From Those Who've Switched to Windows, What to Expect?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by dbit, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. dbit macrumors regular

    May 2, 2006
    I desperately need a new high end machine for my motion graphics work and can't wait till 'sometime 2013' so I'm going ahead with my windows workstation build. I've been a Mac owner exclusively for 15 years. I've used PCs on the job and even field some minor windows based tech support calls from clients occasionally, but have never personally owned a windows box before.

    I'm looking for some advice on the windows experience from fellow Mac users who've made the switch due to the lack of a clear direction for the Mac pro. I'm primarily curious about a couple of things:

    Firstly, I know very little about standard antivirus procedures. I'm aware that there are a million competing products out there and a few popular leaders. Are they all based on the same principles of downloading the program and then downloading daily updates? I've noticed they all seem to cause a lot of false positives, particularly during on demand file scans on file types that don't have clear associations. Is this just par for the course? Is there a clear leader in this department, kaspersky, avg, norton, ect. ? Or are there better solutions than these popular consumer choices?

    Secondly, how long has it taken you to lock down and customize your windows system the way you like? One thing I love about OSx is the centralized system preferences pane. I hate how windows scatters these panels in various places around the system. Sometimes I feel it's like playing one of those 'whack-the-gopher' games. I have one client whose dell systems keep disabling their wireless card despite having completely uninstalled third party controllers and competing resources. The place it gets disabled from changes between three different locations. It's things like this that annoy me, and I'm curious what some of your experiences have been like with 'locking your system down'.

    And thirdly, as far as customization goes, do most of you just strip Windows down to its essentials? Do you use themes to enhance or simplify the look/feel of the environment? Third party apps, etc?

    Any and all advice, experience, tips, caveats, etc. are much appreciated!
  2. macuser453787 macrumors 6502a

    May 19, 2012
    Galatians 3:13-14
    LOL dig that! I don't like that about Windows either. :)
  3. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Anti-virus... just use Microsoft Security Essentials. If you stay away from "bad" websites, you'll be fine. Likewise, web browsers are all a dime a dozen anymore. IE 9, Firefox or Chrome are all good browsers.

    As far as configuring Windows goes, most things you can confugure can be found by right-clicking on what you want to customize. On the desktop, right click -> Personalize, and 80% of what you want is right there. Right click on the start bar and select properties, and you'll find the option to customize how the start menu and start bar appear.

    The only other things I can think of are keyboard repeat rate and mouse speed, and they're in the control panel. If you're being lazy though, just hit the start key and type "mouse", hit enter, and you'll be staring at the mouse preferences.

    If you get a Dell, definitely look at the dell programs. On my ex gf's laptop, Dell would helpfully disable ethernet if you weren't plugged in. On my Dell, it helpfully disables aero when I go on battery.

    Otherwise, the best advice is "don't download the kitchen sink!" Windows really isn't a bad OS, but if you start downloading every single system utility under the sun, it will slow down. And that's not a knock against Windows, I was told by an Apple repair woman that my hard drive was dying... because it took so long to boot. I had every single system utility run at startup... and Windows is the exact same.

    What else...
    Utilities: You don't need to defrag the hard drive, Windows will do it every week automatically, at 2am I believe. You don't need to check the hard drive for errors weekly, or run any sort of utilities. Windows pretty much takes care of itself.

    Do reboot when you get the chance. Windows will restart at 2am by default if it has updates to install. I find if it asks me to reboot, just tell it to wait, and when I leave or walk away for a while I'll reboot it. It's not a big deal, but if you don't let your computer reboot for a month when you finally do, it'll take forever to boot since there's a bunch of security updates to install.

    Lastly, some apps I use/recommend
    • Zune media player - Seriously, if you're not tied down to iTunes, Zune is pretty good.
    • Foxit Reader - the best, light weight PDF reader around.
    • Windows Live Essentials - This should come pre-installed on any PC, but if not, it's the Windows equivalent of iLife, but it also has iChat, iCal, and Mail. A clean install of indows by itself is pretty bear bones.
    • WizMouse enables your mouse to scroll over the window it's over, rather than the active window. This recreates how it's done in OS X, and generally I prefer it.
    Otherwise, there's not much to it. Using Windows 7 really isn't the horror that many people around here like to make it out as. If you have any more questions, ask away! :)
  4. mntnlvr43 macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2012
    What I know about windows...

    Hi. So, I can tell you I worked with a pc for 20yrs and converted to a pro a yr ago. On your 1st question, Norton sucks as it is constantly updating yet bogs down then system. I once tried AVG and when unsatisfied with it and tried to remove it from my system, it would not allow me to regardless of any of my efforts to do so. I've never heard of kaspersky. I did however, use a free program called Spybot Search and Destroy. That seemed to work well for me back then. Something for you to look into.

    2nd... It does take a bit to customize windows so have patience. It does get very irritating at times. Good Luck
  5. cosmicjoke macrumors 6502

    Oct 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    My advice for Windows is to just not install any unnecessary **** on the machine you depend on for your professional activities. Just core apps and maybe supporting app like office, and leave it at that... Have another rig handy for everything else. The OS is very dependable, but it depends on you to not screw things up.
  6. Buffsteria macrumors regular


    Jun 9, 2012
    What you need to expect is that you'll install Malwarebytes and have it run in the background.

    I switched to Windows a few years ago due to cost. My husband stuck to Mac. I kept wishing to go back but ultimately I got used to it.

    I think you can't go wrong if you work with motion graphics. My husband works with Maya, Cinema 4D and After Effects. I'm currently learning those to get a job at his company and I have a much, MUCH better choice of video cards than he could ever have on a Mac (although there's a great selection of altered cards in MacVidCards' ebay store).

    Mostly on Windows you need to always watch what you are installing because even free software will try to install crap on your computer without your knowledge, though some installers give you a choice. DON'T install any "toolbars" or "games" that come bundled with stuff you actually need.

    And yes, get Malwarebytes. And use FireFox, NOT Internet Explorer.


    Kaspersky is the BEST Antivirus program, I've been using it for years and I used to have Norton (horrible!) and later McAfee (system hogs, both of them!)

    I currently run Kaspersky along with Malwarebytes because they can run together without constantly checking each other out (which is what would normally happen). Malwarebytes is more paranoid but Kaspersky has some great functions too.
  7. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Yes, don't install and uninstall pointless apps that will bloat your registry.
  8. pianoman88 macrumors regular

    Aug 20, 2010
    Just a few things ...

    (1) Be ready for tons of updates. I think that I went a year before my first security update for OS X. I've had 3 or 4 this year. If my previous Windows experience is typical, expect hundreds of updates during the year.

    (2) Viruses. If you avoid Microsoft products for mail and web browsing, you'll have a lot less exposure to viruses.

    (3) Consider using either Eset Nod 32 or Kaspersky Antivirus

    (4) Buy a good registry cleaner. It fills up with junk quickly.

    (5) It's a good idea to restart Windows as soon as you install something new. Once I waited until I had installed several programs and I had issues.

    Good luck!
  9. jmggs macrumors regular


    Jul 6, 2007
    7 years ago i have switched to Mac only. I have bought a Mac Pro and a Macbook Pro no PC's. After apple screw me with EFI32 on mac pro i have sell it and built a PC. Glad i did that. You can have a great computer with Windows on it very powerfull and upgradable and rock solid. Made with good components and hardware. For antivirus i use Eset. It is great i have it on Windows, on my macbook pro and on my linux server.


    Same on Mac! but no registry but it will slow down and mess for sure. On computers keep it clean and simple and every year reinstall all from scratch.
  10. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    Where did you get this from?
  11. dbit thread starter macrumors regular

    May 2, 2006
    Thanks for all the advice so far, this is the type of information I need!

    I know this seems like a simple matter, but has anyone mapped their control key to a different key to be in a similar position to the apple key? I use a ton of key commands and I have big hands. The 'cntrl + key' combo seems so much more awkward to me then 'cmnd/apple + key'. I'm afraid this will really slow me down! I've heard of people remapping the keys, but I'd hate to think of some bloated process running all the time just to do this simple key remapping.
  12. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    I must say that I have not seen this myself on osx. My 2009 is running perfectly fine. I have installed and removed various apps, upgraded to lion and have never done a reinstall. I do understand that my anecdotal evidence does not reflect everybody's experience though.
  13. velocityg4 macrumors 68040


    Dec 19, 2004
    For using Windows if you keep it clean and updated it is quite secure and remain fast.


    After installing all software open the run prompt and go to MSCONFIG. Disable any Startup entries and Services your programs do not need running for you programs to function correctly (check Hide all Microsoft services). This includes most anything besides antivirus entries and a few programs. For instance iTunes and Adobe Creative Suite have necessary startup items while Office and Adobe Reader do not.

    Every once in a while go back and see if items have built up through new software installs and updates.

    Run download and run CCleaner occasionally to delete built up internet caches, old log files, temporary items and so forth.

    Keep Flash, Silverlight, Reader, Java, Shockwave, Air and your web browser updated.


    For a free anti-virus I like Avast the best. You have to register once a year and deal with the occasional popup ad but it seems to have the least false positives. AVG is pretty good too but gets more false positives and if you are not paying attention will install annoying garbage like AVG Safe Search as your unchangeable search provider and the AVG toolbar in your browsers.

    The best payed anti-virus is GData. It consistently places in first or second place with AV Comparatives. One of the top anti-virus ratings labs.

    Steer clear of the Internet Security suites and firewalls. From what I have seen they cause many more problems than they prevent. The firewall in Windows and your router is sufficient. I have seen many instances where a firewall has completely blocked all internet access to the point that Windows can not even attain an IP Address. At least run screaming from Norton and McAffee.


    If you are so inclined I would recommend building the computer yourself. As you seem to be going for a high end workstation you will save a lot of money. True most consumer grade computers don't have much price advantage on regular builds high end or specialized still offer a great value. Plus you can pick and choose parts that have the best customer reviews rather than the lowest bidder like Dell, HP, &c use. You can also combine parts anyway you like. Most notably RAID arrays, Video cards and SSD drives.

    I would get a case with great air flow, heavy duty heatsink and an 80+ Gold or Platinum PSU. You won't find these in any OEM PC. With this your computer will run cooler, quieter and use less electricity.

    As far as the warranties behind Dell, HP, &c versus the DIY PC. The parts all have warranties. If this is a business computer the OEM warranty doesn't matter much as the downtime costs more than quickly buying replacement parts yourself anyways.
  14. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    My experience with Windows (albeit limited) is that no matter how careful you are, over the course of time, you will experience Windows rot and nothing but a clean install can fix it. Not installing new apps has nothing to do with it. Windows just gradually degrades over time on regular use. Why? I have no clue. Do a search for "Windows rot" and you'll see I'm not alone.

    On the other hand, I have never done a clean in stall on any of my Intel Macs. Back in the PowerPC days, i would just copy the contents of an old drive to the drive of a new computer or drive when upgrading. When I transitioned to Intel was the first time I truly started fresh since my first PowerMac. Since then, I've just done upgrades to progress to Lion.

    I also do experiment with software once in a while on OS X and my 2008 vintage machine is as snappy as the day I bought it.
  15. AppleDroid macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    Coming from a background building custom PC's for a decade but also using macs I can agree this is a sad but true statement. Others mentioned not installing/uninstalling because it does mess with the registry (and many applications don't have proper uninstallers) but I think the longest I kept a build of Windows was about 1.5 years. Generally whenever there was a major service pack I'd just do a clean install otherwise it takes longer and longer to boot, open apps etc.
  16. jmggs macrumors regular


    Jul 6, 2007
    Personal and professional experience. Every year or on major os update like a Service Pack or a new version of OSX (ex. 10.6 to 10.7). I reinstall the software an updated drivers on computers (OSX, Windows and Linux). Some applications have been updated and updated again. Old software not used. The best way is clean all and reinstall the system. I have adopted this approach long time ago and all computers run smoothly without problems. :)
  17. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    Again, I haven't done a clean install on my Macs in ages and they do not "slow down and mess for sure". Unquestionably, clean installs are nice, but they certainly are not needed in OS X. On the other hand, it's a requirement for Windows. My experience is far to limited with Linux for me to comment on it.

    There's a reason many of us are here. We don't want to deal with the headaches of Windows. Sure building a box will allow you to have the latest and greatest hardware for now, but at what cost?
  18. nefan65 macrumors 65816


    Apr 15, 2009
    Ditto, run a late 2007 iMac, and it's still running the same install it came with. I've installed, and uninstalled apps, etc. a few times with no issues. The only thing I HAVE done is run Repair Disk Permissions a few times. But it was from my own doing...

    EDIT: I do agree with the Windows re-install. It's almost an automatic. As far as Linux; it's similar to OS X. You don't need to do it, but if you want it's an option.
  19. ZZ Bottom macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2010
    For the ultimate in safe web browsing you could install VMware Player (free) and run Chrome OS within it. This would be entirely sandboxed, but obviously is a tradeoff in convenience and resources.

    In regards to all of the "reinstall" talk about Windows, keep in mind that Windows 8 will not feature an easy reformat mode that takes about 8 minutes and requires no discs. This will remove all of your installed software and user files/preferences exactly as a format/fresh install would, but is obviously more convenient. Okay so, Windows 8 isn't officially out yet, but if you've got to pay for a Win License anyway, why not use the Release Preview for now. I've got my i7 2600K system running CS6 Production Premium and have yet to experience any crashes except for with a buggy Metro app.
  20. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    Running it in a virtual machine would negate all the benefits of having the latest, greatest hardware. Also, you don't need Chrome to have an sandboxed OS, it can be done on any OS.

    While a fast reinstall of the OS would be extremely helpful, there's still the matter of re-installing all the apps the individual uses,finding install discs, finding and re-entering serial codes, etc. It's still a pain.
  21. jmggs macrumors regular


    Jul 6, 2007
    In OSX and Linux is more a opinion. Don't have older versions of software just all fresh and clean. i like this way and i keep doing it.

    by the way read:
  22. hamishIV macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2012
    If I were you, I'd try an hold out a bit longer for the Mac Pro's that are supposedly coming next year.

    If like me you don't wanna spend that much, then build a Hackintosh.

    Me, I had not previous experience with Mac, but I knew PC's and Windows In and out and could build a PC in under 30 mins.

    Now with the latest Ivy Bridge updates, natural mackintosh support for things like USB 3, Speedstep etc should be available in the next few weeks thus giving you a 95% replica of a Mac Pro.

    I'm running an over clocked Core 2 Duo Quad 2.83 4GB Ati 4850 with a Geekbench of 9000. The only thing that didn't work out the box with my EP-41 UD3L was sound which needed some drivers. I even bought a FireWire 800 card for it and this Hackintosh is faster than it's Mac Pro counterpart.

    I am upgrading this September with the new Ivy Bridge processors. If you need any help, tips etc with Hackintoshes, PM me.

    Hamish :apple:
  23. molingrad macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Win 7 is a good OS. Only problem with windoze is that you have to spend time catering to its needs otherwise it will start turning to ****. But realistically mostly you just need to use your head with what you install and what websites you visit. Also anti virus is mandatory... Look for one with low overhead like Nod32. I think kapersky is good too.

    On the plus side windows allows for a lot more hacks like over locking and custom gpu drivers. Windows XP ill always love you;)
  24. phpmaven macrumors 68040


    Jun 12, 2009
    San Clemente, CA USA
    As some have said, stay away from anything called a "security suite", especially any product from Symantec/Norton. I would rather toss my computer into a vat of boiling oil, than install anything from Symantec. Total garbage. It will slow your system to a crawl. Mcafee is just about as bad.

    I swear by NOD32 antivirus, (not the security suite) it's lightweight and you will barely notice it's there. But there are other good ones. All you need is a decent anti-virus program and good old common sense and you'll be fine.

    If you buy a PC from Dell or the like (for the love of all that's holy, don't by a HP, total junk), do yourself a huge favor and first thing, reformat the drive and reinstall Windows installing the minimal set of drivers you need. Dell makes it pretty easy. I've owned dozens of Dells. Most of the vendors load these boxes of with tons of bloated junk. Get rid of it all.

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