Macs aren't for everyone...?

There's no hiding the truth that I've had some problems recently with my PowerBook. I'll gladly admit when something isn't right and I'll take all the lashings that pro-PCers will dish. With me, it's a personal preference really... at home I use my Mac, at work I still use PC (Windows). But with each passing day, and isolated troubles aside, I'm liking the Mac platform more and more. It's hard to convince people why, especially if they have old Mac experience (when they were sucky) or just don't have the budget to buy one.

Recently, Walter Mossberg wrote an article about how switching over from PC to Mac isn't for everyone. It's an interesting read, and although he says switching is a good idea for the common computer user, there are quite a few things that I don't agree with him and I feel it's important to have some counter-points to his examples.

The Mac is as good as Windows at these core tasks, and in many cases better. Still, you certainly shouldn't consider switching to the Mac if you are happy with Windows and you aren't much affected by viruses and spyware.

Be careful here. I really think that no one is untouchable by spyware/adware or viruses. Yes, Macs are capable of getting viruses, but the probability of that happening is very, very, very slim due to how the operating system works.

Even if you aren't happy with Windows, don't consider switching to the Mac if you are resistant to learning new ways of doing things. The Mac and Windows are close cousins, but there is a learning curve that comes with switching.

For instance, Apple uses a one-button mouse without a scroll wheel, which takes some getting used to. There are differences in the way menus and desktop windows behave. And the standard delete key on a Mac works like the backspace key, not the delete key, in Windows. Mac desktop keyboards have a second, Windows-type delete key, but Mac laptops lack one.

So, basically, he states that if you can't figure out the difference between a Back Space key and a Delete key, or can't spend $20 on a new mouse (if your current one wouldn't work), then don't switch??? Geez. Yes, there's a learning curve, there usually always is. Next time you go into Best Buy (which, by the way, is an authorized Apple dealer), play with a laptop and see if you know where all the buttons are... I bet you don't. Does that mean you shouldn't buy the laptop because of a button learning curve? No.

And don't consider switching if your budget covers only the cost of the Mac itself. There will usually be extra costs. To maintain compatibility with the Windows world, you will probably want a copy of the Mac version of Microsoft Office, which isn't included by Apple. And you may want a standard two-button, Windows-style mouse, which works fine on the Mac but isn't included.


If you love Microsoft Outlook, you should also probably stick with Windows. There is no version of Outlook for the current Mac operating system. Instead, Microsoft includes an e-mail and organizer program called Entourage in the Mac version of Office. It's similar to Outlook but just different enough to bug Outlook lovers.

Budget, in my opinion, is the biggest negative of those wanting to switch. Yes, Macs are expensive, but they're carrying a lot of positive stuff along with them. Granted, the new Mac Mini is $499, and a good step in the Mac world. Having a copy of MS Office for Mac might be useful for those switching from PCs, but this brings up another good point about switching... people have habits of using one thing, and one thing only. It's silly to think that Outlook will be around and improved for the next 30 years. So why not try out new things now? Apple makes good software that can replace anything Microsoft makes, except Excel. Besides, why support Microsoft when they're the company that can't keep their products safe from viruses?

People who depend on their company's IT department to manage and support their home computers may find themselves locked into Windows. Most corporate computer staffs support only Windows and know little or nothing about Macs.

Sad, but true. If you have an Apple Store in your town, this is a moot point. Even so, take some time to try and fix minor things yourself, you never know when you're going to be in a bind somewhere with zero help.

If you use your PC mainly for games, avoid the Mac. While there are more games for the Mac now than there were a few years back, the number still lags behind Windows badly. And the hottest computer games come out first, and sometimes exclusively, on Windows.

People who rely heavily on financial software may be unhappy with the Mac. Microsoft Money doesn't come in a Mac version. The Mac version of Quicken isn't identical to the Windows product, and converting Windows Quicken data to the Mac is a bear. Many specialized financial-analysis and stock-trading programs aren't available for Macs.

He's right about the games. I'm not completely sure about the financial software, but I use Quicken on my Mac and I like it just fine. But here's a bigger argument. If more and more people switch to Mac, then the software development will come that direction. Right now, the PC market outweighs the Mac market about 95%-5%, if that number were to double, triple, or even quadruple for Mac, I guarantee that software would be just as available on both platforms.

Here's an interesting note... I can't find where I read this, but iTunes for PC has been hailed as some of the best software made in years for the Windows platform. Think about it for a second. The best software in years came from Apple? Hmmmm. There's been other rumors of Apple's iLife products coming out for PC users. For those of you iPod owners, this is just the tip of the ice burg where market penetration is concerned.

If you need an ultralight laptop for traveling, you're out of luck with Apple. The Mac laptops are great, but the lightest one weighs 4.6 pounds, compared with three pounds or less on the Windows side.


If you use a portable music player other than Apple's iPod, or love the major subscription music services, Napster and Rhapsody, which work only on Windows, you won't be happy with a Mac.

If you own an iPod, chances are you're using iTunes. If you don't own an iPod, chances are you're using iTunes.

The bottom line is that the Mac is a great alternative for mainstream consumers doing mainstream tasks who are sick and tired of the Windows security crisis. But it isn't for everybody.

I disagree. This is an open market and the main reason why Macs aren't more mainstream is because of faulty management in the 80s, pricing concerns, and a reluctance of computer users to switch to something different.

Using a Mac and using a PC isn't much different. There are some differences in the interface and how things move around, but the organization on a Mac is much simpler and when it comes down to it, they're both computers and they accomplish the same thing. Isn't it odd that over 75% of the Arts-related fields (Movies, Graphic Design, etc.) use Macs? These people aren't geniuses, they just prefer working on superior machines.

Enough soapboxing for one day. Roll up your sleeves and hit back!

+ original post date: March 10, 2005 03:21 PM
+ categories: Computers


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Great post! I'm SOOOO on the PC/Mac fence right now.

1) It's fun to razzle the Mac-heads.
2) But it's hard to deny the facts and the pure hippy beauty the Macs offer.

I'm sure I'll plunge headlong into the "elite" world of Macs someday soon. But for now, I will continue to admire from a distance and shamelessly mock those that I envy.

+ author: Nelson
+ posted: June 25, 2005 09:15 AM

Walter Mossberg is trolling here just like every tech columnist does sooner or later. You did a really nice job of answering him point for point. In December, 2004 Mossberg wrote,

"I do believe that, at this point in history, the Mac and its OS X operating system are better, easier to use and more secure than Windows computers."

In the mid-90s, when it looked like Apple might wink out of existence, these kind of endorsement debates were very important. Now, though - not so much.

+ author: Sean Tevis
+ posted: June 25, 2005 09:16 AM

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