Yongfook has a heart-warming post about how great it is to develop web apps on Windows and how you’d be foolish to use Windows. As much as I’d like to join in on the gratuitous Windows bashing, I can only say that it’s not quite true unless you’re mainly a designer. That’s not to say that the Mac doesn’t offer some compelling perks for web development. However, tools don’t make a hacker.
When I took my current job, one of the chief requirements was that I switch back to Windows for development as company policy doesn’t allow macs and probably never will. While I don’t think I’d ever buy a Windows machine for personal use unless it’s to format the hard drive and install a UNIX distro, but being forced off of the mac was probably one of the best things to happen to me.
The real reason is because technically I don’t use Windows for development. I stopped using Textmate altogether and started using VIM exclusively for coding which I do by sshing into the company test server via putty, launching or resuming GNU screen and developing everything server-side. It’s the most distraction-free environment too because I don’t care to install any third-party crapware for the Windows platform and get to leave behind all my user settings on my home mac. No growl notifications, no F12 dashboard diving, no photobooth picture whoring, and no iTunes library.
Take a look at a screenshot of my development environment:
It’s really no different from the terminal I use on my mac. The only thing missing is the opacity controls (and my do I dearly miss it). Other than that I fake out Monaco fonts with Osaka. Yet it’s a real Windows XP with all the default stuff.
I think the only handicap is for talented designers that benefit from the prettier interface and OS virtualization. However, I will point out that this isn’t because macs are so great. It’s because they finally moved to intel chips and OS X happens to be the only operating system not legally available as a standalone intallation combined with the fact that OS X piggy backs off of linux.
The really brilliant hackers I’ve come to know are both language agnostic and platform agnostic. If anything they choose freedom in the form of linux. However, I will say that the mac is an excellent gateway into hardcore development. You get a nice development stack by default with all the common unix tools but the closer you go to the metal the less eye candy makes a difference to your productivity.