I was using Macs when proprietary hardware and beige boxes were the order of the day, about 20 years ago. In those days they were mostly functional boxes and were in no way cool. The reason some people bought then was the graphical user interface. When choosing between a command line operating system and a GUI it was easy to see why many DTP, imaging and audio software developers chose the Mac platform.
The reason we chose Macs was not because we were guru's running ahead of the curve, it was simply the only platform that supported the apps we needed to use. A good example is that of Quark. It was only in the late 90's that the Windows version became operationally stable. Before a Windows version was released it had been available on the Mac for years. The two companies worked closely - Apple even developed advanced graphics cards to enhance app performance. It's one of the key reason Macs have taken a stronger hold in the 'imaging' markets than other markets like gaming or productivity.
Most of the opinions you will get here will have their foundations in people sticking to what they know and defend it. Very few people are going to say that the MacBook Pro they bought last week was a mistake?
Here are some things to consider.
- Art is art, it doesn't matter a jot that it was produced on Nikon, Canon, Windows, Mac OS or an etch a sketch. Both Windows and Mac OS can get the job done. You're buying a tool not a lifestyle.
- You don't know exactly what it is you need right now. Versatility and flexibility seem to be key. The reality is that a Windows machine will give you the greatest flexibility i.e. hardware and software options.
- A windows machine will likely be cheaper. These days it's not going to be enough that it should sway you one way or another.
- Running two platforms could become expensive depending on the software you choose to run.
- Parallels, VMWare and Boot Camp are NOT solutions, they are workarounds. From my experience and testing the former struggle with CPU and GPU intensive applications. 3rd party peripherals don't always play nicely. They are perfect for running an old legacy app, ones that doesn't need modern processing power (Boot Camp excluded). By putting Windows on a Mac you ARE exposing it to all the evils - viruses, malware, spyware, bots etc - the Apple marketing dept. tell us about Windows. Just because it's Windows on a Mac doesn't mean it's invincible.
It's an acceptable risk on a private or hobby computer but not on a professional setup.
- For most Windows apps there is a Mac version or equivalent. You have to figure out if you're likely to need something exotic. It often when you need to hook up proprietary equipment where the manufacturer hasn't developed a Mac version of the interface that you can come unstuck.
- According to most independent surveys Mac OS is more reliable and secure out of the box when compared to Windows. It's UNIX kernel was developed with multiuser networked computing in mind. Windows was designed to be open to applications and users.
- Mac's are not immune from virus and malware attacks, there is evidence that the risk is growing. Still, most independent surveys confirm Mac OS requires less maintenance than an equivalent Windows machine.
- What legacy equipment do you have, i.e. printers, scanners, network hardware etc. Make sure you can get reliable Mac drivers. When selecting new equipment keep an eye on it's Mac friendliness. Check the support pages of the manufacturers web page.
- Poor support. Eventually you'll get used to it. Apple are notorious. There have been quite a few occasions where it took class action law suits to galvanize Apple in to action.
- Be prepared to become self sufficient or have a very good Apple dealer (Not one of those shinny Apple stores) but an old fashioned dealer employing people who know what they are talking about.
You can buy extra hardware support, AppleCare, but think of it as an extended warranty. In most countries you can't get a 24 or 48 hour on-site repair service from Apple. You'll need to have a working hardware, software and data backup to meet deadlines if your system goes down.
Apple's server line is well respected and consistently benchmarks well for reliability and performance. One of the key reasons they have not been more successful is that Apple can not sell them the kind of service they are used to getting from HP and IBM.
- Macs are built in China with off the shelf components just like most Windows machines. Thus it's reasonable to expect the same level reliability.
- Mac hardware often has some quite clever design ideas e.g. light sensors for keyboard illumination, magsafe connectors to name two.
- If you are already a confident Windows user you will adjust to Mac OS quite quickly. It might do things differently but its basically doing the same stuff as a Windows or Linux machine.
- Macs are no longer 'cool'. They zenith of Mac cool was probably the aluminum G4 Powerbook range. By definition too many have been sold over the last couple of years for them and their purchasers to be considered cool. As I said earlier it's a tool not a lifestyle.
Many of my points are of particular relevance in a professional / working pro setup, so they don't apply to everyone.
What would I do in your situation. Well, I've spent lots of time and money on Macs over the last 20 years, if I follow my own logic from earlier I'd recommend a Mac wouldn't I? If you can find satisfactory answers to some of the points or questions I've made, maybe a Mac could also work for you.
p.s. If you are considering a Mac Pro and work in a quiet environment on your own, get ear plugs!