PC guy vs the new M1 MacBook Air (learn from my fail)

This isn’t a PC vs Mac thing, I will let you know right up in the top. I’ve worked on Macs before, I’ve supported them, no hate, the main goal of the OS in our business context is open a browser, read emails, have a working calendar, does not matter what platform for this. I have, however, not set up a Mac in a couple of years and ran into some walls.

TL;DR – Big Sur update issues, VMWare Fusion / Parallels issues on an M1, Office 365 is still terrible on a Mac.

This particular client wanted a Mac running Windows 10 apps, which was what his old Mac was doing just fine (except that his SSD is dying, something’s wrong with the screen, the keyboard is worn out, I think there’s a power supply problem, and the thing is 8 years worn.)

His old Mac was running Boot Camp / Windows 10 and he’d switch back and forth occasionally and the decision was made to get a newer unit and run VMWare Fusion or Parallels and run Windows 10 alongside the Mac OS rather than instead of it. Pretty simple – set up mac, install Fusion, use the PC licenses and proprietary programs he needs, move on. Or so I thought.

Initial setup involved calling the client who was out of state and walking through getting him to read whatever code I needed and pick a password because security. I skipped over anything that involved getting his fingerprint and setting up Apple Pay, these were a couple of newer steps from the last time I did this so, that dates me I’m sure. Couple of years at least.

Mac finally to the desktop I saw that there was an update called Big Sur. I’m going to have to say I didn’t like what happened next. I decided to update and that took somewhere around four hours. It shouldn’t have taken that long, but multiple aborted attempts and finally sitting there watching a progress bar that reminded me of a Windows 3.x time estimator. Evidently this happens.

Half the day gone installing Big Sur, which was no big really as I was not sitting there watching it / had other fish to get drunk, it boots, I install Chrome and a couple of tools and realize I’ve got a problem. The MacBook Air has USB-C only, and yeah, all my tools I need are sitting on a USB-A drive. OK, this can be worked around, I plug the MacBook Air into my PC and get that the device is being set up. Last time I did this I mounted a Mac as a drive and copied things over, figured it would work this time. Nope.

Ah well, I decided to get VMWare Fusion installed, download a 7gb Windows ISO from Microsoft, and get to work. Set the whole thing up and get the incredibly detailed error on a fresh install of VMWare Fusion that the virtual machine I’d made from the Windows ISO I downloaded could not be started. I did all the VMWare things I’m used to and tried manually setting it up, looking at it sideways, you know the basic “attempting to get the documents out of the computer.”

Me attempting to get VMWare Fusion to work

I went to my work machine, used the media creation tool, and noticed a 2-3GB difference between ISO downloaded and the one created and decided to push my created ISO up to the cloud and pull it down to the Mac because none of my networking seemed to want to work (Mac was on WiFi, on its own subnet, seemed to want to hate me anyway.)

So after pushing and pulling 5 gigs or so I get an ISO I’ve created on the Mac and fire it up in VMWare Fusion and… womp womp.. nope. Error message is simply it will not start. I go through some troubleshooting of uninstalling the fresh install on a new Mac and reinstalling, nope. I decide to hit Parallels and upon installing it I get the actually helpful message that it straight up does not work on the latest Macs with the M1 Chip. I do a quick search and find out that neither does VMWare Fusion, although VMWare just is saying it can’t start and being remarkably unhelpful.

Both products are working to get a fix out evidently. They appear to have been caught off guard by the new chip which surprises me a bit but whatever.

I tell client they’re not getting what they want but I’ll get what I can get accomplished and expect that in a couple of weeks the bugs will be worked out. I’m at somewhere around hour six at this point dealing with an insanely slow Big Sur download/update, trying to get and push roughly 17 gigs of Windows ISOs, and of course trying to find tech articles about an OS/computer I’m a good year or two out of date on. Yeah, I missed the M1, been kind of a rough time with kiddo’s school lately.

I get Outlook/Office 365 for Mac installed, I’ve been being told it’s about the same now and when I find out who told me that I’m going to go and slap them. I do not know what Microsoft’s deal is with releasing a crappy PC version of Office and an even crappier Mac version is, but I can assure you the Mac version is more infuriating than the Windows version. My personal favorite thing was it showing 10 items in the inbox, selecting them all showed 171, there were somewhere around 11,000 in his actual inbox but the sync was running and not giving any information whatsoever about what it was syncing.

When I’d started it showed things like “syncing folder 2018” and “syncing old company emails” and it was obviously still doing something but that sync Window remained blank while emails flowed in for the next 18 hours.

I did some tests on the Mac, it’s fast, writes wicked fast, WiFi was getting 300mbit and never dropped except in downloading Big Sur, just things conspired to happen.

So yeah, learn from my fail – M1 doesn’t do virtualization software right yet (or vice versa) – will in a week or two, don’t update the OS if you need the computer, it will take its sweet time, and if you’re working for a client on one of these beware because every bit of dust in the building will somehow gravitate to a near perfect looking screen.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts