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November 01
My MacBook Pro (MBP) Experiences

There are few blog posts by Sahil Malik, Andrew Connell and Jeremy Thake - here, here and here on using MBP and SharePoint 2013 VM for development needs. This is not the first time I am adding this information but I thought there are few things that I learnt in addition to their views and I wanted to mention those to those who wanted to invest their money in purchasing MBP especially for SharePoint development needs. Again, these are my views and I am sure there will be people who may or may not agree with the below.

Note: I am not going to mention about how to setup your VM on MBP here. But the below might help you on what you might experience once you have it. I will keep this post updated when I find more.

"Why did I switch?"

Simple – Like Andrew Connell mentioned in this blog post, W530 is like carrying a rock on your back. It very heavy. Though you could do a lot with extended RAM, hard disk additions and DVD drive that comes handy (you will miss this on MBP), it's very heavy and also performs poorly. You will be amazed by MBP on how light it is compared to W530 and the way it performs; you can see the performance video by Sahil here. I should give plus points to Apple products, like always, they pay attention to the tiny things that will matter the most.

"This cannot be your only machine."

Like everyone else, I used to have Lenovo W530 with 1TB SSD + 32GB RAM in it. MBP can support RAM up to max 16GB. Your SharePoint environment will consume at least 12GB of the 16GB for your single developer VM use case. This means – you cannot create multi-tier architecture with Domain Controller, SQL Server and especially Office Web Apps installed on a separate instances on the same MBP. All this means, you need another developer machine with 32GB RAM etc. so that you can have that bigger scenarios. This is important for authors and people writing articles. If not, Windows Azure is your next best bet. Be prepared for this.

"VMWare Vs Parallels."

MBP is retina display. One of the reasons why you will like apart from its performance is its display. When I use VMWare Fusion, I noticed that the display is not great, in fact it sucks even connecting to a hi-res external monitor or just on the MBP! On the other hand, I found Parallels is good on MBP and the display is really sharp. Update: After I changed to new display cables (see below under accessories) the resolution is PERFECT even for VMWare Fusion. I have been using Fusion for almost 8 months now and totally happy. I don't have performance evaluation but both VMWare Fusion and Parallels seem performing good. Both VMWare Fusion and Parallels are not free. But paying $80 or so is totally worth it. If you have VMWare workstation, you can switch to parallels for $49. You need to speak to their support.

I can understand why many use VMWare Fusion – the core files can be used by both Fusion and Workstation on OSX/Windows if you have a second machine. This is huge.

"Expensive Accessories."

Did I tell you that MBP and its accessories are really expensive? A regular thunderbolt to DVI for your external monitor will cost you $30. That's not the hi-res at all and if you need one that supports, its $99. Extended warranty, time capsule etc. they are all above $200. Dock will cost you $150. I love the dock from Henge Docks. But, do you need them? Well, it depends on your needs so I will leave it to you. Update: I purchased this item from Amazon for $10 and it works perfectly with out spending (purchasing) towards the dock.

"OSX and Windows."

It will take some time for you to adjust to the new operating system. However, you will miss some crucial daily operations you perform on Windows. For instance, I use Live Writer or Word Blog template to create and publish the blog content. With Office 2011 for Mac OS, the templates are bad and you cannot install Live Writer on OSX. There are many other applications that you might be using that cannot be used on OSX. This creates some vacuum in usage and development. So what to do? You can create a VM with Windows 7/8/8.1 and solve this issue. OSX and windows can share same hard disk and can use the files in both platforms. Coherent mode from VMWare Fusion or Parallels are amazing, it is seamless and works amazingly well. But here is what I did – I ditched Windows 7 and Windows Server 2012 which is the OS for my SharePoint development environment became my new day-day working platform.

"Switching from Windows to OSX."

If you are switching from Windows to OSX, you will have some initial brain strain since the keys are different. If you are smart, it's easy. You can map the keys like Sahil mentioned here. If you add external keyboard that will help you a LOT! You don't need to map keys and mostly they will work for what you want to do.

Apart from that there are couple of other things I would like to add.

Spectacle – Windows + Left Arrow, Windows + Right Arrow – remember these that help you tile your windows? With Spectacle you can do it easily. Download Spectacle for free here.

gfxCardStatus – I have purchased MBP and returned it twice so far. Reason – the fan noise! When I run the development VM, the fan makes so much loud noise that I thought it was a hardware problem. I spoke to few of my friends about their experiences. One said he had, others not. So, I thought it was issue with the one's I purchased. But clearly, it's not. They all make noise and that's because of retina display. So, get used to it. However, I found this software gfxCardStatus that will switch to discrete and integrated mode automatically depending on the application running. I found this useful especially with the noise. Download gfxCardStatus here.

"Boot Camp or not?"

Mac OSX runs like butter. Even if you push the limits of RAM, your SharePoint VM will run smoothly. That's the reason why you have to stick to OSX + VMWare Fusion (or Parallels). Boot Camp means, you will install Windows 7 or 8 (or 8.1) and then using VMWare Workstation. No point in doing this because there is no performance gain here.

"Conclusion."

I am happy purchasing MBP and its performance and its overall behavior, so, I will highly recommend it if you can afford it. Well, that's what I have for now. More to come as I work in depth. Until then – happy working on MBP and SharePoint.

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