Rant about picking a laptop and MSFT and Apple in general


<Start Rant>

I, throughout my personal technology history have been a Microsoft fanboy. I bought or assisted in buying at least 10 PCs for my family (Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, Friends, etc…). I had windows phones until about the time the nexus 5 came out. I have a custom Gaming PC that i also use for coding.(probably $2000 if you consider the peripherals). I have an Xbox one X. I had the original Xbox One. I use the Microsoft Launcher. I have Office 365 and my whole family uses the storage and apps. Fanboy. In the last few years I have become more practical about it. Use whatever gets the job done. Which i think is still Windows most of the time. but my sister and girlfriend have iphones and Macs. I listened to that Dogfight book about Google and Apple and gained a little more respect for apple in the process. I have always thought that they made good hardware. Just worse software.

I recently decided to go back to school for a M.S. in Computer Science. I am currently a Test Engineer with an Electrical Engineering Degree. My laptop is also starting to show it’s age (it’s 4 and the fan and battery are dying). I was separately started considering a side project making a character sheet app for a game in order to re-enforce my learning. I started researching Xamarin and realized that I would still need a MAC (Gasp). This seemed like blasphemy to my MS/Google-centric world until I started looking at new laptops. When I buy laptops I typically look for them to last about 4 years or so. 

So I looked at a MAC and thought “I’ll just put windows on it for the development apps I need”. Then I looked at the price and found that I could either end up with last year’s model (dual core) for 1700 + the cost of windows, or this year’s model for 2100 + the cost of windows. This includes warranty extension and whatever else I need. At that price I could get a windows PC and an old used Macbook air on Ebay and just make it a dedicated XCode machine. 

I looked at the XPS13 and found that people have a lot a problems with the wifi card and sleeping the laptop as well as poor customer service. I looked at the HP Spectre x360 and found several hardware issues with decent customer service. I looked at the Surface Laptop and still cannot believe they only have one USB port. Plus the price is similar to the MAC if I want more than 256 GB storage. (No SD Card Slot :'( ). Anyway the more I look the more I find wrong with the everyone’s PCs except Microsoft and Apple.

So adding onto this, Paul’s years-long crusade about “finishing the job” is really resonating with me. As I look at where I want to take my education, it feels like Microsoft just doesn’t care about making things work well, so why should I care? When I was playing with the MACs in the apple store and my girlfriend’s MAC, it may not be as capable in terms of number of features, but everything is buttery smooth. Sleeping and waking up is instantaneous. They don’t release an operating system with a DATA DELETION BUG. I mean, that is as bad as it gets. It just is frustrating. Why should I, as an advanced user and future developer, care when Microsoft doesn’t. It is depressing. I will probably end up getting a Surface Laptop and later buying a used MAC if I need it.

I know I’m probably just frustrated and getting into my own head. I do feel better posting this though.

</End Rant>

Comments (54)

54 responses to “Rant about picking a laptop and MSFT and Apple in general”

  1. Patrick3D

    Take a look at the Lenovo X1 Carbon, plenty of ports and expansion dock support, thin and lightweight.

  2. matsan

    I gave up on Windows 10 as my daily development driver (mainly PHP and JavaScript) almost two years ago. All my tools worked with Linux so I used Ubuntu until the new MacBook Pros arrived this summer. Now all my tools are on Mac and I use Parallels for the projects I need Linux or Windows for. I have "finished my job".

  3. waethorn

    If you're doing professional development, buy a business PC. If you want something with stability but can't do without Windows, look for one (or get it BTO) with Windows 10 Enterprise IoT. HP has lots of options available. Most Linux distros run great on them too.

  4. Minke

    Get a desktop for getting real work done and enjoy years of service and the ability to upgrade and replace as needed to keep it going practically forever. Plus, you'll enjoy a really nice fullsize keyboard and mouse, any quality monitor you want, and save a ton of money. Get a cheap laptop for when you are on the go and need one, but use the desktop for your work machine. Having said that, offices I have worked in for the past half-dozen years have used nothing but business-spec HP laptops that are like boat anchors, have every port you might ever want, and are nearly indestructible. They aren't sexy but they do get work done and are probably the best option for a work laptop running Windows. I use an HP laptop at work with two monitors, a keyboard, and a mouse plugged in. Works fine, but a desktop would give better performance at the same price and have even more ports and storage. I am always amazed how crappy it is typing on a laptop keyboard and using a stupid trackpad after spending a day using a real computer.

    • Daekar

      In reply to Minke:

      The company I work for does this. They give everybody who doesn't need mobility a desktop and as many monitors as they can justify, and everybody who can't get away from it they give a laptop with a dock and the same monitor arrangement. They're work laptops, not status symbols. They're not as thick as the large laptops of yesteryear, but they are loaded with ports, i7 processors/16GB RAM even for managerial/production control stuff, have big screens, and just keep ticking.

  5. jimchamplin


    Install Windows on it, Hackintosh it, run Linux. Whatever! :D

  6. 2ilent8cho

    Just get the Mac , you can run all 3 Major OS's then (Windows, Mac , Linux). The Macbooks do have the best trackpad ever made on them, and you expect 4 years for a laptop? My 2012 Macbook Air still performs solidly 6 years on used almost every day, so yeah the prices are high but you should get many many years from it.

  7. Todd Northrop

    I'm sure you'll hear suggestions about installing Windows on a Mac, but as someone who did that for a couple of years I can tell you I would never do it again. If you need a Mac in order to develop for the Apple Store, buy the cheapest Mac you can and use it to do your uploads to the store. Problem solved. You do not need to do the actual development on the Mac.

    Windows on a Mac seems really great until something changes in Windows or something goes wrong on your laptop. Apple is not great with drivers. It can be difficult to track down and download the latest drivers, and even when you do they can be flaky. All Apple hardware is proprietary, so you need the drivers specifically from Apple -- you can't just go to a part company's website and download the latest driver.

    Then of course you are dealing with multiple fragile partitions on the storage drive, because both MacOS and Windows want to create several partitions each. If something breaks, are you SURE it is backed up correctly? Because it's easy to screw up with so much going on. Restoring after a disaster is a problematic affair.

    You will certainly hear anecdotes from people who say how easy it was when they had a problem, but you can just as surely hear from all the people who would never do it again (like me).

    Better to keep the two worlds apart.

  8. coeus89

    So, Since some of you said you were curious, I decided to get a Dell XPS 13. (i5, 16GB Ram, 4K display). I am also stalking ebay for an approximately $500-$600 macbook air. All together it is going to end up cheaper and i don't have to worry about virtualization. Plus i am way more comfortable in the windows world.

  9. Illusive_Man

    Buy a used but like new Mac of eBay.

  10. bob_shutts

    BTW, it's "Mac" not MAC.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to Bob_Shutts:

      This is one of those things I've never gotten. Where did the idea that the three-letter abbreviation needs to be capitalized? I've heard ancient concepts like people believing that it's some kind of acronym for "Mouse Activated Computer" which completely ignore the fact that the product's name is "Macintosh."

      It's up there with referring to the company as "Mac" instead of Apple. Because the name of the company that created the PC was totally "PC."

    • locust infested orchard inc

      Quote by "Bob_Shutts, "BTW, it's "Mac" not MAC."

      Those three letter may well be written in sentence case, however with regards to the OS, Apple have been floundering with its stylisation – initially as Mac OS, then in 2012 it was shortened to OS X, and four years later in 2016 adopted macOS. Take note the 'mac' is now lower case.

      It clearly shows Apple are unsure how best to name and stylise its waning desktop OS, to the extent it is reflective of the desktop OS itself – to be consigned to the annals of history, to be eventually replaced with iØS, as news reports have surfaced in 2018 of Apple ditching Intel's architecture in favour of its own A-series X ARM64 SoCs.

  11. wright_is

    I have a 2016 HP Spectre X360 and it is still running fine. No problems at all with it over the years. The battery still lasts 6 - 8 hours, depending on use (4 if i use it to watch YouTube).

    On the other hand, for work I have a new Lenovo ThinkPad T series (T480), which is excellent. With Thunderbolt docking station, it cost under $1500. I have used several Lenovos over the years and they have all been fine, no reliability issues.

    Plus, if you are worried, you can get next day on-site support or 4 hour on-site if it is critical, with Lenovo, Dell or HP business lines (but not the consumer lines, like the Spectre). That is something even the top level Macs don't offer as a paid option.

    The biggest problem with the current generation of Macs, for me, is the attrocious keyboard! It has to be the worst keyboard I've used since my ZX81 and my friends Atari 400, back in the early 80s.

    The other problem is the reliability of Apple kit and the lack of support. With my business PCs, I get next day, on-site support and if my Android phone dies, the mobile provider sends me out a replacement. If a Mac or an iPhone dies, I have to contact the Apple support line, they arrange to collect it, the device disappears for 2 weeks, without a replacement or loaner, then I get it back (hopefully*) repaired.

    * I say hopefully, my iPhone spent 6 of its first 7 weeks in the repair shop! It was returned twice as "no fault found", only to die within hours and then returned for repair again. On the third return, they "miraculously" found a memory fault, but only after I had a shouting match with the T-Mobile salesman in a packed store with people waiting to buy iPhones...

  12. gregoryp

    One word of caution: Louis Rossman. Go to YouTube and search for his channel. He repairs Apple products from his shop in Manhattan. He has been doing this for many years now. I challenge you to watch his videos (say about two dozen... they're not that long) as he repairs Macbooks and still come away thinking that Apple is a company with whom you want to do business. MS has its faults as do all tech companies but at least they appear to be upfront about their products which is something Apple does NOT do. Check out Louis Rossman.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to gregoryp:

      I second this. Apple hardware isn’t what it used to be. I know it’s been 20 years or so since Macintoshes were made in the USA, but it also seems that the engineering isn’t there either.

      Inferior components, choosing capacitors that are too weak for the application, cheap solder and poor workmanship, you name it, you got it. They’re no better made than a cheap no-name Chinese Atom notebook Fromm aliExpress anymore.

  13. Bats

    I'll make this easy for you. Get the Mac for $1700 + Windows. Forget everything else (Dell, HP, etc...). If you are serious about your career, then you are better off arming yourself with all the platforms at your disposal.

    Secondly, you are saying that Microsoft and Apple are free of faults? Because that's not true. Mac OS bugs are so common and Surface computers have known reliability issues. That's common knowledge.

    What I suggest you do, is wait a week or two for the Black Friday deals and where coupon codes can be utilized. Then go to HP and look for their Student discount program and customize a fully loaded and overspec'd Windows laptop.Then apply a coupon code to lower the price further. However, before you submit the order signup for Ebates for more cash back with your purchase. Then submit the order. Do that if buying an overpowered Windows PC makes more sense to you than a Mac (LOL..."Mac"). I only know HP because that's the computer company I trust the most. Plus, I think Dell computers are ugly looking. Every single computer I bought from HP (six) has been customized to high end specs and they are still running today.

    Again, the steps:

    1. Wait for Black Friday/Cyber Monday
    2. Signup for ebates
    3. Look for HP Coupon Code
    4. Go to HP and look for Student Discount program, thru Ebates or activate Ebates Chrome Extension
    5. Customize your machine
    6. Apply Coupon Code
    7. Submit Order
    8. Send me a nice thank you note.
    9. Stop complaining.
    • coeus89

      In reply to Bats:

      I'm still considering the Mac and the HP. My head is spinning with all of the PC options. I have never owned a mac before so that is causing a little extra apprehension. I do like HP's laptops. The Ebates extension is a good tip too.

    • coeus89

      In reply to Bats:

      Also, i was wrong to suggest that Microsoft or Apple don't have problems. It's just they seem to be the most helpful/responsive to issues. It helps that Microsoft and Apple have stores too. Dell and the likes have a lot of hoops to jump through on the phone.

    • coeus89

      In reply to Bats:

      FYI, that ebates tip was great. I bought a dell xps 13 and im getting almost $200 back. it even does cash back on ebay (just a lot less)

  14. Daekar

    This is why I build desktops. I have never seen a laptop that I would ever want to use as a primary machine. Ever.

  15. Paul Thurrott

    Obviously, I feel your pain. I feel like there's no perfect device, as evidenced by my recent smartphone experiences.

    I'm OK with the one port on the Surface Laptop, but I get the complaint. I agree with Patrick3D in the comments that the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (and family) is a great, great choice.

    • coeus89

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      Yea, I can get myself wound up. On some things i purposefully don't let myself get too invested, but this is a $1500 purchase so i let myself care, and now i am all wound up about it. The one old USB-A port was really what is bothering me about the Surface Laptop. I will probably end up with either the surface laptop or the Lenovo.

      As for windows, their data deletion bugs are just the most embarrassing thing i could think of for them. It really damaged my confidence in them as an OS vendor / purveyor of quality software. It's like if you are going to make sure your productivity focused software does one thing, it should be 'not delete the things your customers produced'. It was just sheer luck that it didn't go out to the majority of the public. Embarrassing.

    • coeus89

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      In case you were wondering, i decided on a dell xps 13 (i5, 16gb ram, 256 hard drive) it was basically everything i needed. only down sides were camera (which i barely ever use) and no 3x2 display (a bummer but not a deal breaker). I hear the 4k display is really great too.

  16. Chris_Kez

    Regarding the lack of an SD port, since I got a Surface Pro last year I've replaced my older SD cards with MicroSD cards + adapter. Seems to work fine so far.

  17. jprestig

    The data bug is bad, and a huge embarrassment for them. But the part that makes it so much worse is their complete silence about it all. That's what causes myself, and probably many others, to have lack of confidence in them.

  18. jimchamplin

    "Mac." It's not an acronym. It's just short for Macintosh, so no need to capitalize it. :)

  19. bob_shutts

    Seems every tech forum devolves into a platform war battlefield.

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