After reading news about apple’s WWDC, I have been pondering the future of Apple’s MacBooks. I just watched in horror this video of a tear-down of a MacBook Pro Retina how locked in everything is. All 3 of the most commonly swapped/upgraded components are glued in or proprietary. What if I want to replace it with a larger one, what If Apple does not offer the sizes that I want? What if I don’t want to pay Apple’s price?
I used to be a PC fanatic, and for some reason had an unreasonable hate towards Apple products. Perhaps because they reminded me of a communist regime. But once you look into the light, you really can’t turn away. They really are beautiful and reliable machines. The thing that won me over to Apple was my frustration with my Asus G73 gaming laptop that was supposed to be “state of the art” at the time. Poor display drivers caused blue screen crashes, and an impossibly annoying touch pad that never really worked right. The first time I tried a Mac, I mean, really gave it a chance was playing with one while in a Apple store. The precision of the touch pad alone had me sold, especially after fighting with my Asus G73. Soon enough I had one in my home office, running visualization for Windows 8 to do my day work and learning about OSX each day at the same time. Over time the MacBook really grew on me. I loved the feel of the keyboard, the clean and solid aluminum design, no creaky plastic, beautiful bright glass screen etc…
But, all is not well. I am extremely put off by the trend of soldering in and using proprietary components such as RAM and SSD drives. Yes I can see the argument that 95% of people will never really upgrade their machines after purchase. And this is true. By the time they would actually upgrade, they would want to buy a whole new machine with faster processor and generally taking advantage of newer features. But that is not the point. This is about user maintainability not just about upgrade ability. When I purchased my 17 inch MacBook Pro, I immediately swapped out the hard drive for a 512 GB third party SSD drive and upgraded the RAM to 16 GB. That saved me an arm and a leg since I wasn’t forced to buy from Apple, or pay for their technicians to actually do the work of swapping out the components. Also just the simple independent feeling know that I can do this without begging Apple is extremely liberating.
At the same time on the other side of the fence, I am fascinated by Microsoft’s redesign of Windows 8, running on touch hardware that is really meant for windows 8. Yes some people are confused by the user interface, but I feel it is the perfect combination of both worlds. I use the desktop with the mouse and keyboard for creating, doing precision work, and I use the touch (Metro) interface when I want to do some causal browsing/reading, things I would normally do on a iPad. Windows 8 is greatly misunderstood. I could go on, but that isn’t the point of this post.
If the industry can produce well designed, upgradeable (at least memory, RAM and battery), coupled with Windows 8 on a touch capable laptop, Microsoft and the PC may just win me back. There are rumblings of re-structuring Microsoft, repositioning itself as a Hardware manufacturer in addition to Software. This is very encouraging to me, so long as Microsoft stays true to what a PC is supposed to be, user maintainable and be able to buy compatible components on the open market. They could produce fantastic machines and free of crap-ware that is typically present on the likes of Dell and HP.
This trend of proprietary hardware and increasing lock-in angers me. I think I’ll be voting with my wallet this time. If you feel the same way, I encourage you to do the same. Apple, you won me over with your beautiful designs and precision touch pad, but you are losing me now with your silly proprietary hardware.