Mac OS X, where’s the lock-in?

I’ve been accused of being a sell-out since I bought a MacBook Pro.

I’m still struggling to see the huge lock-in that people have been telling me I’d find in Mac-land. The only thing I can currently find is that I’m tied to Apple’s hardware. If I have a hardware problem I’d definitely take it back to base. If I had a hardware issue with a PC, I’d probably rip the guts out myself. Saying that, if it was a laptop, I’d think twice about trying to prise the case open.

Funny story: in the store, I was asked if I wanted to take the extended warranty (AppleCare, is it?), for a cost of something like £59. Apparently I could take it out any time in the first year, but if I didn’t take it on the spot, I’d have to pay the full cost of something like £250 later. The numbers are approximate and random, I don’t remember exactly.

Anyway, I hesitated.

The guy looked at me and said, “if you’re just starting university, it will see you right through”.

I looked back at him and said, “University? mate, you’re nearly 15 years out!”

At which point, it transpired that the cheaper price only applied if I was buying the Mac on a student discount, which clearly I was not.

The initial user experience has been pretty positive. After switching on for the first time, I essentially only had to choose the language, create a user, and I was in.

At registration time, I was asked if I wanted a trial .Mac account, but so far I’ve declined. I’ve already got email, already got my own blog, can find nice free tutorials, and use Google Talk / Jabber via iChat (and may move to another IM client which covers more networks). So, no lock-in there, that I can see.

On the software side, I’ve yet to find anything I’ve had to pay for. To be fair, my Lightroom license is already paid for by virtue of my being a Rawshooter Premium user. I’ve installed The Gimp and OpenOffice (although maybe NeoOffice would be better, since it is Mac native… I can’t quite see what benefit that gives me, maybe someone could enlighten me?). Basically I’m using open source or otherwise free software, exchanging files with other operating systems, and networking with both Windows and Linux.

Where is the lock-in?

16 thoughts on “Mac OS X, where’s the lock-in?”

  1. Download Adium, its the best IM client for the Mac out there. Its based on GAIM and all the extras make it really expandable.

  2. I have Adium. I’m planning to use it for Gadu-Gadu. However it doesn’t yet have audio or video support, which is a shame. Mind you I’m not yet convinced that I can do audio chat from iChat/Jabber to Google Talk.

  3. Yes, yes, I have now grabbed ECTO.

    I’m not sure about it. It certainly is not as nice as Windows Live Writer, but it beats Bleezer (which crashed) and the default posting interface.

    So far I’ve only posted once with it (the Gartner careers post). Once I worked out some shortcuts like entering a URL, things got easier.

    I can’t figure out what the bottom pane is for, either.

    Thoughts on stuff I’ve installed so far were being saved for another post 😉

  4. From what I can work out, everything you put in the top pane appears in the article summary and therefore your feed. Everything in the bottom pane appears in the full article (causing a more…) link on the summary.

  5. if your talking about the new entry or edit entry window.. then yes the top pane is your physical post the bottom is your extended entry (not sure if wordpress supports this, but on MT its the bit you’d like after the main entry on a seperate page.. such as continue reading….)

    its nicely extensible via scripting.. and I’ve started to play with the auto tagging (click the Technorati tags and they get dropped into the post automatically), maybe i tried all the worst mac osx blogging clients before i settled on ecto, but for me its the best (pity the windows version stinks!)

  6. There’s no lock-in if data and programs move onto the network, as they seem increasingly to be doing. Proprietary OSs and platforms probably won’t matter then. In fact, something like Mac OS X probably has an advantage over the competition, as it is simple to use and looks pretty. I’m thinking about buying an Apple myself when my desktop at home dies (which it is due to do in the next few years).

  7. @Adrian: ah. I’d put everything in the top pane anyway 😉

    @naquada: personally, I’ve very rarely used extended entry – it annoys me when I can’t see the whole post in someone’s feed, so I try to avoid it myself. WordPress does support it. I didn’t see a tags plugin… clearly I need to explore it in a lot more detail. There was some kind of “summary” option that offered to create a summary based on some inbuilt OS X functionality, but I didn’t use it as I didn’t want to ruin my post by accident.

    @andrew: agreed, although you then get issues of connectivity… for example, although I’d be far better moving to e.g. Google Reader for feeds now given the number of machines I want to access them from, I still want an offline capability, and that’s why I’m currently still on GreatNews (that, and the fact that Google Reader won’t work on internal IBM feeds, for example).
    And in fact the other thing about Mac OS X is that a lot of OSS runs on it, which has saved over a couple of bits of hardware which I’ll post about soon.

  8. Summary is what would be sent via ping to sites.. or can be used in the summary RSS feed (i.e. a condensed version of your post to tempt someone to read..) it never appears on your blog (I think it’s also referenced as the ‘excerpt’ in some systems.. also never used that or the extended entries.. never seen the point..!

  9. Maybe Andy already saw a comment I made on a Luis’s IBM-internal blog post regarding summaries but, I just wanted to say that I don’t like summaries on Blogs (Web pages) nor on their feeds at all.

  10. Cesar, agreed. I don’t want to have to click through to a site to read a whole entry. I think I’ve only ever used that technique on particularly long posts.

  11. @andrew: in Everyware, Adam Greenfield posits that connectivity will be solved by some combination of UWB and RFID. Maybe that’s true.

    @cote’: I found Growl and Quicksilver already. Thanks for the hints, I’ll check your piece.

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