Mac users have grown up with software from Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, and recently, Macromedia.
To be fair, the applications spilling out of their respective software distribution centers can only be described as superb (superb “bloatware” to some; excellent nevertheless). I’ve already covered the top level applications (Pro) from Apple, so let me move on to the Death Star of software, Microsoft.
Microsoft Office is very good. Those who use Office on Windows and Mac will tell you the Mac version is better, more intuitive, less finicky. That’s in general. Maintaining some compatibility with the rest of the business world is a requirement for some, so having MS Office on a Mac is a good thing.
That being said, there’s plenty not to like about Office for Mac. The applications are NOT integrated well (nothing at all like AppleWorks, and that hasn’t had a major upgrade since when? Four years short of forever). Cut and paste is as close as it gets.
And who can remember all those features and where they are? For general word processing (for me) I use Nisus Writer, not Word. For compatibility, I’m sometimes forced to use Word.
PowerPoint? Well, again, it’s a compatibility issue. To review PPT files in business, it’s a necessity to have PowerPoint. What do I use for presentations? For those that are not to be shared, Keynote.
How about spreadsheets? My first view of a spreadsheet was VisiCalc running on an Apple IIe using a CP/M card. Timothy O’Neil of Forsythe Computers in Clayton, MO did a demonstration of what spreadsheets could do for a fledgling ad agency. Wow.
Since then I’ve graduated to Lotus 1-2-3, the Excel. And not much else since then, Mac or Windows. Excel is the Daddy, and you need him in business. AppleWorks is decent, though; especially for home use.
Entourage? I love Entourage. I use Apple’s Mail now. Entourage may be the best Mac desktop business application ever—after Excel. I need synchronization with iSync and .Mac (that is ooooh sooooo handy with multiple machines) and Entourage had to go.
So, Microsoft is on my Mac. So is Windows Media Player; if anything, just to show Windows folks (I have a diverse group of friends) the differences between QuickTime and Windows. There’s also a free Microsoft application called Expression; vector graphics, nicely done, Free—I have no idea why it exists). How about Internet Explorer? Puhleeeze.
On the financial side, we use Quicken and QuickBooks Pro. While neither application has quite the feature set of their Windows counterparts, the average business won’t care because there are so many features to choose anyway. Both applications are stable, integrate well with others (banks, and accountants, for example).
I hate the annual upgrade but pay for it anyway. I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess.
OK, what’s left at the High End, Part 1? Graphics and the web. Adobe and Macromedia.
Click Here for Page 2 and more on the High End, Part 1.
Continued from Page 1…
I find it interesting that Microsoft hasn’t ventured deeply into the graphics market. Perhaps the competition is too formidable and requires some affinity with the creative community (and we all know how creative Microsoft is these days…).
Regardless, I’ve been an Adobe user since the very early days of Postscript, Photoshop, even PageMaker (when it was Aldus). Adobe’s products are the staple tools of the graphics industry, it would seem.
Interestingly, I’m using Adobe less and less as the web has taken up more and more of my time. Years ago I did an analysis of Macromedia’s approach to web tools vs. Adobe’s approach. Macromedia won. Dreamweaver and Fireworks go hand in glove, while Adobe never really seemed to understand the difference in needs for web use.
All the web automation and quick use tools built-in to Dreamweaver and Fireworks seem like tacked on add-ons in Illustrator, Photoshop CS (even with ImageReady), and Go Live (a horribly difficult application to get running).
What do I like about Macromedia? Well, they finally came around and built (upgraded) some decent applications for Mac OS X in Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash (the very capable FreeHand vector graphics application still isn’t Illustrator at a lower price). The Studio MX 2004 is a spongeworthy upgrade.
As our work has advanced, so too have the tools. So, too, have our needs and there’s less need now for Dreamweaver as we’ve moved off stand-alone HTML pages to dynamically generated HTML via PHP and MySQL (yes, the Mac does all those Unixy goodies now).
I’ll use Dreamweave to set up some tables, some stand-alone pages (as utilities), and a few other things, but not much more. Fireworks, though, gets a work out.
The Fireworks MX 2004 version has yet to crash on Mac OS X Panther, reduces .jpg and .gif images smaller than any other application I’ve found, and can be automated sufficiently to make quick work of work; quickly.
Of course, Flash is Flash. There’s nothing else like it (Adobe’s anemic efforts not withstanding) and it has its place on the web and in media. We’ve noticed that many ad agencies and web design shops specialize in Flash.
It’s here to stay and Macromedia’s Mac efforts are commendable. I don’t know of a single Windows Flash developer (though the Studio suite is cross platform).
Personally, I think Flash is waaaaay overrated. Content and getting to the content is more important than the sizzle of Flash.
Still, Adobe’s Illustrator CS and Photoshop CS are on my Mac, though I seldom use either these days. Most of my Photoshop digital image enhancement work has moved over to Photoshop Elements.
The new 3.0 version of Elements is excellent, though I hesitate to say it’s High End. The consumer tools are useful, even to long-time Photoshop users. It takes just a few clicks to produce a full web page gallery of quality photographs.
That reduces to minutes what used to take hours.
There you go; Part 1 of the High End of what’s on Tera’s Mac. What’s your take on Microsoft, Adobe, Macromedia, and Intuit (Quicken)? Do you use Photoshop, Office, Studio MX? What’s your favorite and why?
To share your thoughts and experiences with other readers, click the Comments link below.
Coming Up: Part 2 of the High End applications on my Mac—these will be the non-Microsoft, non-Adobe, non-Macromedia applications that compete in niche areas where the big guys don’t tread.