Brothers and Sisters, I have seen the light
Yes the mac book I bought last year proved to be the thin end of rather thick wedge and a long overdue, wholesale replacement of the chez nous computers is underway.
It would be a too much of a stretch to say the Mac is perfect, but it does seem more reliable and easier to use that its' Windows cousins.
Cost is clearly an issue but, as with the iPod, there is a feel good factor here that somehow makes the premium price more acceptable. The gear is all very well designed and is just 'nice' to use.
More to the point there is a tendency to compare entry level PC prices with entry level Mac prices, this is somewhat unfair. A like with like comparison seems to be a bit more squared up. That's not to say that things like disks and memory from Apple are not well overpriced and can readily be sourced at more competitive prices elsewhere.
The acid test will be how my wife gets on with it, a bit of a risk here. Hopefully since Firefox and Thunderbird are essentially identical on the Mac and PC there will only be a limited opportunity for confusion..... Time will tell. [Later. She was overheard to say while editing and organising photos "this is great, so easy"]
One of the bigger wins has been the use of Neooffice (www.neooffice.org), a port of Open Office, which I have been using rather than shelling out big dough for Microsoft Office.
I have been recommending Open Office (www.openoffice.org) for some time now but it's amazing how the power of the brand gets some people who should surely know better. Why would you pay the big ticket when you can get the same functionality for nothing? The only issue I have had is some minor and very occasional formating problems converting between Open Document Format and the Microsoft proprietary format.
I see that IBM have adopted Open Office and branded their version Lotus Symphony (a well respected name from the past). Hopefully this may help some of the "but it's not Microsoft" worriers get a grip.
The one thing that has stopped me migrating to Apple in the past is a lingering nag that I will need some of the Windows programs that I have used (and in some cases loved) over the years. This too has been solved by something called the Parallels Desktop (www.parallels.com). With this product I am able to migrate my existing Windows 2000 PC system (no I never upgraded to XP), unchanged, so that it and its applications will run on the Mac. Apart from being really very cool it will be interesting to see how much I use this.
[Later: The Parallels Desktop product is great for running applications that don't have Mac versions. Despite what I have read in some places the version I am using (5160) seems completely stable and has been fault free. It's a highly recommended addition to the Mac]
[Later Still: I'm now using the Vmware Fusion pruct to run windows and it's every bit as good as Parallels]