A Different Kind of Personal Computer

There are comments (beyond Dan’s) that deserve more attention in the Leopard vs Vista discussion thread.

The issue of locking into hardware puts me off going Mac OS X, Mac hardware certainly costs more than a few nickels. Give it a couple of years and attempt upgrading some of the components, or replacing a faulty component when the price totals more than the value of the system. I’m more than happy with Vista running on this machine that I built myself.

If by “locking into hardware” you mean embracing newer technologies like EFI or GPT for a consumer class operating system and platform, then yeah – you should be put off. How much is power management that just WORKS worth to you? How much is a 64-bit OS that just WORKS worth to you? How much is being able to open up your Web browser or Email client without worrying about opening the WRONG THING worth to you?

Gaming rigs certainly cost more than a few nickels – so, what’s your point about price? If you want to buy cheap hardware, that’s your prerogative. If you want to build your own system, that’s your prerogative. But don’t assert that the issue is related to cost – cost is always relative.

You’re not locked into anything other than something that works with far fewer incompatibilities than you have been lead to believe. The hardware and software were designed to go hand in hand with Apple – whereas, the traditional PC’s greatest strength and weakness is in its level of configurability flexibility.

Some people like building cars for themselves – and some people like researching and simply buying them. At least with Apple, you know who made the hardware and who made the software – there’s no guessing games or finger pointing with systemic problems.

Does YESTERDAY”S ARGUMENTS include the fact that Apple will never have support for applications like Windows will. Stating that you hate iTunes does not disguise the fact that you are indeed an Apple Fanboy and like most Apple Fanboys in the media, Leo Laporte being a classic example, you fail to recognize that the overwhelming majority like Windows and are happy with it. A Mac to most will always be considered a pretty toy and your feeble attempts to woe the unconverted will remain just that, a feeble attempt.

I don’t understand why you’d call me a fanboy of any kind – unless you’re talking about my enthusiasm for Peet’s Coffee. I’ve taken Apple to task, I’ve taken Microsoft to task. Do you feel THAT threatened because you realize this is a battle you cannot win? :)

And believe me, more than a few Windows users are not “happy with it.” If you really think that the Mac is nothing more than a pretty toy, you live a very sad existence. I didn’t think OS X was anywhere near usable or stable until Tiger (10.4), and I didn’t know that Leopard would give Vista a run for its money until I saw one of the more recent (late) beta builds.

The only Ultimate thing about Windows Vista Ultimate is its price tag: $339 on Amazon today. And with that, you get Ultimate add-ons such as… Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. Somehow, you blame users for this issue instead of holding Microsoft’s own foot to the fire.

Trust me, every OEM on the planet would give anything to offer OS X as an operating system choice on their systems. Dell’s already shipping Ubuntu PCs, and HP is shipping Red Hat now. Even so, Linux could never compete directly with Apple on the consumer’s desktop – since Linux largely provides a software solution without a controlled hardware environment. That, and its own unwieldy community has recently displaced one of its strongest desktop advocates.

If your friends are “happy” with Windows, they’re either masochists, complacent, or grossly underinformed. The only semi-lucid part of your argument was in relation to backwards compatibility, but… virtual machines can already handle legacy apps with relative ease. The onus is on VMware, Parallels, and Microsoft (Virtual PC) to make their respective VM’s power invisible to average user.

Which would make you happier in terms of uninstalling a program: simply deleting its icon, or dancing through some kludge of an uninstallation routine that may or may not be broken and may or may not be complete? Hrmph.

The sad thing is that Microsoft can do amazing things. The Office suite is excellent, and Exchange is brilliant (although a pig to configure for beginners). XBox 360 with its Live service is brilliant, and the new Surface (www.microsoft.com/surface) is mind blowing. They are also funding amazing technologies like Seadragon, and yet despite all this they can’t build a decent OS. I wonder if it’s the backward compatibility that holds them back. Perhaps we are witnessing the first stages in a shift in focus for Microsoft.

Do you know why the Xbox 360 with the Live service is amazing? Because Microsoft controls the hardware and the software experience. Moreover, they pay attention to user interface; elegance is not sacrificed for ease-of-use (they come hand-in-hand). If the Xbox had a built-in HD-DVD / Blu-Ray combo drive and Cable Card support, they’d have the ultimate home entertainment device.

People don’t necessarily want to buy brands anymore – they want to buy interoperability. This is where both Microsoft and Apple typically fall short with consumers (for whatever reason). As far as my parents are concerned, Mac OS X can do the same things that Windows XP / Vista can do – and frequently, with a lot more flair.

I would never cut off my nose to spite my face. I’m not abandoning Microsoft (or Windows entirely, for that matter). I do feel, however, that Microsoft Windows has already abandoned me as a power user. If you’re content with Windows Vista, fine – but you’re doing yourself a tremendous disservice by dismissing Mac OS X because it doesn’t work the same way.

57 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Personal Computer”

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  6. I would be a lot more likely to use a Mac (like the one sitting in the other room right now) if it had better applications. In most of the categories that matter to me — email, RSS reader, usenet reader, website watcher, music player, etc. — I much prefer the choice offered on Windows, or even Linux, to the meager fare available for Mac OS. That people think iTunes is hot stuff, for example, says a lot about the lack of choice over there.


  7. Good rant and spot on.
    What’s the first quote on about? When I look at my Mac Pro and my new Macbook Pro all I see are standard PC parts, ATI graphics, eSata HD (I’ve added a second from my old PC)….there’s no extra cost at all for hardware unless you buy everything direct from Apple, and that goes for memory as well. The innards of a Mac Pro are only different to a PC in that they are easier to access: ie: the box is prettier and better laid out :-)

  8. Hey Chris,

    I love reading your blogs and video blogs but I was just wondering, I know you don’t like taking sides on the Apple / Microsoft matter but you offhandedly mentioned a while ago you might consider moving to OS X.

    Are you still as strongly inclined to do so or do you think you’ll stick with Windows as your primary OS or what?

    Just thought I’d have my two cents.

    Thanks for reading :)


  9. I would say that it took Mac Os many years before being able to threaten Microsofts dominance in the Os market (i guess Os X). From the feelings of people, friends, family with both Vista and Mac Os as well as that which is so vocally shown by users comments and your posts regarding Windows vs Mac hooplah it is apparent that Mac Os with 10.5 about to be ‘unleashed’ Microsoft may be squeezed out ( not totally ) due to the clever marketing and Vistas woes. Trying to be neutral i would say it is about time too.
    My main point is what of us who are fed up of windows to some length but have perfectly decent machines ( fairly new) and don’t see the point of buying new hardware of the mac variety ( c’mon chris not all of us are millionaires of get free stuff via sponsors!). What hope do we have ? Linux…..?
    I could also put yourself in my situation, as i see you get more and more frustrated with vista, pretty soon all your workload may if not already be carried out on the mac. So what are you left with? a Quad Fx redundant machine, and if your not a gamer ………
    ( i’m sorry for depressing you)
    Many thanks
    Mr Big

  10. Silly Chris. Don’t you know you are not allowed to be pleased with your technology purchase? The true sign of intelligence is to find fault with everything you own that uses electricity…. especially if it doesn’t have an SDK (like that damned microwave and that stupid television set).

    If you actually like a piece of gear, then you are a blind fool and if Apple made it you are just a zealot.

    “Satisfied Customers” don’t exist, just stupid people.

  11. I had a whole bunch typed up, but after re-reading, your argument is that tying the hardware and the software together makes for a great experience. That is true.

    You’re going to have a “better” experience on a real 3270 terminal versus an emulator.

    The issue as I see it, we got to where we’re at because we did have various shades of hardware with various shades of software. But the IBM PC hardware isn’t all that different either. We don’t have Z800 computers running around, we never saw a Windows 68000 from Microsoft. The hardware that you so complain about in Window’s existence is much more closely linked than Apple’s checkered hardware history.

    Can you imagine the uproar if Microsoft made sure that Vista would only run on a P4? Of if that seems too funny, Core Duo?

    I have a friend that I would dearly love to put on a Mac as an experiment. I want to see if she still runs into the same things she does on her Windows machine (Which is only 2000 Professional I might add) as with a Mac. Hardware and software.

    I guess I’m either masochistic, complacent, or grossly under-informed. That’s according to you, and I’ve been banging hardware and software for 30 years. The stench of Apple arrogance is obviously still around.

  12. If you see good in any Apple product or dislike even the smallest feature in Microsoft products you will be declared an Apple Fanboy. There is no middle ground. Saying that both you and your wife enjoy using the iPhone is enough to make you a Supreme Apple Fanboy. You might as well get used to it. Lord help you if you decide to purchase a wide-screen iPod and say something like it’s the finest media player you’ve ever used. You will be immediately promoted to the Apple Fanboy Hall of Shame.

    I use any product that fulfills my needs. Be it Microsoft Windows, Apple OSX or whatever. People don’t quite get the concept. They seem to be tied to one side or the other. My MacBook Pro runs OSX, but I also run WinXP Pro in Parallels or BootCamp. If one doesn’t work for me I just move to the other. I honestly like both Windows and OSX. What’s the big deal. Neither are perfect, but using both puts me that much closer to perfection.

  13. My experience includes running a couple large I/T shops – one with over 262,000 desktop computers worldwide. Tracking operating costs on these machines, of which over 20,000 were OS X machines, I can empirically say that OS X is radically less expensive to operation, manage and maintain. This number varies between deployment environment, but ranges for 1/10th to 1/25th the administration cost per machine per year (TCO, based on both desktop and back-end infrastructure support) – no small number on a nearly $2B I/T budget. Working with other companies, large and small, the numbers repeatedly validate.

    Few of the many CIO’s that I have spoken with, would remain with Windows, if there was a cost effective alternative. The main factor restricting this migration is the inadvertent adoption of Microsoft proprietary solutions that have become mission critical to the enterprise, making platform migration not just a hardware / OS / desktop application dilemma, but a rewrite of many core business applications to work on something other than proprietary Windows environments.

    This is the real irony – people argue Windows is an open, extensible platform, because it run on a variety of vendor hardware. However, the REAL lock in is the proprietary software, data formats, and communication protocols (Exchange, for example), ActiveX, IIS, and all the extensive interdependencies within a Microsoft shop. This massive lock in, ensures that the cost of migrating OFF Windows, would be an excessive dollar figure. Microsoft does not care which hardware vendor; just lock us into Windows.

    Apple, on the other hand, is almost all open, public standards, across the board. Calendaring, email, directory services, file formats, file storage system format support, communications protocols, etc, etc, etc. are all non-proprietary. Data compatibility is the grail for customer choice, not picking commodity hardware, which is

  14. The term ‘fanboy’ is a PC user’s BSOD. That is the point where they cannot absorb any more facts that go against their rigid worldview.

  15. The use of the term fanboy, zealot, cultist, reality distortion field, Microcrap et. all.. has been so over used that at this point it is truly weak. It comes as a result of the user having no more mental capacity to think of a better adjective to hurl an insult.
    Sorta like Micheal Richards resorting to using the “N” word when he had no response to a heckler. His game was weak and there was nothing of intelligence to grab from his stored knowledge.
    Fanboy, used as insult to point to someones’ preference for a particular technology shows the same lack of intellectual tools. There’s nothing left in the users brain that would allow them make their argument without resorting to the weakest insult running rampant on the net.

  16. Strangely, I’ve seen the statement by people eager to cry up Microsoft that the PC is an open platform quite frequently just recently.

    It’s kind-of ironic inasmuch as the PC is open thanks to IBM not Microsoft. Moreover, it won’t be open for much longer if Microsoft gets its way.

    This should surprise no-one, since Microsoft have always resisted openness in any shape or form, witness their attempt to displace the truly open ODF formats with the not-really-open OOXML format by any means possible, fair or foul:


    Anyway, to return to the hardware, Microsoft is eager to jump into bed with the MPAA and the RIAA, and Vista’s baked-in DRM, added at their request — which runs at a very low level and which is doubtless one reason why Vista was delayed so long — requires that the specifications on some items of hardware not be made available:

    “In order to prevent the creation of hardware emulators of protected output devices, Vista requires a Hardware Functionality Scan (HFS) that can be used to uniquely fingerprint a hardware device to ensure that it’s (probably) genuine. In order to do this, the driver on the host PC performs an operation in the hardware (for example rendering 3D content in a graphics card) that produces a result that’s unique to that device type.

    “In order for this to work, the spec requires that the operational details of the device be kept confidential. Obviously anyone who knows enough about the workings of a device to operate it and to write a third-party driver for it (for example one for an open-source OS, or in general just any non-Windows OS) will also know enough to fake the HFS process. The only way to protect the HFS process therefore is to not release any technical details on the device beyond a minimum required for web site reviews and comparison with other products.

    “This potential “closing” of the PC’s historically open platform is an extremely worrying trend. A quarter of a century ago, IBM made the momentous decision to make their PC an open platform by publishing complete hardware details and allowing anyone to compete on the open market. Many small companies, the traditional garage startup, got their start through this. This openness is what created the PC industry, and the reason why most homes (rather than just a few offices, as had been the case until then) have one or more PCs sitting in a corner somewhere. This seems to be a return to the bad old days of 25 years ago when only privileged insiders were able to participate.”


  17. To make it clear to Duncan…
    I own a dual core P.C. i ‘m not liking windows too much and am not willing to move to vista when Xp support ends later next year. I’m also not willing to fork out for a mac as i have a decent machine, a dual core as mentioned before, (unless Duncan can give me some money). My point is Mac Os is only compatible with a Mac. so what hope is there left for the rest of us who don’t own a mac? please refer to my original post.
    Hope that made sense

  18. Some interesting thoughts:
    Microsoft catered to developers. That is why they own the market.
    They basically gave away development tools and the OS to developers.
    It cost a pretty penny to develop on the MAC. You also had to develop outside there OS.
    OS X is based on UNIX; Apple finally gave it up to an established system.
    UNIX has been around and stable for a lot longer than Vista.
    UNIX has its problems Apple knows this.
    Vista is a younger OS.
    IF you want to see how OS are really doing where it counts look at the server market. Which OS is fading away and which is coming on stronger every day?
    Why do so many servers use the Microsoft OS if it is so bad?

    As a developer I have worked with all the OS mentioned and then some. I prefer Windows. No MAC cult and no UNIX priest hood please.

  19. I cannot tell you how frustrating this whole argument is to someone who just wants to buy a laptop and wants to know which to buy, a PC or a Mac. I have a PC at home and it is showing some wear but is still usable. I would like a laptop to travel with. I love the look of Apple products, and truly want to know if it is a system worth changing to but I cannot get any decent answers from Mac users. Their systems are so much more expensive than PCs. I need to know my money is well spent. I thought I’d ask my sister. She used to do PCs, now she has three Macs. When I ask her the answer I get is “IT’S A MAC!” as if this were an actual answer to any comparison question. She likes to follow this up with “well, buy a PC if you want to waste your money” which is another good argument for OSX as you can tell. This is how most Mac users I know answer these questions. Why would they do that if their systems are so good? How is the average user supposed to make an intelligent choice? True side by side comparisons are absent and sorely missed.

  20. I still have gross problems with a couple of things with Mac:

    1. The slingshot effect of the mouse connections – no matter which type of mouse I use; same mouse on Mac hurts, but on PC (Windows) does not. I see and feel it as the amplification of the (for want of a more descriptive term) acceleration factor.

    It bothers me greatly that so many tell me I’m crazy, that there is no difference, but doctors keep giving my wife slips informing the company for whom we work that she is not to work on a Mac system; and I can feel the difference – tension to pain in under an hour – when I can work all day with a PC with no pain – – – even using the sensor pad on this Acer does not hurt; it’s slow and cumbersome, but not pain causing.

    2. What about my two copies of Pinnacle (8 & 10) which work in XP? How much more am I going to need to spend to make it work on some Mac?

    Again, if I can avoid the mouse pain, the rest would come much easier. I have hated Mac in the past – for good cause, but I’m not really the fanatic I appear to be in other articles, just see that working with both is vastly different; especially since Windows is workable from a touch-typist’s environment.

    I know this for certain: I waited to buy a new computer until prices came down with XP units and SP2 came out, and I fully intend NOT to buy Vi$ta until they can prove to me it works; when it shuts down a laptop on display in Office Max in St. Joe MO when just turned on to demonstrate, I’m not positively influenced. WGA is a knife in the back of the paying user, and I’m tired of that.

  21. Now you know what it feels like to use a Mac. I have been listening to this BS for years. Seems like these idiots need to be deprogrammed. You have finally figured out who the real uninformed zealots are.

  22. I have a few quibbles with your position, Mr. Big.

    “I would say that it took Mac Os many years before being able to threaten Microsoft’s dominance in the Os market (i guess Os X).”

    Microsoft did not get it’s dominant market share due to the excellence of its OS; it got it from the IBM compatible manufacturers who delivered it free with their machines. A free or cheaper good will always outsell an expensive good even when the expensive good has higher quality and lasts longer.

    But, markets change. The Ford Model T sold well until the transportation car market was saturated; then they had to shut down the production line for two years to retool for a new model that never sold as well.

    “From the feelings of people,… it is apparent that Mac Os with 10.5 about to be ‘unleashed’ Microsoft may be squeezed out ( not totally ) due to the clever marketing and Vistas woes. Trying to be neutral i would say it is about time too.”

    There are a number of factors at work here. The business computer market (Wintel’s mainstay) is almost saturated world wide; it is a replacement market rather than a growing one. The consumer market (Apple’s mainstay) is still growing. Hardware changes are coming (computer-on-a-chip, etc) which will revolutionize the computer industry. I’m betting that Apple won’t be out off by these developments. But MS? I don’t know. MS might stonewall or put out Vaporware; that only gives a competitor a huge advantage.

    Microsoft’s shoddy software development practices are catching up with them. Windows Vista is not a modern OS– it is Windows Server 2003 with a GUI bolted on top. It is a dead end: Microsoft needs to go back to the drawing board. It fears doing this because it will lose many of its legacy software and hardware customers. That would cast loose the customers who currently use them.

    Mac OSX will continue to make substantial changes every few years. Just to have something new to sell, Apple will need to deliver replacements for Microsoft’s Software products. A new group calendaring system will be released in Leopard 10.5 that will be based on open source CALDEV.

    Window’s Enterprise Exchange software will eventually be tackled by Apple. Apple won’t do this to intentionally confront Microsoft, because Apple is not in the Enterprise market. It’s initial software offerings will be seen as no competition at all to MS, but Apple will rapidly improve each revision until it is far superior to MS’s.

    The most important parts of Mac OSX 10.5 Leopard are under the hood: the Animation API’s, for one. The introduction of Sun’s ZFS disk operating system, for another. Both are major advances which will require a number of years of development before they start to shine. But, MS will have nothing to compete with them.

    “My main point is what of us who are fed up of windows to some length but have perfectly decent machines ( fairly new) and don’t see the point of buying new hardware of the mac variety … ”

    What’s average life expectancy of a PC? Two years. So, you can get a Mac sometimes between now and then. Better late, than never.

  23. My 2002 Quicksilver Power Mac is chugging along as my DTP workhorse in my tiny design studio. But when I’m buying Adobe CS3 in October, I’ll be getting an HP box. Why? Cos for the same price of a Mac Mini I can get a dual-core Xeon server from HP, IBM or DELL and use that as a workstation (with slightly upgraded graphics card — DTP doesn’t require much).

    Sure Apple stuff just works, and I have 5 years’ of experience of that. But I’ve been testing out a cheap Pentium 4 PC and it seems to me that I can get the same amount of work done on that as I could on my G4. For the same price as an entry-level iMac I could buy 2 (even 3) PCs, which would be far more useful in my 3-man studio than a single machine.

    Working in Windows may not be as elegant as on a Mac. But when you’re a business, it’s whether or not you can get the job done on time that counts more than elegance. I’d stick to Mac if the entrance price is not so high (and don’t give me that feature-for-feature comparison crap — entrance level pricing counts significantly when you have overheads).

  24. @kirkrr – Apple an open platform?? Look no further than the iPhone to see how ‘open’ Apple is.
    You Macnuts try to trumpet all your supposed advantages. First, the PowerPC was way faster than Intels. That one went out the window when you joined the x86 camp. Even now, your hardware is still behind the latest that Windows vendors offer.
    If your use on a computer is limited to email, chatting, uploading photos then hey, a Mac is great.
    The so cool iMac…try upgrading anything on it down the road – try adding a video card. Goes to show how clueless the average Mac user is….which is Apple’s target market.

  25. 64-bit OS for the home user is still a mute point. I’ve yet to come across a home user who doesn’t program, who’s ran into a buffer overflow problem with their favorite spreadsheet program.

    Even for me, it wasn’t until that I started designing and engineering complete engines that I really had a real need/use for 64-bit operating systems. Sure, my Linux and Solaris (UNIX) systems were 64-bit capable, but only one of them was actually running in 64-bit mode, and the way the sytem is designed is such that it will rarely need or be able to address more than 2 GB of RAM per process.

    The down side with OS X (as it is now and it was in the past) was finding the dicversity of software that is commonly available for the Windows platform.

    Let’s also not forget that with the exception of UNIX (which typically isn’t used in a home computing environment (unless you’re extremely well versed with computers, with or without necessarily being your major field of study)), ALL other operating systems have their vulnerabilities. Neither Vista nor OS X are exempt from that fact.

  26. My parents, my sister and my brother-in-law all had PCs. They used to phone me regularly for tech support.

    Eventually, they all got Macs.

    Now I feel like the Maytag repair man. Nobody ever calls.

    The Mac works for average users. And not one of my relatives ever even heard of a graphics card (or thought about replacing one) when they had either the PCs or the Macs.

  27. Well, my brother-in-law has been a mac advocate forever. He convinced my father-in-law to buy an iMac (Bondi Blue 1st Gen) it cost $1000 more than the 700mhz Duron with 19″ monitor I bought at the same time. I have since upgraded that pc with a new MB, CPU, Ram & Video card for about $500. He bought a new PC with an LCD monitor.

    He used to call me with problems with his iMac, thought hey were not too big a deal, mostly issue slike newer software wouldn’t work on his aging Mac os and he couldn’t upgrade past 9.something.

    He never called his son, the mac guy, because he never seemed interested in helping fix it or solve the problem (maybe they haven’t had to do much problem solving so they can’t? which one wins here?).

    He has yet to call me in the last 2 years with an issue with his PC. He is 65 and smart enough not to click on links in his email or visit suspect web sites. He is thinking of going back to mac, but he says it’s because he misses the look of his old OS and some of the software he had (mac only) was more to his liking.

    Seems to me like there are positives and negatives on both sides and whichever you like better, good for you.

    The problem is with fanatics on either side who rant about the other OS as if it was catholics vs muslims. No one likes to be told that the decision that they made was the wrong one so they rationalize their position to make themselves feel better.

    In all actuality, there is no right or wrong, only what you feel most comfortable with, unfortunately, feeling comfortable means you have to say the other camp is wrong, and the circle begins anew.

  28. @Pete Ward: you assert that development for Mac is terribly expensive, and yet presumably less so for Windows developers. Is this really true? Every Mac OS X system comes with the full developer’s suite ready to install from the distribution media. All the developer documentation, articles, etc. (MSDN-equivalent, I guess) is available for the cost of a free developer membership.

    Why do you state that it costs more to develop for OS X?

  29. Hey Wataru, what rock have you been living under? On the Mac, in the categories you listed, there are dozens or more apps that do what you want, and just about every single one of them is better than anything I’ve ever used on Windows. Before you dismiss the Mac, you owe it to yourself to try these apps. They are best of breed on ANY platform (Win/Linux or Mac).

    RSS – NetNewsWire, Cyndicate, Newsfire. All excellent and blow any Win app away.
    Usenet – Unison. I’ve never used a Usenet app that made Usenet this useful. If you prefer a more traditional Usenet experience, there are a plethora of other apps as well.
    Email – Mail kicks ass, but there is also Thunderbird, Eudora, Entourage, PowerMail, GyazMail, Mulberry, and more.

    I find people who claim there isn’t any good software for the Mac to be seriously ignorant of the landscape which they are criticizing. Are there more Windows apps? Sure, it’s a bigger market. But how many of those Windows email clients are worth a damn? Probably a handful. And on the Mac, you have a handful of really good options as well.

    Do yourself a favor and spend some time looking through the apps at http://macupdate.com . If you have a Mac you can try these apps out on, do so. I’m 100% sure you’d see things differently.

  30. “I cannot tell you how frustrating this whole argument is to someone who just wants to buy a laptop and wants to know which to buy, a PC or a Mac … Their systems are so much more expensive than PCs. I need to know my money is well spent.”

    Yes. Buy a MacBook. It’s money well spent.

    OS X is not for everyone. The hardware is not priced for price sensitive consumers. And there are some folks who would do better to stick with Windows, including gamers and the enterprise market as well as some other edge cases.

    But most other folks who are heavy users of their rigs end up finding themselves happier with OS X.

    There’s a minor learning curve of finding your way around a new system, as well as accumulating new third party apps. But it’s a plunge well worth taking. Throw down a grand, take a couple of weeks accustoming yourself to the new paradigms, and then enjoy.

  31. Brilliant post. Well-written and insightful. Thank you for bringing some sanity in this asinine and overused “PC vs. Mac” baloney debate.

    Those of you complaining about the lack of “upgradability” of the Mac, guess what, Macs aren’t for you. Why is this a problem? Seriously? Macs are designed for average everyday users. These average everday users do not do the following:

    1. Build their own PCs
    2. Upgrade videocards

    They won’t and NEVER will. Macs are FOR these people. So stop this baloney debate over this. Macs target a SPECIFIC demographic and do quite well for that market.

    The so-called “lack of openness” needs to stop as well. Honestly, who is truly more open? Microsoft? Apple? I’d have to say their EQUALLY open (as well closed). *Putting my pro-Apple hat on here* Let’s look at file formats:

    1. Apple uses AAC. MS uses WMA. WMA is built, designed, and for WINDOWS users ONLY. AAC was developed *NOT* by Apple but by the same group that developed MP3:


    2. Apple uses pdf, open standards for calendar, mail, etc. MS? NONE OF THE ABOVE.

    These are just TWO and there are numerous more items that Apple is far more open and compliant to “standards” than MS ever has been. Overall? Ultimately, these two companies are just as equally closed (and open) as one another, but to claim that MS is far more open than Apple is just pure BS.

  32. Roberto, if your time is worth anything, I guarantee you will be sorry about your decision to jump to Windows for DTP work. Cheaper up front costs don’t equal a bargain, especially when it is for a tool that you rely upon.

    There’s a reason why IT people love Microsoft. It keeps them employed. When you don’t have IT people at your beck and call, you will quickly discover the true value of a Hardware/Software combination that just works.

    The simple fact that you’re still making money with a Quicksilver (circa 2001) system is a testament to how well Apple stuff holds up. How many PCs from 2001 do you think are still being used to produce quality DTP work? Answer – not many.

  33. Stevie, I think you’re entirely missing the point of Chris’s article. If you want a computer that you can fiddle around with and spend all your time making sure it actually works, then Windows is perfect for that. If you want a computer that you -don’t- have to fool around with, the Mac works better for that purpose because of the integration.

    Also, the iPhone is a closed platform in some senses and not in others. Can you develop custom apps for the iPhone? Not without hacking it. Does the iPhone itself use existing standards for mail, the web, etc.? Yes, it does. And you need to think about Macs in general, and since you’re likely not familiar I’ll tell you – Macs use very few Mac-specific storage formats; most things are XML or SQLite databases or otherwise documented formats that can be read by just about everything – oh, except for Microsoft. WebKit is open, Xcode is freely downloadable, gcc is the preferred compiler, Mail uses IMAP/POP standards, launchd is an Apple-developed product, etc. On the other hand, umm Microsoft? No. OOXML? Not even.

    The x86 architecture was just too good. Compare any of the late model PPC machines to an Intel-based computer around that time – no comparison. I say this as someone who was initially mad about the Intel transition but now the benefits are too good to go back.

    If you want to write your own scripts on open source software for scientific analysis, then the Mac offers you more control and power period. If you want to do what 90% of the world normally does with their personal computers (mail, photos, movies), a Mac works just fine. If you want to play games, get a Windows computer. (Personally it sounds like you’re just thinking about games and proprietary Microsoft apps.)

  34. I see so many people talk about the entry level price of the Mac. This might be true, althought you do get so much bang for the buck with e.g. an iMac, especially the excellent software that’s included.

    But another cost, which is why I now recommend Macs to people who ask what to by, even if it do cost more, is how much time you spend (most regular users anyway) with anti-virus programs, updates, expired subscriptions, de-install that, install this instead, spyware etc. This is where the true cost comes in. If you lose a days work because you just for the love if it can’t figure out why you suddenly can’t use Internet Explorer (one erronous click and it was denied access by Norton)

    After having spent so incredibly many hours fixing virus and spyware ridden PCs, this is something you also have to consider when getting a PC. Yeah yeah, Macs might get virues and schtuff too, but not as of now.

    I had a similar experience when I bought a used 1997 Peugeot 406 for about $15 000. In two years, I spent spent about the same in repairs. And oh the time it takes to save money! Check this, go there, friend to fix it, no car for a week, stop in tunnel on the way home, yada yada. Now I’ve sold it for $5000, and waiting for my brand new 2007 Toyota Avensis. Yeah, it costs about $45000, but the total cost of ownership will be lower, and I’ll have a problem-free car for at least 6-7 years.

    And for me, as with Macs, I just want something that’ll let me do my job.

  35. Vista is craziness. Byzantine, and obnoxious. Having said that, I am a Mac OS X guy. Which is, by the way, an extremely clean UI. Vista makes me appreciate XP, in fact.

    Tuscongirl, hear is my list.

    a) high reliability
    b) much lower cost of ownership
    c) security doesn’t mean warning messages on every mouse click. Instead, no registry, nobody operates as root user, etc.
    d) first class, but decently priced hardware.
    e) a little know fact about OS X : new releases make older hardware run better. Apple focuses on higher efficiency with each release, not planned obsolescence.
    f) if you want to be a geek, open up the terminal and BASH all you want.
    g) no system level crashes. None.

    In terms of cost of ownership. I have been CEO of a substantive startup … a software company. We went .NET and Windows for our IT and product environment. I was the lone mac user. The nights I lay gnashing my teeth at the cost and lost productivity. I agree with kirkrr on the numbers.
    That’s just the beginning

  36. The “toy” argument against the Mac dates back to the original Macintosh introduction in 1984. The graphical user interface with things like icons and windows were considered “childish” by the hardcore DOS users. It’s interesting this “Mac is a toy” argument still rears its ugly head. With Windows 95, the DOS users accepted defeat, rather quickly, and embraced the GUI environment. All the stuff that were previously considered childish were suddenly industry standard. In fact, you could say the Mac won the PC-Mac war. So, those who put forward the toy argument today are rather disconnected from history and reality today.

  37. Roberto,
    I have to disagree with your statement. You say that for the price of a Mac mini ($500 – $700) you can get a dual-core Xeon from HP?? I just checked HP.com and dual-core Xeon workstations start at $1500. Check your facts before you make stuff up. For less than $1500 you can buy a very nice Mac.

  38. I don’t quite agree with the “Macs don’t have the diversity of software” argument. It doesn’t make sense, because of two things:

    1. There is a very large amount of Mac software available–even more if you include open-source software.

    2. Most of the software available for the Mac (even freeware) is very well-written.

    Sure, if I search for a piece of Mac software, I may find ten to fifteen titles. Most are worth considering. My experience with PC sofwtare is that I’ll search for a piece of software, find thirty plus titles, but only a handful are worthwhile.

  39. It cost a pretty penny to develop on the MAC. You also had to develop outside there OS.

    Not true, the dev tools are free with OS X. Free.

    The word is ‘their’, not ‘there’. Not much hope for a font maker that can’t spell.

    A MAC is a hardware address. The word I think you’re looking for is ‘Mac’. As in ‘Macintosh’. If you can’t get that right you just come off as an idiot.

    OS X is based on UNIX; Apple finally gave it up to an established system.

    You mean, Apple chose to use open standards instead of forcing their own crappy formats on people like MS does.

    IF you want to see how OS are really doing where it counts look at the server market. Which OS is fading away and which is coming on stronger every day?
    Why do so many servers use the Microsoft OS if it is so bad?

    They don’t, Apache is the most common web server – by far.

    It sounds like you’re sorely misinformed. Please don’t show your idiocy on public web sites, it reflects badly on the intelligent Windows users out there.

  40. To the folk that still claim Macs are more expensive than PCs: – I just bought a new Win XP box for work. It’s a dual processor MacPro, which when I compared it to the equivalent Dell workstation was more than £2000 cheaper. My work has Dell as a preferred supplier; we can’t order a PC from anyone else unless we can show a good reason.
    A £2000 saving was a good reason.

    I run Windows natively using BootCamp. Works like a dream.

  41. @Roberto – Seriously? First off, why are you looking at a Mac mini when your last machine was a Pro machine? Second, have you seen any of the recent discussion on the web about OS X’s advantage when it comes to font rendering, not to mention color accuracy? How about the extra cost you’ll incur to secure a Windows machine, or the cost of downtime you might experience? Every hour you spend trouble shooting something on a PC is an hour you can’t bill to your clients. Most creative’s I’ve talked to inherently can see the advantages of OS X and the Mac. None of them would try to use an entry level machine for CS3. Do a real comparison, and then make your decision. If you end up buying 2 PC’s over the next five years instead of just one Mac that’s right for the job, you’ll spend the same amount of money and be less productive.

  42. Great article, Chris. Too bad it’s turned into a Mac vs. PC rant in the comments. People will use whatever they prefer. You prefer the Mac. I do, too. Others prefer Windows or Linux? Who cares? As long as we do what we want on our machines it doesn’t matter.

    Don’t let the idiots bother you and continue to use what you want to use.

  43. @Wataru:
    > I would be a lot more likely to use a Mac (like the one sitting in
    > the other room right now) if it had better applications.

    But that’s the thing. Windows has *lots* of applications, but we Mac developers *really care* about our apps, so in actual fact, they tend to be better than their Windows equivalents *particularly* in terms of usability.

    Also, because Mac software shops are typically quite small (and many of the best bits of software are developed by “indie” developers, who are either on their own or run very small companies), you’ll find that we tend to have a much more open attitude about end user suggestions, not to mention better technical support (since you often end up talking to the developers, not some moron in a call centre who only wants to follow his or her script regardless of what you say).

    Of course, there are some good Windows apps. There’s no denying that. But I think the average quality is higher on Mac OS X right now.

  44. Alastair, I have plenty of experience with Mac applications. (In fact, I used Macs for a long time before even trying out Windows, and have a fully loaded Mac at home even today.) You seem to think I use only big-shop Windows apps, but that’s not the case. I use mainly shareware programs, and am regularly in touch with the developers. In the categories I named, I strongly prefer the Windows applications to those available for the Mac at this time. As a system, the Mac rates highly; and so does Linux; but it’s the apps that keep me coming back to Windows.

  45. @Wataru Tenga: I think the issue isn’t the lack of choice. It’s that you probably don’t know where to look. In fact, applications are the main reasons I use a Mac and not Windows. For example, the Mac has dozens of RSS readers. Net News Wire is still (I think) the most popular RSS reader on any platform, and it’s a Mac app. E-Mail? Check out Mailsmith, Powermail or any of the other apps. Usenet? Unison is great.

    Seriously, applications is one area where Windows can compete with the number, but not with the quality available on Macs.

    Check out sites like macupdate.com to see what’s available.

  46. Another day, another Mac vs PC flame war. And full of furphies, as always. Surprised nobody’s pulled the number-of-buttons-on-the-mouse trick yet.

    @Ewen – Mate, you look like an idiot – don’t you know that Mac OS X *is* UNIX? As in, fully compliant, POSIX compatible, certified UNIX?

    @Stevie – Apple is not a platform. Mac OS X is a platform. The iPhone is a different, albeit related, platform. Mac OS X is, as mentioned above, not only an open platform, it is an Open Source platform based on Darwin, Apple’s BSD UNIX layer. It complies with every international standard for operating systems. It includes as standard a huge number of free (non-Apple) open source software, like Apache, Konqueror, PHP, Ruby, Python… Have a look into it.
    As for your other point, look, when Macs were running on G3 and early G4 processors, until around 1999, these processors were indeed provably faster than the Intel line at the time. This did not remain the case: Intel pushed clock speed at the expense of all else in their competition with AMD, and prevailed. The IBM/Motorola PowerPC got left in the dust. Apple recognised this, and made the right decision to switch camps. The Core 2 is a fantastic chip, far superior to earlier Pentiums. Get over it. Are you just pissed that Apple survived? You should have bought stock when they were at $40.

    @Ted Brunner – The Mac does indeed have a completely different model of mouse movement than Windows. It is difficult to argue that one is superior to the other, they are suitable for different things. With screen sizes and resolutions growing Apple’s implementation may well turn out to be a better idea. If it causes you pain, try using the mose a bit more slowly. What you have is known as muscle memory, your eye acquires a target and your hand automatically tries to hit it. With the different tracking algorithm, you miss and experience frustration. This is perfectly understandable. It may take a few months before you learn to automatically compensate.

    Macs are not for everyone, maybe not even for most people. What they are is the result of an independent path of evolution from Windows, and that is a good thing to have from anyone’s point of view. What if Microsoft disappeared tomorrow? (Don’t say it couldn’t happen, look at Enron). The fact is, for many people, Macs are a superior choice. Maybe not for you, if you have an investment in Windows. Don’t take it personally. And get your facts straight.

  47. @Stevie wrote: “try adding a video card. Goes to show how clueless the average Mac user is”

    Ah, the delicious irony… Claiming that you can’t add a new video card to a Mac while calling Mac users clueless :-)

  48. LKM, funny that you should mention all those Mac apps, since I have tried every last one of them. I even bought and paid for Powermail and Unison. Sorry, they are just not as capable as their Windows equivalents. FeedDemon is a better RSS reader than anything on the Mac. Windows has several music players and organizers that are superior to iTunes, among them J River Media Center. As for email, the Mac doesn’t have a single application that does all of the following: Supports multiple IMAP servers, Japanese, single-key navigation across folders, and folder-specific template support.


  49. Chris a few points – I always think the car market is an enlightening comparison. For a long time cars were sold to people who made some commitment towards maintaining them, and a lot of people made a hobby out of tinkering, tuning, and maintaining their cars. In the 70s I can remember that most of my relatives maintained their own cars.

    Eventually design and manufacturing improved enough that cars have instead largely become reliable enough that it’s not worth learning how to maintain them. Cost has come down. Not wholly a good thing, but once the family had a car. Now each member of the family has a car. Again, you can see that trend with computers, and the shift to the personal laptop.

    As for upgrading – look at what machines sell these days. It’s laptops, not desktops. And it’s cheap low-spec laptops at that. Who upgrades their graphics card these days? If you think that’s important you don’t understand the mindset of most people. And I say that as someone who has spent years at the high end of the PC market, and upgraded every machine I’ve owned with new memory, GPU, and larger hard disks . . . and still give tech support to family and friends. And only ONE of them has ever asked me about upgrading their machine, rather than replacing it.

    As for the comments you received – Seadragon is mindblowing, Surface less so – at first it appears to be a giant iPhone, capable of recognising anything placed on it – the more you read, the more it’s almost literally smoke and mirrors. It’s worked with articles saying that Microsoft ‘beat’ Apple in delivering multi-touch, even though the iPhone was at the same ‘demo’ point at the start of 2007. (And yes, of course neither company invented it).

    And yes, it’s backward compatibility that holds Windows back. That, and the fact that the best developers at MS are working on things that excite them like language design, the CLR/DLR, etc. Yet with Fusion/Parallels third party developers have shown that you can transparently have ‘backward compatibility’ from OS X to XP.
    MS should really have taken the same approach – a new OS designed for first-class support of .NET 3.0, security, stability, and 64-bit multi-core machines – and running legacy apps in sandboxes. That’s the kind of thing that would motivate the bright minds who can pick and choose their jobs. I wonder how much Apple will start to suffer this now that OS X is largely ‘done’? Which project would you rather have been working on – the iPhone or Leopard? What would the team who originated NextStep/Cocoa do if they were to start again from scratch, as MS did with .NET?

    And yes . . . Macs ARE ideal for people who do web surfing, email, uploading photos, producing nice documents and presentations – that’s the mainstream consumer market. Why use something more complicated than you need?

  50. 1) Macs are uniformly less expensive than EQUIVALENT PCs. Not the cheap consumer junk, but the consistent chipset, top quality corporate models. I have seem no exceptions to this rule – none.

    Yes, there are cheaper Intel machines, but they vary in internal chip sets within a single model (making corporate support extremely difficult and expensive), and are made with cheaper components, and larger form factors.

    2) Macs are uniformly cheaper to run. In GOD we trust – all others bring data. I would think that over 262,000 desktops and years worth of detailed cost data tracking, there would be little room to argue with overwhelming data reflecting Macs being a fraction of the cost of ownership of a PC. If you still want to argue it, I would love to meet you GOD.

    3) Openness is in the data, not the hardware. Hardware is a miniscule fraction of the cost and value of the data, and if that data is in non-portable formats, you pay the price (ever had an Outlook proprietary database go corrupt – the loss is immense and most of the time, unrecoverable.)

    Before you accuse me of being a mac Fanboy, please note that I was one of the original development team members for the IBM PC AND I co-founded the world’s first Mac user group, so I have a history in both camps, arguably the longest of any person with both.

    My Mac friends require nearly zero support time; my Windows friends require lots. Maybe it is the friends, but I think not.

  51. There is no denying that Mac is chosen over other units of pc. This is because Mac computers are brains and beauty rolled into one. Its designs are elegantly sleek and gorgeous, ergonomic at the same time. Mac’s operating systems are the most advanced in computer technology, apart from being stable and secure. Mac OS is undisguisedly powerful and virus-free.

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