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Month on Mac – Conclusion

May 12, 2013

At the end of March I purchased a MacBook Air and proclaimed to the world that I would do A Month On Mac and the idea was to try to use my new purchase at work in replacement to my usual Dell/Win8 PC. So here is my conclusion to this trial, with some suggestions as well as I have found a few apps to help.

My firm’s computer environment is completely Microsoft based so we use Windows 7 and the Office 2010 productivity suite.  We do not use many cloud services although I do use DropBox to synchronise my documents between computers. However as a member of the IT department I do need to administer various bits as well.


The laptop itself is incredible! It’s a perfect size to just pickup under your arm and wander around the office, then due to the speed of the laptop coming back from sleep I can be up and working in seconds. Faster than an equivalent Windows 8 machine in my experience. I left it with the lid down and asleep for a week and it had lost just 2% battery power, compare that to the Dell XPS 13 and that loses about 10-15%. 

The keyboard is nice to type one, I composed a few reports during this test and it was very easy. However some symbols are in different places which is a bit annoying to start with.  As a Windows user, I know a lot of keyboard shortcuts and these work on a mac too, you just change ctrl to the cad key. So Ctrl+c to copy something on a PC is cmd+c on a mac, simple!

The trackpad is well designed as well and the gestures are amazing and completely integrated into the whole OS giving a seamless experience.  I’ve not had this experience on anything Windows, scrolling down in a web page in Windows nearly always become juddery, but on a Mac it’s seamless and works smoothly as it should do! 

There isn’t a network port or DVD drive, but this is typical for this type of laptop whether Windows or Mac so not an issue. There also isn’t a VGA port, which is very useful to have when doing presentations. I purchased a Mini DisplayPort to VGA converter which gave me a pretty good experience.


Mac OSX itself is really good, they have thought about the design quite well and everything is pretty conveniently located. For a Windows user going across to it, keep an open mind and its actually quite intuitive, however if you are the type of person that flapped when Windows 8 was released then your likely to not like a Mac just because its different but I’m afraid there isn’t anything anyone can do for you apart from pat you on the head and say ‘calm down child’.

There are a lot of inbuilt apps in OSX which help with most things you would want, which is equivalent to Windows in my experience. If you have experience of an iPad/iPhone then calendar/safari etc will all feel quite similar and easy. There is an App Store in built which has lots of apps of all different varieties, free and paid but what’s different from iPhones and iPads is that you can download apps from anywhere on the Internet as well so you aren’t confined to the App Store ecosystem which is nice.

One of the first things I installed was Office 2011 which I’m afraid was where my experience fell off a cliff to be honest. One would assume that being Microsoft Office it would look, feel and operate exactly and seamlessly with Office on Windows. Put simply, it doesn’t.  

Word opens documents, but quite frequently the formatting is off, and another person in our offices creates Word documents on his Mac and brings them to work where (for some unknown reason) you get less text on the page! Why!! Well I found that the way Mac/Windows render some fonts is different, which is just bonkers.

Outlook which is something a Microsoft user cannot live without! Outlook 2011 uses Exchange Web Services to connect to Exchange which has attachment limitations which you do not get in Outlook 2010. Public Folder access is clunky, to view any of them you have to subscribe to them which downloads the data to your computer. Why does it need to do this? It takes ages and is completely unnecessary! It’s not possible to set the sensitivity of an email to private/confidential etc, and we are just in the process of rolling out Exchange Personal Archives however these aren’t accessible in Outlook 2011. There are some other odd bits such as you cannot turn off automatically making messages read when you change selection, I had to download an add on from which gives you this functionality.

The Mail app is even worse.  You can do most of the basics in Mail and Outlook but that is about it.

You cannot view an NTFS formatted hard drive, but this is expected as its a Microsoft thing however you can get Paragon NTFS for a price and it then works seamlessly so not a big deal.

A couple of apps that I love on my ipad I can get for the Mac which is useful, such as Pocket and Skitch.


I spent a number of weeks using it and my experience was very good, however whenever I had to check my email or work in Microsoft Office my experience fell off a cliff which is such a massive shame. We just implemented Citrix and utilising Office products through that, made it ok but not ideal especially if you are offline at any point.

Microsoft have focused on developing a good productivity suite on Windows but have not on Mac. I can see the logic as it encourages people to buy Windows especially in businesses, but if they make a good version on Mac they may not.  From an end user perspective, this is a big shame as I would prefer the choice of laptop.

For me personally I would purchase a Mac (MacBook/iMac or anything) every time as long as I didn’t have to integrate with a Microsoft Exchange server or have to deal with too much Microsoft Office 2011 usage as its just superb for everything else. 

I welcome comments, but no flaming



From → Apple, Microsoft

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