I started working in architecture during the “dark ages” when design and construction drawings were done by hand. Stop and think about that for a minute. Every line on every sheet in that 50 page set was pencil put to paper. Good times. Today you would be hard pressed to find a firm that does anything by hand, as the computer has infiltrated every aspect of the business. This is not a bad thing, as the industry has increased productivity beyond what was possible by hand drafting.
In order for everyone in an office to take advantage of this productivity, offices have standardized on one platform. For the majority of architectural offices this means Windows. For those architects working for these firms, they likely purchased Windows PC’s for home use. The general thinking is that if you use Windows at work, then you should have a Windows PC at home. This make perfect sense, as architecture is hard enough without having to learn two different operating systems. But what happens when you tire of the frustrations of using Windows and want to make the switch to a Mac?
For those enlightened ones, there are a few items that you should be aware of. First, OS X, which is the operating system that runs on the Mac is different than Windows. You should expect some frustration for the first few weeks using it. Learning anything new is going to take effort. Apple helps those users by providing a few articles built right into Mac OS X’s Help Menu. Type “What’s it called on my Mac?” and a list of Windows and Mac terms to help you find what you’re looking for will appear. Entering “Windows keys on a Mac keyboard” will identify keys that function the same as keys on a Windows Keyboard. And “Windows files on a Mac” will list common file types and the filename extension for each making it easy to open and use files created on Windows computers on your Mac.
If you have Windows apps that do not have a Mac equivalent then you will be happy to know that all Macs shipping since 2007 have Intel processors and can run Windows apps. You can use Boot Camp, which is free software provided by Apple, that allows you to restart the Mac right into Windows. Yes, your read that right, your new Mac is also a Windows computer! If restarting is too much trouble, then you can run Parallels Desktop or VMware’s Fusion, which allow you to run OS X apps right alongside your Windows apps. If you want to run Windows, you will still need to pay Microsoft for a separate Windows license. Apple does not provide that in the box. Also, you can learn more about Parallels Desktop from my previous post about that software.
What if you want to leave the world of Windows behind and run only native OS X apps? That is likely possible as many of the most popular apps are available on both platforms. Now, there is a cost to do this, but consider as you update to a newer version upgrading to the Mac version instead. This way there is no additional cost to using your Mac and until you upgrade there is always Boot Camp, Parallels or Fusion. For those that want to make that break right away, consider contacting the software developer and request the Mac version. They may allow a cross upgrade or offer both versions at no cost difference.
Changing platforms can be a scary, and for an entire office, an expensive proposition. Although with some up-front planning and an understanding that there are differences, you too can make the switch. Oh, and the Mac also shares many of the same apps and integrates much better with another piece of hardware from Apple called the iPhone. You may of heard of it.
Note: This post was inspired by a friend who is considering a new notebook computer. Its primary use will be for blogging, which will include using various Internet-based blogging tools (platform agnostic) Microsoft Word and Excel (originated and available as native Mac versions) and Photoshop (also originally developed for the Mac.) In addition, some actual “work” or AutoCAD (currently shipping 2013 and LT 2013 versions for the Mac) and SketchUp (another Mac original and still available for the Mac) might be used.