I switched to the Mac in 2004. It’s been 15 years and, for the most of it, I loved the Mac. I truly think that the Mac OS was a fantastic platform.

In 2004 I was using Linux because Windows XP was terrible. The OS was full of viruses, nothing worked properly, the platform was very unstable, and the  software was mediocre at best. And so, Linux was the right choice at that time. Starting in 2004 I was very involved with the creation of the graphic material for my website and I needed a machine capable of running graphic software like Phosotoshop and Illustrator.

Linux was too high-maintenance and very poor in applications. Still is today. So, I looked at the Mac and I bought a MacBook Pro 17″. That machine was amazing. It was the first laptop in the market with a 17″ screen and it had all the ports that you needed: multiple USBs, DVI, Ethernet, and even Firewire. It also had a DVD burner, and not one of those flimsy things with the tray that came out. In true Apple fashion, the SuperDrive would slurp your disc inside as soon as you inserted in the opening. That Mac was a fantastic machine with a great OS that was designed by somebody who understood the needs of the visual artist.

Since then I bought several other Mac and I’ve been responsible for friends and family buying many Macs as well. Still today, I have in the house:

  • A 2009 Mac Pro, the tower model
  • A 2010 Mac Pro
  • A 2014 MacBook Pro
  • A 2007 MacBook Pro
  • 5 iPads
  • 4 iPhones

I was not a fanboy but I was a big fan of Apple.

Design extremism

The death of Steve Jobs changed a lot of things. He was not perfect and his idea of a walled garden is a hateful model, but Steve had a sense of balance that is totally missing in Apple today. He appreciated sleek design but he understood that a computer had to be useful. The extremism of Johnny Ive was met by Job’s insight on how a machine would work in the real world.

Today’s Apple machines make no sense anymore. On one side there is the iMac. An all-in-one that I would never buy. Computers need to expand over time. The needs of tomorrow might be different from today and the computer needs to adapt. Even the first IBM PC was expandable and that is a great idea.

The iMac has a terrible design. Yes, it is terrible. A desktop computer must be accessible and must have replaceable parts. That is priority #1 and it’s not up for discussion. Once you place all the ports in the back, in a way that is very hard to access, you know that something has gone south. Once there are welded-on parts and the computer cannot be expanded by the user, you know that you are in the presence of madness.

I know that it makes sense to some people but the problem is that the iMac is the only desktop option that Apple has. When we accepted the idea of welded-on storage or memory it’s when we checked out common sense.

There is no reason for making a computer that cannot upgrade storage or memory. Aesthetic is at the service of functionality, not the other way around. But for Johnny Ive that is not how things work. He is willing, and he has done so many times, to put function at the service of looks.

On top of that, engineering has suffered as well. As Louis Rossman has highlighted several times, Apple has sacrificed cooling in order to have a sleek design on their laptops. They glued components in the lid instead of using screws and metal supports.

The other option is the MacBook Pro. A machine with no real I/O ports, no Ethernet port, no expandibility of any kind, with a useless touch bar and no SD Card reader. The only I/O devices are the largely useless USB-C ports. I use a Wacom tablet. It haa a USB-A port. My SD Card reader connects with a USB-A  cable. My scanner uses USB-A, the i1Display monitor calibration unit uses USB-A. My iPhone and iPads use USB-A cables.

The MacBook Pro is not a pro machine and it poses obstacles in the workflow of a professional of the image. Again, I can’t justify buying such a terribly designed machine.

The first insult: the headphone jack

We all know about this. The removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone is only caused by Apple wanting to sell a truckload of Air Pods. There is no technical reason to do so.

But they tried to fool us by saying that they needed space for the battery, That is bullshit and we all know it. A friend of mine just bought a Samsun Galaxy S10. It has a headphone jack, the battery works just fine and the phone is water-proof. This unconscionable action by Apple was one more thing that broke my respect for the company.

The final straw: the Mac Pro

As I said at the beginning, I have not one but two Mac Pros. That machine was a wonder when it was released in 2006. You can upgrade most of it and you can do a lot of that by bare hands. In 2013 Apple demonstrated again that they had lost their way with the release of the “waste basket” Mac Pro.

Again, a machine that could not be upgraded with standard components, that costs an absurd amount of money. All because of Johnny Ive’s ideas that form should be the number one factor in the design of a computer. It was a commercial disaster.

I waited for the promised revised Mac Pro… and then they gave us that absurdity that is the 2019 Mac Pro.

Not only it’s ugly. It’s another useless machine. It has no hard disk slots. It can only use SSDs and only for up to 4TB. I have 11TB in a mix environment of mostly hard disks and some SSD. What am I gonna do with that useless cheese grater? And it costs twice as much as it should.

But the great issue is that the Mac OS has become increasingly useless for graphic artists. The Mac Pro can use up to 28 cores. I have 12 cores on my Mac Pro, Xeon cores, that can use hyperthreading to run 24 parallel tasks in hardware. Mac OS does not make use of them. It’s very easy for a Mac program to hog the entire machine without starting 24 threads. The OS is not able to spread the load among cores. Not in a way that works in every day applications.

You don’t need so many cores

And the reality is that you don’t need so many cores. When you edit in Photosho or using a video editor, or a 3D modeling program like Blender, you need GPU power. And that’s where the Mac OS crumbles. Apple failed miserably in supporting modern GPUs. They don’t allow you to buy the latest and greates from nVidia or AMD, install drivers and go on your merry way. I need GPU power. I need to be able to install two GPUs on my machine and to upgrade them whenever there is a better option on the market.

My 4-core PC with an nVidia GPU beats the crap out of the 12-core Mac with the outdated AMD GPU, one of the handful of GPUs that is supported by the Mac. Even though the Mac uses Intel CPUs and it uses the same PCI bus used by most PCs, it cannot use the great products available in the market. I waited for years for Apple to fix this problem. Instead, they give us new emojis. That is where you see that they lost every touch with reality.

So, Apple, in case you are listening to your ex-fans, here is what you need to do in order to regain the market of professionals:

  • Create a Mac Pro that is similar to the 2010 model but with these modifications:
    • Beef-up the power supply so that it can run multiple GPUs
    • Add USB 3.x ports. Lots of them
    • Add a Bluray burner and add the support for it in Mac OS
    • Update the Wifi card and make it easy to upgrade
    • Add support for every GPU in the market by letting manufacturers create drivers to install in Mac OS
    • Let them add support for a modern OpenGL implementation
    • Add 5 or 6 front loading hard disk bays with support for hot swap

That’s it. It’s not that complicated.

The OpenGL fiasco

When Steve Jobs needed apps to be ported on Mac OS he contacted John Carmak, the creator of Doom and Quake, and asked him to port his games to Mac OS. John told Steve that he would be happy to do so as soon as Mac OS added support for OpenGL.

In case you are not familiar with it, OpenGL is a great software interface that allows programmers to write graphic applications that take advantage of the hardware acceleration on GPUs. It’s the foundation of many programs use for 3D modeling, movie special effects, video editing, and a ton of video games.

Beyond the first effort, Apple has been dragging their feet on OpenGL for years. The situation is so bad that “The OpenGL Bible” book, which is the de facto reference for OpenGL programming, recently gave up in tying to have the programmatic examples run on Mac OS.

Recently, Apple has declared OpenGL “deprecated,” meaning that they have stopped all development and they will be removing OpenGL support in future implementations of Mac OS.

This is moronic at level that is not understandable.

Autodesk has stopped development of Mac versions of some of their apps because of this.

Mac versions of other programs, like Blender, lag so badly behind Windows that is heart-breaking to see.

Here is the report about the level of OpenGL support on my Windows PC, taken today. As you can see, every version of OpenGL is implemented at 100%.

And this was not done by Microsoft. nVidia did it. Apple just needs to let the manufacturers implement the software layer and install it via drivers. It’s not rocket science, it has being going on for decades and it’s a model that works. In an open platform, that is.

And there is no reason for this state of things on Mac OS except that Apple is trying to force developers who write for Windows to adopt its Metal API. That is not going to happen. Developers who spent years coding in OpenGL will not re-write from scratch an app just because Apple is dreaming that. It’s a massive undertaking and it has no reasons to be. We had a perfectly viable API that works on all major OSes (Windows, Linux, Mac OS). It’s called OpenGL. You write for OpenGL once and then the app runs on all platforms.

Windows 10 is a delight

It’s clear to me that Apple has moved its interest to iOS, which is also lacking terribly, and that the Mac is of no interest for them. They moved from supporting the community of visual artists to focusing on bloggers and influencers. I have nothing against those professionals, in fact I support them. But the Mac used to be the machine for visual arts professionals and that’s why I adopted it.

Now that is gone and it feels terrible. I spent an enormous amount of money on Macs and Mac OS software only to be finding myself inside a trap. Inside a prison where only 3 alternatives are available (iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro) and none of them are usable to me.

I looked at Windows 10 and I was surprised to find that it is a great OS. In the years past, Microsoft has been hard at work to create an operating system that outshines the Mac. Windows simply works.

At first, I felt uneasy about this. I was expecting the usual shortcomings of Windows. Instead, I found an experience that reminded me of the days when Mac OS simply worked (those days are long gone.)

For example, I clicked on a video clip and the Windows media player notified me that the coded used by the clip needed to be installed. Would I like to install that codec from the Windows store? But of course! The app proceeded downloading the missing piece of software and then started playing the video clip immediately. Seamlessly. I was amazed.

Using the file manager on Windows highlighted a sad reality that I knew for a while. The Mac Finder is a dog. It’s so slow! Windows file management is twice as fast than the Mac. You click on a drive and it show immediately.

Built-in zip file support is something that has been missing on the Mac since Mac OS X was born. On Windows it’s seamless.

Everything on Windows is much faster, from graphics to the app store. Cortana’s integration with my Google Calendar took a few seconds.

Windows supports touch screens, face identification, and the Microsoft tablets actually support a full-blown OS. You get the full Windows 10 experience on a tablet, including a file system that is from this century.

In short, I was surprised to find out that Windows 10 is a delight to use and I’m thrilled about the newfound freedom.

So, if you are a Mac user struggling inside the walled garden, I invite you to check out Windows 10. You will be surprised how easy is to switch and how great the experience is.