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?