tradewindbug & stillbuilding: thanks for your comments! I have been using my new Mac's with Windows XP for a month now and they work flawlessly. I changed back to a dual-boot configuration using a free boot-loader utility that comes up with Mac & XP icons so that I can select the OS to boot from.
I also installed Parallels for Mac which enables virtual machines for many different OS's. With this, I created a XP virtual machine and this works fine, but slower than running XP natively. It is just fine for programs like Airmail but I didn't even try MaxSea.
I also revived some miniITX and picoITX computers
(very small/low power with VIA CPU) and installed XP & MaxSea on those. While much slower, for MaxSea v10 running under XP they are still just fine. I bought these at Logic Supply - Leaders in Mini-ITX & Small Form Factor Solutions
I also spent some time working with MacOS. I like it better for some programs and I like Windows better for some programs, so whatever one chooses it's always a compromise. A lot of standard programs are better than under Windows, like Email
, address book, agenda, iTunes etc. I also like Lightroom and PhotoShop better with MacOS (Adobe is clearly pro Mac). PDF files are integrated in MacOS so you need no viewers and programs just allow you to save as PDF without additional utilities. Backup & restore is also better. Under XP I have to install additional software
for just watching a DVD
while that just works out of the box for MacOS.
What I like better under Windows is Firefox, Chrome, Spider Solitaire. I don't really like the Mac Safari browser but may be I didn't gave it a fair chance. Firefox under MacOS is better than running it in Windows emulation with Parallels so the difference isn't big. It's that history
where the Mac didn't have/use a right mouse button... now they do, but support is lacking in places.
There is navigation software
for MacOS and while it is just fine, a product like MaxSea or Nobeltec
under Windows is much better.
So, after a lot of thinking, I came to these conclusions: If you have just one computer aboard, you are probably best off with a laptop
running Windows XP. You can find a laptop that supports XP if you look hard enough, or choose a netbook (easy to find with XP) or you can buy a MacBook if you have a usable XP installation
disk/license (which you can still buy in some places). I must admit that while I have an original XP CD/license, I got so sick with the activations during the testing that I use a copy that doesn't require all that. My thoughts are that this is okay as long as you can show a good license
. (I do the same with MaxSea because I hate the dongle, which now lives with the original CD safely stored away ;-)
If you go for two computers
, options are abundant. If you keep a laptop with XP for navigation and want a 2nd computer for entertainment/office work plus back-up for navigation, I like my current
setup a lot. It is a MacMini with dual boot for Windows XP & MacOS Snow Leopard
. I have a big Dell LCD screen
(24") that can be swiveled for use as "TV" in the salon
or regular screen at the nav station (we have no TV and use this for DVD's / movies only). For audio we use Logitec Squeezeboxes and the server-program for that works better on Mac (Mac is Unix based and so is that software). We don't use iTunes.
The audio output from the Mini is very clean (better than the mini-ITX and PicoITX computers or regular laptops) but far less quality than the Squeezebox systems. I use a 12V powered car amplifier only, no head
unit; the only radio
we have is Internet radio
on the Squeezebox).
As we use this PC for Email
too, I installed Parallels with XP virtual machine so I can use Airmail (we use SSB/Pactor Email). I installed MaxSea on the windows partition for back-up but also use it for planning. I prefer to reboot to Windows instead of using Mac software for navigation.
I know cruisers who are perfectly happy with just MacOS aboard but that is because they prefer navigation software without advanced features... or they don't know better. I didn't find any Mac navigation program that beats MaxSea v10 and MaxSea TimeZero is a big step forward from that so Windows is the best platform for navigation imo.
The biggest computer problems I see around me are caused by limited computer knowledge with many cruisers and the lack of good back-up utilities that come with Windows, resulting in slow & crashing Windows installations. A product like Acronis True Image combined with the skill to use that would prevent 99% of that trouble plus it can even free you from using all those anti-virus programs that slow you down so much.