Talking tech since 2003

For nearly a year now I have used Linux as my primary desktop operating system after having used Windows for what seems like forever.  Having been exposed to various versions of Windows and numerous distributions of Linux, I have easily gained quite a bit of experience with different operating systems and have come to appreciate the various ups and downs of all of the operating systems that I have used.  Recently, I decided to purchase my first Apple Macintosh computer; a 15″ MacBook Pro.  After waiting anxiously (read “impatiently”) for it to arrive, I finally got my hands on the device this last Monday (March 7th).

Understandably, Mac OS X – Apple’s flagship operating system – has been an entirely new world for me.  Now, having used the OS for a few days, I have decided to share my initial reactions of the OS as a somewhat experienced Linux and long-time Microsoft Windows user.

Booting up the device for the first time is truly a noteworthy process.  After watching the somewhat hypnotizing introduction/welcome video, I was presented with the setup screen.  While this wasn’t anything all that special, the fact that it walked me through everything was nice to see.  Sure, someone like myself isn’t bound to have any difficulty setting up a new computer, but I somehow found that the way they conducted the setup – explaining the setup process in detail, explaining key terms, etc. – was ideal for a new or non technically savvy computer user.  After setting up my user account and taking my account picture with the built-in FaceTime webcam (Apple caught me on a bad hair day), I was presented with the desktop.

Off the bat I was impressed with the sheer minimalism of the OS itself.  The simple color scheme and layout was very impressive, especially for a profound minimalist such as myself.  One thing that I will say is that the simple and minimalistic layout was interrupted with the glass dock – an aspect that is perhaps one of OS X’s most well-known features.  You see, I personally believe that the rounded non-glass dock would have “flowed” much better with the overall theme of the OS.  While the dock bugged me a bit, I quickly found that the glass dock could be reverted to a simple 2-dimensional one.  Not only did this satisfy my issue, but it also helped to disprove the complaint that I always hear about OS X not being customizable.

In turn with the minimalistic concept of the OS itself, I came to find out that many of the applications available for Mac OS – at least the ones that I have come across so far – follow the same general style.  After speaking to a few people familiar with the topic, it has become apparent to me that this inheritance of a common theme is something that Apple encourages.  This is easily one of the most impressive things that I have found so far, because it really helps to tie everything together with a simple common feel.  Don’t get me wrong though; all of the applications I have come across have individual characteristics that make them unique, but I appreciate that they all feel “natural” and fit right in with the OS.

As long as we’re in the topic of applications, I must say that installation is dead simple.  Installing an application downloaded from the Internet is a simple process of dragging and dropping it into the “Applications” directory.  The entire process is literally as simple as moving a text file.

You would think that with applications being as simple as they are to install that there isn’t an easier way.  However, the new App Store in OS X makes purchasing and installing applications idiot-proof.  While I honestly don’t think the App Store is all that phenomenal for buying an installing applications, I think that it does have quite a bit of potential when it comes to finding new applications and updating them all automatically.

At first glance, Finder – OS X’s file browser – honestly doesn’t feel all that different from using something like Nautilus under Ubuntu.  However, using it will reveal that it is a more polished application and fits in very well with OS X’s theme.  Additionally, the way that it scans the network and displays network resources in the sidebar makes using OS X in my workplace a bit easier.  Gone are the days of mounting shares with Linux or mapping network drives with Windows.  With OS X, it all seems to work out of the box.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of desktop search utilities because of the simple fact that I keep my system and files as organized as possible.  However, I am quickly becoming a fan of the Spotlight search utility.  Be it a file, application, bookmark, web history item, or address book contact, Spotlight makes finding and accessing things much faster.  Even when I know exactly where something is, I can find and access it so much faster with Spotlight.  Everything on my computer is at my fingertips.

As far as system preferences go, the control center is laid out very well.  Things are exactly where I’d expect them to be, and anything I can’t find on my own can be found by searching for it either in Spotlight or in the control panel itself.

All in all, I must say that my transition has – so far – been as simple as I could have ever asked.  I am very happy with OS X and have found it to be simple yet powerful enough for all of my needs.

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