Operating System Truths

This morning, a friend sent me a link to Analysts on Leopard’s Hype. I didn’t take issue with the entire collection of positions and statements, but some of them seemed to be… grossly inaccurate and misleading.

“Would you recommend a Mac to a friend or family member who’s looking to purchase a notebook?”

Sam Bhavnani: Yes. As a guy who tracks the PC industry, people ask me all the time if they should get an Apple. The overall experience is a very pleasant one. If they’re willing to spend some time with the Apple OS, they will most likely enjoy the experience.

Bingo. BINGO. You nailed it, Sam – that was the right answer. And yes, there’s only one right answer to this question. If you’re not recommending a Mac (with Leopard) to a friend or family member, you’re doing them an extreme disservice. Consumers need to understand that yesterday’s arguments don’t apply.

If they’re asking you, they’re curious – and if they’re curious, they’re obviously NOT HAPPY WITH WHAT THEY’RE USING NOW!!!

Al Gillen: It depends on what that person is planning on doing with his or her system. If it’s needed for e-mail or business applications, I would recommend Windows, as it has Microsoft Office. If it’s needed for entertainment, I would recommend the Mac.

With all due respect, Al… ARE YOU ON CRACK?! How could anybody respect the opinion of someone who didn’t realize that (a) there’s a Microsoft Office for OS X, (b) there are open source Microsoft Office alternatives available for OS X, and (c) email can be retrieved and stored on any damn operating system. I take umbrage with your business applications assertions, because it depends on how you choose to define “business applications” – and if you mean that the vendors of these “business applications” refuse to support other platforms, well… there’s Boot Camp or VMware Fusion, you fool. “Entertainment” is equally as relative.

Ross Rubin: It would depend on that person’s requirements. The Mac has excellent creativity apps and is a compelling platform. Windows, however, offers lots of options in terms of compatibility and the size of its user base. You have to match an operating system with a user’s needs.

While the decision does “depend,” it certainly isn’t for a lack of creativity apps on one platform or the other. Compatibility certainly is important, but at some point it becomes a boondoggle! Moreover, since when was the size of a user base directly proportional with the value of its designated platform?

Enough of the FUD. Here are ten solid reasons you’d want to buy a machine with Microsoft Windows and/or stick with it altogether:

  1. You’re afraid of learning something new; you don’t want to change the way you do anything, ever; your world falls apart when someone deletes an icon from your desktop or Start Menu. Legitimate reasons, I assure you.
  2. You like shopping for bargain basement hardware and need an operating system that supports every possible component you might throw into it, no matter how old or how obscure that equipment might be. You also like getting what you pay for.
  3. You want to build your own PC (the journey is equally as important as the destination).
  4. Your favorite software (realistically) doesn’t have an equivalent available on any other platform. Bonus points are awarded if you’ve taken the time to look before jumping to this conclusion.
  5. You’re a hardcore gamer – in which case, you better not suggest that Macs are more expensive. Games, games, games, games, and more games – the top reasons why anybody would opt into Microsoft Windows. If you’re a “PC” gamer, then there’s virtually no choice for you right now.
  6. Your company gave you the computer(s), and they can’t support anything else.
  7. You feel comfortable, confident, and generally good in knowing that there are more people using Windows than there are using OS X at home or at work.
  8. You hate the way OS X affixes the application’s menu at the top of a screen rather than in the application window itself – even after realizing that Microsoft has been actively attempting to wean users off of menus altogether.
  9. You don’t have major issues with Microsoft Windows, you don’t mind how it looks, you don’t mind how it works, and you don’t care how you get things done so long as you CAN get things done. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with complacency.
  10. You’re afraid you’ll like something else more than Microsoft Windows. Believe it or not, I’ve actually had people tell me this.

Replacing one OS with another is potentially very costly – in money and in time. At least you should be making an informed decision based on truths and practical experiences, not merely on talking points from pseudo pundits.

30 thoughts on “Operating System Truths”

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  3. I use MS Windows, because I like my machine to work for me, not me work for it. Now I have used in the past 3 months, Windows XP Pro, Windows Vista Business, Mac OSX, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, and Vector Linux.

    (Note: I grew up on Macs)

    However, I have been using MS Windows, since 98. Not forgetting my other options I have always given them another shot here and there, whether it being a bit of ‘nix or mac, always give new stuff a go.

    I have noticed, ALL NONE MICROSOFT OS’S require more work to do such things like, simply, Installing new software, Driver updates, wait did I say new software? I meant 4 months after the realease of it when it comes out for one of these alteritives. Now I am not saying Windows Vista is godly, cuz’ we all now its pretty far from it. In my eyes, MS WinXP is the best all around OS for anyone. It being completely user-friendly, 95% of software is made for it, upgrades are easy.

    So generally speaking, Bow down to XP for the true eXPerience.

    – in live.pirillo.com

  4. Several of the reasons you give for sticking with Windows are pretty big ones. Nos. 2, 3, 4 (especially 4!), and 9 are among my own reasons, even though my first WYSIWYG computer was a Mac, and I presently own a Powerbook (with MS Office installed). The ability to shop from a large number of BTO vendors on the Internet is another big reason.

  5. in a business environment I can give you one huge reason why windows dominates…


    and, yes I have used other mail clients such as evolution (it uses the webmail to connect and sync) but not a single one compares to outlook when you are wanting to use the business functionality that exists when you combine exchange and outlook – then you bolt on things such as live communitactions server, groove, sharepoint and other collaberations services that simply blow away most of the other offerings (there’s alternatives on the market, but nothing can hold a light up to the ms ones, and I have had plenty of experience with others, I administrated lotus domino and notes for a couple of years).

    Then, you consider that a huge amount of the other business applications that are predominantly windows based and you hit the major reason why many people will go for a windows pc – familiarity.

    Users have enough problems using their windows pc and simply don’t want to learn how to use another system.. I have encountered a scary amount of people who have bought a mac and actually get confused between the 2 different systems (seriously!) and don’t have the mental capacity to adapt 🙁

    Also, when you say “there’s always bootcamp” basically, what you should say is “you can use dual boot and simply boot into windows and get the job done that the market hasn’t extended to the mac os world yet”

    I’m a gamer, and so windows has always been the only realistic choice for me, but I do recognise the strengths of the mac (I grew up using apples and acorn pcs – ah, good old risc os how ahead of your time you were!) and the only answer that I can ever give to a person asking “should I get a mac or windows” is another question “what are you going to use it for?”, the answer to that will dictate what system fits your needs.

    Also, office for mac is quite over priced and even just a year or 2 ago was under threat of being dropped by microsoft (until they realised that they can’t afford to leave a growing market to it’s own devices).
    I do think that many of the open source options are catching up with office – and that the latest version (2007) is a poor, poor product with so many failings (I can’t delete emails at the speed I used to otherwise I end up with “cannot delete this” message because it was still trying to render the screen (even tho I don’t have the preview panel on!!).

  6. The only other reason I recommend Windows is tech support–do you have a Windows tech support person readily available? If the guy in your office who does computers is a Microsoft guy, or your neighbor down the street who will help you out of a jam, or whomever–then it might help to have someone around who can get you out of the jam you will soon find yourself in.

    As for me, I bought my whole family (mother, father, etc) Macs because I was tired of the hell they were going through with Windows just do to simple stuff. Just wasn’t worth my time walking them through things over the phone.

  7. Being able to open up the machine and build it myself is the only reason I have windows, which has led to a little lock in at the desktop level. However, I can’t see a single reason why one would want a windows laptop.

    Of course, for heavy duty development and science, I can’t use anything but Linux 🙂

  8. The problem here is FUD, Chris, and old, out dated information. Many Windows users are unaware of how often the Macintosh can do a better job for them. If a person makes an informed decision to choose Windows, who can complain about that?

    Windows isn’t big because it’s good. It’s big because it comes free on a PC. Microsoft has areas where it’s software dominates, just as Apple does.

    Apple chooses not to market to some areas. But, as Mac OSX rapidly develops, with upgrades every 12 to 18 months as Steve Jobs recently promised, then Apple is extending its software into Microsoft’s turf. A good example of this is the Open Source, CalDAV Group Calendaring that is in Leopard 10.5.

    Apple is making no direct threats on Microsoft; It is not catering to the Enterprise Market. All the advancements are to support Small to Medium Businesses. But, SMB’s which have better software, which deliver a better user satisfaction and lower costs than PC’s are able to compete with companies who choose Windows.

    Therefore, they can pass on their Lower Costs of Ownership of a Mac to their customers or provide higher quality. Thus, a SMB that uses a Macintosh will likely prosper. They won’t stay small or medium sized forever. It’s called “Growing the Market.”

  9. When it comes to installing programs nothing, I mean nothing, equals the OS X way of doing things! Nothing! Simply drag and drop. Thats it, no mess, no fuss.

    Windows is a guessing game, will it install all the way, or will it stop half way through? Thats the question I have been presented with many times before and frankly, I don’t appreciate it one cotton-picking-minute!

    As far as Exchange and other programs, the point is mute. I can run them natively on the Mac just as easy as a plain PC. All Window and Linux programs can be run on OS X, but you can’t legally do the same with OS X on PCs, so its obvious, as many are coming to see, as OS X continues to gain significant market share at the expense of both Windows and Linux.

  10. I am so sick of Windows! I can’t wait to get my Macbook (black) I know Mac is not perfect but it has to be better then the hell I go through with a regular PC. I want to enjoy my experience with my computer not dread it. I started doing my own research on Macs because no one I know has one and whenever I ask anyone about them they say that a Mac is good only if you are doing graphics. Now I know that a Mac is just what I really should have had long ago and I don’t do graphics but I will enjoy all the other things that Leopard has to offer way over what I have gotten from Windows.

  11. Reasons to use XP:

    It’s great for storing, organizing, and editing photos, videos, music, and traditional documents.

    Publishing stuff to the web is easy.

    It’s eco-friendly to use perfectly functional old hardware.

    It’s good to get off the consumer treadmill now that PCs are extremely powerful commodity items.

    After the first year of error reporting, XP error messages became rare.

    Detached skepticism about Apple’s advertising claims is healthy.

    PCs seem more relaxed and down to earth than Macs. The antiseptic purity of Apple’s image is off-putting compared to the humble clutter of totally mismatched components from 5 different companies. I focus on the screen, not hardware design.

    I use a PC to get things done, not marvel at the operating system. XP is bloated, but hardware caught up enough by 2003-4 to make it get out the way.

    Competition and choice in the PC hardware market results in constantly dropping prices and waves of creative destruction in the manufacturing world. This is better for consumers than the monopoly Apple would have us support.

    Continuous novelty is getting old. Computers 25 years from now will still use letters, pictures, sounds, and videos. Once mass market computers could handle video editing with ease, more horsepower and interface innovation wasn’t desperately needed. XP confidently deals with all kinds of information people like to work and play with. There’s no compelling reason for a bargain loving cheapskate to switch from a stable OS.

  12. I started using a Mac back in 1985. I played around with Windows when it came out some time after that. Eventually, I used sgi UNIX workstations in University. Over the last 9 years I had to use a Windows PC (NT-2000), and I recently had to buy XP SP2 to run on my MacBook Pro by way of WMWare Fusion. One of the things that I have noticed about Mac OS X is that when there are problems with the OS it is relatively easy to discover what those problems are and how to rectify them. Thankfully, I rarely encounter OS related problems on the Mac. I would argue that Cerebellum is talking about his personal experience, because I do not see any studies to back up the comments he made about how other OS’s require more steps to get work done. In so doing, it would seem that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.
    So his comment could be dismissed as FUD.

  13. And, yes, I was talking about my experience too. If you didn’t notice the ironic humor in my last comment. If you did, please smile freely.

  14. I read the same article over the weekend and had a similar reaction to the “expert” who advised WIndows for email and Office docs. Thanks for calling him out Chris.

    On the plus side I had an old friend (who is most assuredly not an expert, but was about to buy a new laptop) call me the other day. All he wanted to know was whether his Word and Excel docs would still open if he bought a MacBook. I assured him they would and he took the plunge. That’s one fewer Windows machine I’ll be diagnosing by long distance telephone!

  15. yeah i really agree with the top 10 list. really the one thing stopping me from going to mac is the games. although i’m not exactly hardcore, i like to buy new games when they come out, and anything short of a mac pro won’t be able to play all those games. and for the price of a mac pro, i can get wayy more in a pc.

  16. Pirillo makes some good points, and it is obvious he has actually used a Mac enough to become familiar with the OS.

    It amazes me that people will talk confidently about OS X when it’s obvious they no next to nothing about it.

    One significant reason to recommend Macs especially to novice users is the lack of malware. Yes, I know, any operating system is vulnerable to viruses, worms, spyware, rootkits. But for the past seven years OS X has been around, there is currently NO malware capable of exploiting a vulnerability and infecting an OS X machine across the Internet. Compared to tens of thousands of malware programs out there attacking Windows.

    (Yes, for OS X there was the Oompa-Loompa worm, the iTunes concept, and IIRC a couple other concept worms. And there is one commercial keystroke logger that I know of for OS X. But the OS is patched to defend against the worms. And the keystroke logger must be manually installed. )

    This means that currently an OS X machine attached to the Internet will not be infected by viruses, worms or spyware. Even without security software.

    And since surveys conducted by the security software firms indicate that surprising numbers of Windows users don’t update their security software–even monthly–many of these users would be better off with a Mac.


  17. don: do you have experience in the enterprise market at all?

    I have used the likes of evolution in order to connect to an exchange server (bearing in mind you need to run exchange on a windows server and to have active directory backing it up too) on a client that isn’t a windows and office based system and it uses the OWA (outlook web access) interface in order to sync.
    This is fine for standard email and some scheduling of meetings, but when you’re wanting to use the hooks that other collaberation services M$ produces, it simply doesn’t work.. that’s not to mention the likes of the CRM systems such as sage line xxx, saleslogix, etc just don’t work or don’t work to the efficiency as they do with the native support they have for the M$ produce.

    Yes, you can have internal developers that will customise these systems so they will, but the problem can be that they might never be as polished as the way in which the original developers designed them to be.

    And while you’re saying “I can just boot camp it if mac os can’t handle it” you’re still perpetuating the M$ tax.
    I have had to put up with users who can’t get their head around the menus of internet explorer, god help them if they have to deal with dual booting as well, no matter how easy you make the interface. I can just see it “why can’t I just do it within apple?” and “well, can’t I just boot into windows and do it all from there if it all works without having to use a program for every different feature”.
    Also, please learn the technology.. mac os is not “running the application natively”.. windows is, it’s just using the same hardware that has an installation of mac os x on it 😉 the hardware is not the mac, the OS is.

    More certainly needs to be done with apple to get the data and applications working between the OS’s, however we’re turning to creating terminal server farms and simply punting out thin clients (yup, they’re making a come back) to the users desk and taking the apple approach and taking total control over the system to the point where only a set list of applications can be launched.

    Creating enterprise software is an expensive venture, shit not even many of those supposed enterprise software corporations can get it right regardless of the OS they use as their base – our VPN client as one good example, they are still working on a vista version!

    Give apple enough time to increase their market share, and the application support will arrive. Until then, when it comes to the general enterprise windows will remain the usual platform of choice

  18. As a developer for Windows applications and a part-time gamer, Windows makes much more sence for me. However, most of my daily applications (such as Visual Studio) can easily and fully be run inside of a virtual machine such as Parallels.

    Getting a Mac would allow me to have the best of both worlds with a virtual machine even though most of my time would be spent inside of a Windows environment.

    That being said, the thing that’s stopping me from getting a Mac is the price. As a developer and gamer, the only thing would suit my needs is a Mac Pro. I’m not about to run Visual Studio 2005 + SQL Server 2005 in a virtual environment on an iMac … I just can’t deal with any type of slowdown.

    I really wish Apple would drop their prices. Seriously … if they would just drop their prices, they would control the market: period.

    I want to switch to a Mac … but I can’t. I cann’t possibly justify $3200 on a Mac Pro when I have 3 machines currently on my desk (1 desktop, 1 laptop, and 1 server).

    – Adam

  19. “you don’t mind how it looks, you don’t mind how it works”
    Do you ever stop to consider that a lot of people use Windows like how it looks and like how it works?
    Your attempting to grab a lot of publicity with Windows bashing while making the move to a Mac, but people in less need of publicity don’t think like you.

  20. I’m not sure why Pirillo is slamming the analysts especially since they are largely favorable towards the Macs.

    Their responses are brief. Maybe there is more there, but not presented in the article.

    The analysts are NOT wrong. They are ambiguous enough to be truthful. The reasons given are in fact “reasonable” and within expectations.

    Your list of 10 to stick with Windows really doesn’t sell the Mac. It’s another Mac VS Windows debate. If you want people to make the switch, sell the Mac!!!

    The problem with the Mac is the price point and the willingness of the customer to start all over again. Nothing wrong with this, but it will require a bit of hassle. For the non-techie, the switch won’t be painless. It will require a learning curve and some money to make the transition. This isn’t FUD, it is a fact.

  21. I found the transition to mac unbelieveably painful. My favorite free-with-the-scanner graphics program doesn’t come in OSX, there was no driver for my printer… the list went on. It took about a year to ajust. A new printer ( – still with a rubbish driver: didn’t do my homework) and Microsoft Office Mac improved the experience, and Corel Painter Essentials provides a workable graphics program while I make up my mind about a serious suite.

    My PDA won’t sync without a 3rd party app and my MP3 player doesn’t have an iTunes driver.

    But great OSX apps like Scrivener, the brilliant search function and the total absence of viruses are a big plus; the Linux-like terminal window makes stuff like FTP a breeze.

    The kids have finally grown out of the old PC games; now if only I could get Rome: Total War for mac, life would be complete….

    I’ll never go back to PC, ever. Though the new dual cores and the ability to emulate windows… I’m kinda wondering what gives with that. Sleeping with the enemy?

  22. I don’t see how you can’t consider the cost of buying your Windows apps all over again for a Mac as part of this equation (assuming they are available for Mac). Last I heard Adobe was locking licensing keys to the OS which only makes matters worse. Fortunately they are not the norm but Adobe apps are costly…. WTF is wrong with Adobe?

    I definitely like the Mac OS but have been using Vista for a month now and don’t see the problems Chris does. All my issues seem to be tied to Nvidia drivers and once I make the recommended tweaks Vista is fine. No MS specific issues yet…

  23. Interestingly I just watched the new Leopard promo video – I presume the “narrator” is a typical Mac user – he sure is glad for the new Time Machine cause he had a folder with some stuff he needed and when he went to look it wasn’t there – he “didn’t know what he did” but luckily he can recover it…actually he had that happen to him a few times in the video….and every time he “didn’t know what he did” but it wasn’t there….are we beginning to find some “operative words” here??????…and wow how about “spaces” ! …uh I think linux had virtual desktops years ago and so did pc’s…but what? – you can move stuff between them? – wow! – oh yeah that how they worked in those days…this is what I believe is called “advertising” which came soon after the first Gutenburg press…( which was closely follewed by the first salesmen…)…

  24. Damn right!
    I agree with the ten solid reasons given by chris, but also I agree in part with Deepak… for heavy duty development and science –> LINUX!!!
    But still, PC hardware is good enough for most of the applications, including Linux, for any user. Business, that’s a different story.
    Sorry Steve Jobs, but I won’t buy a Mac… EVER!
    Thanks for reading.

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