Friday, March 11, 2005

A month with a mac: A die-hard PC user's perspective

This is a pretty unskewed review of the Mac experience written by a PC fan/guru. If you're curious at all, this article will go a long way towards helping you decide wether or not you want to take the plunge.

One thing he points out here really spoke to me and goes a long way towards helping me explain why I love making music on the Macintosh - memory management. I use a Wintel laptop every day at work. I work with the 3 Lotus Notes clients continuously throughout the day...all notorious memory hogs (Bloatus Notes anyone?). Spending the past year with a Mac has opened my eyes to a really irritating problem that I've always just accepted as a way of life - memory leaks. My Macs will run 24-7 with numerous apps open and never once crash. When I go to use an app it's just as snappy as it was when I first opened it. On my Wintel this is definitely not the story. God forbid that I open and close Lotus Notes several times over the course of a 2 day period without rebooting my laptop. Even worse, if I want to work with Adobe Photoshop Elements I had better make sure anything else I was working with in other applications is saved and put away because I will most certainly need to reboot afterwards. Windows has wretched memory management and a 10-ton app like Lotus Notes takes full advantage of this.

Who cares, right? How long does it take to reboot anyway...a minute maybe? Sure, if all that you really care to do is browse the web and check email. However, us "creative types" can't afford such a delay. Inspiration can strike at a moment's notice and pass us by even faster, which is why we require a system that "just works" when we need it to. I can't begin to tell you how many times I was frustrated when running Pro Tools on my Wintel PC I was forced to kill a session and reboot due to the fact that Pro Tools or some other app had been running too long and had sprung a memory leak. It's quite a mood-killer when you go to lay down that ever-elusive genuis riff only to find that you've got like a half-second lag to deal with. Here's my favorite part of the article:

The biggest complaint that I both had and levied against was that it always seemed like you had more applications opened than what you wanted. In Windows, once all of the windows of an application were closed, the application itself was usually exited. Under OS X, until you actually quit the application, regardless of how many or how few windows of it that are still open, the application remains running. Thanks to an extremely aggressive caching engine and an extremely robust/stable OS core, I ended up actually preferring it when I had the majority of my frequently used applications open. This approach ends up using quite a bit of memory, but I found that there's no slowdown if you have the memory to handle the open applications. If not, you can always close the applications that you don't want running - Command-Q is the keyboard shortcut; it's the same in any OS X application (Command-W just closes the foreground window). The benefit of leaving applications running even when you're not using them is that when you do need to use them or open a file with one of them, the response time is instantaneous - as opposed to waiting for an application to load. Of course, you can do the same thing in Windows, but for some reason stability and performance seemed to remain unchanged under OS X, whereas I almost always ran into an issue with Windows - whether it was having too many windows open or too many programs running.

I also like this passage -

OS X is built on a very solid core and it does handle individual applications crashing much better than Windows does. I've never had to reboot the entire system because one application crashed. It's also much better about restarting Finder (the equivalent of Explorer) if it crashes. It is things like these that make OS X a bit more "stable" of a platform than Windows, but also, remember that the tight quality control that Apple has over the components that go into their systems does also play a very large part in assuring stability.

Read the rest of the article HERE


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