Back in March I was a happy Windows 7 user. Then I saw a preview version of Windows 8, with Metro plastered over the desktop -- and I went temporarily insane.
Metro is fine on a smartphone or tablet, but I wasn't going to mouse around Metro on the desktop in place of the Start menu. No, not ever. I couldn't believe Microsoft was screwing up so bad again in the wake of the Vista disaster. So after 22 years of using a Windows PC as my primary work machine, with smoke pouring out of my ears, I publicly declared I would switch to the Mac.
[ Eric Knorr makes his case in "Why I'm finally switching to the Mac," and Woody Leonhard delivers the bottom line in "Windows 8 review: Yes, it's that bad." | Cut straight to the key news for technology development and IT management with our once-a-day summary of the top tech news. Subscribe to the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. ]
Looking back over my eight months as a full-time Mac user, one thing stands out: OS X and Windows have borrowed so much from each other that the transition was anticlimactic. Sure, the Command key and menu bar took a while to feel natural, but I wasn't a total Mac newbie, so it wasn't hard. Of course, I found lots of things to like, from the Dock to iCloud to Spotlight search to Time Machine to the lovely Cover Flow view in the Finder.
But on balance I wondered what the big deal was. Plus, I found some Mac stuff truly annoying. As a public service to Windows emigrants like myself, I am obligated to list all these annoyances while they're still fresh in my mind:
Microsoft Office for the Mac. Ironic, isn't it? The worst problem with the Mac in business is Microsoft's fault. Office on the Mac sucks pretty badly, particularly Outlook. After finally getting accustomed to the Office ribbons in the Windows version, to have everything scrambled and divided between the Mac Office ribbons and the Apple menu bar is nasty, time-wasting stuff. And I've encountered some terrible fit and finish. For example, in Outlook, I have so many messages I can't scroll through them without jumping in huge leaps -- effectively, I can't scroll through my messages at all using the scroll bar.
Switching windows within apps. Sounds trivial, but it kills me that I can't flip through every open Outlook email message with Command-Tab (that switches me from app to app only). I discovered that Command-`(the Accent key under Esc) will switch among windows within apps -- but it doesn't always work. So I resort to Mission Control sometimes, which feels like admitting defeat. And Philistine that I am, I miss the simple old Windows trick of clicking on the current task on the taskbar to flip back to the previous window.
Obscure Multi-Touch trackpad gestures. Come on, a three-fingered pinch to open Launchpad? If you say so. But here's my least favorite: If you're in a browser and you sweep across the trackpad with two fingers, the browser flips forward or back depending on the direction of the swipe. It's easy to do by mistake. If you're editing in a Web application, an accidental swipe can eat up your work. I have a gesture for that.