In the last blog post about my 2017 gear list, I mentioned that there was something strange about the gear I work with. Along with getting rid of my DSLR/Mirrorless cameras, I haven’t used any laptop at all for about two years. The iPad Pro 9.7”, at that time, was my mobile computing platform of choice.
Of course, the only constant in my gear setup is change. I don’t like that. I prefer finding and sticking with the same gear & software as long as possible. But after using an iPad as a laptop replacement for almost two years, I am using a laptop again. It's not what you think. At least, it’s not what you think if you think the iPad was not a suitable laptop replacement for everyday business use. It can be, depending on your circumstances, of course.
It's because Apple no longer cares about the professional creative. And no, a one line quote from Tim Cook about caring about the creative pro at a press conference doesn't change that. I am basing this on what Apple has been doing over the last three to four years. More accurately, I am basing this on what Apple has not been doing over the past three to four years. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple releases an "Apple Watch Pro" or an extended keyboard for the iPad Pro as “proof” of their commitment to the pro market.
You have to either not be paying attention, or there has to be a wanton disregard for the obvious not to know this. The creative pro’s favorite computer company has become the world’s favorite phone maker. Apple is more concerned about form over function. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s Apple's prerogative to follow the money if that's what the overarching company mission has become. But choices have consequences. In this case, the creative professional has gone from being Apple's most-treasured brand evangelist to collateral damage in their quest to do whatever it is they are now doing in Cupertino.
I've more than done my share as a loyal Apple consumer by using their software and hardware over the years. I've been an Apple user for over 25 years. Shout out to the Apple II and Performa veterans! While I've used multiple platforms simultaneously in the past, I've exclusively used Apple software and hardware for the last decade. Heck, I was using Pages, Keynote and Numbers exclusively instead of Google Docs or Microsoft Office for four years. That was no small feat. It was terribly inefficient - always converting from one format to another in order to function with the rest of the world. I can only assume I was one of just a few dozen non-Apple employees who were actually that dedicated to the Apple office suite for that long.
Apple industrial design is second to none. But at some point, the platform I use must deliver value on a level that allows me to work efficiently, is cost competitive over the life of the product, and allows me to plan for the future for my business. Apple does not fulfill these requirements for me any longer. I have held out hope that they would throw us a bone, to no avail. So I am beginning my transition back to Windows.
This begins with not using the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement any longer. My iPad has been relegated to being a media consumption device. Of course, I don't want to give up the smaller size advantage the 9.7 iPad Pro provides, so what should I move to?
I've decided to move to a 4GB, 1.8 GHz 2011 11" Macbook Air. I have upgraded it to a 1TB SDD. I will be running Windows 7 on it as the specs don't allow for running Windows 10. This has already proven to be good enough to be used as a travel device. If I need more juice, I'll transition over to a 2.2GHz 11” 2016 Macbook Air with 8GB and will upgrade it to a 1TB SSD. We'll see if this machine can cut the mustard first, though.
As an aside, and to further back up my claim that Apple is abandoning not only creative professionals but also prosumer users, check out this comparison from Laptop Magazine:
As the first step in this transition, I converted a 3.2 GHz 27" iMac so it's dedicated to running Microsoft Windows 10 Pro desktop natively. This is now my primary workstation. Yes, I still use Apple hardware (for now). Holy cow that Microsoft Surface Studio is pretty. I am making software changes in my workflow while I still have the ability to do so at my own pace. I have transferred all my productivity, administrative, technical, marketing, photo editing & development work to Windows 10 Pro.
I continue to do video editing on macOS mainly because I have such a large investment in the FCPX ecosystem. Color me shocked when Apple announces that they are no longer maintaining iMovie or FCPX instead of a new “Movies” app (see previous Aperture/iPhoto -> Photos announcements). I’m moving my Photos back to Lightroom and have started making the painful move to Premiere as well. I assume it’ll be a year or so until I’m completely off FCPX. As it stands now, I am only maintaining FCPX for legacy video projects. All my new projects will be started on Premiere Pro from this point forward.
I still use iCloud as a backup/restore solution for iOS and macOS, for now, but I have transferred all my document storage back to Dropbox and reduced my iCloud storage from 2TB back to 1TB. I no longer use Apple Mail, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, Pages, Numbers, Keynote or Safari. I have switched to Microsoft Outlook, OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Google Chrome on all platforms. Another huge undertaking will be to move off iCloud and onto another cloud-based mail/calendaring solution. I haven't even looked at what's available in that arena yet. I'm assuming I'll go to Google Mail but will look at Outlook.com and seek out other solutions as well.
Aside from the video editing, I have a 24TB Drobo storage array which is formatted as OSX Extended. This drive array contains ALL my photos, video, and document archives for the last decade. So, I'll need to get that data transferred over to an array which is compatible with Windows during my move from FCPX to Adobe Premiere.
This is not a change I was planning on making even a month ago. But here's the bottom line: Apple has become so concerned with form over function that their products, while still well-made and visually striking, perform at a very average level. Apple still charges a premium for hardware which simply no longer performs at a professional level. After using the Mac for over 25 years (exclusively for the last decade) and using Apple productivity apps for over six years, Windows felt clunky and over-complicated to me when I reintroduced myself to it. After a couple weeks of full-time use, it feels as natural now as it did back when I was a full-time .net developer.
This is what happens when some of a brand's most loyal users get tired of feeling like the brand no longer cares about them. Brand loyalty takes years to secure, but that doesn't mean you can take it for granted.
Apple's silence regarding the desktop/laptop platforms, and then the mediocre release of the new Macbook Pro lineup after three years of it collecting dust speaks volumes about the lack of priority Apple has put on macOS's future. I have decided to make the transition to Windows on my terms. As I'm getting reacquainted with Windows, I have already found many things are easier to do on Windows than on macOS/iOS. I'm also finding the iMac as hardware functions well when paired with Windows 10.
I still love Apple's industrial design but I've been putting up with the mediocre hardware inside and an operating system which has fallen behind Windows in features and functionality since Microsoft released Windows 10. Yes, after all my moaning about Apple, my last point is that Microsoft is back baby! Who knows? Maybe I'll fall in love with the Surface Book and Surface Studio also...
That last sentence was for Apple. Know this: the halo-effect matters. When you lose a user on the desktop, said user's ties to the rest of your ecosystem becomes fragile. So fragile that I'm also test-driving a Samsung Galaxy S7 Active right now. I am running it side by side with the iPhone to see which provides the best integrated experience with Windows 10. More on that later.
Hello, Microsoft. Hello again, Windows.