Back in 2009, I needed to have the CPU repasted in my MacBook Pro as it was running hot. Ill-advised in retrospect, I poked around Craig’s List until I settled on someone offering repair services that I felt I could trust. I spoke to him on the phone a few times, and we arranged to meet. I dropped off the laptop, we chatted jovially for about ten minutes, and then I went home.
I never saw that machine again.
I had been a proud Apple user since the late 1970’s, but as the 2000’s wore on, my satisfaction had been whittled away by a range of issues. The most pressing issue of the time, however, was that I had $600 to get a replacement machine and couldn’t have put together the $2,400 I’d need to replace my stolen MacBook even if my desire burned like the Sun. I had no choice. I had to buy a Windows machine.
Now, more than a decade later, I have a new M1 Mac Mini on my desk, an iPhone 12 Mini in my pocket, and a 2013 MacBook Pro I got from a friend. Yes, I still have my trusty HP EliteBook 840 (that is Windows 11 compatible), but I’ve barely used it in a few months now, aside from some Overwatch when the mood strikes (my secret is an eGPU.) And it was an easy switch, as most of my tools are online or have long been cross-platform. With a little practice I was back in the groove.
So, what prompted this sudden turn-around?
Originally it was simply that Apple’s M1 chip and the promise of their new line of bespoke silicon had made a profound leap in computing power, and who doesn’t want the most capable system(s) they can get for their dollar. After ingesting an unhealthy number of YouTube videos issuing test after test illustrating Apple’s M1 superiority, I felt it was time to dip my toes back into Apple’s inviting waters.
Later, it would become about the battle between Epic Games and Apple in hopes that the Cupertino behemoth would start opening up more of iOS. Then it was about the ease of use, the clean interface, and that deliciously small iPhone 12 Mini after having to deal with mammoth Android phablets for so many years. Then it was about being able to use the MacOS Big Sur on a seven year-old MacBook Pro and being reminded of Apple’s legendary (and, sadly, spotty) reliability record.
Then, most recently, it’s become about Windows 11 and Microsoft’s apparent plans for their future. You see, when Windows 10 rolled out following the Windows 8/8.1 Start Menu debacle and Microsoft was doing all kinds of amazing new stuff, I believed that Apple and Microsoft had switched places, something like a Silicon Valley version of Freaky Friday. Microsoft’s efforts were exciting and full of promise, while Apple was building ludicrously expensive cheese graters and spending five years apologizing for the atrocious “Butterfly” keyboard and ignoring their own creation, the TouchBar.
Apple’s moneymaker was the iPhone, so it received all the focus. The Mac was apparently left to Jhonnyie EYEve (or however he fucking spells his name) and his bizarre, experimentally unnecessary proclivities, which are exemplified more by the removal of features that forced new revenue streams (i.e., AirPods, removing the wall charger from iPhone boxes, etc…) than the work-a-day attrition of technological evolution. When Steve Jobs called for the removal of the floppy drive from the original iMac, it was because he predicted that the CD-ROM drive would replace the older, slower, less capacious storage medium.
He was right.
Ive removed the headphone jack. Why? Because people just weren’t using headphones anymore? Because the headphone jack module was too big for their thin innovative designs? Because their customers were demanding true wireless earbuds? No. None of these things were true. They did it because it meant they could sell far more over-priced AirPods and make a load more money over just giving away a cheap pair. And with the power brick, they outright claimed it was to help save the planet, when it’s just another accessory being monetized.
So, you might be asking yourself why, amid all this chaos, would I jump ship… again? I mean, if Apple is doing all this shady crap, why would I want to immerse myself again into that caustic environment after swimming in the warm seas of Windows for a decade? Well, for one, it’s not caustic, it’s… realigning following the departure of Mr. Ive. Two, it’s complicated. It hasn’t helped that Microsoft itself has been sending mixed signals about their future plans, and it’s confusing. We were doing phones, then not. We were going to get ARM-based tablets, then those died. We were going to get augmented reality with the HoloLens, where the hell’s that thing?
In other words, trusting technology giants to do what you want, or need is stupid, so we must get the best we can, when we can. That means ignoring the aspects that are just noise and let’s be honest, most of these “problems” are just noise. Until consumers actually speak with their wallets, something we most decidedly do NOT do, Apple and Microsoft and every other gigantic corporation is going to do what they want to do, at least until we make them stop, so until that time comes, we have to base our purchasing decisions on something.
Which leaves the hard stuff, the chip design that takes years and years and thousands of super smart people who know math and physics and science, to offer the factors I consider when deciding which path I’ll follow, and right now the tea leaves say that Apple’s silicon will be the one to watch for the coming decade.
I mean, come on! I’ve got a $1,500 Mac Mini on my desk that can, in many cases, match the performance of a Mac Pro “Cheese Grater” costing thousands and thousands of dollars more!
I’d be an idiot NOT to want to ride that wave.