In 2006 I took the plunge and bought an Apple Mac Mini. I felt very self-righteous. Here were my first real steps away from the Microsoft eco-system. Sure I’d switched to developing software in non-Microsoft languages (Java and subsequently Ruby) but as I was still using Microsoft operating systems these were half-hearted attempts to break free of the mothership’s orbit.
By the time of my first Apple purchase I’d grown tired of having to jump through Microsoft’s hoops and being subject to its whims and marketing. I’d even forked out to take Microsoft Certified Professional exams only to find Microsoft trumpeting the fact that a 9 year old could pass them easily with flying colours.
On a figurehead level, following the geeky Bill Gates’ departure did I really want to be lining the pockets of a man with the pugilistic attitude and, what I imagine to be, the looks of a detective straight out of an Ian Rankin novel (were those stories to be set in Detroit rather than Edinburgh)?
I switched to a Mac using the safety net of a Windows virtual machine but after six months I only booted up the virtual machine in order to test applications in Internet Explorer. As any web developer will tell you, the only purpose of Internet Explorer is to serve to remind you how to antagonise an entire developer community.
Now however I’m approaching a similar fork in the road with the Apple eco-system. My last Apple computer purchase was in 2008, a white Apple Macbook. It’s living beyond its expected lifespan despite travelling around the globe a few times, having a pint of water thrown in it and being subjected to numerous upgrades. Why is it still a usable machine? Probably because it’s running the now ancient operating system Mac OS X 10.6.8. I never did upgrade due to poor reports about 10.7 and 10.8 from fellow developers. I don’t develop for iPhone so I don’t need the latest version of xCode with all the juice that requires. Behests to continual updates are a reminder of another company I once got into bed with.
My decision against following the deigned Apple upgrade path was further reinforced by the infamous iOS 6 Maps upgrade. That made me realise that the functionality of the increasingly walled garden of the Apple eco-system was subject more to concern for Apple’s profits than my user experience.
On the puerile, personal, subjective level, after geek-hero Steve Jobs I am now expected to splash the cash to a man who looks like a show business celebrity whose path up the greasy pole of UK light entertainment was on the back of an acerbic drag-queen routine.
Whilst I’m not going to move away from the using my Apple products until they give up the ghost, I have been planning my move away from the Apple eco-system over the past few months. I’ll be writing more about the choices I’m making in the coming weeks.
If my Apple iPhone does conk out before a decent open source mobile operating system is released, I will downgrade my mobile phone to a less-than-smart device but at least it’ll be me making that decision to switch and not Lily Savage.