Current PC user, excited future Mac user.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by SonicHowler, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. SonicHowler macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2009
    Hello! I currently use a PC and have been using them all my life. I have never owned a mac. Here in college, I use macs a lot, though not too regularly. However, I've been buying low-end PCs (which could be the problem) but they degenerate very quickly, with many occurances of the blue screen of death, slower running, etc. I'm tired of it! I did some research to make sure I'd still be able to run my programs (excited about Parallels 4.0 and its Coherence feature!), spent a lot of time with the MacBook Pro display in Best Buy, and I have decided on and am really excited about the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro.

    Is there anything I need to know about the move from PC and macs in general?
  2. soulman901 macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2009
    You may want to plan what applications you want for it. Look at Open Source Software first before buying anything. You might find something that you really like using and don't have to pay a thing for.
    Also watch out for the memory prices. If you look at Newegg's site you can get the ram cheaper there that will work great on your machine.
    I got 4 Gig for $52 for my new iMac and it's been working great.
  3. SonicHowler thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2009
  4. dXTC macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2006
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    Hi, and welcome to the Mac world.

    There was a similar thread in this forum recently that contains a lot of tips and tricks you may find helpful. Click here to read it.
  5. H&Kie macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2004
    You might want to install Quicktime plugins like Flip4Mac ( to play WMA/WMV content and Perian ( to play DivX, Xvid and many other video formats. And in case you get a video you can't play, the stand alone player VLC ( might be your friend.
  6. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Congrats on moving away from an os that is poorly cobbled together and move to something more useful.

    If you are in shape. You'll find it's useful to use your Mac laptop as a giant ipod, internet communicator, portable gaming machine, portable office, phone (skype), video phone (skype / ichat), and more.

  7. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    ...or you could just get quality windows machines. Nothing says "Windows Sucks!" more then a $350 Laptop trying to run Windows Vista Home Basic
  8. techound1 macrumors 68000


    Mar 3, 2006
    So true. But with "multipurpose" PC lappies run about $1K, the move to mac becomes cheaper than a move to PC (no need for AV subscriptions, etc). Going from a MB to a MBP is more expensive, but it'll have more long-term usability.
  9. SonicHowler thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2009
    Actually, you can get the highest level of Kaspersky for three different machines for 1-3 years for like 70 or 80 bucks. $1,080 isn't really too bad for a quality Windows machine in comparison to the $2,000 a basic MacBook Pro costs. Still, I really want one. It runs smoother than Windows and for the long run, better. Less freezing, fewer virus troubles, no annoying blue screen of death. I can't wait.
  10. OrganMusic macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    Somewhat recent mac switcher here myself. Every time i have to do something in Windows for someone, I wonder how anyone ever gets any work done with all the waiting, especially on startup.

    Haven't used Vista at all yet, but I can boot my old 1998 vintage Powerbook G3 into tiger (via xpostfacto, even) and start surfing in safari or reading email while most XP machines are just getting started loading tray icons.
  11. skaertus macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    The 15-inch MacBook Pro is a really nice laptop. You can feel the difference between an Apple laptop and a standard PC laptop. Macs just feel so much better in every way!

    But there are a few things that you must know before buying a new Mac. There are always little things which matter, small details that make a difference.

    Windows software crashes a lot, but so does Mac software. The latest versions of Windows (XP, Vista) are based on Windows NT and they are far more stable than Windows 95/98/Me. Much more difficult to crash. But sometimes they do crash. Maybe not really a Microsoft fault: it is hard to keep fully compatible with so many hardware vendors out there. I've never seen my MacOS crash. I keep the same session opened for days without restarting and I've never seen a decrease on the speed. Try that on Windows. Windows has the crappy registry system, and that's what is really bad about it. The computer gets slower and slower over time, and that's no real way to fix it unless you format your machine periodically. The MacOS keeps running fast after a year or so.

    The Macs, however, also get slow. Technology is evolving and, well, Apple has to sell computers as well as Dell, HP or Acer...

    Is there anything I need to know about the move from PC and macs in general?


    1. Don't expect to play games on your new Mac. If you want a gamer machine, go the Windows way.

    2. Microsoft Office for Mac is miles away from the Windows version. It is compatible with the Windows version (there are some incompatibilities, though), but the programs are much heavier on memory and much buggier. There are, however, great alternatives for Microsoft Office on the Mac (such as iWork), although many of them are not fully compatible with it.

    3. Parallels is good, and I think VMWare Fusion is even better. However, these virtual machines are slower than Windows running as the primary OS and they consume a lot of memory. It takes a lot of resources of your system. If you want to use a virtual machine often, go with 4GB of RAM. You'll need the Windows memory in addition to the memory used by VMWare/Parallels: it will take 500/600 MB of RAM at least if you want to run Windows XP. Windows Vista is incredibly slow under Parallels/Fusion, you can't really use it. Windows 7 is just slow.

    4. Don't expect to run many Microsoft programs on your Mac. Messenger for Mac does not have webcam support (yet). There's no Internet Explorer, nor Windows Media Player anymore. And some websites insist to be compatible only with Internet Explorer (duh!).

    6. Font smoothing on MacOS is different from the PCs. Windows has ClearType technology, which distorts the fonts on the screen, but, on the other hand, they feel sharper and easier on the eyes. Try both systems and see if it makes any difference for you.

    7. You can get a similar PC hardware for less.
  12. Cheese macrumors 6502


    Dec 26, 2002
    In the refrigerated section at your grocer
    My advice, though I switched almost 10 years ago, is to try to just let go of feeling like, "How do I get the machine to do something" and start thinking, "what do I want to do with my machine". I still get lots of trouble calls from my friends with peecee's, so I haven't forgotten how to recover from most nasty gunk in the windoze world. I did have to force myself to not try all the MSDOS/Win-tricks I was accustomed to using before my life with an Apple in the house. I still work with industrial and desktop windows machines everyday, but at home there are only 2 iMac's and no worries. Get used to things that work. Just remember to heed the words of that song by Cheap Trick from the 80's, "Everything works if you let it". Welcome to thinking different! You'll love the ride.
  13. SonicHowler thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2009
    I have a lot of faith in Mac. I didn't always like them. In fact, until recently, I thought I would never ever get a Mac. Still, I've always loved their simplistic designs that pay so much attention to detail, and how innovative they are. I can feel how well-built the machine is when I pick it up. Compared to what I'm used to, it hardly even feels like a laptop. Apple has always been awesome in design.

    Thanks for the heads-up about memory, but with Parallels Desktop 4.0's Coherence feature, I can run all my Windows programs on Mac, and with the Mac interface. In almost every test, Parallels beat VMWare in speed, and its Coherence feature is awesome. Those are the reasons I chose it. You probably know what it is already, but I'll assume for a second you don't so that I can share what I understand about it and be corrected if I'm wrong. Coherence lets you run Windows programs using the Mac interface and desktop. No bulky window in your face displaying the Windows desktop. You can access the Start Menu, and some system tray icons are moved up to the Mac's menu bar. You can run Half-Life 2 right next to iChat. You can even dock Windows-only programs, like Microsoft Office for Windows, the Windows versions of the messengers, Half-Life, Counter Strike, FL Studio, etc. in the Mac dock, click on them, and they will open the same way a Mac program will (genie effect and all). You can even use them in Exposé. That assurance that I'd still be able to use my favorite Windows programs, and seamlessly, no less, was what finally pushed me over the proverbial edge and got me to say "Okay, I'm getting a Mac." Good call on the extra RAM though; I can see how running two operating systems simultaneously would eat up a lot of memory, especially with Windows.
  14. skaertus macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    Really?? Well, I've tested both VMWare Fusion and Parallels and Fusion performed way better than Parallels in my test. Parallels 4.0 is really better than 3.0, and it keeps up with Fusion 2.0, but I still think Fusion has the edge. You may find a comparison here: and here:

    Yes, Coherence "mixes up" Mac and Windows desktops so you can run Windows software on MacOS background, integrating it with Exposé and the Mac environment. But Coherence is not perfect, though. I know that it's only an interface layer and that I'm running two different operating systems. I can't have my webcam or my USB drive enabled on both MacOS and Windows, for instance. VMWare Fusion offers a similar feature, which is Unity, and I think it is even better than Coherence. With Coherence enabled, Parallels shows the Windows taskbar above the dock. With Unity, there's no such a thing.

    Have you tried Parallels and Fusion before? They run Windows quite well, but not at full, native speed. That's because you have two operating systems running at the same time on your computer, and that drags a lot (I mean, a lot!) of resources. If you want to run Windows Vista, you'd better get a Mac Pro for this task. Serious. Speed suffers. In addition, you can't run just anything. I don't advise you to run heavy software on Fusion or Parallels. And DirectX 10 is not supported on neither of them. You shouldn't try to run games with Fusion or Parallels. Perhaps you can run Windows Live Messenger or Microsoft Office, but not games or other resources-dragging software. Use a BootCamp partition if you want to do that.

    When you use a Mac, you'll find out that there's lot of Mac-only software that are great and that can substitute its Windows counterparts. I only use Windows because of webcam support on Windows Live Messenger. I can't see any other use for it right now.

    Lots of memory. It's not only Windows; MacOS 10.5 is heavy on memory too. Right now it is taking 1.1 GB of my 2 GB memory, and I'm not even doing multi-tasking...

    And Parallels/Fusion also eat up a lot of CPU speed too. If you want a virtual machine to run often, get the fastest and most powerful computer you can.
  15. aaquib macrumors 65816


    Sep 11, 2007
    Toronto, Canada
    1. The 9600M in the MacBook Pro can run any game on the market. Easily.
    2. iWork>Office. In more ways than one.
    3. Agreed. VmWare is my personal favourite, too.
    4. Messenger Mac 8 beta already has shown video support. Mercury Messenger for Mac already has it.
    6. Snow Leopard has some new font technologies. I'm using it now and it's great.
    7. True, but you can't match the software-hardware integration. Build a comparable PC, and then add a complete digital software suite like iLife, and then compare the price. Oh yeah, and that same PC will still be running Windows. And then, innovations like the multitouch trackpad are non-existant on PCs.
  16. skaertus macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    1. The 9600M is really powerful and can run any game. But can it run any game with the highest specs at full speed? Have you tested it with Crysis? There are some cards for game enthusiasts which are far more powerful than the 9600M. What I really meant it was that MacOS (and not Mac hardware) does not support many games. If you want to run games on a Mac, you'll have to install Windows on a BootCamp partition. But then, if you're gonna run Windows on your Mac hardware, what's the point in buying a Mac?

    2. I like iWork, but it is seriously lacking in some areas. Apple should implement more features on it. Keynote is, of course, superior to PowerPoint. But if you're gonna save your presentation on a USB drive and open it on a Windows-based computer at a conference, you'd rather keep compatible with PowerPoint. Pages is very intuitive and it has great page layout capabilities, but it lacks features of serious word-processing such as cross-references and is not structure-driven. And most people find Numbers to be far behind Excel. There are some details that make a difference, and that's why I can't replace Office with iWork.

    3. Yes, it's great!

    4. Yes, Messenger 8 for Mac will have video support, and it will be released sometime in 2009. The beta version is said to be very unstable. And I've also heard that video support is compatible only with users of Windows Live Messenger 9 - so, there's video support, but there's also some sort of trick here. Mercury Messenger has video support too, and I liked to use it on version 1.9.3 - not the best interface, but it has some nice additional features. However, since I updated it to version 1.9.4, it keeps crashing and I can't use it anymore (by the way, does anybody have a clue on how to solve that?). So, I have to stick with Fusion+Windows Live Messenger for now.

    6. Really?!?!? I didn't know of any new font technology on it, nobody had never mentioned it before... how is it? I can't wait to put my hands on the final version of Snow Leopard. Is it as fast and streamlined as Apple announces? Does upgrading from Leopard to Snow Leopard feels like going from Windows Vista to Windows 7 (i.e., faster, more stable)?

    7. Yes, all true. Macs certainly have its value. But Apple could give us more. Steve Ballmer was right when he said that an Apple computer costs US$ 500 more for the same piece of hardware. He forgot to mention the software, but he has a point. Windows has the crappy registry, and MacOS is a pleasure to use, but Apple should not toy with its consumers based on that. Apple sells an iMac with a laptop processor for the same price you can find an almighty Core i7, which is three to four times faster. It runs Windows, but most people can live with that.
  17. Shake 'n' Bake macrumors 68020

    Shake 'n' Bake

    Mar 2, 2009
    Here's what I suggest:

    Don't get the thing at Best Buy. It isn't cheaper and, at my store at least, they know barely anything about them. Instead, go to an Apple Store, or if you don't have one of those...

    ...check the Apple Online Store ( If you want to save some $$$ though (most people do), go here ( the Apple Refurb Store. They are all certified refurbished which means...

    ...that they were returned or found defective on the line and they've been repaired and put through quality control again. So one could argue that a refurb is better than new.
  18. SonicHowler thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2009
    On Parallels, can't you set how much RAM you want it to use? I plan to run XP. I'll be running mostly Office, YIM, and MSN. FL Studio will be used in Windows too. I used to play MapleStory; if I ever happen to get back into it, I don't know if there's a Mac version.... That's probably the most I'll be using Windows, though I'm constantly on YIM.

    As for Best Buy, I don't know if your store has this yet, but Apple representatives have recently been integrated into the store's employee roster. Not always, but most of the time, you can find an Apple rep in an Apple booth near the computers department

    Someone said "If you're going to install Windows, why buy a Mac?"

    Haven't you heard? Mac is Windows-friendly. You can literally wipe the Mac OS clean off the machine and install Windows on it. Naturally, PCs are not Mac-friendly.

    I happen to think that both operating systems have their strong points. Windows has some better software that isn't available, or quite as functional, on Mac. Lots of Windows' designs are very clean, crisp, and weightless, customizable, and a pleasure to look at. Mac OS has a beautiful design too, is far more stable, and some better features than a Windows PC has. Of course, Mac OS loses some points for user-friendliness and initial ease of use, and I don't just mean from a PC perspective, but once you get to know it, you get along like old friends, in the words of Apple itself.
  19. petermcphee macrumors 6502a


    Aug 20, 2008
    Oh jeez. Don't wipe OSX off of the machine. That would be almost criminal.:D
  20. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a


    Dec 22, 2007
    The cesspit of civilization
    I don't know about parallels, but in VMWare you certainly can.

    Now, given that there is Office for mac, YIM for mac (fully compatible with the windows version), and aMSN (That support video for MSN messenger network), Why would you want to run windows? Oh, I see, FL studio and MapleStory, never mind...
  21. rekhyt macrumors 65816

    Jun 20, 2008
    Part of the old MR guard.

    Oh, and for every Windows software there is/should be an alternative in Mac. :)
  22. bgbird macrumors newbie

    Feb 12, 2009
    Very infromative thread.

    This raises a question for me. My wife has an ipod so she uses itunes....I have a Sansa so I use Windows media player on our PC.

    What would I be able to use for my Sansa on a mac?
  23. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    This is the first things I do when I get a new Mac (or reinstall OS X):

    1. Download Perian and Flip4Mac so I can play basically anything with QuickTime.
    2. Download VLC Player for playing HD .mkv files (plays better than QuickTime).
    3. Go to trackpad settings and turn on tapping and secondary tap (Unibody MacBook Pro).
    4. In System Preferences --> Expose, set top right corner to be "All Windows" and bottom right to be "Show Desktop" and bottom left to "Start Screensaver" (good if you are dragging files and the 4 finger gestures aren't helpful).
    5. Go to International in System Preferences and add "British English" to the list.
    6. Go Energy Saver in System Preferences and turn off automatic System Sleep.
    7. Download Fan Control 1.2 and set the base speed to 2000RPM, Lower Threshold to 60'C and Upper Threshold to 82'C. That way you'll have a nice cool Mac :)

    There's other things too, but that's my top things to do first.
  24. SonicHowler thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2009
    Let me be honest. I'm a person who likes to research everything, from random stuff to things related to a situation. For instance, Steve Jobs is a Buddhist. And, I looked up the latest versions of Office for Mac and YIM and WLM messengers (on Mac it's just Microsoft messenger). Compared to their Windows counterparts... they suck. Royally. Design is next to nonexistent, features are dumbed down/WAY behind.... Things like a "New IM" indicator in the dock are considered relatively "new features," and support for display images, avatars, and sound was 2 years late. Truthfully, switching from the awesome versions of YIM and WLM that I have here on Windows to the mediocrity of the Mac versions of the messengers would be too painful.

    Office for Mac lacks some features as well, however, I think for me it's a matter of preference. With Office for Mac, what used to be in an organized little bar at the top of the window in Windows is now divided between multiple little windows in Mac. It's all quite confusing. Not to mention that the Windows version (being a Microsoft program and all) just looks better.

    So far, those are my only quips about the Mac alternatives to Windows software. I do play Second Life, but there's a Mac version for that, so no issues there. If I could just get Windows to run those three programs plus FL Studio, I would be very happy. Plus there should be a version of Google Chrome for Mac coming out soon. That browser is SO awesome.
  25. skaertus macrumors 68040


    Feb 23, 2009
    One thing I've learned when I switched to the Mac was not to search for Windows counterparts. Software which is "converted" from Windows to Mac usually suck. Office 2008 is incompatible with Spaces, slow, sluggish, and hogs memory (it uses 150-200 MB against 20-30 MB of Office 2007 for Windows). It doesn't have the ribbon, and it lacks one feature or another. Plus, I sometimes find incompatibilities between the files saved in Office 2008 and in Office for Windows. A bad program indeed. It's a shame, because Office 2007 for Windows is a very good program. But there are good alternatives which are Mac-only.

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