MacBook Pro first impressions

This blogger is now the new proud owner, scratch that, “temporary custodian” of a MacBook Pro, having traded in a defective IBM Thinkpad that should have been recycled for parts eons ago. Here is the obligatory blog post on switching from someone who has spent a decade working on building MSFT platforms (at MSFT to boot) and whose last recollection of Apple is a series of over-priced, underpowered, lame pizza-box shaped machines that justifiably earned the moniker “Macintrash.”

First one admission: this is not about kicking the Windows habit. Thanks to Parallels, there is now an uneasy truce in the operating system wars. It came pre-installed with an XP image and looks very polished with the coherence mode seamlessly integrating Windows applications into the standard Mac OS-X user interface. (Future blog subject: getting the same effect with remote applications in W2K8 Server aka “Longhorn” improvements to Terminal Services.)

Mostly because this laptop will be used in a work context, the first few hours were spent re-installing all the Windows applications that were present on the loaner PC. But this was enough time to walk away with a few observations:

  • Apple does live up to its reputation for design: the visual appearance of the machine is hard to beat, right down to small details such as the placement of power button and  a clean surface uninterrupted by lame logos. Same goes for usability.  Setting up a wireless network with WPA authentication in Airport right after taking delivery was intuitive and easy.
  • It is disorienting to go back to a one-button mouse. Right-click is particularly tricky in Parallels because the standard key combination for this in OS-X means something else in Windows. (Solution: discovering that Parallels had already mapped this to a different set of hotkeys, namely Ctrl+Shift)
  • OS-X does not appear to have a notion of domain logon (different password locally vs. the Active Directory domain) Very typical of a mind-set designing machines exclusively for home/consumer use instead of enterprise scenario– good news for MSFT’s enterprise sales division. But it can still mount Windows file shares using SMB so in practice this limitation may not be significant except when interacting with Kerberos protected resources.
  • There is no good reason for some quirks other than standard Apple “our-way-or-the-highway” attitude which brought consumers such priceless innovations as AppleTalk and kept the company’s market-share perennially capped at 5%. For example: while there is no Windows key understandably, it does have CTRL, so there is no excuse for Ctrl+C not translating into a clipboard copy. Apple seems to not have internalized an important lesson that Linux developers grasped instinctively: interoperability with the dominant paradigm is good, especially when your goal is to increase market share at the expense of the leader.


One thought on “MacBook Pro first impressions

  1. I’m about to buy a Mac Mini for my house to replace my older Media Center. I’m likely going to run Bootcamp on so I can get Vista MCE.

    Have you tried VMWare Fusion yet?

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