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PIMs, Writing Software, and Windows XP, Vista, and OS X

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Posted by Randall Shinn
Nov 26, 2007 at 09:50 PM


If you look at the Wikipedia list of PIMS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_personal_information_managers, it is clear that there are many more PIMs available for Windows than for the Mac.

But I have grown concerned that Microsoft may be dropping the ball on Windows. I need more horsepower than I currently have to run one particular music program (which will run on Windows or OS X). News reports today indicate that when Windows XP SP3 is released that it may speed up XP by 10%. And in the tests of one lab XP SP3 performed twice as fast as Vista on the same machine.

I suspect that the test machine didn’t have enough RAM for Vista, but the point remains that Vista seems to suck up RAM that I need for other purposes. I have 3 Gigs installed with XP, and would try installing more, but the forum for the music program in question has indicated that XP wouldn’t be able to address the extra memory.Vista doesn’t seem to be any better, according to the forum.

When I look at the Mac site I see that I could purchase servers that can use quad processors, 64 and 32 bit processing, and ridiculous amounts of RAM. When I look at Windows servers I see messages like “not approved for home use.”

So in addition to lusting after the certain programs like Scrivener (as recently discussed on the forum), I am starting to wonder if the Mac OS is starting to offer more powerful options.for one-man operations than Windows. I chose Windows in the first place because some people suggested that if you needed a truck then buy Windows, whereas a Mac was described as being more like a sports car.

I need a truck, and now I am beginning to wonder about the direction that Windows is going.. From reports so far, Vista is a step in the wrong direction relative to my needs. And I am stunned when I see the kind of power that OS X can address.

I love some of my Windows software, so at the moment I am waiting to see what happens in the next six months to a year.

Randall S


Posted by Chris Thompson
Nov 27, 2007 at 01:07 AM


I wouldn’t suggest shelling out for a new machine just because you’re CRIMPing… there are plenty of good PIMs available for Windows.  On the other hand, if you have to buy a new machine to replace an old one, it makes sense to consider OS X, since a move to Vista involves potentially as much disruption as a move to a new OS. 

To be honest, if you’re willing to run something like VMWare Fusion in OS X, which lets you choose the version of Windows you like (I keep XP around), you may find that moving to OS X is less of a hassle in terms of compatibility, both for devices and for really old applications.  For instance, in order to get access to more memory, you have to run 64-bit Vista, but Ecco (my favorite Windows PIM) doesn’t run at all on 64-bit Vista.

VMWare Fusion on the Mac lets you run your all Windows apps—including Ecco—in a mode where they behave exactly like OS X apps… they’re not boxed in to a Windows “window”, they appear on your dock in the same way a native app would, they appear when you press option-tab (the Mac equivalent to control-tab), you can spread them across virtual desktops, etc.  And in terms of legacy printer support, Macs now have the edge over Vista.  Legacy scanner support is however still better on Vista.  (That said, you can use Windows drivers if necessary with your scanner in VMWare, like everything else.)

Vista gets a lot of bad press, much of it unfair if you have a powerful enough machine.  That said, Microsoft has dropped the ball in some ways.  Vista really doesn’t deliver anything new in a productivity sense, it just requires more resources and introduces various quirks and incompatibilities, and what you see is what you get—Microsoft has blown their gunpowder until 2010.  (I know there is some talk of delivering Windows 7 by 2009, but I don’t believe it.)  There really is quite a gap between Vista and Leopard now in terms of functionality, and that gap will likely only increase if Apple continues its track record of delivering OS updates at a faster rate.  Also, quite unlike Vista, Leopard is both faster and *less* memory-intensive.  I often have nearly every application on my dock running, six virtual desktops open, and am only typically using 1.3 GB of RAM.  The independent developer community for Macs is vibrant, Apple itself is pushing out some great applications (Aperture, Keynote, Logic Pro, Color, etc.), and you can still run the odd Windows app when you want through VMWare Fusion.  There is no “32-bit version” and “64-bit version” of OS X, nor is there an overpriced “Ultimate” version which you need if you want features like volume shadow copy.  There is only one, unified version, that can take advantage of 64-bit address spaces by default.  It’s just a nice operating system.

Note that Apple does overprice their RAM.  If you want 6GB of RAM or something fierce, just buy it from a local computer store or NewEgg and put it in.  The machines, on the other hand, are fairly priced for what you get, and resale prices on eBay are exceptionally high, if you get a Mac and hate it.  You probably won’t though.



Posted by Randall Shinn
Nov 27, 2007 at 01:26 AM


Thanks Chris for your input.

I have read more than one article by tech reviewers who switched to Macs after trying both Vista and Leopard. It seems so strange to consider switching platforms (though I do have some Mac experience from a former work position), but I happen to have the resources to make it feasible at the moment, and a number of articles have suggested, as you did, that software development for OS X has become particularly vibrant recently. Since others indicate, as you did, that you can run Windows programs seamlessly on the Intel-iMacs, I am finding it hard to find a reason not to switch, given complaints about Vista being a resource hog.



Posted by Ken
Nov 27, 2007 at 05:47 AM


I sometimes wonder if I live in two different, but parallel, worlds.  I hear and respect your personal observations with the different OS’, but I also hear many people in the photographic community loudly complaining about the speed, or lack thereof, when they run Aperture on well equiped Macs.  I will not judge any system on one program, or one personal observation, but it certainly makes me want to judge for myself before making any radical changes in my own computing set-up (currently XP Pro).  I guess YMMV is more than just a disclaimer.  I wish you good luck, and good speed, with whatever system you choose!



Posted by Graham Smith
Nov 27, 2007 at 05:29 PM



I recently added a MacBookPro to my toolkit after following forums and asking around for about 12 months. As I hinted in the Scrivener thread I am very pleased with it (mind you I am typing this on my old Thinkpad).

There are some comforting aspects to the Mac. Generally the OS seems better thought out than Windows and the OS upgrades from Panther to Tiger and now to Leopard have all come with increases in performance. (but also a fair share of upgrade woes it would seem, so this is not a unique feature of Windows).

In terms of performance, the consensus seemed to be that for the same spec, the Macs are about a 1/3 faster than XP.  Certainly my slightly better specified XP desktop feels sluggish compared to my MacBookPro ( this includes running the same programs on both platforms eg LightRoom). It should also be said that running Linux (Ubuntu) on the same desktop seems incredibly fast compared to the either the Mac or XP .

I have some Windows only programs so I will still be running a Windows box for special purposes, but my everyday needs will now being filled with the Mac and Linux.  This is a “will be” because until I can afford a “backup” Mac I can’t fully switch.

As an aside, Parrallels is not currently a reliable professional solution to running Windows programs on the Mac as not everything will fully run in Parrallels and upgrades can break programs that had been running before the upgrade.

Overall, I can’t see many people regretting a switch to a Mac.



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