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Introduction

Introduction

Why are Windows PC people getting Macs all of a sudden?

Maybe the iPod's coolness factor is rubbing off onto the rest of Apple's product line. Maybe people have grown weary of their boring beige and black boxes. Or maybe they've just spent one Saturday too many dealing with viruses, worms, spyware, excessive startup processes, questionable firewalls, inefficient permissions, and all the other land mines strewn across the Windows world.

In any case, there's never been a better time to make the switch. Mac OS X version 10.4 has been hailed as the best operating system on earth; it's gorgeous, easy to understand, and virus-free. Apple's computers are in top form, too, complete with features like built-in Ethernet, DVD burners, and two different kinds of wireless connections. Among laptops, the story is even better: Most of Apple's PowerBooks and iBooks cost less than similarly outfitted Windows laptops, yet weigh less. Plus, they look a lot cooler.

And then there's the Mac mini, Apple's cheapest Mac ever. For $500, you get a three-pound, silvery module with a combination DVD player/CD burner and enough processing power to handle all but the most demanding graphics and music software. You have to bring your own display, keyboard, and mouse, but if you're switching from a Windows PC, you've already got those components lying around anyway.

That's not to say, however, that switching to the Mac is all sunshine and bunnies. The Macintosh is a different machine, running a different operating system, and built by a company with a different philosophy—a fanatical perfectionist/artistic zeal. When it comes to their missions and ideals, Apple and Microsoft have about as much in common as a melon and a shoehorn.

In any case, you have three challenges before you. First, you'll probably want to copy your Windows stuff over to the new Mac. Some of that is easy to transfer (photos, MP3s, Microsoft Office documents) and some is trickier to extract (email messages, address books, buddy lists).

Second, you have to assemble a suite of Macintosh programs that do what you're used to doing in Windows. Most programs from Microsoft, Adobe, Macromedia, and other major players are available in nearly identical Mac and Windows formats. But occasionally, it's more difficult: Many second-tier programs are available only for Windows, and it takes some research (or Chapter 7 of this book) to help you find Macintosh replacements.

Finally, you have to learn Mac OS X itself. In some respects, it resembles the latest versions of Windows: There's a taskbar-like thing, a Control Panel–like thing, and, of course, a Trash can. At the same time, hundreds of features you thought you knew have been removed, replaced, or relocated. (If you ever find yourself groping for an old favorite feature, see Appendix B, the "Where'd It Go?" dictionary.)


Note:

In Mac OS X, the X is meant to be a Roman numeral, pronounced "ten." Unfortunately, many people see "Mac OS X" and say "Mac Oh Ess Sex." That's a sure way to get made fun of by Mac nerds.


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