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I ran an interesting experiment the past 30 days. I simultaneously used three different desktop configurations – my traditional Windows XP three monitor setup (at home and work), Mac OS X running on a 30” Cinema HD display (at my house in Keystone), and Vista running on a new Lenovo X60 laptop (wherever I went.) The surprise winner – at all levels – was Vista running on the Lenovo X60 laptop (with Office 2007.) It just blew away the other two configurations for performance, ease of use, configurability, and integration with all the stuff I work with (my home network, my office network, my data / music / pictures which live on both, the Internet, all the crap I have stored all over the Internet, stability on all the Internet access points I use (including wireless and EVDO), and all the stuff I play with every day.)
I was completely surprised. I expected to fall in love with OS X running on a 30” monitor on a smoking hot Mac Pro. I ran Firefox on each of the machines with Google Browser Sync so for the 33% of the time I spent in a browser, life was basically the same (hmmm – important double message there.) I had Parallels and CrossOver running on the Mac so I could run Windows apps when I needed / wanted to. I suffered through Entourage for a while (man is that a shitty program – I completely blows my mind that Tasks don’t sync and what’s with the new mail window always being in the top left of the screen), tried Outlook in both Parallels and CrossOver (ok but not great), but spent way too much time in front of the Mac fighting on the margin to get the computer to do what I wanted it to do for me.
In contrast – and surprisingly – Vista and Office 2007 just worked. Maybe it’s the way my brain is wired, but I was massively more productive on the Vista laptop – with the tiny screen and one window in focus at a time – then I was on the beautiful OS X machine with multiple windows open. On the Mac, I couldn’t find stuff, things didn’t work quite right, the apps were limited, and when I tried to change the config, I occasionally went down various rabbit holes. On Vista, things just worked the way I expected them to. And yes – in addition to the normal Office desktop apps, I use browser-based versions of them (OWA, Gmail, and Google Docs & Spreadsheets.) The rich desktop still rules (I prefer FeedDemon over everything else, I like to blog offline – I went back to BlogJet because Windows Live Writer had a few nasty bugs, and email / tasks / contacts / calendar – at least for me across my little universe – is way more fun in Outlook than anything else.)
Fortunately, all is not wasted. I brought my Mac Pro with the 30” monitor back from my place in Keystone this morning and deposited it on Ross’ desk for him to install Vista on it (alongside of OS X). I’ll continue to play with OS X and experiment with it, especially when I can run a side by side comparison with Vista on the exact same hardware, but I have a gut feeling I know what the outcome will be.
Today, someone forwarded me John Milan’s article on Read/WriteWeb titled “Changing Climates for Microsoft and Google, Desktops and Webs.” I’m waiting patiently for part two of the article as it’s nicely provocative. While Google / Apple are much more trendy than Microsoft these days, there’s something deeper going on that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially in your friendly, neighborhood global corporations. As Amy likes to say “what happened to DOS – it was good enough.” Call me a heretic.