Many longtime, die-hard Mac users have recently switched to a PC, or are seriously considering such a move.
There’s a been a lot of negative publicity regarding Apple’s tepid support for Mac development over the years, capped off by lackluster public reception to a newly refreshed MacBook Pro line.
Apple also admitted they were well behind in updating desktop Macs, and that the flagship Mac Pro wasn’t a successful product design due to heat issues and limited upgradeability.
App and web developers have been especially frank and honest about their intentions or desires to jump ship to Windows. Some designers and other creatives are considering it as well, albeit to a lesser extent.
If you want a new, performance-oriented Mac today, you basically have two choices: an outdated desktop machine that hasn’t been substantially updated in years (2013 for the Mac Pro!), or a late-2016 MacBook Pro refresh that’s overpriced yet not exactly at the leading edge of pure performance capability.
The fact of the matter is that when it comes to web and app development or design, or many other aspects of creation or productivity, there’s little today that makes a Mac absolutely indispensable.
But before I go on, let me clarify one thing that does absolutely require a Mac: iOS app development. If that’s your speciality, then you can stop reading this article as there’s no way around a Mac for your needs.
(If you’re a video creator and won’t budge from Final Cut Pro, then you’re sticking to a Mac as well.)
For just about anything else though, a screamingly fast, cost-effective computing machine could be in your future, if you’re willing to take a small leap of faith.
No longer are PCs inferior to Macs
For once and for all, let’s please get over this tired and longstanding perception that Macs are more reliable, and easier to use than PCs.
Microsoft has devoted a great deal of effort in making Windows a solidly reliable operating system. It is exceedingly rare that Windows will actually crash on you. More likely you’ll experience problems with a specific app, rather than encounter errors at the operating system level. Same goes for the Mac.
Let’s also acknowledge that Macs aren’t exactly the perfect machines so many of us make them out to be. For example, my own Mac has a very slow bootup quirk that I can’t shake. I’ve tried just about everything under the sun, from resetting internal system components to a clean OS reinstall. Nothing has worked thus far.
It’s about time Microsoft gets some credit for the efforts taken to make Windows user-friendly. This is a company now just as serious about design and usability as Apple or Google. There are numerous productivity and convenience features in Windows 10 that you won’t find on a Mac. All is takes is a bit of curiosity, an open mind, and a little time for discovery. Microsoft’s Windows 10 features page is a great place to start.
Personally, I find Windows File Explorer much easier, more flexible, and a great deal more intuitive than Finder on a Mac. And Apple still has yet to sufficiently answer Windows’s powerful capabilities for placement and manipulation of app windows on a screen.
If you’re a creator or designer, no need to worry about what’s available in Windows – Adobe Creative Cloud works equally well on a PC – it’s really just a matter of using the Control and Alt keys, counterparts to the Command and Option keys on a Mac.
If you’re a developer (and I know I’m preaching to the choir here), the vast majority of the popular IDEs and code editors are available across platforms, including Sublime Text, GitHub Atom, and Microsoft Visual Studio Code.
Of course, Microsoft Office is readily available for both Windows and Mac, but you’re very likely to find the former version more polished and a better product overall.
In general, it’s pretty rare to find a popular app for Mac that isn’t available for Windows.
Just One Exception: Sketch
There’s really only one significant wrinkle that might make a designer, or even a developer think twice about abandoning a Mac: Sketch. Over the past few years, Sketch has incredibly zoomed in popularity, and has arguably displaced Photoshop as the most popular visual ideation and design tool for app interfaces and websites. But Sketch is macOS-only, and the creators have emphatically stated that they will not offer a Windows variant.
But there are many good alternatives to Sketch, some which include the ability to import native Sketch files. And the latest version of Sketch includes a new file format that allows easy third-party access via JSON. Among the many potential benefits, this will make it even easier to import (and export) from third-party programs.
The only real negative about abandoning Sketch is the vast ecosystem of plugins created by a community of very loyal devotees.
Linux Has Arrived On Windows!
It used to be that Macs were essential for developers. Not anymore. The all-holy grail capability of Macs – a native UNIX environment – isn’t so exclusive anymore. Windows 10 now has available its own Linux environment with Ubuntu Bash shell. No longer do you have to rely on Cygwin or deploy a virtual machine.
So you can now develop, prototype, test, and debug server-side web applications on a PC, as well as run Git just as you would on a Mac or Linux machine.
If Docker is what you need for your development projects and workflows, no worries. Microsoft has added support for Docker containers in Windows 10. And as a plus, you even have the choice of running Linux or Windows as the OS for your containers.
A Wide Open World of PC Hardware Awaits
Perhaps the most compelling reason to consider a PC is the ready access to some awesome power and graphics processing. You can just grab the fastest machine you can find at your local Costco. Or go to PCPartPicker, do a bit a research, and select the right parts to build your ideal PC.
If you’re in search of substantial computational power with colorful bling, you have your choice of fancy illuminated cases, fans, keyboards, mice, mouse pads, and more. This is the stuff of choice for gaming aficionados. There’s even a guide to pimping out your PC with RGB lighting. Better yet, head over to one of the noted gaming PC vendors where you’ll be able to have a tricked-out PC built and delivered to your specifications.
And you’re not limited to desktop towers, either. Gaming laptops are aplenty these days, from noted makers such as Razer and CyberPowerPC, as well as the mainstream names like Dell and Lenovo.
Making the jump from a Mac to a PC isn’t the leap into the dark unknown of yore. If anything, you’re more than likely to feel liberated from the dependency of a single company and its unilateral product development and pricing decisions.