The Mac Convert.

I was a diehard windows user. I've used a PC (or something vaguely resembling one) since I was about 8 years old. We had a second hand MS DOS dinosaur with an 80-something MB HDD (or there abouts). I loved it, spent hours writing on it and played a handful of games that had to be loaded from 3.5" or 5.25" floppy disk. The first computer I built myself ran Windows 98 (I was a little older at this point)  and had discovered that computers are made for gaming! Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of gaming. By this point the DirectX SDK was becoming a driving force in PC gaming; Macs weren't to take up Intel processors for years and there was little opposition for Micosoft to fend off. This has been a mixed blessing, a subject that I'm part way through writing a post on - a hyperbole I'll spare you for the moment.

Skipping ahead, the iPod Nano arrived on the scene and it was gorgeous. It's strange to think that the original Nano was part of the colour LCD revolution. It's really not that long ago (I was working for my current employer). Apple were just about to force the mobile electronics market to go full colour (there were colour devices, but they weren't ubiquitous), and the first generation of video capable iPods were just around the corner. I loved my white Nano, and it was probably the first time i'd really understood that design and functionality were equal partners, or should be. It was about building something that did what was needed well while being beautiful, not something that simply did what was needed (often for as little as possible). Eventually I upgraded to a "Classic", the first generation of video iPod, I needed more storage. This lived in my jacket pocket for years.

I never really considered Apple to be anything other than the maker of my MP3 player. You really couldn't play the kind of games I was interested in on a Mac, and I honestly didn't and still don't much like the designs of the Gx iMacs. Even when the Intel iMacs arrived I was still a fierce Windows gamer. I still have what used to be an Alienware gaming PC, though most of it's innards have slowly been torn out and replaced by newer, stronger, faster gaming organs, and it was and is in many ways still is a superior gaming platform so far as compatibility and support goes. So life went on, and despite my love for my iPod, I remained a Windows man.

This changed with the iPhone. I saw it and I wanted it. I admit that I can be very impulsive when it comes to gadgets. I love new toys and I'm not ashamed to say that the iPhone's appeal was in it's toy-ness. A quote from a new Interwebz Acquantance of mine really sums up what happened next:

Buying an iPhone saw me board a train Iā€™d never been a passenger on. Actually, I should say an aeroplane, as the other passengers were from all over the world. I threw myself into a whole new community of people, all sharing one common interest ā€” the iPhone and Apple in general.
— Terry Lucy

I didn't experience quite the sense of revelation, at least not so rapidly. I'm a programmer, my friends are technical support staff, network security engineers and 'Narrative Engineers' (ponces). They're gadget happy... my community of iPhone adoptees was all around me and it was some time before I really came into the internet Mac. Though within a few months of my purchase of an original iPhone I was determined to consider moving to a Mac, something that became a reality with the second generation MacBook Air, which I'm typing this very post on.

Here you'll be thankful to see some semblance of a point to my verbosity. I really wasn't interested in Macs until I used one. The excellent design of the iPhone piqued my interest. but it was opening the MacBook Air and using it that was the tipping point. I was impressed. I knew within a day that I'd never buy another PC (which as it turns out wasn't the case - I bought an ex-display low-profile PC to use as a media player in the lounge before I bought the Apple TV). However it changed my outlook on personal computing, made me realise that design can be as important as functionality.

There are things that aren't perfect and the Mac-users mantra "it just works" is of course not always true but its certainly far more true than it is of Windows. The integration of applications and services is a level above anything Windows has managed so far (though Microsoft are in fairness getting much better). More critically for me there is a different development philosophy for Mac software, its somehow less about bare functionality and more about refining features into ergonomic and aesthetic experiences while still delivering the power you need. Even, as I've mentioned previously, the text looks better.

Perhaps now more importantly the Mac is becoming a gaming platform, putting aside the proliferation of games on iOS devices the Mac itself, thanks to the switch to Intel processors has attracted a larger and larger share of tripple-A gaming titles, sometimes a little later than the PC but it's a significant occurence. Even Steam is available for the Mac now, which is the rubber stamp of the gaming world, a significant move and investment on their part.

Even with the limitations it would put on my gaming designs I can't look back at Windows. Using it at work infuriates me as I'm starting to place expectations on how the software should anticipate my requirements and work the way I want, rather than my having to work the way the software requires. It's a game change.

It's something that's becoming more important to me, not necessarily apple specifically, but the importance of good design in things that I use every day. My interest in minimalism is seeing more expression and partly through finding a healthy and challenging internet community I'm writing more thanks to discussions about apple devices. It really is astounding how a decision can alter your life, not in a radical way, but a number of small ways, the kind of things that make life a little easier. The iPhone's attraction is now in it's polish and utility, the toy-like qualities are part of it's legitimate, sensible adult use! Sensible toys are the best kind of toys!