Microsoft Windows Vista vs. Apple OS X

I was feeling emotional when I suggested that Vista Will Double Apple’s Market Share, but I really don’t think I’ll be that far off. More than anything, I believe Vista will triple Apple’s mindshare – which, in many ways, is a valid predictor of future market share. So, MacDailyNews readers gave the article a nod today. In looking at their list of related links directly below the quoted paragraphs, I found that I’m in good company in respect to my Vista opinions:

  • What if Microsoft held a Windows Vista party and nobody came? – October 13, 2006
  • CNET: Microsoft’s Windows Vista still not ready for prime time – October 12, 2006
  • Thurrott: ‘You don’t need Windows Vista’ – October 11, 2006
  • Microsoft’s Windows Vista spyware may prompt users to upgrade to Apple Mac – October 09, 2006
  • Windows Vista gaming will be 10-15 percent slower than XP – October 09, 2006
  • Analyst: Microsoft’s new activation scheme will give users another reason not to upgrade to Vista – October 05, 2006
  • Infoworld: Microsoft’s WIndows Vista not so revolutionary after all – September 11, 2006
  • Analyst: Apple’s new Mac OS X Leopard sets new bar, leaves Microsoft’s Vista in the dust – August 08, 2006
  • Computerworld: Microsoft Windows Vista a distant second-best to Apple Mac OS X – June 02, 2006

If you want the hyperlinks to those stories, you’ll have to visit the MacDailyNews page (since they compiled ’em, they deserve the traffic). I will, however, share with you a few of the emails I received tonight in respect to my original CPU Magazine article.

I’m a university lecturer and experimental cognitive psychologist and neurophysiologist. I’ve used both Macs and Windows PC’s for years.

While there are some things I’ve done that have absolutely required Windows, I never cease to find it illogical, counter-intuitive, and just plain difficult to use.

When I was an undergrad at Cal Berkeley, I worked as a bicycle mechanic to put myself through college. A good friend of mine who I biked with frequently was an engineering major. He was always coming up with ideas about things for bikes that when I looked at them, had a great concept, but the implementation was simply horrific; difficult to work on, use, etc. As a mechanic, I had a background of practical knowledge from my hands-on work that my friend lacked, despite all his engineering training.

Windows is exactly the same way. It’s what you get when you have an OS that is designed by programmers who don’t know a damn thing about how to make things actually work well. It might be logical and natural to a programmer, but to someone who actually needs to use a computer for productive tasks, it’s a nightmare.

I was first exposed to computers right after I started taking courses at my local community college, before I went to Cal. The college had a lab with a bunch of PC’s running Windows 3.1. My girlfriend’s dad bought her a Mac SE/32 shortly after I met her. I found that I could do so much more on the Mac, and this was back in the days of OS 6 mind you, than I ever could on the PC’s at the college, in so much less time.

When I transferred to Cal and was able to get enough money together to buy my own system, I didn’t hesitate, I bought a PowerBook 160 and have never looked back. Your analysis is so spot on, that MS is becoming its own worst enemy, that I’m amazed that a dyed in the wool PC user such as yourself is considering switching. Let me encourage you to do so. You’ll find a world of security and ease of use that Windows can’t touch. Not that Macs don’t have their issues, of course they do; all computers do. But the Mac is the best of the bunch and is the easiest to use, most powerful computing system I’ve ever used. (I’ve used Windows a lot, and a bit of Linux.)

Go for it man… after you make the switch and get used to how the Mac works, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

Paul D. Thiem, Ph.D. University of California, Merced.

If experimental cognitive psychologists tell me that Windows is counter-intuitive, then shouldn’t I accept that as gospel truth? Photographers are just as thrilled with OS X, too:

As professional photographers, we’ve standardized on the OS X platform, though not for religious reasons. I’m a former IT Director and so I approach technology from a holistic estimation – in this case the choice of Macs was made by 2 factors which more than offset the additional hardware cost: 1) integrated system-wide color management at the OS level (which I guess MS is getting around to finally in Vista) which ultimately translates into fewer reprints and damaged print ads; and 2) the realization that the most frequent hindrance to consistent on-time delivery of mission critical images to clients is not processor speed or elegance of UI, but rather susceptibility to malware and virii. I’m well aware that OS X isn’t any more impervious to mischeif than any other OS, but for the time being, there simply aren’t any actionable exploits in the wild. And as long as the result is demonstrably more predictable up-time and greater confidence in our equipment, I don’t really care what the reasons are for the respite. In Stanford’s famous study of 2 years ago, they made the interesting observation that where they found Macs employed in companies was not necessarily in the creative departments, as the old cliché would have it, but in departments whose output was characterized by mission critical delivery across extremely short time windows, regardless of data type. That absolutely resonates with what we’ve experienced.

In the 3 years since making the ‘jump’, a change has come about in my thinking and I thought I recognized some of the same shift in perspective taking place in your latest post. Namely where I once I perceived the Mac as a choice that required some unusual or remarkable requirement to justify the expense, I now view it as the more pragmatic option, and the Windows route as the path requiring defense. “Well I need to run XXXXX, so I have to run Windows” is the response that I hear most often these days, but as you observe, the platform-specific application is on its way out. In point of fact, if Apple were to produce a solid cross-platform alternative to Exchange Server, I believe that the enterprise would start giving them a look.

I am familiar with your work through the TechTV days, so I know well that, though never hostile to the Mac platform, it wasn’t exactly your cup of tea. Its an unusual and commendable virtue to be able to reassess one’s position on something. I think that in the broadest of terms Microsoft has served their self-interest to the eventual exclusion of that of their customers. Apple is equally as motivated by self interest, but they seem to perceive it as being tied to that of their customers, and I think ultimately that’s the fundamental difference.

Also, congratulations on your engagement. Need a photographer? 🙂

We have a photographer for the wedding, actually – although I have yet to write up a few tips as to how we decided on her firm. Didn’t take us six years to decide, either:

I agree with you that Vista will double Apple’s market share, but I think it’s going to be bigger than you realize. For an awful lot of customers, Vista is Microsoft’s last chance. They’ve waited for six years, every feature that was supposed to make Vista worth the wait has been punted, and we know that they’re not even going to deliver a securable product.

My own prediction is that Vista is going to be remembered as the start of Microsoft’s slide to 20% market share or less. In the next decade or so, Apple will gain the most from Microsoft’s losses, but the cracking of the monopoly will be a major opportunity for Linux as well. I think we will also see the emergence of several entirely new operating systems, now that Microsoft will lose their ability to prevent new alternatives from reaching customers, as they did to Be.

John C. Randolph, VP, Engineering, Stealth Imaging, Inc.

Dunno. Linux is still too geeky. Even the less-geeky distributions are geeky. How come OS X doesn’t feel geeky in a geeky way? Apple got ‘er right. Kinda:

A fascinating read. Thanks. You can tell by my email domain what stance I take on the matter 🙂 [.Mac]

You probably know that OS X only costs $129. Did you know, though, that if you plan on upgrading a 5-computer home network to OS X, they have a Family Pack that’s only $199? Five copies of OS X for less than the upgrade price of ultimate. Not too shabby. That would have been a nice comparison for your article. And for an OS in which features get added leading up to a release, rather than subtracted 🙂 And there’s none of this “phone home” to verify licenses shady-stuff in OS X that they’re increasingly packing into Windows. With the recent word about Vista’s frightful constraints about migrating licenses to another computer (and OS X’s lack of any such constraints at all), well… I’m always amazed people put up with it, to be honest.

There is, unfortunately, a single compelling reason to be on Windows, in my opinion. And that’s games. I’ll grant that one. We’ve got a few, WoW most notably. But there’s a lot on the PC side that’s just never going to come our way. It matters less now, of course, since you can install Windows on your Mac and still run those games.

Good luck in your own decision, by the way, if you decide on a Mac. So long as you don’t approach it by trying to make it run like your old Windows machines, I think you’ll quickly be astonished about what an elegant and just flat out fun computing experience you’ve been missing.

Regards, Ronald Bell, MD

Microsoft isn’t exactly making this a difficult decision – what, with their new Windows Vista licensing scheme. Didn’t stop me from doing a third Freeware Friday, but what else might you expect from a revamped Windows Fanatics channel?

38 thoughts on “Microsoft Windows Vista vs. Apple OS X”

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  6. Chris, please rememeber one thing: Once you go Mac, you’ll never go back! 3 years ago, I switched to the Mac because of the iPod halo and from realizng the simplicity and intuitive style of Apple’s HW and SW from using the iPod and iTunes app. I HAVE BEEN LIVING FREE OF ANTIVIRUS AND SPAM NONSENSE SOFTWARES FOR THE PAST 3 YEARS NOW … HAVE YOU?

  7. I’ve been a Windows fan for a long time, but I’m not that interested in Vista. It should have been more than it is, and I’m fairly certain that it’ll be worse than XP in some ways.

    But, I do think that one of Windows’ worst problems is the sheer amount of garbage that is available to be connected to or installed on top of it. Cheap, cut-rate hardware that doesn’t work properly gives Windows a bad name. Software that installs an icon to the desktop and adds a startup component clutters the system. Combinations of the two that add glitches to the startup process. Microsoft has no direct say in this. They got what they wanted by enticing developers to their platform, but they’ve made no real efforts to force those developers to behave properly. They’re still thinking along the lines of having quantity over quality. I hate them for it, to some extent, because Windows COULD be great. They have the resources and influence to make it happen.

    I don’t think Windows XP is that bad. Once you start adding hardware and software to it, it gradually gets worse. I don’t expect Windows Vista to be better in this respect because Microsoft is still trying to attract quantity over quality to its platform.

    What I wouldn’t mind seeing is some kind of digital certificate attached to software that certifies that not only is this hardware/software compatible with this version of Windows, but that it also meets all of the UI design guidelines and behaves properly with respect to startup/tray/runtime behaviour. THOSE should be the criteria for the Windows logo, not simply that the thing installs and runs.

    I’d never be able to get on with a Mac because of the work I do. But, I’d love to try one. I just can’t justify it. I’m starting to hate Windows, and I’ve been a big fan for over 15 years.

  8. In addition to my previous post, the idea that Linux will gain any traction on the desktop in lieu of Windows is kind of silly.

    Linux is worse than Windows in virtually every respect that an average end-user cares about. And its problem of the developers not considering how the mind of an average user works is even worse than in Windows.

    The only place I see a use for Linux as a Windows replacement is in mobile devices and single-purpose terminals, or on PCs that don’t have the resources to run Windows.

  9. I’m been playing with Ubuntu Linux. Maybe it’s geekier than XP, and maybe that’s just my learning curve. Yeah, it makes a great travelling laptop. Many fewer security issues. Ubuntu itself is geared to be easy to use, update, and install. And it is.

    If more and more is done online, then the OS, as mentioned, matters less.

    I’d get a MacBook now except for the random lockup errors. Best to wait until they fix that completely. Anyone know how prevalent it is?

    When the geeks and early adopters, inclsuing long-time Windows cheerleaders, are beginning to bail, that’s bad news for Microsoft. Geeks have more than a little influence on hardware and software sales.

  10. Chris I know that traffic must be down for you and you need to get the numbers up,But… How will apple increase market Share against Vista when they have NOT been able to do so against XP and they’ve had half a decade to do so,even in the days when Apple notebooks and desk tops were and in some cases still are the prettiest out there.
    There are other market factors at work that have made the situation what it is today.The combination of Cheap components and the rise of
    Taiwan as one of the biggets players in computer parts have driven the price of Pc’s to the point where they have just about become Commodities and people have become acccustomed to shopping heavily by price.
    We live in a world of sub 1000 dollar note books and desk tops,Dell has become the 800 pound gorrilla (regardless of some missteps) and hp have a lot of the Market covered, even Gateway which doesn’t generate attention to it’s products like Apple, enjoys more market share than Cupertino.
    Microsofts biggest competitors are always older Microsoft OS’s, it took Xp
    a while to gain share thanks the older versions of windows and Vista will struggle against Xp for a couple of years before it really builds momentum.
    I’d love to see Apple double it’s market share to a realistic six or seven percent but that’s just not happening, the only reason Apple has OSX is to SELL HARDWARE, they have itunes to SELL HARDWARE,that’s where they really make their money, if they have to make it possible for users to boot Windows on a Mac that’s what they will do, if they had drop OSX and sell Windows only Machines they would do what ever it takes.

    Don’t laugh, who would have thought that Apple would even think about having something like Boot camp just a few years ago.

    Apple has very smart poeple working for them,as does Redmond, but this whole Microsft Vs Apple thing is sooo old and doesn’t really matter to people who live in the real world.

    As for Paul Thurrott, I respect his work, he’s very quick to slam or praise something Microsoft has done, he’s also very realistic about Apple’s strengths and short comings and he has posted some interesting facts about how it would be next to impossible for Apple to really double their market share.

    Oh, and don’t froget to visit Pauls supersite for windows, he has a good article on the Vista ULA, it looks like all the hoopla on the internet is for nothing.

    Congrats on your new Acura, have fun.


  11. I switched, 2 days ago! My issue of CPU (with this article) showed up the day after I ordered my iMac… talk about great timing, it helped me feel a little more comfortable being a “switcher”. Hearing you say what I have been feeling about MS was just awesome…. I’ve been reading your stuff for years. I love me new iMac and don’t think I’ll be going back to a PC. I’ll use BootCamp to play my favorite Windoze games and that’s all. I’ve already migrated everything I need to my new iMac. Thanks Chris!

  12. Os X is for noobs that’s why they make it so difficult to break the system by accident. I think it sucks the way you can’t totally rewrite the OS the way you can with Linux. You don’t even see how the machine is doing its thing its interface is like a impenetrable barrier between you and the guts of the machine I like to be able to “get in thereâ€Â? and change everything to work the way I want it to and to explore the system and get to know my computer and OS and the way they work this is how you gain skill and learn. I’m sure that Linus“Linuxâ€Â?Torvalds would not use Mac OS X (all though I heard Bill gates dose! LOL) for this very reason because to be skilled with “Real Computersâ€Â?(PCs) you have to know the code and what makes them “Tickâ€Â? if you don’t you can never be an expert you can only be the “silly buggerâ€Â? that just uses the software not having a clue how it works and you will Never know how to write it “Macs are as typewriters as PCs are to early dot matrix printersâ€Â? what I mean is yes the hardware (Case!) looks nice (To You “Eeww! White : /â€Â?.) But do you actually know what You paid for that’s in that hideous uninspired white box “NO!â€Â? if you did you wouldn’t have bought it in the first place! I am a very enthusiastic person when it comes to computing I prefer to build my machines from scratch take a look at my latest project and if you have any sense I think you’ll agree this machine wont be beaten by Any Mac no mater how much money you spend (Waste) on it:
    2* Club 3D Nvidia 7950 GX2 1GB RAM =4* GPU

  13. “Stanford’s famous study of 2 years ago, they made the interesting observation that where they found Macs employed in companies was not necessarily in the creative departments, as the old cliché would have it, but in departments whose output was characterized by mission critical delivery across extremely short time windows, regardless of data type.”

    Dead on. With my Mac, I always know I WILL get te job done, without calling an IT tech half way thru. I’m a chemist.

  14. “How will apple increase market Share against Vista when they have NOT been able to do so against XP?”

    OSX is getting better at a fast rate, and the hardware is getting less expensive compared to PC’s. Windows improved a lot going from 3.1 to 95, and from 95 to 2000, but has pretty much stagnated since then, IMHO. Moreover, the cost of using Windows keeps going UP because the security and the stability are so bad.

    I use XP at work, and I spend at least ten minutes a day in ctrl-alt-del. Sometimes I get a long “spinning beachball” on my Mac, too, but when I DO quit the bad process, I don’t have to log out or re-boot to keep the system stable. I’m talking application stability here. Windows seems to have trouble with web browsers and Adobe Acrobat, particularly. That’s another thing– I’ve been able to get rid of Acrobat on my Mac because Postscript/PDF is built in; I can print directly to a PDF file, a feature I use frequently. These observations may be a little subjective; since I’ve never OWNED a PC, there may be some “secret tweaks” you guys know that I don’t.

  15. Wow! I never imagined you would think of switching. I hope you do. I’ve been getting your emails almost since you first started. I always looked forward to checking my mail for them. But since I switched to the Mac two years ago, it’s just not been the same. I know you have good Mac tips and info sometimes, but it’s not the same as all the great things you showed us for windows. I learned a lot!

    There are a lot of Mac newsletters out there, but they all seem to be sharing the same information. If you could dig up new and great stuff for the Mac, like you used to for windows, you would rule.

  16. “OSX is getting better at a fast rate, and the hardware is getting less expensive compared to PC’s. Windows improved a lot going from 3.1 to 95, and from 95 to 2000, but has pretty much stagnated since then, IMHO. Moreover, the cost of using Windows keeps going UP because the security and the stability are so bad.”

    I have to disagree with you about the stability side of things and the security has come a long way, the one greatest thing that Microsft did to imprive security in Xp was to limit the administrator rights after Sp2, there are still securuity issues that come along but that’s the price you pay when your the biggest player in the market.

    OSX has it’s issues too but Apple was smart not have users automaticly
    be assigned Admin rights, and Apple does release serious security updates for OSX their just not so vocal about it, and I find that when it comes to stability ,it’s a coin toss and it depends on the day.

    I like OSX, Apple at the very least was the first out the door to offer more ease of use on the UI front, and I agree some things have changed.
    Apple’s have become faster thanks to the adoption of the Intel cpu’s,
    and they are making an honest attempt to sell a lower prices, but Apple can’t match the breath and scope of a Dell or hp, and the sometimes razor thin profit margins that they work with to sell at the sub one thousand dollar price point.

    I would live to see Apple lift itself up to around 10 percent market share, even though this would take many years to do, it would give Apple a nice
    stable and profitable position to work from, right now the ipod contributes way to much to Apples bottom line compared to the computer side of the company, It would allow Apple to lower the prices of some of it’s notebooks and desktops without the need to have a such high gross profit margins that limit sales, then Apple could match Dell and include monitors and keyboards in some of it’s packages.

    I’ll be in the market for a new notebook early next year and the Macbook pro is at the top of my list, it will be the best of both worlds for me, I’ll have Mac OSX and Windows Vista on the same machine, I love Aero Glass
    and Aqua, and now I’m not forced to choose between one or the other.

    Apple know’s that there are a lot of people like me, we want to work in Windows most of the time, but would love have have a sleek Mac to run it on, while this may seem sacriligious to some, Cupertino can’t ignore the fact that there is a growing market for this kind of thing.

    If doing this keeps the computer Biz side of Apple alive and I think It will,
    all the better.

  17. I read Chris Pirillo’s article and not quite convinced.

    What is the driver of Mac’s market share increase? If it hasn’t done it already as stated by Joe (excellent rebuttal), then I don’t know what Vista can miss.

    At minimum, the improved security features will already convince many Windows users to stay.

    Surely, the User Interface is superior (?) with the Mac, but I’m not so sure. Windows versus Mac is like Right Handed versus Left Handed. I tested Mac at the Apple Computer Store and found the UI very left handed with the minimize/maximize/close buttons on the left side. The software programs, pre-installed on the Mac, are not as intuitive as I had remembered with the Mac (I owned a Mac in 1995).It was difficult for me to figure out the features.

    Surely, a Apple employee showed me some features, yet I wondered how he done it. I wasn’t able to learn it on my own. I realized that Mac isn’t any better in terms of ease of use.

    Therefore, Mac’s main advantage of security and possibly operating system stability may only be marginally better than the pending Vista.

    Many comments he cited on potential switchers is all well and good, but what the heck is the future? The “Phantom Menace” example is an good jab. Actually, it stings, but you’re talking about XP SP2 for all we know. Windows is not fancy, but it does it’s job.

  18. Chris,
    Don’t you think that when Apple (possibly) takes over the market share, that the Hacker population will then switch their entire attention towards OSX? It’s a fact they attack Windows because it is popular, right? Not just what’s easiest. Will Vista then be the safer OS in the future?

  19. hahaha.. vista has been in development for quite some time now. 5 yrs and nothing extraordinary. imho aero should just be just a minor feature. its like theyre selling vista, buy premium and you get aero. just pure eye candy.
    and the requirements are too high too. but still i have no choice.. ill still use it.. hehehe

  20. Nothing like a bit of anti-microsoft FUD to get links/traffic to your blog.

    Just in case nobody’s worked it out yet this is nothing more than a game. Before the release of any major Microsoft product (win 98,2000,XP, .net framework, Xbox, tablet, media center, UMPC, Zune) the web explodes with hundreds of articles and blog posts all trying to convince us that this product is going to suck and be a huge flop and could bring M$ down because everyones going to switch to apples/googles/linux/netscapes/sonys/mozillas latest vastly superior product. The Slashdotters and Diggers all have their fun, and the blogger gets the traffic he craves. Microsoft ship the product, it becomes successful, the bloggers predictions are proven wrong but it doesn’t matter because by then they have moved onto spreading FUD on the next MS product.

  21. the reason why vista will help Mac OS X increase their market share is because most users who will like to enjoy all the features in the premium version of vista will have to upgrade to a new computer, that said if you read the specs on the top of the line vista (all bells and well you know…) you need to spen a good amount of money, and then consider all the extra expense of anivirus (yes i know there are free antivirus, but joe shmoe from down the street bearly knows how to get on line) as well as all the inheret security issues, all the bugs… not able to use iTunes and the iPod i just got for Xmas… oh and the zune doesnt work ether?… isn’t it M$ product?????? ummmm… my old printer wont work… or scaner?… how much is all that going to cost me compared to a brand new Mac with a secure stable and proven OS?… hmm i may have money left over to get that Apple care for 3 years and even .Mac so i can share my pics and stuff easier… oh and who knows maybe some procare classes….. oh man I also get a FREE printer copier scaner from HP after rebate?… oh and if need be I can run windows on my mac?… HOLLY SH*T DONE DEAL!!!!!!

  22. I think that when you are deciding on an operating system, it should come down to what’s most practical. I think Windows Vista is in theory, better than XP but it is just constantly fighting with my hardware. If XP is better for you and works with your hardware, FINE. If apple os x is better, FINE. I was at first thinking of upgrading to Vista but there are just to many problems and I can’t post pone my life and the things I need to get done and wait for Microsost to fix the bugs.

  23. I’ve liked Windows since its early days, and after a few initial gripes about XP, I reckon it’s not a bad OS at all. Linux is way too geeky. I’m a geek, but I have other things to do, and Linux isn’t worth my time at the moment. Macs are too dumb. Windows has always occupied the middle ground – easy yet tweakable.

    But some idiot executives in Microsoft appeared to have decided to remove the “tweakableness”. Now decisions are made for us, options are removed, features eliminated. This is starting to add up and my annoyance is steadily growing. I’ve already ditched IE7 in favour of Firefox almost purely because of my outrage over the Image Toolbar being canned.

    Having played with Vista a bit and seen how many things are missing, or more difficult, my blood pressure is steadily rising. If I go anywhere, I’ll go to Linux. When Windows loses its geek community, like someone else already said, it dies. The ecosystem which sustains it is lost. It will no longer have software written for it, it will no longer be recommended to parents and girlfriends. There won’t be people who know how to fix it. The worst thing of all is the sense that Microsoft is no longer listening. To anyone.

  24. Many people encounter the following computer problems: take a long time to start up, load websites or run programs. Recently I find functional software which can fix all these problems just with one click: tuneup360, maybe you guys could have a try.

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