Let me start by saying this, I really love my MacBook Pro (2016). The vibe I get from the reading I’ve done and even from people I’ve talked to makes me think I’m in the minority. It seems a defense is in order.
Before we dive in, I have a confession to make. Contrary to the incredible majority of tech writers, or just writers in general, I had never owned a MacBook Pro before 2016. Over the last 10 years I’ve used a plethora of different Widows laptops and convertibles to varying levels of satisfaction, though never enough satisfaction to keep one for more than about a year. Probably partly because of my tech fetish, and partly because of their shortcomings, I hopped around a lot. Point is, the perspective here is from Windowsland, not the glory days of the MacBook Pro.
MacBooks set the standard in design early in the millennia and most Windows laptop manufacturers have followed suit. However, no windows device that I’ve tried has quite met the standard, even Windows itself. They’re good, sure; better, definitely, but it’s impossible to miss some deficiencies. For instance, if you look at a Surface screen under light you can’t help but notice that the panel is not perfectly flat, it bends and waves. I’ve read that the reason could have to do with a technology that makes it better for touch but I don’t care, it’s supposed to be flat and it’s not. Other manufacturers have problems like hinges that loosen up over time, lids with either too much resistance or not enough, straight up bad touch pads, weird bezels (huge on the bottom), plastic all over the place, and the list goes on.
In my mind, you still can’t beat the design of the MacBook Pro in today’s market. It’s thin, it’s svelte, it’s all aluminum, it’s solid, and it looks amazing. MacBooks also tend to last forever, they’re expertly built without giving up any aesthetics. I love the look and feel of the MacBook Pro.
In the realm of UI, Windows and Mac OS do 95% of the same things, which one you choose is going to be largely subjective, or based on simple necessity (if you work in an office, chances are you’ll be tied in to Windows). My loyalties lie with Mac OS (for now).
Windows 10 has done a nice job with Windows 10 simplifying the options menus and trying to cut down on confusing parts, but it still feels like a thinly veiled beast which, as soon as you hit one too many buttons, will toss you into an endless sea of 1s and 0s. That’s an exaggeration, but it’s the feel I get. It tends to favor function over usability, options over simplicity. Mac OS is much closer to a mobile operating system in terms of ease of use. It’s still got all the raw power and functionality that a laptop should, but it’s guts are brilliantly shielded by a friendly OS which is more fun and more productive.
As far as function goes, I’ve spent an exorbitant amount on time on my Windows laptops trying to ‘fix’ things like weird scaling issues and other little glitches. It always feels like something isn’t quite right and it takes some sort of deep reprogramming job to get the machine to cooperate. Those are things I simply never have to deal with on my MacBook.
Windows has also made progress on the look of the OS, it’s far superior to what it has been in the past, but it steels feels disjointed. In its attempt to become more user friendly it has basically become two separate operating systems, the old confusing and ugly Windows vs the new sleek and usable Windows. The new menus and home screens look similar to each other, but the old look is still right below the surface, and you’re going to necessarily end up working there before you get too far. I’m out on the new design standard anyways. Too many sharp angels, weird gray menu, gaudy colors, constant moving tiles, adds, etc. Mac OS is beautiful. It has smooth graphics when opening and closing windows, its windows have rounded edges, the whole OS feels like a unified whole. It doesn’t matter which app or program you’re in, it will look like it belongs and it will look beautiful. That’s probably more important to me than it should be, but still true.
The apps might not be important to you, I mean, it’s a laptop. But I love the row of apps on my Mac menu bar. To be fair, Windows offers a few apps as well, just not nearly as many and they’re not nearly as useful. Honestly, Mac doesn’t have a ton of apps either, but I’ve found most of the basic apps I use on my iPhone available on my MacBook. The big winner here is iMessage. I can’t even tell you how great it is to have instant perfect syncing between iMessage on the iPhone and on my MacBook. I’m constantly texting people from this thing. It’s so addictively handy that iMessage alone is enough to keep me from moving to a different platform (for now). The apps are just one more thing that makes the MacBook a better laptop experience.
Overall the MacBook is a beautiful picture of simplicity. As someone who has the privilege of choosing between a MacBook or a Windows PC, the simple subjective fact that I love how the MacBook looks and feels compared to its Windows counterparts matters just as much as its functionality and productivity. For me, for now, this MacBook is as close to perfect as I can get.