Now I want to buy my wife a Mac

I am married to a wonderful woman - for the last 21 years I've been blessed with a fantastic life partner. She's a brilliant lady with several graduate degrees to her credit, an accomplished attorney and teacher, someone that has succeeded in virtually everything she has set out to do. She even pulled all this off while we raised three incredible children. 

Unfortunately she's had me to serve as her technical crutch for the last two decades so she's never really become proficient with computers. Sure, she can buy stuff on the web as well as anyone can and she's gotten pretty good with e-mail since I switched her to Gmail but outside of that...

She has an HP Laptop running Windows XP - it's about 2 years old. I've got the thing pretty well protected, paying my annual mob "protection" money to anti-virus vendors to keep her machine safe since even though I warn her not to click on everything people send her she still manages to install crap on the machine.

"But it says I needed to install that in order to view the pictures my friend sent...".  When I explain to her that digital photos should not require any software to be installed to view because they should be in a standard digital format she just gives me that blank stare.

I try to patiently explain to her that many companies want to you to install these applications because they will grab information about what you do and send it back to the company. "It's called Spyware".  That gets a slight flutter from her eyes - I'm thinking I am getting through.

"So I can't install that software to look at the pictures?"

Argh! This goes on every couple of months.  This morning we had another issue; her computer would not allow her to get into her account - every time she logged in it would restart the machine.  I ended up having to simply power the machine completely off (holding down the power button for 5 seconds) in order to stop the cycle.

In this case Microsoft had graced us with an auto-update overnight that required a reboot and something went screwy. I'm pretty confident my wife would not know (or care to learn) how to really restart her Windows machine.

While checking out the machine after getting it to log in properly I noticed that it was running pretty slowly. Several years of software being installed and leaving their little footprints in the registry were having an impact. With all the anti-virus software running (the entire Norton control center) the machine just runs... slowly.

It's still a serviceable machine, but I wonder if my life would be a little easier if I got her a nice little iMac. She would have her little iSight camera to talk to our daughter when she wants to. The new iMac would be blazingly fast compared to the AMD driven HP she's using now. Though she has a laptop it's permanently attached to her desk and never moves so portability isn't an issue.

Best of all, I wouldn't get that constant concern that she had installed spyware, malware, trojans, etc. on her machine. Sure that could happen on a Mac but it's far less likely. It's assured on Windows XP and her HP doesn't have the horsepower to run Vista.

In case you're wondering, I'm trying to talk myself into getting her one.


Unknown said…
Dude, you gotta get her a mac! Better yet, give her your MacBook and buy yourself a new MacBook Pro.
David Alison said…
Don't think I haven't considered that as an option! I'm really looking to get a Mac Pro for myself but getting a high-end MacBook Pro and giving her the MacBook may work too.

Maybe I'll "trip" over the power cord on the HP she has to hurry this along...
Xcalybur said…
Well, if you do "trip over the power cord" there is another selling point for the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Honestly, getting her a Mac is the best thing you could do for your marriage. She will end up loving the Mac in the long run and you don't have to deal with the machine all the time unless you want to. The iMac's are really nice and if she doesn't move that laptop then it would be a great way to get more realestate and power. You get that Airport Extreme and her Mac is automatically backed up via Time Machine. Just imagine it. No virus's, no spyware, no trojans, you can remotely administer it, automatic backups. I don't know if you have any iPods, but you probably have noticed that iTunes runs 10 times better under Mac OS X with an iPod than under Windows.
David Alison said…
@Chris: yep - we're iPod-aholics here. I actually had an airport extreme but it did not work as a foundation for Time Machine. I tried the hacks that are out there to get it to recognize the drive I was hanging off of it but no luck. If I do get her a Mac then a 1TB Time Capsule is also going to be on the purchase.
Vito Traino said…
I see absolutely NO faults in this decision. You have to get her a Mac!!!

If portability is a must for you, this would be my game plan:

1. Get wifey an iMac.
2. Buy Mac Pro.

This way you would have the incredible powerhouse of a Mac Pro, and still keep the Macbook for portability.

I wouldn't opt for a MBP because you would get ALOT more power out of a Mac Pro, for not too much more than a MBP.

Plus you could keep the Macbook almost spotless and "Back To My Mac" to the Mac Pro when you need something.

No matter what, I can't see how you could go wrong :)
bdavidson said…
Better be careful. I have a buddy (mac user) who bought his wife a Mac for the very same reasons you list.

She hated it. Didnt want to learn something new.

I think he was the only one ever who has returned a Mac to an Apple store. (Had to pay a restocking fee too!)

Get your wife to try it first.
David Alison said…
@Vito: That's kind of where I'm headed right now. I'm not in a big rush to replace her HP but I really would like to get a Mac Pro with all the "fixins".

@Brad: Excellent point. I should probably have her play with the MacBook for a bit before taking the plunge.
Anonymous said…
Hi Dave,

First off, great blog, I really enjoy reading it along with all your input over at Mac-Forums. Keep up with the great insight that you provide on this blog.

I'm almost in the same boat as you, but my wife has actually taken a liking to using my i-Mac. I think she's starting to prefer it over her Dell laptop. At first she really didn't want to touch it because it was so different. Now it's hard sometimes for me to use my i-Mac when I want to. :-0 The only problem is that we'll have to wait until the Dell laptop just dies or becomes so incredible slow and unstable before I can justify buying a new Macbook as a replacement.

The same can be said for the Dell desktop that my 3 kids use. That one is definitely on the verge of needing to be replaced. I figured I'll do one more wipe and clean install of XP on that one before I replace it with a Mac.

I think if you slowly let her use your Macbook, she learn to love it and it'll be a piece of cake for you to go ahead and proceed with your plans. :-)
David Alison said…
@wcarr3: Thanks man! I appreciate the nice comments. My youngest daughter (12 going on 19) actually comes into my office, looks at my MacBook and says "So Dad, when do I get one?" nearly every day.

I mentioned to my wife this morning that I was thinking about getting her a Mac - she said her machine was fine but it didn't sound too enthusiastic. I'm just going to drop little daily hints and see if they will break her down.
ESCOZ said…
Hi David,

I'm actually just buying my wife a new laptop, and it'll be a Mac.. She got convinced when she was using my macbook to check email or something, and the palm rest didn't get warm. She writes a lot, and all other laptops she had in the past (dell and hp) would get warm because of the harddisk after a few minutes.

I'm buying the Mac, and try to make her use osx, but I know she'll probably still end up usin Vista. That's the good thing about the macbook... Even without OSX, it's a great laptop, and can run vista beautifully..


Anonymous said…
Best reason to get a mac laptop- time machine. holy crap thats an awesome thing to have. My laptop is 3 months old and I've used it like twice- it is a total life saver.
Anonymous said…
Here is an idea: go buy your wife a Mac and send me her laptop. I will happily reformat it, install Windows XP cleanly, update it and use it while humming a happy little song to myself. Oh, and I will install a free anti-virus, so I don't feel like I'm paying mob money.
David Alison said…
@flatlinebb: which free anti-virus would you use on a Windows XP machine? I've always stuck with Symantec, even though it's horrible for Spyware. For that I've had to use PC Tools.
Unknown said…
Just do it. A while ago, I bought my wife an iMac to replace her Dell notebook. She was going to be a stay at home mom so she no longer needed a notebook. Well, her experiences with MacOSX in the past were limited to Internet Explorer and only for testing a web app at work years ago on Macs (as well as PCs). When I purchased the iMac and set it up on her desk, I told her I would install Windows on it as soon as I had some time.

Well, three weeks went by before I had time to install Windows using Boot camp. I did this while my wife was sleeping hoping to surprise her thinking she would be dying to go back to Windows. The next day she says ok thanks. Time goes by and by and after a while, I ask her if she's tried using Windows before and she said only once because she couldn't play a video online (I had not installed the right plug-in). However she said after playing with her iMac and getting forced to use MacOSX, she actually prefers it much better and doesn't want to go back to Windows.

Our house has two Macs (iMac and 15" Macbook Pro) and two PC's (desktop and Lenovo notebook) however if it wasn't for the fact that I need Windows for work, our household would probably be all Mac by now.
Sarf's Travels. said…
I have been reading your blog, and the post about yoour windows machine and your mac made me think of a package on sourceforge called Synergy.

It allows you to use one mouse/keyboard and controll multiple machines, it has both a mac, linux, and windos versions that work togethere. It would allowf you to have one machine as the server and all the others conect in as clients, And like you can have multiple monitors, each PC becomes a monitor on one large virtual screen.

you can't drag applications and stuff between machines, but you can copy and paste some data between computers.

It is cool.
Unknown said…
I agree with tlueker in the first post. Buy a new MacBook Pro.

I just found your blog and have read through them all. One app not mentioned is Quicksilver, which is get for key board shortcuts. Someone mentioned coda in a comments from a Feb post but it was just dated yesterday. Coda has gotten a lot of thumbs up from developers online.

Also check out
Unknown said…
Or, as another option, you can do what I did. My wife had a Dell laptop, running XP, that was having issues. Since I no longer do Windows support (by choice, no due to lack of ability), I downloaded the Leopard hackintosh dvd and installed that*.

I didn't have to buy a new laptop yet, she's getting used to OS X, and if there are any issues, I can reinstall XP. At some point, I'll be able to have her justify a Macbook.

*I'll leave it up to the reader to debate the legality of this, just to say that, I do have a macbook, a mac mini, an iPhone, and 4 iPods.
Unknown said…
Avast for home is a free anti-virus suite which I recommend to everyone who doesn't want to pay for one. It is fully functional and works perfectly. It also detects spyware and the like. I use it on the one windows laptop we have in our home. I also have some other tech related posts on my tech blog at I also recently bought an iMac for my girlfriend and I have started to get used to it after installing some apps, configuring time machine, and playing around with it in general. I typically spend most of my time on my Linux workstation, but I do like the Mac.
Unknown said…

Great blog Im sorry I just stumbled across it today. You've given some great information. I have found myself in an inner battle. Im looking to buy a computer and am torn between pc and mac. My mac friends call me an idiot for even thinking pc and visa versa from my pc friends. Im looking to buy a computer to do video editing and play around with those sorts of things. I also like to do some gaming and play with tech and other sorts of things. I was wondering if you could help me make the decision.
thank you
Unknown said…
Awesome! I just found your blog from DIGG today and actually went back to the post where you first bought your daughter a MacBook and read every post up until today.

I recently switched from PC to a new Macbook Pro and haven't regretted it since. Being a web designer, I can relate to nearly everything you have said so far. Like others have mentioned, give your MacBook to your wife and go buy yourself a MBP + Time Capsule.
Anonymous said…
i've wanted to try a mac for some time now, but the cost is just too prohibitive for my meager fundage.

what could a fella do in such a case?
Anonymous said…
@david allison

avg anti virus for windows
totally free for home use
been using it for years and have not had a virus in over five years.
Michael Delaney said…
For years I was my parents' technical support for their Windows XP machine. I got calls probably once a week with some problem or another. One day after it had thrown a video card I presented them with an option:

We're going to go to the store to buy a new video card, but while we're there we're going to look at the Macs. If you like them, how about we buy one of them instead and end this vicious cycle?

My dad and I went out and looked at the Macs. I showed him that the basic idea is very similar to Windows; run programs, browse the web, etc.

He bought an iMac and we brought it home to set it up. I didn't lift a finger to help with the setup, they did it all themselves, and I haven't fielded a single support call since.

The machine did die due to hardware failure once and they had it replaced by Apple, but that can happen to any piece of technology.

They've never screwed it up, they've never installed something they shouldn't have, and it runs just as speedy as the day it was purchased.

I recommend Macs to home users as a rule now.
george sturges said…

hope that link works. otherwise:
On the left side of the apple store there's a link for certified refurbished macs. I myself have never tried buying one, but i'd imagine they'd have to be good. and they're good deals. Has anyone tried these certified refurbishes?
dnvrthms said…
Hey David,

I apologize for this being totally off topic, but I think you should give Quicksilver a try.
I'd be interested to see what you think about it.

It's an application for the Mac that will revolutionize your experience, and is the first app I recommend for anyone who purchases a new mac. It take a while to get used to, maybe an hour or so, but once you start using it you'll wonder how you lived without it.

Back on topic: of course you should get your wife a mac! :)

george sturges said…
ooo, i use quicksilver too. it was almost too much for me, but someone like david would like it.
David Alison said…
So many posts today, hard to keep up. I've seen a lot of people talking about Quicksilver. I'll check it out.
Unknown said…
i don't think this should be a big enough issue that it would be a deal breaker, but just wanted to give you a word of warning. sadly, swapping hard drives on a MBP is not the simple exercise it is on the macbook. i replaced the HDD on my old Powerbook 12" a year or two ago. it involved removing 30-something screws in 8 sizes requiring 4 or 5 screw drivers, as well as unsnapping tabs that were clearly designed to be snapped once and never undone. fortunately the sugery was successful, bit it took me about 4 hours, all told. the mac book pros (and the larger model powerbooks of the era) aren't nearly so bad as that, but a drive swap will still be no trivial undertaking. you might look up a HDD swap how-to for whatever model you are thinking of getting, and then decide, based on what your time is worth, what size HDD to select.
corsa said…
You can't really go wrong at all getting her a Mac. If for some reason she doesn't like "change" and Mac OS X, you can just put Windows XP or Vista on it with Boot Camp, and make that the default so it always boots into Windows.

She then has an incredibly well-built Windows machine, and stuff like the built-in iSight will work fine in Windows, Apple's Boot Camp provides all the drivers for that to work.
Robert said…
I was my mother's helpdesk support when she had a PC, averaging at least one call every week.

When I bought her an iMac, I didn't receive a call regarding it for well over two months!

She even managed to install new bios firmware which Apple delivered via the software update, and she's the kind of person who usually calls me even for popups with Yes/No options!

Now, she edits her pictures in iPhoto, doing stuff even I didn't know you could do. On the old PC, she had trouble even looking at the photos.

However, that's not the case for everyone, as a buddy of mine tried to get a Macbook for his wife. She couldn't figure out how to type a backslash and got pissed at it and he had to get rid of it.

My girlfriend, however, tolerates the Macbook I convinced her to get. She's not overjoyed, but neither was she with her old laptop, but at least neither she nor I have to worry about the bloatware and spyware she managed to install back then. Though mostly, she's sad that she can't use any animated smileys in MSN Messenger anymore. :)
Unknown said…
One thing you can do, as one poster mentioned that his wife hated the Mac he bought her, is to set up a new account on your MacBook and let her play with it for a while to gauge how she likes it before deciding to take the plunge.
Vito Traino said…
@William and Denver: I already suggested Quicksilver in the comments of a February 23rd post here:

I would agree that it is a MUST-HAVE for any Mac user.

@David: Congratulations! It seems your blog just became wildly popular in a matter of one post! Keep it up.
Vito Traino said…
^^^^UPDATE: As I log on to Digg, I discover how your blog just exploded with viewers ;)

Good idea!
Unknown said…
Hi David,

I went through the same thing with my wife about 4 years ago.

I have been a Mac user since 1990, though I did to the PC for awhile when Apple was having some hardware and OS issues. But as soon as the first public beta of OS X was available I ran out and bought a Mac.

Four years ago instead of buying really nice anniversary presents for each other we both agreed that we would buy ourselves Mac laptops. For a short while she struggled with wanting to use the same programs she used on the PC, but when I showed her alternatives she quickly liked them better. Now she never even asks a question about finding a program for her machine she confidently goes out and finds it on her own.

Our machines are getting to be a tad old now and I recently asked her if she thought we should get new computers. She looked at me over the end of her nose (you've been married a long time I know you have seen this look) and told me "no I don't want a new computer, I want a new Mac".

Buy your wife the Mac, you won't regret it.

I also switched my niece from a PC to a Mac Mini. I used to be at my sisters house every weekend trying to figure out what happened to the PC, but since switching her to the Mac I haven't had to fix her computer in 2 years.
Unknown said…
I forced my wife to use a Mac. She really didn't want to do it, and for months at first kept asking me if she could get a Windows machine. But I refused. I wasn't about to deal with a Windows machine on my internal network. Configuration headaches, security headaches, downtime, etc.

Now she's perfectly happy with it and doesn't complain, and it actually always works which I think surprised her. Apps don't randomly crash. She was previously just resigned to having to reinstall the OS or get newer hardware whenever the system started getting slow again.
CaptainK said…
- QuickSilver has less value since "Leopard" since its just as easy to start up applications using Spotlight

- Ok admittedly you cannot use shortcut keywords as you have actually spell the word in Spotlight -- but nevertheless since most people use QuickSilver to start up applications -- Spotlight is more than adequate and just as fast...

- to the person that cant afford a MacBook -- get a MacMini or get an old MacBook on ebay.

- David, MacBook Pro or iMac -- tough choice -- i think if you see iMac you will fall in love with it...
David Alison said…
@skeletor_bitch: If you really want a Mac but don't have the coin laying around consider a refurbished Mac directly from Apple. Another option is Craigslist - early adopters flip their machines pretty regularly.

@captaink: I was looking at QuickSilver this evening and was wondering what it really offered me. Since I got "back" into Macs with Leopard I don't see too much value there.
M Roselius said…
You don't mention it at all (at least what I've read so far) but it doesn't sound like you are doing anything w/ bootcamp. Can't imagine that you haven't at least checked it out. If you do the swap and give your wife the MacBook - worst case she hates it - and you just bootcamp it to XP.

Even running windows, a mac is a better machine than anything on the windows side of the world. IMO
David Alison said…
@mike roselius: I've become really partial to VMWare Fusion - I don't really want to boot into Windows unless I had to and since I still have a healthy Windows XP machine I really don't need it.

For my wife I really want her to use OS X. She gets so much crap on her computer that I really don't want to have to deal with it. I'm sure she'll like it ;-)
Hendrik said…
I have been a huge Quicksilver fan since I switched to the Mac. But sadly it is not as stable under Leopard as it had been before and the author is not working on the current version anymore. I still can't imagine using a Mac without it but I no longer recommend it to new Mac users as a must have. Especially since Spotlight has become so much better in Leopard and works pretty well to quickly launch applications or find documents.
That being said, Quicksilver can do WAY more than that and it might still be worthwhile giving it a close look. It is a bit of a pain to configure but it is super powerful.
I'd recommend spending some time reading into this detailed guide to determine if it has anything to offer to you or not.
David Alison said…
@Hendrik: Thanks - this is helpful.
Steve Hearn said…
I am in the same position. Recent convert to the Mac with a 24inch iMac purchased in December 2007 and I am lovin it! My wife has a Sony laptop that I bought her almost 2 years ago now. I am keen to move her over to a MacBook. Soon I hope to treat her with the new toy! She deserves it!
randynobx said…
Great blog, you have completely turned my hate for Mac, and for Apple into a burning interest to try it out. I am running an HP notebook with Vista Ultimate, and it is great, but fairly slow. I don't think that I will be getting a Mac soon, I just bought this computer for about 2.5k. Thanks for the blog, and I hope you can get your wife to switch to Mac, I can relate since my mom is not that tech savvy, but she is getting better.
David Alison said…
@randyn: I have a pretty decent HP laptop running Vista Business. It's an HP Compaq nx4300 with a good Duo Centrino processor and 4GB of memory. It performs well enough but I continue to have issues with Vista dropping my network connection and I cannot shut down the machine - I have to hold down the power button in order for it to actually shut down. Other than that it's been pretty good. You may want to consider getting a small USB based RAM drive in the 2GB range for your laptop. Vista can use that as a special cache and it will improve performance in your machine.
Unknown said…
This could be a good thing or not so good, change can be difficult for those not wanting to. I switched almost 4 years ago and it was a no brainer for me and the over half dozen or so people that i helped to switch, but my wife has not enjoyed it so much as she really never wanted to unlearn some her windows ways regardless if was easier or not, so be careful there will bumps in the road.

By the way ran across your blog for the first time today on Digg, love your blog, this may be the first time i have ever started from the first post and read every post on your blog. Keep up the good work.

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