Friday: 28.May.2004

Mac vs PC

Today I was going to post a little ditty about the great Mac vs PC debate, but quickly realized that volumes have already been published on the topic. No sense in re-inventing the wheel.

I use a PC (Windows XP), so I frequent PC-user forums (such as the ones at the Storagereview and ABXZone and Hydrogen Audio to name a few). Naturally, whenever the Mac vs PC question arises in these forums, users there typically take the Pro-PC side and bash the Mac, saying things like "Macs suck" or "Macs are not real computers" (which can be a way of saying they're easier to use). But many users, altho preferring the PC platform, are sympathetic to Apple's position, such as those at the Avid forums.

It surprised me that you can find supporting documentation for just about any point you want to make - for either side. For example, you can find linkage to articles that say things like: Mac Slaughtered Again, or a whole site dedicated to telling you why Macs are better than PCs. Some articles say PCs are faster, while others give the nod to the Mac.


I began my computing journey with a Mac. I liked my Mac, but quickly ran into problems when I had to work with others, who all had PCs. You're *supposed* to be able to exchange files seamlessly between the two platforms, but I was spending almost as much time learning about the intricacies of file-conversion than the actual work itself. This was frustrating.

I even spent US$100 on a Mac-based file-conversion program. My partners soon got annoyed because they couldn't read my files. I felt like an outsider, and wound up using a friend's PC (486) for the remainder of the project.

Much of the debate falls into the category of Personal Preference. So I thought I'd stick to the facts. What are the (unemotional) facts? And I can relate my own personal experience .. such as the stability of my computer. My PC simply never crashes, no matter how hard I push it. But it took me a while to learn how to build and configure a PC so it's stable.

The great Mac-vs-PC war has already been waged and (as you know) PCs won hands down. Depending on what statistics you look at (US sales vs world-wide, include corporate sales or home-only), Mac has a few percent of the market share. Of course, this does not necessarily mean PCs are *better*. Beta is/was a better format than VHS, but you won't find many beta tapes or players floating around.

Naturally, this begs the question: If you were to decide to write a new software program, what platform would *you* write it for? .. knowing you would sell more copies if 2% of the PC market purchased your software than if 50% of the Mac market did.

I only know two people who use Macs (Jan & Frank), so I am certainly no expert on the subject. Tania also used a Mac, but she's no longer with us. But I know when I go into the local CompUSA, there's only a small section in a far corner (dimly lit) dedicated to Mac products. Certainly, the advantages associated with economies-of-scale belong to PC users.

One good thing about the Mac platform is that all viruses are written for the Windows operating system. I don't think there is a single current virus that targets Macs, so you wouldn't need any Anti-virus software. Of course, it's not like Macs don't have their own security issues. Or maybe you're wondering which platform would be best for video-editing.

Another factor that helped me decided to convert to PC was that I didn't feel comfortable using a platform from a company whose financial viability was always in question. Other than Apple itself, there isn't a single Fortune 500 company that runs on Macs. Why not? Also, I enjoy being able to build my own computer, and you can't do that with a Mac.

In the end, the main difference between Mac and Win-Tel is that (unlike Windows) Apple controls *both* the hardware AND the operating system. It's this proprietary control that is the source of Macs' advantages (they can control how the hardware will respond to the O/S) and disadvantages (there's no competition for the hardware, so they can charge whatever they like, and make it difficult to upgrade your system, without purchasing an entirely new box.).

I admit that I'm biased, but I tried to be objective, or at least present the case for why I switched from Mac to PC. Each platform offers its own set of advantages & disadvantages. Like partitioning, choice of computer platform is a personal thang. If user-friendliness is important to you, then a Mac might be your best option. If, on the other hand, you prize value & selection, or if you need to exchange files with other PC users, then a PC is probably the right choice for you. Of course, the best way to learn for yourself which platform is the best (for you) would be to use both.

Here's a Google-search pre-configured for the query: PC vs Mac

Posted by Rad at May 28, 2004 11:13 AM


Newest Rad Weblog]

Rad Community Forums]

Back-up your PC's hard drive with Norton Ghost]

Back-up your PC's hard drive with Norton Ghost 12/14]

Virtual Private Servers: Guide to VPS Web Hosting]

Rip & Encode CD audio to high-quality MP3]

Hard Drive Partitioning Strategies]

Windows Installation guide]

PC Computer Maintenance]

Radify your Laptop (Notebook PC)]

Favorite Rad Freeware]

Magoo's BitTorrent Guide]

Create Bootable CD/DVDs]

Magoo's guide to Eliminating Spyware

Digital Camera Buyer's guide]

Intro to Linux]

Wireless Networking]

Guide to eBay]

ASPI Layer Drivers]

Boot from a SCSI hard drive]

Macs do have some neat software, but they are not as stable as their proponents claim. In fact I think Windows is now more stable. Macs still hold the edge in user friendliness. That is their big (only?) advantage. You have to know what you're doing with a PC to extract its full potential. But once you learn, you know.

Posted by: pepe at May 29, 2004 01:21 PM

Don't forget LINUX! More computers run Linux than Mac these days. It is the fastest-growing platform, while Mac is shrinking.

Posted by: Linus at May 29, 2004 05:02 PM

You tried to be objective? Objective my ass.

I'm a computer user. I use a Windows 200 system at work for programming Java and Delphi Apps. I run those on my clients' computers: windows, linux and unix.

I've always used windows just because it's what I was always surrounded with and yet when I came ot buy myself a computer I bought a Mac Powerbook.

I've run it for the last year and it is absolutely wonderful. It does everything I ask of it without needing to be "tweaked" or configured. It just works. I don't need to build it, and I sure as hell wouldn't find that fun. I don't need to install special drivers for things because it's all already there or it does it itself automatically. I am too busy being productive to spend time making it work.

I used to still use dos when windows first appeared because I had bothered to learn dos. I don't do that any more because wondows is faster.

I do use all platforms.

When I get to choose I use the Mac.

Posted by: Ben at September 22, 2004 07:36 AM

You're in a minority, my friend. A small and constantly shrinking minority. Nobody is saying Macs are bad. It's just that so few people use them. The economies of scale are arrayed against them. Everyone, even us PC users, pray they do well. But the Mac future looks suspect. Some day you may be forced to become one of us. Come over to the dark side now, while you still have a chance.

Nobody really believes Mac usersa use other computers. People use Macs because they are easy to use. If you really knew how to operate other computers proficiently, you'd get a real one. Tell the truth now.

Posted by: Bill Gates at September 22, 2004 08:14 AM

yes the war is over and neither side one as microsoft copied mac os to mac windows and now the mac has copied unix to make os x.
if you are a productive company and produce product on computer and you use a pc you are a dick head.... macs are the only thing for artwork and video work and the such.
if your company dose boring word prossessing and basic shit then the pc is your box as why buy a jag to deliver pizza.....
both computers have there place in the market and i know as i have fixed pc's since the 386 and i have had macs at home since the mac plus. now i have a g5 and full edit suite.

i was told by my boss in the 80's that word and excel were toy programs and would never be anything of any use.
how wrong someone can be when they close there eyes to change and the unknown....

Posted by: inquizator at September 22, 2004 05:44 PM

macs have since os7.5 been able to read pc files and it is the pc that won't see mac files.
so who has the closed mind????????
and then the mac can format a disk to pc and put the files on it in pc format.
this feature a child of six can do as my son dose it for his school work on my old power pc 5400.

Posted by: inquizator at September 22, 2004 05:50 PM

Can your son spell yet? Obviously your mac doesnt help you do that?? :-P


Posted by: Paul at September 23, 2004 01:39 AM

Can your son spell yet? Obviously your mac doesnt help you do that?? :-P


Posted by: Paul at September 23, 2004 01:39 AM

Can your son spell yet? Obviously your mac doesnt help you do that?? :-P


Posted by: Paul at September 23, 2004 01:40 AM