Michael's Happenings

"Hello, I'm an Angry PC"

A month ago today I switched from a Mac to a PC, for various reasons, some of which I outlined in a blog post . It was a brand new PC — a Lenovo W500 with 4GB of RAM, running Windows Vista Ultimate, and connected to my existing 30″ monitor. So I fully integrated it into my work — all my data came across via SugarSync or other tools, so I had everything I needed on the W500. The W500 is fast and powerful, and the hardware is a dream to use. Using Windows again, however, has been a very frustrating experience. Indeed, in the 5 years of being away from Windows, it hasn’t improved. At least, Windows Vista is NOT “better for business”.

Here are some of the (daily) frustrations I’ve experienced:

  • Internet Explorer 7 … At various times, Internet Explorer is very slow to respond. Once I had 15-20 tabs open (and for me, this is “always”), I could at times count 5-7 seconds before it would open a new tab, or 5-6 seconds to display the right click options list after clicking an item. Internet Explorer is unstable. Some windows freeze and won’t permit being closed. A couple of times Internet Explorer quit altogether (“we have an error, and have to close”). Very annoying, especially when I had 15-20 tabs open.
  • Office 2007 Ultimate … In Word 2007, PowerPoint 2007 and sometimes Excel 2007, it almost always throws an error when I try to close the application saying that the application has stopped responding … And then it tries to open it again. Eg, “Word 2007 has stopped working.” Running the diagnostics on it says that it’s due to a conflict with one of my HP printers, but there is no fix available yet (after how long??)
  • Fingerprint Reader … The fingerprint reader on the Lenovo is troublesome. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve turned it off. It was too annoying.
    Password saving for applications … Gives annoying prompts; it was much less intrusive on the Mac.
  • Outlook 2007 … I signed up for a hosted Exchange 2007 account, because I wanted to explore integration between Exchange 2007 and SharePoint 2007. Particularly in week 2, Outlook 2007 would lose its connection to Exchange 2007 for some reason, even though my Internet connection was working fine. A few times I had to restart the laptop to get it working again. That’s unacceptable.
  • Much more Junk Email comes through; it wasn’t like this on Gmail. Of course, that isn’t a PC problem per se, but it was one of the biggest things I noticed in shifting away from Gmail. I signed up for the MailStreet Defender service (essentially hosted MXLogic for anti-spam and anti-virus services), and that has eliminated the problem. Yesterday, about 100 spam or junk messages were caught. Again … these never got through on Gmail nor Apple .Mac nor Mobile Me.
  • Vista’s habit of forcing updates, even when you said no is very annoying. Sometimes it will re-open Internet Explorer tabs when it restarts, other times it won’t. As I often leave browser windows and application windows open on the machine overnight — even though it’s in sleep mode — coming back to the machine the next morning and finding it all gone is disheartening.
  • Word 2007 often displays duplicated text on the screen, and one day I couldn’t even open a document from a Windows Explorer window. And when it did, Word wouldn’t permit the use of the mouse inside the document. I could click on tool bar icons and select menu commands, but I couldn’t select text inside the document. I tried restarting Word 2007 a few times, but no go. And yet the next day (without a restart of the machine), it worked fine.
  • Sometimes the responsiveness across applications is much slower than on the Mac (a 2.5 year old machine), and other times it is faster. When the machine decides to be slow, it is very noticeable waiting for the ability to start typing. Eg, in MindManager 7, starting a new topic at times would take 2 seconds. It should be immediate. In OneNote 2007, a similar problem. Makes me feel like I am waiting … It interrupts my concentration by the computer becoming a foreground process. And it’s intermittent, with no apparent rhyme or reason.

Eric said that computer platform choice is all about “applications”. While there are some applications that I can run on Windows that I couldn’t run natively on the Mac, my four week experience says that applications is one of a couple of factors. A second that’s just as important is “resilience and reliability”, to which I would give the Mac a leading vote over the PC. A third is “worry-free computing”, again which I would give the Mac a leading vote.

You can’t say that I didn’t try, with all of the latest and greatest from Microsoft. In the final analysis, I have been less productive. Tasks have taken longer than they would have on the Mac. I have a machine I can’t trust. And that can’t go on. That reality is definitely NOT “better for business”.

I guess the good thing to take out of this is that the Mac is great for business. I had started to question that. And it’s given me first-hand real experience (as opposed to the problems I had previously experienced with Vista on other machines in my lab), that Vista is no good for business.

So I face two paths. One is to downgrade to XP, which Eric said I should have gone with a month ago. The other is to go back to the Mac — but if I do that, it’s time to get a new MacBook Pro. My current one — while reliable — is too slow.

Categories: Michael's Happenings