There is an escalating war going on. It started in 2002 with Apple running their now famous Switch advertisements featuring what they call “Real People” who “moved out” of the Windows platform to the Mac. While the switch ad was later replaced by “Get a Mac” in 2006 (and still runs today). In recent years Microsoft has tried a similar tactic but focusing on freedom of choice as its primary value proposition.

I am a Windows user myself both at work and home. I also have a venerable iMAC running OSX 10.4 at home. When I first bought my iMAC I was surprised at how quickly my kids adapted to the new platform even though they bought used Windows PCs at school (they still do). But then again my kids used the iMAC mostly for Net surfing and checking out emails. My wife remains a Windows user although occasionally she powers on the iMAC when she wants a quick check on the web.

I continue to be amazed at the intense Windows versus MAC battles. Apple continues to run these ads enticing people to switch over. But really people, do you honestly think that switching over from XP to Mac OS X just because you hear the horror stories about the early days of Vista is going to be easy. For those who see the hassle of moving from XP to 7 as being difficult, you will face the same hassle of migrating from any Windows platform to Apple Mac.

The reality kicked me very early on when I bought my first Mac. I very quickly realized that I don’t have a plethora of choice in terms of software for the Mac platform. In fact software choice was limited especially during the days of the “G” series processors that powered the Macs of yester-years. Windows emulators back then were notoriously bad. The shift to Intel processors is certainly a welcome boost to most PC users as the Windows software emulators that followed were more stable. The mere presence of Windows emulators suggests that people are not totally out of the Windows world even when they shift to the Mac.

The Windows 7 platform appears (during my tests anyway on a very old – unsupported HP tablet TC1100) stable. It runs most of the XP applications I am familiar with. There is a bit of a learning curve as you learn to grapply with widgets. But the overall experience is pleasant and not as nerve wracking as when I moved to OS X the first time.

I love Apple for continuing to offer OS X upgrades at frequent interval. Likewise I deplore Microsoft’s slow and cumbersome strategy to OS platform upgrades. I can only guess that they are living by the truism “why fix something that ain’t broken?”

Today we live in an “experience” society where product success or failure can be measured by the experience of the individual. Enough individual experience can amass together to destroy (or make it difficult for) a product. The coverse is true. Just look at the mobile platform. For years the dominant OS was Symbian that powered Nokia. Then along came Windows that tried but failed to get sufficient traction because the PC experience is clearly not very conducive for mobile users. When Apple launched the iPhone, users quickly fell in love with the touch experience. Windows has tried to emulate this as it partners with device manufacturers to come up with better user interface but the experience isn’t quite up there as that of the iPhone/iPod Touch.

What I’m getting at here is that anyone who thinks that migrating from Windows XP to Mac OSX is going to be pain free will be in for a rude awakening, particularly for those who are heavy into Windows-based applications. Checkout whether the programs you have been using, and for which you have lots of data resting in archives – say your accounting program or your spreadsheets or your data files. Before you decide to switch to the “cool” MMac factor, find out if there are equivalent programs on the Mac platform that will take your data and allow you to move forward seamlessly. If this is not possible, your choice is clear, stay with Windows. The new Windows 7 platform is an amazing leap forward by Microsoft. I just hope that Microsoft moves a lot faster with its succession of OS updates.

PS: To Microsoft – notice how Apple’s OS is priced way, way cheaper than Microsoft’s? Apple has learned that the fastest way to get into people’s heart is through great experience. The fastest way of shifting hardliners is through their wallets.

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Since Microsoft made Windows 7 (Win7) available to the public for beta testing, I’ve been salivating over installing it on my laptop. My dreams were dashed when I discovered the minimum hardware you need to use the new operating system (OS): 1GHz CPU.

Why? Because my trusty 5 year old laptop is actually an 800Mhz Intel Celeron HP TC1100 tablet PC. I thought about upgrading the motherboard to 1GHz but buying the parts in Hong Kong was prohibitive! I might as well buy a new netbook – its cheaper! (damn HP!). So I’ve resigned myself to the idea that I would never be able to test drive the new OS.

Why am I so interested in trying it out myself? A friend of mine – Greg the Geek – installed the RC version of Win7 recently on his 1GHz EeePC netbook – the same machine he used to test drive two Linux OSes and Mac OSX. Yes, I saw him using the EeePC with Mac OSX. It was a crude and ineffective hack since many of the hardware features of the EeePC didn’t work under OSX.

Thankfully (huh?) my TC1100’s 80GB HDD failed a week ago. I took the opportunity to try my luck. I partitioned a new 80GB HDD into two and installed the original Windows XP Pro Tablet edition on the C Drive and prepared Drive D for Win7 RC. As expected the Windows XP install was flawless even though my laptop is an aging dinousaur by most people’s standard.

While I had no problem installing Win7 RC, I could not boot from it. It kept stalling as it tried to install a driver – AGP4400.sys. After checking around the Web, I discovered I was not alone and this AGP440.sys problem is not limited to Win7. In fact its been a recurring problem with Windows Vista.

Day 2 I got myself to try and reinstall Win7 a second time. Nothing to lose anyway! This time around fate was smiling upon me. The install was flawless and the boot process smooth as a baby’s bottom (figuratively). I installed some gadgets (called widgets on the Mac). Again, things went very smoothly.

I am pleased to say that I am happy with what I got. An aging laptop that can run on either the original Windows XP that it came with and the new Win7 RC. The only thing I miss on the Win7 platform is the use of the magnetic pen that works so well on the Windows XP. Why? WACOM refuses to release drivers for the new OS until Microsoft releases the final product to the public.

Tough love!