PC to Mac and Back

PC to Mac and Back

Since starting my consulting practice twelve years ago, I’ve made it a practice to purchase a new laptop computer every two years. I’ve been lucky to never have a PC fail (except for a 2-month old Sony Vaio) but I’ve never wanted to take the risk. I live in Microsoft Office and could not run my business without it. I travel often on business, and found that my iPad just didn’t give me the functionality to properly service my clients while I’m on the road. For that I need a “real” computer.

Two years ago, when it was time for a new computer, I was more than a little frustrated with my Windows 7, 15” laptop that weighed nearly nine pounds. It had become very slow booting up, frequently required restarting, and had a 2-hour battery life. So, when Apple released the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, I decided it was time to go “all in.”

Learning to Use a Mac

Picking up my new Mac at the Apple store was euphoric! I dealt with the business team who understood my needs, my reliance on Office, and what I was trying to accomplish. I left the store feeling like I had made the right decision (even after spending a small fortune), and couldn’t wait to start using my new laptop.

With some minor help, I got my new Mac set up, installed Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, successfully converted my data, and got right to work. If you’ve ever used a Mac, you know that some of the functionality is exactly opposite of the PC world. It took a short time to figure out file locations, mouse functionality, single-click vs. double-click and more, but I was off and running with my new, sleek machine. I knew I could run Parallels for Windows programs, but I made the conscious decision to only run Mac applications. After all, if I wanted a Windows machine, I still had my old “brick.”

Making Accommodations for the Mac

I live in Outlook, Word, and Excel and almost immediately found that Office 2011 for Mac was missing features and functionality that I use if not every day, at least often enough for it to be important. For example, the way I organized my Favorites folder in Outlook is quite a bit different, and working with multiple .PST files is not as easy in the Mac version. I have long-term clients for whom I have individual .PST folders, and I found I was unable to blend them into my Favorites in Mac’s Outlook.

In Word, I found the menu options, features, and functionality were also limited. For example, inserting Symbols, working with Mail merge, and formatting are not nearly as feature rich as what I’m used to in the Windows version. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Microsoft would limit the Mac feature set, but even Adobe Acrobat Pro for Mac is missing features I use all of the time.

The Proverbial Straw

While still working on a PC, I used CompanionLink and Google to sync my contacts and calendars, but once I moved to the Mac, that option was no longer available. You’d think that my Mac, my iPhone, and my iPad could all be made to communicate with each other, but of course that is not the case. Between my multiple email accounts, I receive an average of 250 emails every day. There was no easy way to remove email from all devices in a single action and I grew increasingly tired of handling the same emails multiple times, and reentering appointments and contacts on each device.

I read a great deal about Office 365, and thought maybe it was my salvation. And in fact, it partially solved my problems. Since converting to Office 365, my email, contacts, and calendars are always synched. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ended, as it quickly became apparent that the Office 365 Mac tools were even more limited.

To convert to Office 365, we had to export my Outlook data and import it into a new Identity. The export/import process did not work properly and the consultant we hired to manage the transition instructed me to copy and paste my missing folders into my new Identity. After several hours of effort, and two weeks of uploading to the cloud, my new Outlook literally stopped working altogether. After three hours of support from Microsoft, I was finally instructed to remove all of the added folders because Outlook 365 couldn’t support more than 5-6 GB of data in the Mac version. So, while I solved the syncing problem, Outlook is much more cumbersome than ever.

To make matters worse, my associates are both on PC’s and they have had none of the issues I’m dealing with, and their export/import and transition to Office 365 was completed in about 30 minutes each.

Au Revoir Monsieur Mac

(Deep sigh) OK, I’ve finally given up. I love my Mac, but it just won’t work the way I work, and after two years, I’m not willing to change any more to accommodate the machine – it should be the other way around.

I’m going back to a PC, and I hope I’m taking what I love about my Mac with me. I want fast start-up, long battery life, a bright screen, and a 15” monitor…all weighing less than 4 pounds.

I think I’ve found it. The Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook seems to have what I need. I’ve ordered a machine with a Solid State Drive (SSD) for fast start-up and access, a super-bright monitor, and 10 hours of battery life, all weighing in at 3.48 pounds! I hope it’s not too good to be true.

The machine is in transit, and once it arrives I plan to take my time getting it set up the way I want it.

Stay tuned!

Featured image: “Delete button from a Mac keyboard” from Shutterstock.

About Cathy Kenton

Cathy Kenton
Cathy Kenton is the Chair of the Legal Vendor Service Group at Legal Vertical Strategies (LVS). She works with legal vendors and associations to create growth and realize market potential. She can be reached at ckenton@lvstrategies.com.
  • Ben W

    Ah, finally someone giving an objective account of using a Mac. Too many Apple-crazy people who drank the Koolaid a long time ago think the world revolves around Macs and they do no wrong.

    Good luck with the new laptop – would love to read your thoughts on it. I use a Lenovo Yoga 11 with an SSD; it’s small, lightweight, has a touchscreen, and converts to a tablet. The Samsung is a slick laptop, so, I’m anxious to read your feedback.

  • http://samglover.net/ Sam Glover

    If you try to switch to a Mac but you want to do everything the same as you did on a Windows PC, it won’t work for you. It’s not a Windows PC, and it won’t work exactly like one no matter what you do.

    That’s not a criticism, just an observation. It doesn’t sound like Macs are for you.

  • Michel Plungjan

    I have macs and iDevices at home and PCs at work. I access gmail on EVERYONE of them and I have my calendars sync across everything (mac calendar and Google calendar) I also run GOOD on my iDevices so I can access my office mail (exchange). Possibly a poweruser of Word might find deal breakers. I have none. I am not a fanboi, but when my new vaio took two days work to “upgrade” to windows 7 or 8 (I forget which) and my iMac took 40 seconds from opening the box to getting on the net, I was converted.

  • sthayes

    I bought my first office computer (an Apple IIc) about 30 years ago. I subsequently transitioned to a Wang PC, IBM and so forth. Consultants (including me) in the earlier days of computers always told their clients that they needed to focus on software first and then select the hardware that would support it.

    For reasons that remain unclear to me, the focus over the last decade or so has been exclusively on the hardware. Each laptop is compared to another for glitz, weight, speed, etc. (generally in that order) and seldom is the software universe associated with Apple vs. Windows vs. Linux discussed. Even now people are pondering comparisons between iPads and MacBook Airs as though they are interchangeable, when the app universe for each is distinctly different.

    I tried switching to a MacBook Pro a couple of years ago without success because I found myself constantly frustrated by the Mac software and the need to continuously chew up resources in order to run Windows programs in OSX (particularly legal billing and case management software) via Parallels. Some of my frustration might have been a learning curve issue, some of it familiarity (although my family uses and I consequently continue to provide tech support for Macs). For their light use, Macs are fine. For my business use, I need the full capabilities of MS Office and the plethora of case management and billing programs that, to date, are without parallel in the Mac universe.

    It’s nice to read a story that once again focuses on the preeminence of software as a driver of OS choices. Thanks.

  • Spencer Stromberg

    I am currently on my third foray into the Mac world, and I am planning to go back to Windows when Windows 10 is launched in 2015. My first Mac was a Mac SE, and it was miraculous (of course, that was only for what is now very basic word processing). I started using PC’s when I got my first job at a law firm during law school, first with MSDOS, then progressing through most of the iterations of Windows, including several computers running Vista and Windows 7. In about 2005 (during the PowerPC processor days) I bought a Mac laptop and found that it was pretty lousy at basic things like browsing the web, since so many websites didn’t work with Mac-compatible browsers, and I couldn’t find very many decent games for my kids to play on it. Microsoft Office applications worked OK, but since it was a home laptop, I didn’t use the Office software enough to get to know the differences. The hardware was far better designed than anything else available at the time. I have had a couple of Windows 7 computers since.

    I now have a MacBook Pro Retina 13″ Mid-2013. My law partner also has one. The computer works fine, but I just don’t like the way the operating system works in a lot of small ways. The old line on Mac vs. Windows was the stability and user-friendliness of the Mac. I have not found the Mac to be more stable than my last two Windows 7 machines – I still have to restart every so often when things start getting a little buggy, it sometimes hangs interminably on startup, etc. In fact, my last two Windows 7 machines were more stable than my Mac in most regards. In terms of user-friendliness, Mac makes some tasks easier, but certainly not all – and Windows has made significant progress on this front. I find the Mac to be much more mouse-oriented, so I don’t think I’m as efficient on it as I was on my Windows machine, due to the number of keyboard shortcuts I was in the habit of using (I’ve been on the Mac for 9 months now, so this is not much of a “getting used to it” issue at this point). I suppose I should point out that I use an Android phone – I don’t like the look and feel of iOS (my kids both have iPhones) and I can’t stand the thought of being locked entirely into the Apple biosphere for some reason.

    The issue still exists that a lot of software that I would like to use in my business is not available – or not as functional – on the Mac. For example, the PDF software I had on my Windows 7 machine, now several versions old, is still far better than the current version Mac software from the same company. In some software categories, there is virtually nothing available for Mac – accounting, document assembly, etc. (and web versions are not the same).

    The thing I will struggle with going back to the Windows world is that it is hard to find hardware as nicely designed and manufactured as the Macs. A lot of manufacturers have made up a lot of ground in the past few years, though, so the compromise is not terrible.