I know you are talking about iMac. But I wanted to refer to "the design"

    I really get astonished when people bow to the design. I am just working (forced to) on my friend's MacBook from late 2009. Bough same time as mine Dell. It was 30% more expensive. It heats twice as much. I cannot handle videos, youtube or skype without getting burning hot. The moment you copy files or index or do anything similar, it starts being super slow.
    It is plastic, and has loads of cracks, and even tape holding one corner. And you can seriously cut your wrists by holding your hands just a bit further from the keyboard....like when you use the touchpad. Speaking of keyboard, after 2.5 years keys like shift? (arrow?) or return are slightly moody. And its case makes squeaky noises.

    Above all, I personally do not enjoy the curvy look of Apple products. iPhone 4s is the exception. Especially here, where it is smooth and curvy everywhere beside the one place it matters, where you hold your wrists.

    I do accept that it might be pretty for some people, even if I cannot see it. But I cannot accept that for prettiness I must sacrifice usability. Like 2 USB ports!!!! In 2009 laptop! Hello?!?! Million extension cables to connect just about anything. The screen opening to Maybe 110 degrees. Some people like to use it in bed and do not brea their necks. How surprising.

    If you spend on a PC as much money as on a Mac i is not going to be any less good in few years.

    People going from a 500 euro laptop to a 1200 euro macbooks and being so amazed by the speed and possibilities of the machine, just make my heart warm.

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