I have been very impressed by a recent Microsoft creation. No, not Window 7. The new “I’m a PC” ads. For years, Microsoft ads have been about as cool, appealing, and comprehensible as the Windows registry. But these new ads are rather slick. Naturally, Apple is firing back with its own ads. Also, Apples devout fanboys and Microsoft’s corporate minions are leaping into battle.
Rather than join the fray, I’ll just say a bit about each platform based on my own experiences. The first computer I owned was a Commodore 64, so I have using computers for a while. I have owned Macs since the 680X0 days and PCs since the 286 days.
For the money, you get more stuff when you buy a PC. For example, a Mac Mini costs $599 for a base model. For that, you can get a much more powerful PC desktop. As another example, for the price of the entry level Mac notebook, you can get a fairly impressive PC laptop. Of course, dollar cost is only part of the true cost of ownership. So, if money is key, then get a PC.
Operating System: Mac
While XP is stable now, the Mac OS beats Windows Vista in terms of ease of use, stability, speed, and so on. Even Microsoft recognizes that Vista is rather bad-they are rushing to get Windows 7 out the door. Another plus: the Intel based Macs can run Mac OS, Windows, and Linux. Windows PCs can just run Windows and Linux (legally). So, any program a PC can run, a Mac can run (using Boot Camp or Parallels). If you want an (mostly) non-annoying OS, go with the Mac.
Security: Mac (for now)
Macs are more secure than PCs. However, this is mainly due to the fact that Windows is a lucrative target and Macs have not been worth the effort. After all, if a bad guy writes malware for the PC, his pool of potential victims is huge. Because of this, the PC world is awash with programs that protect users from these attacks. But, the Mac is a potentially ripe and easy target because of the myth of Mac invulnerability.
Problem Free: Mac
Apple makes almost all of the Mac hardware and the OS, so they generally work great together. Also, Apple computers have proven to be more reliable than Windows PC. Of course, you pay more for this (but it can be worth it). In contrast, PC manufactures do not have that sort of unity of software and hardware. I have had problems with my Macs and over the years, but I have dealt with multitudes of PC problems. If you want a computer that is most likely to just work and keep working, pay the extra and get a Mac.
People used to joke that you could get any color Ford model T you wanted, as long as it was black. In the case of Apple, you can get any Mac you want; provided it is one of the six types of personal computers that Apple sells (MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mini, iMac, and Pro). In contrast, the PC world provides a dizzying array of options ranging from teeny tiny netbooks (and smaller) all the way to killer gaming rigs. If Apple happens to make just the computer you want, great. But, if not, then you’ll have to compromise or go PC.
Software: Tie (sort of)
Technically, there are way more Windows programs than Mac programs. But, Macs can run Windows so they can access all these programs. In fact, Macs could be seen as a bit ahead here: a Mac can also run all Mac programs. It is important to note that to run Windows software you will need to get a copy of Windows. Mac OS by itself won’t run Windows programs.
While Apple does let the customer pick a few options when buying a Mac, the PC world offers an incredible range of options for customization. Some PC sellers (like Dell) offer a huge variety of options when you buy. You can even build your own fairly easily (and legally)-which is not an option for the Mac. Also, there is an almost unimaginable varieties of customization hardware for PCs. Want fans that glow with neon light? No problem. Want a case with a window? No problem. Want a case with space for six optical drives? No problem. And then there are all the peripherals. While many peripherals (printers, mice, scanners) will work with Macs, just about everything works with PCs. So, if you like to customize or want to build your own, PC is the way to go.
Apple provides rather good support relative to its competition. Of course, it helps that Apple controls the hardware and the OS, so there is less for the Apple support folks to worry about. Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that there are many people who have learned how to deal with PC problems-so if you plan on getting support from your friends, see what they use.
Most cool games are PC only (Blizzard’s games are a notable exception). Also, you can get much more game playing power for the buck on the PC side. For the price of the lowest end iMac, you can get a PC with more RAM, faster processors, and a better video card. Of course, a hard core game rig can get into the $5,000 and up range.
While I like Macs, some people love them. They love them beyond all reason. So, if you are interested in being part of a cult, the Mac is your main option. Microsoft is trying really hard to create its own fanboys, but mostly they just have to be content with people who loath the Mac fanboys. Yes, you can get a Mac without drinking the Kool Aid. But if you drink it, your Mac will be 10 times better (or so you will think).
So, what about me? My primary desktop is a PC and probably will be for the foreseeable future. I like to customize my system and play games, so the PC is my best bet. I do have a Mac laptop-albeit a 2004 iBook G4. I’ve long wanted to get a MacBook Pro, but I cannot justify spending that much money. After all, with that kind of cash I could buy a new PC desktop, a good PC latop, and plenty of extras. Curse you Apple, for making something so cool and so expensive.
I broke down and got a MacBook. Soon I’ll be driving a hybrid and willingly watching MSNBC…
Michael LaBossiere says
Don’t forget the Kool Aid. Get the Apple flavored…
If you want to do Windows, get an OEM copy of XP or download the beta for Windows 7. It should run most new games. Maybe. 🙂
Fidel Vanegas says
You implied that OS/X can run over non Mac HW but not legally. Is it possible to run it over a VM such as VMware or Virtualbox?
Michael LaBossiere says
Mac OS X will run on a wide range of non-Mac HW, but it is a legal gray area. It probably violates Apples TOS agreement.
However, people do it openly. PC World even did an article on how to install OS X on a netbook. They link to this web page: http://gizmodo.com/5156903/how-to-hackintosh-a-dell-mini-9-into-the-ultimate-os-x-netbook
As far as running it virtual, that is probably also a gray area.
From a practical standpoint, Apple seems to have no interest in going after individuals who buy a legitimate copy of OS X and install it on non-Apple hardware or run it virtually. As I mentioned, PC world just did an article on how to do it and Apple hasn’t taken any action. Well, yet. 🙂
Yes, Apple has not gone after PC World for giving out information, but god forbid if you create a machine with OS X pre-installed on it. If anyone else out there has ever heard of Psystar you know what I’m talking about.
Poor Steve Jobs wants to control what his software goes on, now whose the control freak?