Together with today’s Mac OS X Lion release, Apple also released a set of server extensions in the App Store for $49. To run Lion Server on your machine, you make sure you’re running Lion (available from the App Store for $29), and then buy the server upgrade. Like all of their new offerings, this is for less-technical prosumers rather than professionals – so while the hardcore technical set will complain about lack of features (as they’ve done with Final Cut Pro X), consumers can run an easy-to-use mail, file, web and wiki server via the app store.
The ability to install other networked apps via the App Store could change enterprise networks forever. Imagine installing a social networking platform, a Virtual Learning Environment or a conference call bridge via one click in the app store, and configuring it via a visual wizard. Not necessary in sysadmin-equipped environments, but in SMEs and even homes? Huge.
Last week, I said goodbye to decades of tradition and became a Mac user.
It’s a more emotional decision than you might think. It’s just a tool, right? You should pick the product that is going to do the job for you best. But in tech circles there’s something emotive and tribal about it; mention that you’ve gone Mac to a Windows or Linux geek and they’ll roll their eyes disparagingly. For better or for worse, there’s a whole set of lifestyle assumptions wrapped up in what kind of computer you use.
Which is almost as good a reason for me to have changed as anything else. I hate being pigeonholed. In fact, though, I decided to spend the extra money on a MacBook Pro because my Dell Studio XPS was giving out on me, just over a year after I bought it. After a little research, I decided this machine would probably last longer – and as most of the software I use is web-based, I don’t really care which operating system I use.
Windows 7 is genuinely very good (if you’re on XP, in particular, you should change to it). But I’ve been blown away by how well put-together the MacBook Pro really is, from the physical quality of the case to the flexibility of the operating system. (Its UNIX origins are very much in evidence, which makes it a perfect development environment.) I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who was just looking for a casual machine – it doesn’t represent value for money for those kinds of use cases – but for people who use computers every day for their jobs, and need a laptop, I’m beginning to think you can’t beat it.