Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 3, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MAC vs. PC....Today was a very pleasant day that was ruined surprise! by an encounter with a Windows PC. I mention this only to give Mac users a free pass to gloat in comments. Linux folks should feel free to chime in too.

As you know, I have a low tolerance for this kind of thing when it's off topic. Today, though, it is the topic. Gloat away.

Kevin Drum 8:56 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (157)

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It's a remarkable fact that the total of all the monopoly profits realized by Microsoft is less than the social cost in wasted time and frustration imposed by the software. Stay away! Also, I've found that Apple's Boot Camp works just fine. There are a few occasions when I want to have access to Windows (mainly for testing files from a collaboration) and this does it.

Posted by: Steve on September 3, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

I've learned to favor whichever os I don't have. Got sick of dedicating one day every weekend to fixing my stupid pc a few months ago, so I switched to a mac--which has been great--but now I find myself incredibly irritated about the passive-aggressive apple ethos.

the grass is always greener.

Posted by: dan on September 3, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Nice to see you mentioned Linux. I have a typical Dell laptop loaded up with every piece of software I would ever need, all running on Linux.

I've never been happier.

Posted by: Bob on September 3, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Mac users need all the excuse to pretend to gloat they can find, considering their ever-dwindling market share and lack of choices and third party support, compared to Windows.

The fact that Mac users are able to remain so technically illiterate that they're daunted by something as laughably easy to use as a Windows machine surely does seem like a gloating point to those users, much like a pot belly, sloped shoulders, and frail bones seemed like bragging points to inbred, never-exercising New Kingdom egyptian royalty.

With about the same degree of validity.

Microsoft /won/ its market share, no matter what the cute little Mac cultists tell themselves while huddled together in their two percent of users cliques. And, by the way, I say this as someone whose computer-consulting specialty was, until Mac market share became so insignificant it wasn't worth the effort, cross-platform support. I specifically was expert at Mac, Windows, and Linux, both individually and for interoperatbility. But this was only because Mac users are so helpless with technology that it once made up for what a small part of the userbase they were. Back when they were over three percent of the market.

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Posted by: KAZ on September 3, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Mac users are able to remain so technically illiterate that they're daunted by something as laughably easy to use as a Windows machine surely does seem like a gloating point to those users...

Mac provides the Unix plumbing that lets one do powerful magic, the likes of which Windows users don't even know exist. Oh, sure, Windows is complicated, but it is decidedly not reaping any gains in power from that complexity--it's just badly designed.

Posted by: dj moonbat on September 3, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Mac/PC/Unix/Linux

All have their place. To whine about one is to overlook the limitations of the other.

PCs are inherently more troublesome because they are designed to be all things to all people and be a platform for all applications...bundled in an operating system interface accessible to 95% of the population. That type of universality does create problems or conflicts; however that instability can be neutralized if-

1) The file system is maintained regularly
2) Simple precautions are in place to recover from inevitable crashes or OS corruptions.

Such tools and techniques are free or within the reach of the average user. That they are not discussed or taught is the problem. They are certainly known in organizations where PC reliability is mission critical.

While I dont know what Kevins particular problem was, if proper preparations were made it would have been likely recoverable within a few minutes. If that time was not available, then a reboot to a separate system partition could have made the PC productive until those few minutes were available.

Some of the same techniques are there for other OSs , some arent.

Im not here to hold MSs coat, but in a world where Windows has 90+ % market penetration, dealing with it is a fact of life. To shout, Linux or MAC is all well and good for experts, niche services or hobbyists; but for the rest of the world dealing with Windows is a must. Dealing with it effectively is the issue that has to be addressed.

Ridge

Posted by: Ridge on September 3, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Mac users need all the excuse to pretend to gloat they can find, considering their ever-dwindling market share and lack of choices and third party support, compared to Windows.

Actually, the marketshare has only gone up. But that's ok, facts don't matter to people like that.

Posted by: Jon on September 3, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Im not here to hold MSs coat, but in a world where Windows has 90+ % market penetration, dealing with it is a fact of life

Agreed.

Problem is, you can run both on an Apple, or all three including Linux (which is just more dubious flavor of UNIX than the BSD under the hood on a mac) using Parallels/Boot Camp/CrossOver. If you could do that on a PC, then there wouldn't be much to discuss.

It's a fact, but that doesn't make it better.

Posted by: Jon on September 3, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

"The fact that Mac users are able to remain so technically illiterate that they're daunted by something as laughably easy to use as a Windows machine surely does seem like a gloating point to those users..."

EXACTLY. I don't work in the computer business and I don't want to be wasting my time with technical malfunctions or unecessarily byzantine operating systems. So I use a Mac.

Praising PCs because they demand a level of technical expertese Mac users need not bother with is akin to suggesting that an elaborate plumbing system that is forever breaking down is superior to a less widespread but more efficient. That seems as logical a proposition as Windows design infrastructure itself...

Posted by: alex on September 3, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

My wife and I are professionals who depend on computers for almost everything we do. We have three iMac G5s, a G5 Mac laptop, 2 tower Macs, an older G4 and a still older G3 in my wife's lap... all them running, never a problem, never a shortage of the software we need to do our work, and we have reliable service for servicing web sites, communicating with colleagues around the world who work on Windows, Linux, and Mac systems, some in third-world countries where they are operating on old systems with out-dated software. We've also had two or three Windows machines, but those are now used to prop open the door when the heat is on.

Look, Windows is a huge, far-from-elegant system. It takes ten times the amount of code to perform a simple function as it takes on a Mac. The more code it takes to do something, the more the chance something goes wrong.

If you want to focus on your work and not the computer system, get a Mac. If you want spend endless hours dorking around with the computer before you get to the work, get a PC.

Posted by: E.R. Beardsley on September 3, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

I won't gloat. I feel for Microsoft - I remember when Apple had to go from OS 9 to OS X, and the aborted Copland attempt along the way. It is a very hard thing to cut the cord from the old way of doing things and move to something better. You anger your users and your developers and they might leave and not come back.

Vista is still trying to support all the old stuff, and that is hard and complicated. I think it may be Microsoft's "Copland" except that they have enough money to throw at it and make it work eventually, somehow. But the next OS, where they start from scratch and build something better, will be their "OS X."

Posted by: EmmaAnne on September 3, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

The issue of Operating Systems is user-centrism vs. computer-centrism.
The Mac was designed from its inception to work the way the user wants to do the work. The PC was designed from its inception to make users work the way the PC wants to do the work.
This is a fundamental difference in approach. I don't have the inclination to adapt my working procedures to the way a PC is designed. But my work directly benefits from a system that is designed to work WITH me. Even though I am a computer geek, I don't have time to deal with finicky systems that force me to do things THEIR way, I want to do them MY way. So I only work with Macs.

Posted by: charlie don't surf on September 3, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

I love my Mac (technological illiterate that I am) but I'm highly annoyed to find that the great digital camera I want to buy (the Panasonic DMC-FZ7K) doesn't provide driver support for OS X Universal. We're still the underdog.

Posted by: fyreflye on September 3, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to focus on your work and not the computer system, get a Mac. If you want spend endless hours dorking around with the computer before you get to the work, get a PC.

But even that isn't true. God knows, you can dick around with a Linux box for hours on end. But in return, you get power--the ability to leverage OS technologies to perform complicated or repetitive tasks, rather than do them by hand. Windows--in addition to being clunky, bloated, and virus-ridden--is an OS almost utterly lacking in power.

Posted by: dj moonbat on September 3, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

O, lordie. I'm a Mac user since 22 years later this month, but these platform wars are so, you know, last century. I long ago ceased urging Windows friends and colleagues to switch, because by now most of them are so acclimated to the Wintel conventions that the Mac way of doing things would seem counterintuitive to them—and it would be, going up against all those memory muscles. Does this sort of thing happen in other realms of human endeavor? Do the owners of Acme brand golf clubs sneer at the benighted users of Bulldog brand golf clubs?

As a Mac user I do enjoy the relatively tiny (like, 0%) profile my chosen platform assumes as a target of real-world malware, but if Windows users choose to assume the remaining hundred percent I will assume that they are rational actors, and have concluded from their own risk-benefit calculations that the Microsoft operating environment best suits their needs.

Posted by: Rand Careaga on September 3, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

There is no G5 laptop. The chip runs too hot. One of the reasons Apple moved to an Intel Chip.

Posted by: troglodyte on September 3, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Apple + Google + Intel

You gonna bet against them?

Wait until the phones come out.

Apple has already won this round. The round that counts.

Office is a fantastic product. The OS...not so hot.

Posted by: The Hague on September 3, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Can I gloat about how my wife's less-than-a-year-old iPod has just died for the fourth time? Since she has to use it to teach her elementary school music classes, you could fairly say that several of her days are ruined.

I've used Windows PCs, Macs from the original all the way to OS X, and Linux daily in a professional capacity. They're all about the same along any metric you care to use. For that reason, at home I use Windows and Linux on homemade boxes and save thousands of dollars. If I could run Apple software on commodity hardware, I might build one but I won't buy one.

I have, however, noticed a curious induced catatonic state that comes across Mac users every time their computers crash and prevents them from noticing that fact. Not annoying, doesn't ruin my day -- just another meaningless data point.

Posted by: pjcamp on September 3, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

...but now I find myself incredibly irritated about the passive-aggressive apple ethos...

Care to explain?

Posted by: Toby on September 3, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

My main Windows PC is also a Linux PC. I rarely have trouble with either OS. Oddly, though, the TeX toolchain I have on the Windows side works better than the Linux one.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 3, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

TeX toolchain I have on the Windows side works better than the Linux one.

cmdicely, are you using TeX for your legal documents? I've been thinking about taking the time to put together a workflow in LaTeX to do such a thing.

Posted by: dj moonbat on September 3, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Rand--

I also don't understand the "user-friendly" angle that Mac people are always droning on about. To someone who is familiar with being able to use the right-click of a mouse to do almost anything in Windows, this claim rings rather hollow. Macs are infuriating to me. I worked with them for a whole year in my old job (where my boss was a caricature of a Mac drone) and I never found them to be "intuitive" or "friendly". I'll tell you what I wanted--a goddamned right-click button.

And, yes, I know that Macs are coming out now with a right-click button. Which proves that it isn't just Microsoft that is learning from Mac and copying them. The street runs both ways.

Windows is a good product for most casual users, and it is still the only commercial product suitible for many specialized professional users as well. I'm still waiting for ArcMap to come out on Mac. I won't hold my breath on that one.

The animosity towards Bill Gates and Microsoft that some "liberal" Mac users feel is so absurd. Bill and Melinda Gates have done a lot more good with their money than Steve Jobs has. The whole idea of cheerleading for a company because it's not quite as big as another company is ridiculous anyhow.

Posted by: kokblok on September 3, 2006 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

I work with both Mac and PC and although I prefer my Mac, I acknowledge there are times when Windows serves my needs better. The truth is, however, that neither Cupertino nor Redmond has it right (nor does the open source community for that matter). One of these days some bright, young, enterprising geek is going to find the holy grail of personal computing and it WILL BE completely seamless to the technologically illiterate, because that is the fundamental ideal of personal computing. We can argue for weeks about whether Apple or Microsoft comes closest to this ideal, but what would be the point? The fact is that this is, to some extent, the nature of the struggle between Apple and Microsoft. So unless you have something concrete to offer to their dialogue, don't bother.

PS: shrieking harpy

Posted by: StiffMittens on September 3, 2006 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Windows is a good product for most casual users, and it is still the only commercial product suitible for many specialized professional users as well. I'm still waiting for ArcMap to come out on Mac. I won't hold my breath on that one.

Yes. Windows kicks the everloving shit out of Mac and Linux on the Catalog metric, because it is so widely available.

That is a very, very good reason to use Windows. I'm not one of those people who protest otherwise; software availability, and access to people who know how the thing works (sort of, at least), are REALLY important considerations--and for many users, they may be important enough to ignore other criteria of lesser salience.

From the standpoint of technical quality, though, Windows is a steaming pile of crap.

Posted by: dj moonbat on September 3, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: 联通铃声下载 on September 3, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

I installed Bootcamp on my new mini and am now running Windows XP at full speed and OSX on the same machine.

On my MacBook Pro I installed Parrells and run windows in a window at 80-90% of the speed.

Crossover just shipped their mac version so some big name windows apps will "just run" without windows being installed on your intel OSX machine.

Mac Pros are $1000 cheaper then their Dell counterpart.

Much like Iraq.. the war is over.

The macs give you the best of both worlds.

Stop being Bushes and claiming Windows is not Iraq like.

Posted by: me on September 3, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

...but now I find myself incredibly irritated about the passive-aggressive apple ethos...

Care to explain?

I miss the flexibility of my PC. If I wanted to do something, I just went out and decided how to do it. Apple doesn't work that way. For instance, a few weeks ago I went to the Apple store to buy MS Word. I was asked why I was just buying word--why not office--and I said that I didn't need the spreadsheet or the other junk, I just needed word to read documents downloaded from my work system. The guy shuffled me off to another guy, who made me go through the same routine. He said he wasn't sure they had MS Word, unbundled. I pointed to an empty box on the shelf, and he said "oh yeah," and referred me to a supervisor. The supervisor, mercifully, sent someone to go find the full box in the back room, but then proceeded to explain why I didn't need word to create documents, I could do it in something that was bundled free with my Mac. Which of course was irrelevant, because it's not about creating documents, it's about reading documents prepared at work, and I still can't figure out how to do that. Told him that, and he said I should be able to do it without, but of course it would depend on how my system was configured. Which, fine, true, but I could also just buy goddamned Word and have it happen naturally. At which point the stock guy came out and told me they don't sell Word unbundled from Office. Sigh.

Or once I was talking to a real Mac acolyte, and said I liked my Mac, but miss playing games. The acolyte looked at me like I was nuts, and informed me that Mac OSX comes with Chess built in. I said "yeah, but I used to miss games like Grand Theft Auto and first person shooters and stuff." He told me that it was a common misperception that there aren't games for Macs; there's not as much variety, but there is one game in every genre. For instance, he pointed out, there is a first-person shooter for the Mac, Medal of Honor (which is true, and fine, but there are dozens to choose from every year for the PC). As a substite for Grand Theft Auto, he recommended some formula one racing game from 2000.

meanwhile, Apple's new ads make fun of Windows machines. The Apple guy has a photo album he's really proud of, shows it to the PC guy, and then makes fun of the PC guy for not being capable of having fun.

Posted by: dan on September 3, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

>Apple has already won this round. The round that counts.

I think the boxers haven't come out of the dressing rooms yet.

Personally, I think the market is going to fragment more.

Apple will retain its lead in pocket entertainment. That is the source of most if its current revenue and its development dollars are going there.

Win Vista is making the move to the home entertainment market. Here controls of digital copyrights are critical. The next OS from MS will do this even better. This is where they might break the link to the 16 and 32 bit past and write a completely new OS kernel.

If Linux ever gets its act together, it will take over the Enterprise Desktop market. Novel Suse is getting pretty close.

Each player will have products to do the other, but that will not be their strengths.

Apple's use of BSD does open up the Server market, which its trying to force its way into. Certainly its hardware/performance/price ratio is attractive....but not for desktops on a large Enterprise scale. Here Linux would be the logical choice.

If you are dropping one proprietary OS, you don't do it for another. You go to the one which has the longest shelf life and doesn't require security or feature upgrade/patches every year or two. You stick with one that just writes reports, does spread sheets, and sends email. Crossover works well with Office and Linux...that is the Enterprise of the future if MS doesn't release its own Linux Office version, which I think it will have to in a couple of years.

Those of us who have the need or training will be able to move from one to the other, but most dont and will not want to. Nor should they. They just want to listen to music, watch movies, write emails, look at pie charts or browse for porn..er, I mean- follow Ebay auctions. Which ever one does that with the least hassle will be the one they use.

R

Posted by: Ridge on September 3, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

I write software for all three platforms, so I have something of an insider's view. Mac OS X and Linux are very superior OSes for deveopers who want to do something creative and interesting. Windows is a superior OS for developers who want to charge an arm and a leg to make the system do something it should have done right out of the box.

Posted by: BeerWulf on September 3, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Philistines to the left of me, philistines to the right of me and none with a clue

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"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

Posted by: daCascadian on September 3, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I love my Mac. But why the F*** can I not play any Windows Media on it even when I download all the applications that are supposed to either put Windows Media on my hard drive or enable QuickTime to play, e.g. MTP. I just gave my iBook with IE on it to my daughter and went ahead to try to download IE on to it and was informed that downloads of Mac versions of IE were no longer available and I should use Safari. Well, I DO EFFFFING use Safari and it's for shit for playing MTP as a streaming download. Same with Netscape. The F***!!!!!!!!

Posted by: John on September 3, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

dj moonbat--

Thank you. I do prefer the Windows user interface, others may not. That is a matter of opinion. I am familiar enough with both, so it's not just that I acclimated to PCs. I prefer the Windows. I like long lists, manipulating folders, etc. Others may not. If Apple came out with a dummy Windows-like interface with a freakin' right-click button and which ran all the same programs, but with better technical stuff behind the scenes, I would certainly not hesitate to purchase a Mac.

But to my "subject-matter" mind, such a system would be far closer to Windows than to the original Mac OS. I know that programmers or people who are seriously into computers will feel differently, but it's a matter of perspective. To me if it looks like Windows and quacks like Windows, it is Windows.

Posted by: kokblok on September 3, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Mac users are able to remain so technically illiterate that they're daunted by something as laughably easy to use as a Windows machine surely does seem like a gloating point to those users, much like a pot belly, sloped shoulders, and frail bones seemed like bragging points to inbred, never-exercising New Kingdom egyptian royalty.

The funny thing about this remark is that many of us professional software developers (I've been coding for 16 years now) are switching to Macs. Unix power plus a clean interface rocks.

We've converted our entire company over to OSX on the desktop, and Jobs is the richer for it, and we're happier. It simply rocks. I say this as someone who has used every Windows version since 3, MacOS since System 6, and several different XWindow managers, not to mention also-rans like NextStep (I do know the history) and various oddities along the way.

All of our servers are still either Debian Linux or FreeBSD, except for 2 clients who demand Windows (And one Solaris box). But we're getting fewer Windows types, and converting the old ones (Both of our Windows clients will be running linux in production before the end of the year. Solaris is solid, and I don't think I want to move them away, even if it would make my life easier.)


--Operations guy and partner in a company with a staff:computer ratio of 1:6.33 at the moment.

Posted by: fishbane on September 3, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

One of these days some bright, young, enterprising geek is going to find the holy grail of personal computing and it WILL BE completely seamless to the technologically illiterate, because that is the fundamental ideal of personal computing.

No. This may be your ideal of personal computing, but it is not the fundamental ideal of personal computing. This is why the OS flame wars will never end. Everyone thinks they know exactly what a personal computer should do and how it should do it.

The computer is a tool, but it is a tool for the mind. As such, any limitations you put on it are simply limiting the work you can do. That is why free software (free as in speech) people do have the right idea. Their underlying ethos is to put the greatest flexibility of the tool in the hands of the users.

When you wish for some "young, enterprising geek" to simplify everything, you sound like the guy doing home repair who complains that they should only make one size bolt, so you only need to have one wrench.

I'm for Linux all the way. Not because it has always been easiest for me, but because I know it affords me the greatest options, and thus power. That's not to say that Linux can't be easy. I am shopping for a mobile phone now, and I expect it to "simply work" as would any mobile phone user. But I will make sure the phone runs the Linux OS because I know what is in my long term interest.

Linux is not the answer to everything, but free software is driving the innovation today (look at OS X) and will drive it in the future. And they treat you with respect.

Posted by: GGordonL on September 3, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

If Apple came out with a dummy Windows-like interface with a freakin' right-click button...

List/tree views of folders are just as available in Mac as in Windows. Also, if you just plug a wheel mouse into a USB port on a Mac, you will discover a right-click menu, too.

I actually lean toward Linux: the software's free, and it runs on lots of hardware. So how 'bout we argue Emacs v. vi(m), too?

Posted by: dj moonbat on September 3, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the thing, I've been a PC user all my life, and recently bought a mac for work. It is sleek, fast, and entirely mysterious to me. Beyond this I'm sure whenever someone sees me use it they know I'm not a REAL mac girl, (they can tell I'm really bill gate's bitch.)

I think mac's ARE more intuitive: trouble is we've had our intuition beaten out of us after years of dos and windows. What's the use of intuition if you aren't used to using it?

I like my mac alot, mostly for irrational reasons, like its so pretty and shiny. BUT, it has had problems, and I have spent tech hours on the phone I was promised at the committment ceremony never to have spent.

If it weren't for the fatuous cool factor, I might well be undecided as to preference. THank god it has a lighted keyboard, which, of course, changes everything.

Posted by: shrink in sf on September 3, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

"When you wish for some "young, enterprising geek" to simplify everything, you sound like the guy doing home repair who complains that they should only make one size bolt, so you only need to have one wrench."

Wrong. What I am saying is that the ideal of personal computing is that an average person can use their computer with ease. There will always be a need for developers and support personnel and they will need to understand the underlying complexity and be proficient with a wide range of tools, but the user shouldn't have to know anything about it. I don't need to understand how a carburetor works in order to drive a car. I shouldn't need to know anything about swap files or drive journaling in order to use a computer. Nothing in my previous post suggested limiting flexibility or imposing restrictions on functionality. I am simply saying that the goal is to provide that flexibility and functionality to the broadest possible userbase which includes the technologically illiterate. It has always been about delivering more functionality with greater ease. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the unwavering trend toward that ideal that has been apparent in the personal computing revolution since the first shot was fired.

Posted by: StiffMittens on September 3, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

> Unix power plus a clean interface rocks.

Yep, must be a dev since s/he said "rocks".

> It simply rocks.

Oooh, twice in one post!

Posted by: Mark on September 3, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

dj moonbat--

OK, you got me. I just hate those god-damned Bono commercials. I admit it. And those creepy kids that work at the Mac stores. It makes me want to stay far, far away.

But, still, if I want to use my Mac laptop without a mouse, I'm pretty screwed on that right-click thing.

Posted by: kokblok on September 3, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

kokblok >"...a freakin' right-click button...

Itz the mouse you are using dip stick, not the OS

I use right-clicks all the time on Macs because I have a multibutton mouse - so get a different mouse (how about one w/a wheel also ? - "just works" on Macs)

StiffMittens >"...I shouldn't need to know anything about swap files or drive journaling in order to use a computer..."

Correct & so why do you bother to know that stuff ?

I know lots and lots of people that are very happy with their computers (pick your favorite OS), get lots of work done & have no idea what those things are

lame rant dude !

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." - Galileo Galilei

Posted by: daCascadian on September 3, 2006 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

F#@k that. My hard drive just failed on my powerbook. If I had a PC, I'd probably have taken the pains to back up more recently. Gloating is for ass monkeys.

Posted by: B on September 3, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

daCascadian: I was simply responding to GGordonL's rebuttal of my previous post. To answer your question - I know about these things because it is my job to know about these things. I would like to not have this job anymore because all these technologically illterate users are annoying me all day with stupid questions about why Entourage sucks and how come the crappy free font they downloaded off the internet appears garbled in InDesign. So I would like for some enterprising, young geek(s) to design an operating system that chimpanzees can use without much effort, so I can quit my crappy job and focus all my attention on my crappy band.

Posted by: StiffMittens on September 3, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's Paper/Rock/Scissors. Windows is beating Mac. But then eventually Linux will beat Windows. But Ultimately Mac will survive because it beats Linux.

What I mean by this is that everything is really going to be internet browser based. Thus Windows will become more and more irrelevant as Linux eats away at the monopoly. But, Mac will still reign supreme because of its integrated design. People will still buy Macs even if a Linux box can do the same thing.

Posted by: GeorgeNYC on September 3, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

I use but pretty much despise Windows. I dual-boot to Fedora Core (Linux) and loyally pretend that I like it though it is often a major pain--but, goddammit, every single time I use or try to fix someone's Mac I become apoplectic with rage at Apple for their idiotic and transparent bullshit. I would love to love Macintosh, but I hate it. It doesn't have to be this way, and I wish the Mac was truly superior, but it isn't. Sorry!!

Posted by: Luminous Pachyderm on September 4, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

I find that I tend to like Macs more than I like Mac users.

Perhaps it's that cult thing.

Posted by: Zeno on September 4, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

to the guy up above who is angry at apple for the fact that microsoft doesn't sell Office unbundled for macs -- are you trying to be ironic?

Ever wonder why PPT created on macs can look like crap in PPT (of the same era) on a PC?

Microsoft is one of the lamest software supliers for apple. Although they do open up huge niches for 4th party software makers.

Posted by: B on September 4, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

If Apple came out with a dummy Windows-like interface with a freakin' right-click button and which ran all the same programs, but with better technical stuff behind the scenes, I would certainly not hesitate to purchase a Mac.


Look, folks. Here's how to get right-click functionality on a Mac. It's kind of complicated, so I'll go slow.

Get a mouse with a right-click button.

Plug it into the Mac.

Posted by: Brautigan on September 4, 2006 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Or get one with bluetooth

http://www.apple.com/mightymouse/

Posted by: B on September 4, 2006 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Specifics would be welcome, but in lieu of replacing your pc itself, get a new Mac, they dual-boot both Mac and Windows. I've used my Windows side extensively for games and Web development (the former being the true test of any system's stability) and I've not crashed once in 3-4 months since I installed Windows (versus a similar set up (ram and memory) on a Gateway previously).

You pay more, but like most everything, you pay more 'cause you get more. Apple is well worth the change.

Posted by: Fred F. on September 4, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

"Rand--

I also don't understand the "user-friendly" angle that Mac people are always droning on about. ... I'll tell you what I wanted--a goddamned right-click button."

Dude--I mean Kokblok--, get a mouse with two buttons and plug it into your Mac. Wow! It works! Has for years! You'll be like that hominid in the beginning of Space Odyssey 2001! Bone up in the air!

Posted by: Viacondotti on September 4, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

All I can say is that I switched from windows to mac about three months ago, and never have I regretted it. I don't think I will ever switch back. No virii, no worms, no trojans, utter control over applications and adware...An environment where the word 'freeware' is not code for 'laced with spyware'.

Loving it, just loving it.

Oh, and it's pretty to look at too, unlike your average PC which is slightly uglier than the box it came in.

Posted by: charlie on September 4, 2006 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Now, Kevin, we grow and improve through conflict. Mac users don't get that opportunity. They never get to be humbled and shaken and question their place in the universe, like us PC users. That's why they're usually so obnoxious... because they have never known the troubles we've seen.

A PC saint

Posted by: oops on September 4, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Right click button?! What right click button?! We don't need no steenkin' right click buttons!!

Posted by: parrot on September 4, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

So how 'bout we argue Emacs v. vi(m), too?

Nooooooo! please don't start that one DJ :P Thanks for the laugh.

Really, I've tried to get vi under my belt.. just. can't. do. it. Not that I muck around in Emacs much these days

Our house is all Mac but my wife (geophysics research scientist)who swears by her Mac insists on using EMacs for just about everything she can.

Posted by: Simp on September 4, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

almost forgot...

I know there are a lot of good editors on PC, but well, BBedit doesn't suck. :)

Posted by: Simp on September 4, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

I know there are a lot of good editors on PC, but well, BBedit doesn't suck. :)

TextMate Rulezzzz!

Posted by: dj moonbat on September 4, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

PJCamp-- I had the same experience with IPods-- out of 4, three failed almost immediately. The Apple Store replaced them right away, which leads me to think that they figure a high percentage of IPods are lemons and price accordingly. So much for Apple's vaunted quality advantage-- none of my other MP-3 players had that sort of problem.

The other problem with Apple is the computers are expensive, because Apple doesn't let anyone else make them. So I gotta think-- I can buy an Apple laptop for $1100 and keep it for 5 years, or get a Dell laptop for $500 this year and a new one in 3 years, saving a bit of money and getting the greater speed and memory of a new machine. I don't do anything fancy on my laptops-- word processing and internet-- so I don't think I'd get all the potential of an Apple. But they are prettier. :)

Posted by: oops on September 4, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

StiffMittens >"...so I can quit my crappy job and focus all my attention on my crappy band."

Well, good luck with the band...

"There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept." - Ansel Adams

Posted by: daCascadian on September 4, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Most comments seem to be addressing one of the following dimensions: 1) Ease of Use, 2) Robustness and reliability, 3) Software availability, and 4) Vulnerability to malware.

Of these, 3 and 4 go with the territory -- since Windows has the majority of the market, you will find a lot more specialized software for it, and it will naturally be the choice of virus developers.

1 (Ease of Use) is probably not a major issue, as most people (and children) seem able to do their work on Windows these days.

The main issue, I think, is with software robustness and reliability. Here, Windows has problems. I don't know if these problems come from trying too hard to hold on to ancient features, or to support a wider spectrum of hardware manufacturers and price points, or because Windows has too many incarnations that try to be all things to all people (enterprise server, enterprise desktop, small business, home, game / lan party machine, media center, etc).

But Windows desktops, especially those not running XP Professional, are not robust machines. Some of the responsibility for this may be on the side of the integrators (Dell, HP, etc.) -- but it is amazing how many people are having problems with their home Windows machines.

Posted by: JS on September 4, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

It still the dark ages of computing no matter what you buy. When I was choosing between platforms to run pro audio apps 7 years ago or so I ended up going with os 9. The only reason was because it seemed like you spent less time banging your head against the wall to get it to work with a midi/audio set-up. But it didn't mean macs were perfect, just that they pissed me off less.
I happen to have to work all day on XP which is helluva lot better than windows 98. Can't say there have been any more or less glitches with xp than os x, though. But my studio and home computers are all are macs. I suppose I like how they are designed, both inside and out. And that is a virtue I am willing to pay for.

Posted by: s'modo on September 4, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Writing in InfoWorld a few years ago, Tom Yager described TAD (technology attachment disorder). TAD is an unshakable, impractical devotion to a brand, platform, product line, or programming language.

Self-evident when you think about it.

Posted by: Larry on September 4, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm a Mac guy of long standing, though I went to Sony for my dual LCD screen setup. I generally avoid Microsoft like the plague, particularly Office, though since I'm a graphics type it doesn't usually come up much.

However, I do swear by my 3-button Microsoft mouse - nice design, good feel, three buttons and a proper sized wheel (none of that little Mighty Mouse itty-bitty trackball for me), plus it's CHEAP. It does have a tendency to have the pointer leap to the side of the screen, though that happens with other USB mice too.

Posted by: jimBOB on September 4, 2006 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

I started out in CP/M 20+ years ago, migrated to DOS a few years later, then to MAC; while I use windows at work, my personal machine has ever since been a MAC, and I really fail to understand why the rest of the world has followed the pied piper of Seattle.

Posted by: Brian Boru on September 4, 2006 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

I've been using Macs as my personal computer for 18 years, but dan is exactly right about Apple being passive-aggressive. Look at all the software bugs and hardware problems that Apple refuses to admit, but simply fixes in the next release/version. For software, people can eventually upgrade and little harm is done (except for cases such as the OS upgrade that wiped out Firewire drives). For hardware, buyers are often stuck with a defective machine, except in the few cases where Apple authorizes a repair. How about Apple's refusal to release security patches for most releases of the OS? They generally only issue them for two releases, everyone else is stuck or forced to pay for the latest version of the OS. How about Apple's refusal to provide an upgrade discount, even a small one, for any of its software? Apple offers itself as a consumer-friendly company. It is not, but it often looks that way compared to Microsoft and Intel.

Posted by: Larry on September 4, 2006 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

John sez:
Yeah, I love my Mac. But why the F*** can I not play any Windows Media on it even when I download all the applications that are supposed to either put Windows Media on my hard drive or enable QuickTime to play, e.g. MTP.

I don't know what applications you downloaded to put Windows Media on your Hard Drive but the only one you're supposed to download is Flip4Mac WMV. That's what I did and it enabled QuickTime without a problem. Start over.

Posted by: fyreflye on September 4, 2006 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

Brian Boru >"...the pied piper of Seattle."

REDMOND !!! (and he lives in Medina which is also on the other side of the lake from Seattle)

Don`t be bad mouthin Seattle cause of Mr. Gates doin his bad stuff over there in Redmond, which ain`t Seattle

Get it ?

"The day Microsoft makes something that doesn't suck will be the day they start making vacuum cleaners." - gpirujo@ciudad.com.ar

Posted by: daCascadian on September 4, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

""The day Microsoft makes something that doesn't suck will be the day they start making vacuum cleaners." - gpirujo@ciudad.com.ar."

I just fell over laughing.

Posted by: CaseyL on September 4, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

If I shoot my PC before it's finished booting, is that murder?

Posted by: craigie on September 4, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

But the next OS, where they start from scratch and build something better, will be their "OS X."

They can't. They aimed for market saturation and got it with Windows 95/98. They maintain that saturation through backward compatability.

Windows is a superior OS for developers who want to charge an arm and a leg to make the system do something it should have done right out of the box.

Windows is a serious OS for developers who want to charge an arm and a leg and have people buy it because they've got a system to run it.

Posted by: Boronx on September 4, 2006 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

Crikey! The Croc Hunter has done bit the big one.

Posted by: Reprobate on September 4, 2006 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, the marketshare has only gone up. But that's ok, facts don't matter to people like that.

No kidding. They'll usually trot out something about System seven or about how terribly expensive the Macs are - without ever noting that the same quality PC costs more - not to mention how more easily they may be maintained.

I can no longer count the number of days my spouse comes home whining about having a bad day with windows.

For a long time, I stuck with windows. I could pare it down, pull out the constant crippleware, sector out the drive so that it didn't die from fragmentation, fix the fans and make sure patches were applied in short doses, and used the proper maintainence software. But in the end, it didn't work.

I can switch a boot drive from one mac to another, and it won't care. Well, it will, but it won't die. It doesn't even need to be the same class of machine!

And with all the power of Unix I can open a window and have my command line.

Who needs PCs?

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK

PS - my Intelcore iMac has spent less than twenty-four hours this year down.

I can't say the same for even my little-used PC.

I can count the number of times my Mac has crashed. I cannot count the number of times my PC has crashed.

Although, today my uptime is measure in days, not months. But that's mostly because I moved it to my friend's house and back for a lan party.

uptime 0:48 up 1 day, 2:05, 2 users, load averages: 0.20 0.12 0.09

Of course, Macs handle wireless even better than current XP. And we're on Tiger, and of course, we know another edition will come out within the year...

When will Vista be released?

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 3:58 AM | PERMALINK

Oh!

You miss playing games?

I play the hottest games out onmy Mac, at their top settings. World of Warcraft, Sims, SecondLife all run wonderfully on a Mac.

Some run even faster under BootCamp.

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 4:01 AM | PERMALINK

I never found them to be "intuitive" or "friendly". I'll tell you what I wanted--a goddamned right-click button

No mice even came with a PC back when Macs were bundled with one button mice. o-o

The first Apple mouse I used had multiple buttons, and I personally have always used three button mice.

Heck, if the Mighty Mouse (or similar) came as a trackball, I'd be in heaven.

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 4:03 AM | PERMALINK

I can get a new Dell, with no resell price...
http://www.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/featured_basnb?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs
Or get an Apple via eBay.

Why worry about the price today when you can drop a five year old iBook for $500 now?

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

I consider myself tech-savvy, having learned to use them when "the mouse" wasn't widely available and you still had to type in your commands in code. While I don't claim to know everything, I've certainly been around.

I just bought an HP Pavilion DV 8315 Notebook PC (17" screen) to take with me on mainland business trips, and I couldn't be happier with it. I respect people who like Macs, but I prefer PCs.

I hear all these people with horror stories about their PCs and Windows programs, but I can honestly say that I do not have one. I keep up with the latest and best available anti-virus ware (for my money, I like Trend Micro Antivirus) and the best anti-spyware (I prefer Webroot Spysweeper), and run them fairly regularly.

I'm also very selective about where I peruse on the internet. At the risk of sounding like a prude, I urge those who have experienced problems to exercise discretion and personal fortitude regarding where they go browsing, i.e., KEEP AWAY FROM ADULT ENTERTAINMENT-ORIENTED WEBSITES.

So many of those adult sites originate outside U.S. borders in Eastern Europe, etc., and the inability to adequately regulate such sites in effect renders them the proverbial "Wild, Wild West" of the world-wide web. They are notorious for purposefully harboring and implanting viruses, spyware, and other noxious e-attachments that can collectively harm your computer's operation.

So unless you want to turn on your computer's internet browser one day and find that your home page and "Favorites" section have been hijacked by stuff you can only rid yourself of by turning your computer's internal clock back a few weeks (which erases all your files and data compiled during the period in question), I would suggest that you err on the side of caution and resist such temptation.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 4, 2006 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK

weird... i've had a mouse with a right click button on my mac since '00... it came with my wacom tablet. anyone who wants to right click on a mac can plunk down the $15 or so for a multi-button usb mouse and go to town...

or learn to press the command key, and spend nothing at all. that's worked for over a decade...

Posted by: n8-zilla on September 4, 2006 at 5:01 AM | PERMALINK

So, let's count the misconceptions spewed here today:

1. No right mouse button. Duh. Plug in a mouse with two, three, or (my personal mouse) five buttons and, guess what? They all work. And, without a mouse, Ctrl-click is the same as right-click.

2. Higher price. Not when they come out (recently). In the past three years or so Apple has been releasing similar hardware (obviously not near-identical until the Intel switch) at cut-rate prices. Case in point is beating Dell by about $1,000 on the Mac Pro specs. Granted, wait six or nine months and the Mac will likely still be the same price and the Dell $1500 less, but if you want a high-end quad-core machine today the Mac Pro is the best option out there.

3. Lack of software. Yes, Macs have fewer apps. And, no, you won't find a 1:1 mapping from your pet PC app to a similar Mac app. You'll see this most starkly, of course, in games, where there just is rarely such a thing as an "equivalent" but different application. But, aside from games, I'm quite happy with both the commercial and shareware software scene for Macs.

4. Macs are for morons. As other have said, Macs are for people who don't want to clutter their brain with understanding how Windows works so they can effectively deploy countermeasures. As another developer of (now) cross-platform software, I too can attest that Mac software development is an absolute dream, from the free tools (XCode/gcc/CHUD/Sampler/etc) to the optionals (IBM/Intel compilers for enhanced runtime performance, primarily). Developers generally aren't incapable of understanding how computers work, but in my experience at least, more and more of them are choosing to do their own computing (and envy me because I also do my work computing) on a Mac.

5. Macs crash just as much as Windows. BS. Or, at least, I personally have never been able to get a Windows machine as damned stable as all four of my Macs are, out of the box. Maybe I've just lost my Windows-fixing jujitsu. But, I spend only fifteen minutes setting up a new Mac, and would spend hours on a new Windows machine (haven't gotten one of those in over three years, though). While my Macs will occasionally need to be rebooted, that is incredibly rare (ie, 2-3 months between). My XP box, despite significantly less intense usage, reboots involuntarily about once a month, and more often "voluntarily" due to "critical" OS patches (which likely hides mounting instabilities, and I can discern the performance difference of it freshly booted versus a week later).

6. Macs are cult objects. Okay, that one's obviously true. I spend my free evening hours adding trinkets to my Temple of Jobs shrine in the basement, and my weekends handing out flowers and smiles at the airport. But, that's just healthy, man. Love!

Posted by: Jet Tredmont on September 4, 2006 at 5:18 AM | PERMALINK

since this is a bs thread, i might as well add my 2 cents. software availability, robustness, and useability are all important issues, but i think another one is being overlooked here: actively using a computer versus passively installing software and then proceeding to click on things.

really using a computer involves writing programs for it, even simple ones, and i say this as a very shitty programmer. otherwise you are using word/indesign/whatever, but not the computer per se. you don't walk up to a complicated piece of machinery and just start pressing buttons; it's best to learn a bit of how it works so that you can use it effectively. then you can do what you want, not what the software designers want you to do. the power of the computer is that it will do whatever you tell it to, not that it will run whatever you download.

ok, this betrays me as a linux user. back to my kernel compilation!

and re: TeX --- everyone should use it. that goes for windows users, too.

Posted by: bs23 on September 4, 2006 at 6:40 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe I've just got some Windows Mojo, but I've been using PC's for 15 years or more and I never get the kind of problems that Mac users always talking about. My current XP machine has been running for 4 months with heavy use and no reboot without a crash at all (and it's on a year old install of XP). I don't seem to get any viruses or anything, but then I have a good virus checker and scheduled spy and mal-ware sweeps.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Mac is a nifty machine. I really don't have anything against them at all (although, some of the more spittle-flecked fanboys drive me up the wall to the extent that it turns me off from ever buying one). Sure, the Mac is probably easier to use for the computer impaired, but since I know what I am doing (apparently!) I get along with my PC just fine.

Posted by: platosearwax on September 4, 2006 at 7:01 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe I've just got some Windows Mojo, but I've been using PC's for 15 years or more and I never get the kind of problems that Mac users always talking about.

Same here. Perhaps it's for the same mysterious reason that I managed to purchase the only 1993 Saturn SL1 that wasn't a lemon. 180k hard miles, still without a serious problem.

Posted by: Donna Q on September 4, 2006 at 7:22 AM | PERMALINK

...the occasional glitch is well worth the myriad choices you have with a pc as opposed to a snapple machine.

Posted by: Gordon on September 4, 2006 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

For laptop? portable mac users the equivalent to right click is: control click not cmd click so no mouse is needed. Try control click on a mispelled word!

Posted by: oj on September 4, 2006 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

I've got PC programs from the late 80s that still run under W2k and Windows XP without any problems. If they had been Apple programs they just wouldn't run on modern hardware and the modern version of the Apple OS since the hardware and instruction set have changed radically since then, unlike the dinosaur PC design. These programs run a lot faster on modern cheap PC hardware - what used to take a 12 hour overnight rendering session runs in 20 minutes now, and I can read email and do oher stuff at the same time.

One of those programs cost my company about 4000 dollars back then; a modern replacement's ticket price is 5000 bucks, but the old version does what I need. If it was a Mac program I'd have to toss the old version in the bin and cough up the shekels again, or resign myself to running it on old hardware that still takes 12 hours to complete.

Macs are for rich people, basically. There have been, what, three paid $100 upgrades for OS/X since it was released back in 2000, whereas "money-grubbing" MicroSoft's W2k has been upgraded and patched for free since the same time, ditto for XP more recently.

Posted by: Robert Sneddon on September 4, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

If it (whatever it is) works for you, great! Costs, expectations and experiences may vary but do provide grist for enjoyable flame wars :)

What's really terrific is the interplay of the O/S's - ideas have few borders and serious, intelligent competition adds pepper to the pot.

Posted by: ChasM on September 4, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

I actually like all three, although I don't get to use the Mac very much. I really wanted to move to Linux, and still have Ubuntu on one of my systems, but it is just too much of a hassle, and there are too many things I need to do that will not work on it easily (games, video drivers, Palm T|X, etc.)

My five year old Dell never crashes and is on 24/7 and I never get spyware or viruses. I do run AVG in the background, but run spyware sweepers only once a month and never have any problems, despite being on the internet full time. I do know that many of my friends where I teach cannot go ten minutes, literally, without picking up some spyware package (I know I have seen it happen.)

I now am using the pre RC-1 Vista on an Inspiron and It is looking great. So to answer the above, yes Vista is coming out and is looking nice. There are some places it looks better and has more power than the Mac OS. Search is impressive. (I know, Spotlight came out first, but MS did talk about integrated search years ago; Apple was smart enough to do it first on the OS. But the Vista search is better and more integrated than Spotlight. Vista's search is everywhere.)

One funny thing about all of this is that of the three groups in debate here, Windows users are the least like lemmings. True, we blindly buy Wintel machines over and over, but none of us are that emotionally tied to MS. We can't tell you what Gates said in his last speech, or even care. We don't have our collection of childish put downs like you see on the other side (Windoze, Winblows, Filemangler, etc.) put downs that true believers apparently must memorize. I find too many Mac users silly. Everything is better, faster, etc because Jobs said so. We heard that the older Macs were two to three times faster than the PC despite all objective evidence to the contrary. But now the Mac systems using the same chips as the Wintel machines are even faster. Huh?

When Windows 95 came out, I pointed out to my Mac loving brother the ease of use of the Start Menu and the Taskbar and he said having icons or buttons for running progams at the bottom of the screen was not intuitive. Having a list of running programs hiding in a menu at the top of the screen was far better--at least until OSX, when suddenly having icons at the bottom of the screen was better. As far as cost, Macs have improved, but are still too expensive. I compared a nearly identical Inspiron E1505 with a Mac CoreDuo and I could only get them similar in cost when I dropped to a 13 inch Mac. This was outfitting them with the same video chip, memory, (the Mac had slightly faster memory,) and still the 15 inch Dell was slightly less expensive than the 13 inch Mac. If I took the Mac up to a Pro to get it to 15 inch it was about 400 to 500 more using the same processor, memory, etc.

Seriously, though, I like all three. There are times when I would really like to run a Mac. But it would be too much to replace all of my software. Bootcamp makes it more likely, but considering I have now had only four computers over the last 13 years, and two of them have run for six or seven years with little or no problems, and my new laptop is doing fine, I have little incentive to change.

Besides I am crossing my finger with Vista. I think it will be less impressive than MS hopes but far superior to what many detractors believe.

Whether anyone will care is a different matter. But it will be on about 97 percent of the computers sold six months from now, so the question is moot.

Posted by: Chris on September 4, 2006 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

And, no, you won't find a 1:1 mapping from your pet PC app to a similar Mac app.

The more software your shop runs, the more likely you'll find a deal breaker when you consider shifting away from windows.

Count me as one who doesn't understand posters who complain about stability, except that they must be thinking back to 98/ME days. I run seven XP home computers and a handful with Linux, and they just don't crash.

Posted by: Boronx on September 4, 2006 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

I have computers at the office, and at home. I use Windows at the office because there are legacy software packages (time and billing and accounting) that only come in Windows. My wife and daughter have Windows on their home computers because they play windows based games. For years I ran Linux on my home machine. Recently I rebuilt my personal home desktop. I upgraded to the 64 bit version of Ubuntu. The darn thing just wouldn't find my printer. I discovered that lots of Linux people running the 64 bit version were having similar problems. Most of them were finally able to install their printers but some were not. In every case it took a lot of gyrations. Frankly, there are some things an operating system should do, and do flawlessly. Driving a printer is one of them. That points out a problem with the Linux community. The CUPs peopele are all volunteers, and Lunix runs on a lot of different hardware. I am sure that soon the compatability problem will be solved.

Too bad, because Linux, right out of the CD with either Gnome or KDE, has more than enough bundled software to keep any home user happy. If properly deployed with the right software I can see any enterprise functioning happily and safely on Linux as well.

I am presently running Windows on my machine. The anti-virus software alone is enough to drive you crazy. The automatic windows updates are an adventure. You never know when they are going to change something to make you more "secure" like they did about a month ago when they made Washington Monthly unreadable in IE. I had to install Firefox just to read AL and American Hawk's rants. Sometime in the last week of August Microsoft released another security update correcting the previous screwup.

As to crashing the machine, none of the modern OS crash very often. More of a problem is an application crashing. That is the result of bad coding. I think it is a problem for everybody.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 4, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

That fucking liberal Bill Gates is responsible for this shit, consarn it. I need some more chewin' tobaccy...

Posted by: A Southern Redneck on September 4, 2006 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

I, too, enjoy the lack of software titles available for macs.

Posted by: jeremy on September 4, 2006 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

I just recently switched to a macbook pro just for the hell of it, really. I was in the market for a new computer and I decided to try using a mac for a change. I never really had any problems with Windows stability, at least after switching to XP some years back, so its not like I was 'fed up' with them. I just wanted a change.

Anyways, I've been using it for about 4 months now and my impressions are mixed. First, I really like the fact that all of the multimedia stuff is so user-friendly. I've never had to install a driver or anything.

Second, the learning curve wasn't too steep, contrary to what a long of people say. Maybe it is because I am young and have been using computers all my life, but after a week or two, I could pretty much do everything on my mac that I could do on my PC, in terms of configurations, etc.

Third, while I find the mac to be really reliable when it comes to standard applications (iWork, etc.) I find it incredibly unpredictable when using third-party, open-source software. For example, I use Transmission to download movies and VLAN to watch them. Transmission crashes all the time, deletes my files occasionally, and, in general, does not work that great. Yet of the other major bittorrent clients (Bitttorent, Azureus, Bits on Wheels, etc.) it seems to work the best. VLAN, meanwhile, always displays error messages (though mainly harmless), and the subtitle feature never works automatically--I always have to set it up manually.

FInally, when I run the ONE game I do play--Warcraft III--it crashes 20% of the time for no reason and it never seems to exit properly. I.e., I sometimes have to forcequit or it just exits automatically after a game is done.

All in all, not really deal stoppers. I think I would still go back to a Mac, but I find it a bit fo a stretch to say that Macs are hands-down superior PCs running windows, especially any PC from the last three years.

Posted by: new mac user on September 4, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

For years, I haven't understood why Windows X won't let you simply print lists of your files in a directory. Add-ons can help, but I recall with horror a guy in the office who used print-screen to capture lists of files to print for the boss. Can you just do that from an Apple? Then again, I also wonder why I still can't do a case-sensitive search on Google, or search for explicit character strings like " Neil' " without confusing the system.

Posted by: Neil' on September 4, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, I meant Windows of any type - I didn't mean "XP" by that "X."

Posted by: Neil' on September 4, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Hi Neil:

I am not sure, if you just asked that question rhetorically. On the MacOS X, thanks to its Unix underpinnings, you can list all the names of files within a directory with some simple commands.

Open the Terminal application and type:

> ls

This will list the files. You can copy the names as text and paste into word or Notepad and print it. Or if you are more sophisticated, you can redirect the output to a file from the command line..

> ls > filenames.txt

the above command will save the filenames to a txt file, that you can print. If you want to list all the files with file descriptions, yo can type..

> ls -al

If you want all the files within each of the subdirectories then you can type

> ls -aRl > filenames.txt

...

You can also directly redirect the output to the printer, if you so desire. A few unix commands can help you a great deal for something like this.

Kari

Posted by: Kari on September 4, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

I had a non tech friend call me the other day-- her windows guy-- the guy that comes over every 3 months to tweak her PC (get rid of maleware, spyware ect and get her PC functioning again) is no longer doing the service and she needed a new guy -

as a mac user it took me a long time to wrap my mind around the fact that she has to call someone ever 3 months to keep her computer working--

another friend got a new pc and need help getting onto a wireless network.. i brought my mac laptop over and immediately got MY computer on her wireless network and then it took one hour before I got her PC laptop on the network.

face it macs just work- that is why they are superior to PCs

Posted by: smartone on September 4, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Drum:

Today was a very pleasant day that was ruined surprise! by an encounter with a Windows PC.

On the other hand, I haven't had my yearly Mac sighting yet...and it's September already...

Posted by: grape_crush on September 4, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Computers are like a refrigerator: I put things in, I take things out; I don't need to know refrigeration. And any way, who said a "/ "is a form of communication? And what gives with that PC pointer--shaky little thing and ugly as the dickens.

All those people who talk about power--what are you doing sending rockets from home or creating banking programs? These guys liked the days of "c" drives and thnking they were "computing cowboys"-- all they were is the guys standing around a garage looking under the hood of an old Ford drinking beer and making women think they know "how to do things". It gave them a certain mystery that they lacked in their daily lives,--they could sit in their shorts and geek out with each other and sometimes fix something. Then they could imagine that they were "power users". Now they cannot do that with computers or the old Ford.

All we really need is an email program, a web browser and a fast connection this day in age. I have never had a problem opening any document with my mac, with or without Office.
Games: Are you kidding? who cares.

Yes, they all break--Macs PCs etc. Anyone who has a fantasy that they will not break is a delusional first worlder who thinks that the world owes him perfection. Computers break and people die from medical complexities.

Now, if only Steve Jobs would imitate Gates and start giving some money away, then I can really like him more. Gates has redeemed himself by his philanthropy. So, Steve, open you pockets and stop being a pretty boy.

Posted by: Techstasy on September 4, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

"Or once I was talking to a real Mac acolyte, and said I liked my Mac, but miss playing games. The acolyte looked at me like I was nuts, and informed me that Mac OSX comes with Chess built in. I said "yeah, but I used to miss games like Grand Theft Auto and first person shooters and stuff."

Now head to a strip mall Gamestop--you know, the face of the future. Remember that miniscule Mac Games section? That's where the PC games are now. Everything else is console. Apple's problem is that they're two years ahead of the curve, and what they do now will only make sense later. Remember the iMac in '98 not having a floppy drive? When was the last time you saved anything on a floppy--except when it was on a machine with no port for your flash drive?

Posted by: Steve Paradis on September 4, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

How your readers can hold such subtle, thoughtful, and sophisticated political views and be such yalping barbarians when it comes to computers, I'll never know.

You've been interpellated, you Windows fools; why you insist on beating up on what is clearly a more versatile, elegant, integrated machine I will never know.

Why is it that converting from PCs to Macs is common enough, but you never hear about the reverse?

Come on, wake up guys.

Posted by: melancholic on September 4, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

This thread reminds me of myself whenever I have recently had to drive a car equipped with an automatic transmission, and I whine, bitch, ketch, complain, deride them for hours or even days afterwards. I hate 'em. They feel lousy. I learned to drive with a manual, all the cars I've bought for three decades had manuals, and for every mile I've driven with a slushbox I drove two dozen with a manual; it's like the difference between walking down a sidewalk in a pair of deck shoes and walking down the sidewalk wearing a pair of concrete blocks tied on my feet with twine.

Did I mention that automatics piss away at least 5% of the total gasoline consumption of this country? Middle East oil imports, unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions, blah blah blah.

Needless to say, the vast majority of the people to whom I address these various cranky complaints, having learned from day one on automatics, can not get it at all why I'm so exercised.

Someone out there, having read this far, is about to lecture me on the competitive advantages of the latest paddle-shifting seven-speed Tiptronic as installed in this year's Carrera GT of Ferrari F-1 car, which according to Automobile magazine delivers a 0-100 MPH time that's 0.1 seconds faster than a manual in the same chassis. But that's not what I mean by an "automatic." I've never driven a car with one of these race-car trannys, never even sat in one. What I'm talking about is the loathed conventional prundle. I'm right and you are wrong!

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I had to use a PC in my cube.

But when doing real work, like bloggging, so my productivity matters to me, I want a real operating system.

The California-cool, beautiful, and above all EFFICIENT user interface and design of Mac OS X -- with industrial strength Unix under the hood.

And, oh yeah, no viruses.

So, if you want a machine that sucks up your time so you can tend to its needs, get a PC.

If you want to be productive, get a Mac.

Posted by: lambert strether on September 4, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone have any suggestions for "new mac user" for better file transfer software for macs?

Some third party groups put little effort into the mac versions. Of course some companies, like Adobe, still put a lot more effort into the mac version.

Posted by: B on September 4, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

As a high school student, I feel that a lot of this animosity towards macs are a result of schools. Until just last year we were still using G2's which really pushed students on edge. In the end most students switched to PC's at home.
As a silicon valley kid I have used all PC's Macs and Linux, so I now know all their pros and cons. But now you can allways purchase an emulator to run diffrent software on diffrent systems. This feud between users is really sophomoric.

Posted by: Du Bois on September 4, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm continually amused by people, some of whom even call themselves "experts", who prattle on about the perceived advantages of one operating system over another. The main purpose of the computer is to make our lives easier and to know something about computers is to know how to program them. People that program computers rarely worry about the operating system because it's such a small part of the overall picture. On the other hand, programmer's, the real computer experts, may well discuss the advantages of one algorithm versus another.

The difference between computer users and computer programmers is much like the difference between those who read books and those who write books. Pay little heed to the former for both computers and books.

Posted by: Jim Shapiro on September 4, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm continually amused by people, some of whom even call themselves "experts", who prattle on about the perceived advantages of one operating system over another. The main purpose of the computer is to make our lives easier and to know something about computers is to know how to program them. Computer programmers rarely worry about the operating system because it's such a small part of the overall picture. On the other hand, programmer's, the real computer experts, may well discuss the advantages of one algorithm versus another.

The difference between computer users and computer programmers is much like the difference between those who read books and those who write books. Pay little heed to the former for both computers and books.

Posted by: Jim Shapiro on September 4, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

B, do you mean FTP? I use Cyberduck. It's a little quirky, in that you have to use the Keychain to stop it from asking for your password for each file, but it works beautifully. And it's free!

Another bit of advice for new Mac users: DiskWarrior. Get it, use it. The one Achilles heel of the Mac OS is the disk directory, which tends to get corrupted, making your computer go all squirrelly. Apple's utilities just repair the existing file, but DiskWarrior rebuilds it from scratch. I run it every coupla months just to keep things tidy.

Posted by: hamletta on September 4, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

It used to be they said the software was better.

Then they switched to UNIX.

Then they said the hardware was better.

Then they switched to Intel.

So I guess the premium I'm paying is for that slick-looking plastic case. How long until they change the color of the case and inform us that beige is the wave of the future?

Posted by: JB on September 4, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

B >"Anyone have any suggestions for "new mac user" for better file transfer software for macs?..."

Would you mind telling us what you are doing, exactly, that requires a "file transfer" piece of software ?

FTP, SMB or ?

"Mac OSX is Linux with quality assurance and style" - JP Rangaswami

Posted by: daCascadian on September 4, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

A trivial amount of time spent on (like oil changes in your car) regular preventative system maintenance* (including OS upgrades and patches plus a platform built with reliabble hardware** and WINXP Pro SP2 OS has for me equaled years of virtually troublefree performance.

And of course, use Firefox & Thunderbird.

* Disk clean up (CleanUp!); Registry Cleaning (EasyCleaner and RegSupremePro); Defragmentation (Diskkeeper Pro - don't forget to pad the MFT and do a boottime defrag); Anti-virus updates and regular scans; Spybot Search & Destroy + Adaware (AdWatch) updates and scans; Router (NAT).

** Asus P4C800-E Deluxe w/2GB DDR 3200. Intel Pentium 4 (Northwood) 3.4GHz. BFG GeForce 7800 GS. Creative SB Audigy 2 ZS.

When I see folks complaining about their computers, I see folks who either don't understand or can't be bothered with the above basic priciples of computer ownership.

Posted by: Aaron Adams on September 4, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that converting from PCs to Macs is common enough, but you never hear about the reverse?

I converted from a Mac to a PC happily, about 10 years ago. Never regretted it.

I feel that a lot of this animosity towards macs are ...

What animosity towards Macs? The animosity is toward Mac evangelists - the petulant, self-righteous ones (see above) who insist on telling me what an idiot I am. Like the dancing hippies, it's one of those liberal stereotypes that makes me cringe because it's real.

Case in point: as a mac user it took me a long time to wrap my mind around the fact that she has to call someone ever 3 months to keep her computer working

You have a computer illiterate friend, so ... Macs are better than PCs.

My grandparents have used Macs for years. They have somebody over to help them with the computers every few months. I have four Windows PCs and have never had anyone over to help me.

And: another friend got a new pc and need help getting onto a wireless network.. i brought my mac laptop over and immediately got MY computer on her wireless network and then it took one hour before I got her PC laptop on the network.

My wife has a PowerBook (OS 9, but that's still superior, because it's a Mac, right?). It took me at least 2 hours to get that on our wireless network, and I had to downgrade to WEP security to do it. I can get a Windows PC on a wireless network in 1 minute, if I know the password.

Posted by: zeeeej on September 4, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who uses both and has used a bunch of other OSs over time.

MACs are better because Apple controls both the software AND the hardware. PCs are worse because Microsoft is stuck with supporting legacy hardware and software and they have been very bad at security.

Posted by: Eli Rabett on September 4, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

I've used both Macs and PC's. Now it just so happens, I normally use a PC. I don't have anything "for" or "against" either. I know some people who are real "Mac fanatics", and who just *love* to rant about Microsoft, Windows, etc., etc. And I even know a few people who are "sold" on Linux. I don't, BTW, have any objection to Linux, either. It's just that Linux is still too "techie" for somebody like me to use. And Macs? Well, I'm not sure they have quite the "edge"(it used to be that they could "sell" because they were thought to be virtually virus-free, but this may not be so much the case any more). And while Macs seem to be very good for people who do a lot of graphic design(this is one area where Windows is kind of at a disadvantage), I don't. So quite frankly, I don't see what all the fuss is about. All this anti-Windows-ism just leaves me totally cold. I'll just continue to use what suits me, personally, best, and leave others to do the same.
Anne G

Posted by: Anne Gilbert on September 4, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Hi neil & kari!
kari's 'how to print a list of files on a Mac' works about the same on a PC:


1. Open a command shell (click on the black icon with a C:> in it)
2. Go to the folder you want to list:
cd "Program Files\Adobe"
3. Type
dir >PRN: (or dir /W >PRN: for just filenames)
dir lists the files. PRN: is the printer, same as it was in 1982.
4. If 3. fails, you can list to a file and then print:
dir >\tempfile
notepad \tempfile
(click on the menu, File/Print)
This also lets you do light editing before listing

Posted by: hexatron on September 4, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

( Shrug)

Lets face it in just about all matters of functionality, Windiows XP= Mac OS X. Sure , Windows have more security problems, but thats because more people target it, by about 100 to 1.
Instal a good firewall and presto, no more Windows security problems.
Now the Mac may be prettier, but I just don't get the orgasms that people who use the mac seem to get by using the purtier Mac system. maybe I'm just a frigid old bastard...
Stabilty? windows 9x crashes once a day, every day, but Win XP really will run for months without a crash.Lets face it, MAC OS X is only SLIGHTLY more stable than Win XP.

If we compare the LATEST versions of Windows and Macs to each other, there are no substantial differences. Mac folks tend to like comparing the CURRENT Mac to Win 9x.
We call that comparing apples or may be Apples to oranges , and thats just illogical and unfair.

Posted by: carib on September 4, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

me writes:

"The war is over. The macs give you the best of both worlds."

So you're using an Apple to run Windows XP? Yes, the war is over. The war was over a long time. In the OS realm, Windows has won, and won't ever give up its title. There are too many software venders/card makers who have too much vested in Windows. The market demands one standard, and once that standard is chosen, it'll never change. Someone mentioned a Panasonic digital camera - if I wanted to take that Panasonic over to my Parents/sister's/friend's house to download pictures, it wouldn't be possible if that person didn't have a PC. The consumer market demands one standard too. Sure, there are niche markets like servers/hobbyists/artists that use Linux/Apple, and sure, there are people who continued to use 8-track (which is clearly technically superior), and there are people who continued to use Betamax (which is also clearly superior), but the standard that the market demanded was cassettes and VHS. Once that standard has been established, it will never be relinquished for that particular market. Of course, DVDs/DVRs trumped VHS, but in the realm of video cassettes, VHS never relinquished its title. See Clayton M. Christensen or Geoffrey Moore for more info.

Posted by: Andy on September 4, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

"..if that person didn't have a PC.."

I meant, a PC running Windows..

Posted by: Andy on September 4, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

As a scientist I've used a fair percentage of Mac's in my career and have found them all very annoying

But perhaps that's because I'm a PC Gamer and have built countless windows machines that all operate at peak performance. For me, Macs have always been slower - booted slower, loaded apps slower, and loaded documents slower. Forget playing Doom 3 at high res, all video options on, with a Mac (maybe this is possible now that they're intel).

The posts about Mac's not crashing as frequently as Windows have generally not been true in my experience. Both the publically shared PCs and Macs are prone to "lock-up" because they are used by clueless people, but in the labs I've worked it's been easier to get the PCs going again.

Everyone in our lab dreads using the instruments run by Mac machines - even the Mac users, but they have a hard time swallowing their pride. I suspect this may be related to how hard it is to get "under the hood" of the operating system in Mac's. I'm sure the tools are there, but the Windows "control panel" equivalent in Mac's seem to be less user friendly and have less options. Maybe it's because the Mac users never have to "get under the hood" to actually fix something; afterall, a locked-up word processor just requires a reboot. Forget adding multiple harddrives, CD burners, etc... the slots aren't even available on some cases.

The most annoying thing about Mac's is the image they sell - more image than substance. From their "stream lined" mall stores to the "coffee shop yuppie" crowd they cater to, Mac's are not perceived by most of the engineers and scientists I work with as a machine to do serious work on. Anything is fine for web surfing or word processing. But we need something that will run a hardcore CAD, molecular analysis, or 3D gaming program - not the frilly animated graphics and sounds that reside on the desktop and consume system resources.

Mac's latest commericals featuring the "Mac guy" versus "PC guy" pretty much sum up my thoughts on this debate. I relate to the PC guy more - he seems like a geek that can actually fix something - whereas the Mac guy, seems, well, fun but generally clueless. I'd rather work with the PC guy.

Read this:
http://stupidevilbastard.com/index/seb/comments/this_explains_why_ill_probably_never_own_a_mac/

Posted by: JCali on September 4, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Windows is a superior operating system because a vast majority of Americans use it -- and therefore those who gloat about Apple's minisule market share are right.

Jessica Simspon sells more CDs each year that Winton Marsalis, and therefore is a superior artist.

Snakes on a plane sold more tickets than any foreign film in America, showing the superiority of American film and the obvious inferiority of anything French.

George Bush received more votes than any American president is therefore the greatest president who ever lived, and anyone who criticizes George W. Bush is probably a Mac user.

Posted by: Dicksknee on September 4, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Windows have more security problems, but thats because more people target it, by about 100 to 1.

Also because MS shrugged off security issues for years until it became widely known that there were alternatives that didn't make you wade through the Bullshit.

Posted by: Boronx on September 4, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

I relate to the PC guy more . . .

That's really does sum things up! There is no "PC guy" in that commercial -- the guys state "I'm a PC" and "I'm a Mac" -- neither are claiming to be human beings, only human representations of machines.

The commercial was designed specifically not to represent PC "users" because Apple knows it is never a good idea to insult those who use competitive products. But the fact that some are so defensive about their Windows usage that they would see themselves as actually being their PCs is pretty funny.

Also, sorry for the typos above: it's "Wynton" Marsalis -- and I met to write that "Bush received more votes than any presidential candidate in history so is obviously the greatest president ever".

Posted by: Dicksknee on September 4, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Dicksknee, you lack the ability to think logically. 8-track is technically superior to cassette tape. But cassettes emerged as the standard. Betamax is technically superior to VHS. But VHS emerged as the standard - the market wanted longer play time over a superior picture. Technical superiority doesn't necessarily equate with market adoption. With all its shortcomings, Windows has won the OS war, and is the standard - Apple/Linux will never become the dominant consumer OS. It's possible that some disruptive technology will come along and make OSes obsolete - say, Google software that's free and in web-form only, which renders installed software like Word or Excel obsolete. But until then, Windows is it.

Posted by: Andy on September 4, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

One weird experience I had was trying to get info on why my first defective IPod didn't work. (There were two other defective ones-- I tell you, it is truly a credit to the Apple marketing dept that I kept buying them.) I went on an Apple-users forum and asked if anyone else had this particular problem and how did they fix it. I was barraged by IPod owners who assured me that THEIR IPod worked just fine, and what was I complaining about? It was the weirdest experience, like they thought I was making it up. That's why I figured out that you never ask an Apple-aficionado for help fixing an Apple problem.

Then I took it back to the store (as was suggested on a non-Apple forum, one just for MP-3s in general), and without even trying it out, the tech gave me a new one. That one was also defective. I took it back and was told that I had to buy Apple-care or some warranty like that if I wanted to get a new one without a "restocking" fee. I argued-- after all, the only reason that it took 2 weeks to return it (it never worked) was that it took that long to get an "appointment" with the tech (and I still waited for an hour after the appointed time). I ended up buying this warranty for $50, so when THAT IPod's battery never charged, they replaced the unit without question.

Anyway, that experience makes me wonder whether I really want to buy my computer from a single store (and I live in a big city) that never has sales, that requires appts to even examine a defective purchase, that expects me to buy an extra warranty to cover a brand-new machine. Now of course, if the product is never defective, no problem, but boy, those IPods have probably done more to lessen the Apple rep for quality than anything. Maybe it's not the same company as makes these Macs? Because, you know, if I had a PC perform as badly as those IPods, I'd sure switch. (I never had-- once had a new PC with a bad hard drive-- took it back to the store and got the whole PC replaced no question.

Posted by: oops on September 4, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Melanchonic

Yes, we hear about people switching from the Mac OS to Mac OS so much that Apple now is up to 2.5 percent of the market. :)

Don't believe all of the Mac Switch ads.

Posted by: Chris on September 4, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I mean form the Win OS to the Mac OS.

Posted by: Chris on September 4, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

I have been a MAC user all my computer life. My 7-year old system 9 MAC crashed (hard drive bit the big one) last Monday right in the middle of a freelance project due out Wednesday. I had a system 10 MAC up and running, but I didn't yet know my way around the operating system or the new software programs. I copied all the relevant client files onto the new MAC, unplugged cable interrnet from the dead body, plugged it in to the newbie, and started working. I still met my deadline, and I gotta say, I love my new MAC as much as I loved my old one. RIP, system 9, you gave me 6 great, hardworking, use-it-every-day years--no upgrades needed except to programs. Any Microsoft users out there that can say the same thing?

cyrki

Posted by: cyrki on September 4, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

"As to crashing the machine, none of the modern OS crash very often. More of a problem is an application crashing. That is the result of bad coding. I think it is a problem for everybody."

I think this is basically right. Push any OS to its limit and it will glitch up. I'm pretty good at frying the mac hard drives in my music studio, for instance.
You can go back and forth analyzing and making arguments for all 3 OS's but it all boils down to what you know, what you want to do and what you like. (I like the idea, btw, of running all three on the same box)
I put a high value on design and that's ultimately why I stick with macs. Its a bit of a mystery to me why the PC crowd downplays the importance of beauty in an OS's and computer's design. Why not make machines pretty and cool-looking? Why make them look ugly if it only takes a little extra care to make them look nice? It's the 'strip-mall' mentality and it stinks. I want a machine that is something not one that just does something.
I'm also calling bullsh*t on the PC people who are insisting that members of the mac cult are just blindly lauding every Apple advancement as the next great step in the evolution of mankind (with Jobs as messiah). Check out the dedicated mac user communities and you'll find that they are the ones who are often the most critical of Apple and its products.
On the whole, computing seems to be moving toward interoperability so a lot this discussion won't matter in few years. What will matter is brand and style. Clearly, Apple has a lock on that.

Posted by: s'modo on September 4, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

er, that should read "push any machine to its limit"

Posted by: s'modo on September 4, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Eli is exactly right -- the advantages of the Mac seem to me to mostly derive from the fact that the hardware is designed for the OS and vice versa. It just works, out of the box -- never had a moment of displeasure with my iMac G5, which I bought after my wife googled our way into an unrecoverable spyware infection. All without the swearing associated with trying to get Windows set up right -- but as a Linux convert, I have to give MS their due, they do a good job of creating an OS that works reasonably well if not necessarily perfectly with a broad range of hardware. I mean, I'm a bit wierd in that I actually enjoyed the several days it took me to get Suse 10.1 running right on my Dell laptop, and it is now far more secure than any Windows machine -- but Linux has a long way to go before the setup process for a wireless network is as painless as Windows, much less OS X.

Posted by: Rick on September 4, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Jet--

I'm sorry, but "control plus click" is NOT the same same as having a right-click option. It just isn't as fast and easy.

That is NOT a misconception about Macs. It's just a fact. They should add a right-click button on their laptops. It would be much better than having to push the ctrl button.

I'm sorry, but no product and no corporation is perfect, Macs included. That is my problem with Mac clones. They aren't content to just say Macs are in some general senses better than PCs. They have to say that they are perfect, god's gift to computer users. Sorry, whatever advantages they may offer just aren't that exciting to get so worked up about it. If they take over the market, fine. If they disappear, I won't lose any sleep. It's just like the old Beta vs. VHS saw. Sure, Beta was better than VHS. But it didn't matter, because both were adequate to the customer's needs.

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm posting this from a box which was upgraded a few times, but not recently. A long time back I put a Pentium Pro 150 in an original 1984 IBM PC-AT case. At first I installed NT 3.51, which was wonderful; in contrast with all prior Microsoft OSes it just refused to crash, even when I was testing my own crummy, bug-laden C programs. Later I upgraded that install to NT 4.0 shortly after it was released. I'm not sure which install created the subdirectories under C:\WINNT; the date on them is 2/3/00. Later on to get better performance I swapped out the motherboard for a Celeron 366. (I'm still using that PP150 mobo in a different case as a Linux file-server!) Then when SMART started to detect hard drive errors, I copied the contents of the original hard drive to a new hard drive using Partition Magic, then swapped the drives making my old one a secondary drive, where oddly enough, to this day it still hasn't failed. So even though neither the primary hard drive nor the motherboard are the original ones, I say this Windows box has been running for over six years now.

Since then all my computer-upgrade money has been spent on buying my kids peecees, or for my oldest daughter when she started college, a swell G3 Powerbook that got her through four years as an undergraduate.

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Mac's are not perceived by most of the engineers and scientists I work with as a machine to do serious work on.

Oddly enough, Macs have about a 5X increased market share (just over 25% last I heard, versus 4.5% general market share) amongst scientists and engineers. Granted, the 4.5% number is heavily skewed by the miniscule Mac share of business machines, and home use is significantly higher, but I'd be surprised if Macs have that much of a home / casual user market share. Just an example as to why anecdotal evidence should not be perceived as "proof".

IMHO, if you're in the market for a personal computer to do large-scale scientific work on (and, really, the difference between what you're saying and what I'm saying may well come down to the definition of "science"), and you aren't tied to an application which is Windows-only, then your primary choices are Mac OS X and Linux. Why? Well, Unix OS's benefit from large bodies of pre-existing libraries and applications, as well as solid and free developer tool chains which allow for the needed modifications.

Mac OS X tends to win here despite fewer hardware choices especially at the low end, because often you can use the same box (without reboot or virtualization) to run the software you need to write up your discoveries and theories (Office, etc).

Still, Linux and more traditional Unix machines dominate the scientific computing market, not OS X. At the same time, it's a bit odd to hear the claim that Windows is better for that type of situation than OS X. Just about any Unix is more science-friendly than Windows. In my experience, the "market share reflects utility" argument so often used relative to business and home use are pretty much on their ear here, where Windows has the minor market share and Linux/BSD/OS X/etc add up to a strong majority.

Posted by: Jet Tredmont on September 4, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but "control plus click" is NOT the same same as having a right-click option. It just isn't as fast and easy.

True, it's not the same, and it requires two hands, which is why I attach a 5-button mouse (the third button is the scroll wheel; the other two buttons trigger Expose/Application and Expose/Desktop) when I'm "docked" (along with my second monitor). When I said it is the same I meant from an action perspective (a ctrl-click does the same thing that a right-click does), as I assumed that the physical differences of the two were self-evident :)

Still, it's a passable-enough solution, even though I, for instance, use my Mac without an external mouse about 33% of the time. I have both my hands on the keyboard anyway, so when my right hand moves down to the track pad the left hand reflexively moves over to the ctrl/alt/cmd keys now. Only causes a problem when I use my left hand to grab a drink or something and need to right-click, at which point my work stalls. But, I don't do that type of thing (eat while I'm clicking around with the mouse) very often.

Also, older PowerBooks can "emulate" five-button mice using SideTrack software (which also adds scrolling; each corner of the trackpad becomes a user-definable-action button), and I believe newer laptops have a right-click gesture built into the track pad (or SideTrack also supports them if you want). Which, again, is not "the same" (notably, because there's no physical indication of the extent of the corners on the trackpad, leading to missed clicks and unintended clicks every once in a while), but does allow for single-handed operation of all Mouse functions with no additional hardware if that is important to you.

So, yes, it's definitely worse than on a Windows PC, which oddly enough "just works" in this regard without additions or tweaks, albeit only marginally so.

Posted by: Jet Tredmont on September 4, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Andy: Dicksknee, you lack the ability to think logically. 8-track is technically superior to cassette tape.

Oh, no no no no no. Absolutely not. The 8-track is to the Phillips cassette as the Lada/Yugo is to the Toyota Corolla - no, wait, that's grossly unfair to Ladas.

Did you ever see how an 8-track tape was constructed? When you looked at the business end of an 8-track tape you saw 1/4" magnetic tape going from left to right, which came in contact with the drive capstan and tape head in the player. Inside was a loop of tape (thus no rewinding required) wound around a reel. The capstan pulled the tape out from the middle of the reel, twisting it 180 degrees in the process, across the face where it came in contact with the tape head, and then since the reel was being rotated by the tape being pulled out from the inside, the rotating reel would take up the tape after it had passed by the tape head. But since the radius of the inside of the reel is so much less than the radius of the outside, there was always extra tension right at the point where the tape was being dragged, twisted and scraped out from the inside of the reel.

Have a look at this horrible thing! In terms of damaging and wearing out the tape, a worse design could scarcely be imagined. Even though the tape in a Phillips tape cassette is only half as wide, the width of the tracks is the same - four tracks on a 1/8" cassette tape, eight tracks on an 1/4" 8-track tape - and because it's not constantly being stretched, scraped, twisted and variously mutilated by the cassette it is sure to last twenty times longer under comparable use than the poor abused tape inside this dreadful kludge.

Posted by: W. Kiernan on September 4, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Jet--

Thanks for the admission. That one function just happen to be very important to me as a geographer using GIS software on a daily basis. Apple really has a lot of catching up to do in this sector. I wish them the best of luck.

Posted by: kokblok on September 4, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Now, if only Steve Jobs would imitate Gates and start giving some money away, then I can really like him more. Gates has redeemed himself by his philanthropy. So, Steve, open you pockets and stop being a pretty boy."

I feel Gates should have had less money in the first place - more should have been put into making Windows a better product.

Posted by: Andrea on September 4, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

The Macs are definately better for downloading porn. You can always reliably download your porn from a mac without getting any viruses. I mean, really, can anyone here say that Acquisition isn't the perfect software for downloading bootlegged x-rated smut risk free? How many PC users can say that?

Posted by: D. on September 4, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

I love my new MAC as much as I loved my old one. RIP, system 9, you gave me 6 great, hardworking, use-it-every-day years--no upgrades needed except to programs. Any Microsoft users out there that can say the same thing?

At least 10x as many Microsoft users as Mac users, I'd guess.

Posted by: Boronx on September 4, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

My first Mac was a 128K machine with no hard drive and a 400K floppy drive whose disks had to contain the OS AND the program AND the files. It came with a dot matrix printer and the package cosr about $4000 in 1984 dollars.
It was love at first sight and I've never looked back.
It really does depend on what you use the box for. For me, the big chasm is not between PC and Mac but between the Office people and the Photoshop/Final Cut Pro people--although it seems that the fault lines coincide. (There's also a gap between the Photoshop/FCP people and the code writers, but that doesn't come into my experiance nearly as much.)
The Mac is supremely well integrated for what I do and wat I want to do--and while I have had problem-free experiences working on properly equipped PCs, the stability just isn't there--especially not since OSX.
I've got enough complexity in what I do that I don't want to worry about the OS. I also want to hot swap cameras and external hard drives without crashing. I tend to find that my Mac cavalier attitude to things like that usually leave me with a bluescreened Windows machine.
Two small things:
1)I use a graphics tablet rather than a mouse these days (with a right-click option on the stylus-button), but as a tradeoff, being able to type option-u-u and get , and option-c to get , beats right-clicking to pieces. Ol!
2)And PowerPoint is software from Hell.Period.

Posted by: pbg on September 4, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing how pretty much everybody here really misses the point and the core problem.

There is a valid reason why for MOST users PCs tend to get gummed up quicker than Macs. And that reason is Spyware/Adware whatever. You have poorly programmed crap that's going in and forcing itself to run in the background and throwing its hooks into everything. Spyware is THE problem.

And why is spyware a problem? Because of the anti-trust suit against Microsoft in the 90's. Because of that, in Windows they have to walk really softly when it comes to including new features/software. That judgement is fading into the past, so MS are becoming more forward with including/bundling software.

Do you know who came up with the best system for creating an easy-to-use no maintenance experience for the average person?

Nintendo.

A closed console system. That's the future. That's what that young upstart will come with. A cheap small-box system with a keyboard and mouse which will only install specially designed software that needs to go through a verification process to ensure their stability. Files will either be saved locally or on a server.

The problem with Windows (Windows 2k/XP are solid OS from a stability pov, I keep 2k up for weeks without rebooting or any performance hit) is the user. The user installing all these little apps filled with this spyware poison...that's why these systems go down so fast. And make no mistake, no matter what OS you're running, once you run that program, your computer is owned.

Apple either bundles that stuff with the OS, or the marketshare is too small to bother with spyware (however there IS spyware out there. Nasty stuff. Just that nobody installs it)

However, I'll say this. The Intel Duel Cores are a wonderful chip making for a wonderful machine. It shows how much the PPC platform was holding Apple back. But OS X itself is kinda bleh, and has its share of problems. The biggest being Apple itself, and its willingness to reinvent things that don't need reinventing.

Posted by: Karmakin on September 4, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that converting from PCs to Macs is common enough, but you never hear about the reverse?

Come on, wake up guys.

The same reason that germs from a small group infect and kill a large population. When you've only got 2%-3% of the marketshare, even if you've got a 10% conversion rate, you've got way less people converting than when you've got a 1% conversion rate and 90% of the marketshare. Note: I'm not suggesting that these are actual conversion rates, only that the observation that you hear about people converting from Windows to Mac and not vice-versa doesn't tell us much.

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 4, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

If I could run Apple software on commodity hardware, I might build one but I won't buy one.

Exactly.

I think Macs are elegant little boxes -- I especially like their laptops, but they're simply more espensive. Using a cheap PC really enables one to take advantage of the commoditization of computing. Indeed, with so much of what the average person does with a computer increasingly being based on the web, for lots of folks, a personal computer is just a place to house a browser.

If money's no object and you prefer the elegance of an Apple machine, go for it. But if you're cheap like me, and you just hate spending a lot of dough for a machine you're going to want to throw in the trash anyway after a few years, cheap boxes running freeware (www.openoffice.org is a favorite of mine) and a browser are the way to go.

Oh, and I say this as a former Mac fanatic (my first computer? A used Mac Plus I bought in 1991).

Posted by: riipie on September 4, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that converting from PCs to Macs is common enough, but you never hear about the reverse?

Actually, there have to be plenty of people who, like me, have made the switch to PCs from Macs. I think one of the main reasons this has happened was the emerging dominance in the 1990s of Microsoft's application software (and not just operating systems).

Example: I went to work for a company in 1995 that used PCs. I simply hated them, being a dedicated Mac user. What's all this BS about "C drives" I remember thinking to myself. Why oh why does this computer require me to know something about computers? My Mac at home doesn't! I hated the damn things, and I hated the company for not being savvy enough to buy Macs (I was working for an advertising agency).

Well, in '97 I went to work for a different ad agency -- one that used Macs. I was in heaven. Overall this company had a much more progressive approach to technology, and I found it to be a much more productive organization.

Well, fast forward a few years -- this time to 2000, and I took a job with a small pre-IPO startup that used, you guessed it, those dreaded, ugly boxes called PCs (Dell laptops, to be exact). This was the one aspect of the new job I really was fearing.

And know what? I quickly found it wasn't so bad. And the reason (in addition, to, perhaps, improvements in the user-friendliness of Windows since '95) was this: I was now using many of the same applications I had already been using with my Mac-based former employer. And I found, much to my relief, that there wasn't a lick of difference between using, say, MS Word on a Dell laptop and MS Word on a Mac. Moreover, the drag and drop M.O. of the Mac OS was essentially replicatable using a PC (to this day I suspect I use my PC in much more of a "Mac user" fashion than PC users who have never used Macs). My old company used Outlook for Mac. My new company used Outlook for Windows. My old company used IE for Mac. My new company used IE for Windows. Etc. Etc.

When it finally was time for me to replace my own personal computer (a Mac Performa purchased in 1997) in 2001 or so, the choice wasn't really that hard. I now knew I didn't have to radically change my computing habits if I were to purchase a PC instead of a Mac, and I'd likely save several hundred bucks in the process. Oh, and this was during the early days of file sharing, when, like, Napster for Mac hadn't yet been released (I know, because I remember doing the research prior to making my purchase). Damned if I was going to miss out on the opportunity to build a killer MP3 collection! At least for me, at that particular place and time, Apple didn't really have a chance to keep me as a customer.

Just my two cents.

Posted by: riipie on September 4, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

I've got PC programs from the late 80s that still run under W2k and Windows XP...

I know of no PC programs which will still run from the 80s. I know, I've tried.

But I can run classic Apple programs on the newest hardware as long as I have: The current OS and the original OS.

It's called 'classic mode'.

...Not that I'd use it, as I have a pile of 80s PC programs which won't run on anything. Literally. There's no way for me to find a working VESA video card and EISA motherboard and the drivers for them to put my old system I had as a teen together.

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

That is NOT a misconception about Macs. It's just a fact. They should add a right-click button on their laptops. It would be much better than having to push the ctrl button.

Many PCs have one button mice on their laptops, too. Who cares? Ctrl-click has worked as right-click on PCs for fifteen years, too.

You're going to complain about the lack of buttons on a machine? More buttons is more places they can fail.

You can resell a five year old Mac for the same price you can get last year's new PC for. But you can buy a new mac for the same price (or less) than next year's PC.

Why throw it in the trash when you can just actually sell your old hardware? You don't throw out your car, why throw out your computer?

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't use Apples when they had the System pre-10. Why? Because it wasn't really better than Windows; they were both unprotected systems.

Anyhow, Microsoft switched to IBM and AMD, so why not Apple to Intel?

PS - Diskwarrior doesn't support Intelcore Macs. They've been a couple years behind for awhile now. They haven't gotten an award in three years.

I guess it's like all the other PC complaints 'Wahh, (feature) was bad (insert many years ago)!' Yeah, PCs sucked, too, when you could only run one app at a time.

...Wait, an XP computer can't play World of Warcraft twice at once, but an Apple Mac can.

Haha?

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Macs are for rich people, basically. There have been, what, three paid $100 upgrades for OS/X since it was released back in 2000, whereas "money-grubbing" MicroSoft's W2k has been upgraded and patched for free since the same time, ditto for XP more recently.

Yep, actual upgrades. With new features, and applications and actually keeping up with new technology.

Or, my computers using an older OSX, still get updates, too. For free. And can use new technology.

What new 'features' have you gotten for 'free' with XP? I don't recall getting any.

And I can buy one box from Apple and upgrade every mac in the house, whereas I can't legally do that with Windows.

Heck, I'm lucky if the disks that come with a new PC even allow me to reinstall the OS on a blank HD! To install onto a SATA drive you have to boot from a FLOPPY and install the drivers before you can install the newest CD of Windows. Ugh.

When's the last time a version of Windows came out? Why can't the current copies support the harddrives on the shelf?

Posted by: Crissa on September 4, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

I use Windows at work and a Mac at home.

On the average day at work, an application I working in will stop responding 6-8 times. I cannot open the accounting software and our company database at the same time because my system crashes. We have spent hundreds for tech support to fix the email program == which still manages to freeze two or three times before opening. I probably spend 40 minutes a day fussing around with technical issues in addition to the 30-40 minutes maintenance and upkeep on Fridays. plus the 1000/year per company computer for IT support -- not counting equipment. Granted, I have some very specialized software, but the inability for Windows to function flawlessly even in Word is appalling.

At home, I spend no time on maintenance, don't worry about viruses, can't remember the last time I rebooted or the last time a program froze up. It was about 2-3 weeks ago when I was running a Photoshop filter, but some time ago. I have completely quit running Photoshop filters at work and simply send the files home to do the work there on a machine that works.

And this is on a 9 month old, 3,000, IBM machine -- not a piece of crap. Well, actually it is a piece of crap, but it's not the machine's fault. It's the OS that has functioned like crap on every box I have had.

Folks can spout all the blarney they want. I have used both systems for 18 years and sucks and and the other soars.

Posted by: kija on September 4, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK
Many PCs have one button mice on their laptops, too.

No, they don't. Or at least, none that I've ever seen in at least the last decade, and I've seen a pretty good cross-section.

Who cares? Ctrl-click has worked as right-click on PCs for fifteen years, too.

A keystroke+mouseclick combination is considerably less convenient than a single click, and, anyway, Ctrl-Click does not, by default, work as right click on Windows PCs, it is the standard control for a one-by-one (rather than range) multiple selection. Even if you did set it up to work as right-click, you'd lose a lot of standard functionality and have the added hastle of requiring a keyboard-mouse combo for what would otherwise be a mouse-only function.

You're going to complain about the lack of buttons on a machine?

Well, yeah, there is a reason that the number of buttons commonly found on mice has tended to increase: if you are using a mouse at all, its convenient to have a variety of controls on it. My current mice for both of my computers at home each have 5 buttons and a 2d scroller, which is slightly more than I generally use (I usually don't use the two side buttons), but fairly typical.

Generally, I find it far less convenient to work with anything without at least two buttons and a 1d scroller.

More buttons is more places they can fail.

I've had mice fail completely (though only rarely, and usually because of accidental abuse), but I don't think I've ever had a mouse button fail.

You can resell a five year old Mac for the same price you can get last year's new PC for. But you can buy a new mac for the same price (or less) than next year's PC.

IME, both of these are far from the truth; resale prices on Macs don't seem to be any better than major brand PCs, and new Macs seem no less, and often more, expensive than new PCs.

Why throw it in the trash when you can just actually sell your old hardware? You don't throw out your car, why throw out your computer?

Actually, many people do use their cars until they are ready for the junkyard; by the time I'd want to get rid of a computer, the time it would take to find a buyer and arrange a sale wouldn't justify the price (ditto with major peripherals). If it still has all of its essential components functioning, I might donate it to a thrift store or other charity, but resale just isn't worth it, in any case. (The last one I threw out: it was a 10 year old PC that no longer had a hard drive and whose power supply had finally given up the ghost.)

Posted by: cmdicely on September 4, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK
I know of no PC programs which will still run from the 80s. I know, I've tried.

Not very hard, clearly; there are plenty of free systems available to run DOS software on modern Windows systems, and they don't generally require you to have the original OS. And free PC emulators that aren't bundled with DOS that'll let you run the original OS if you have it, too.

And Classic Mode isn't supported on the newer Intel-based Macs, anyhow.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 4, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Actually I have an Intel Core Duo laptop made by Toshiba, that I picked up for 1500 (Canadian!) that came with a gig of ram and a 256MB X1500 video card.

It's a sweet little computer, and yeah I can run multiple games at the same time on it. (I run Guild Wars and F.E.A.R Combat at the same time..I think that equals out to two WoW)

So I saved about 1k over a Mac Book Pro, with the same performance.

OS X just isn't all that. For a non-suicidal user, Win2k/XP is actually more stable.

Posted by: Karmakin on September 4, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Late to the party as always, and it seems likely no one will much even read a posting this far down the list. Still, I feel compelled to mention something.

We just opened a tax preparation office. Naturally, we had to buy computers (on a seiously tight budget: there were, after all, other things to get, too, like a complete suite of office furniture, lease agreements, deposits, business permits, advertising, etc.). I'd have liked to at least seriously considered Macs. But it wasn't an option. Our three computers cost just $1,800 total. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt that there are any Macs so cheap. Where the real money went for us was the specialized software (Lacerte); a four-user license is over $2,000 (which includes a stack of past-year programs, which we MUST be able to load and run). The manufacturer -- Intuit, the same people who make TurboTax for the consumer market -- simply does not make a Mac version, and never has.

Moreover, neither do any of the other top four programs we considered. I imagine there are a few professional tax preparation programs out there that will run on Macs, but none that met our needs and price points. Now you might say, "Well, why not buy a Mac and run it on there" since, apparently, that can be done. But my partner was the Controller at a large trading company that DID have Macs. And every day was a living hell for her, because the Windows emulation didn't run worth a damned. Got so bad she was hauling Excel files home and working on them on her cheesy $500 eMachine ... because it was far more reliable. So even if they've fixed all of that -- this was three years ago, after all -- I don't think I could have possibly sold her on taking a risk with Macs. Especially since she's also a QuickBooks Pro Advisor (also an Intuit product) -- QuickBooks Accountants Version is our second most important program around here -- and their Mac version sucks the big one.

Besides being a seasonal tax preparer, I'm a full-time writer. I probably could have made the transition from WordPerfect to whatever word processor works best on Macs. But for the accounting and tax world, Windows is the standard. That's just how it is.

Right now we're trying to figure out how to network our tiny little 3-box system (peer-to-peer. We couldn't really justify another $1,000 for a server when we opened two months ago, Windows or Mac). Ain't proving easy for us, and the techs we've called keep saying (a) they REALLY would want us to spend that $1,000 for a server even though we don't have it, and (b) they charge $85 an hour, and (c) it'll take them 12 hours to set up, plus an hour a week for maintenance. An hour a week! That's over a $1,000 for setup, $1,000 for more hardware, and 50 or so hours a year of maintenance at $85/hour. So I'm doing a crash course with Networking for Dummies, which I really don't want to mess with. And that surely is good reason to resent Windows (unless, of course, I were to discover that Macs would have required more-of-less the same).

So, I'm entirely willing to believe that it would all have been easy as pie with Macs: easier to set up, far less routine maintenance. But, again, it just wasn't a choice: the software makers don't provide Mac versions, and won't even sell you the damned software unless you agree to run it on a WinXP machine. (That is, their tech support is completely contingent on you having WinXP boxes).

What that means to me is this: if Apple wants to crawl from a miniscule percentage of the market, they ought to be aggressively supporting -- even subsidizing -- key software producers to make truly first-rate Mac versions, or at least tweak a lot so that their software can be effectively run on Mac hardware in emulation mode and provide support when clients choose to do it that way. And not just one piece of software in any given segment, but many (for taxes, for example, they ought to push Lacerte, ProSeries, ProSystems, Creative Solutions, GO Systems, ATX, Drake and WiseTax to provide cross-platform versions. Insofar as I know, all of those come for Windows only). There are several hundred thousand CPA and tax prep outfits in the country, you know, paying $300 to $2,000 for the software at every station ... and that market is pretty much COMPLETELY controlled by Redmond. And that's just the accountants: there are MILLIONS of systems in use in accounting departments of companies big and small. So what I'm talking about isn't just some minor fringe market.

All of this just our view as non-techies from down here in the trenches.

Posted by: Roger Keeling on September 4, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Mac's are not perceived by most of the engineers and scientists I work with as a machine to do serious work on.

Hmm--my experience is actually quite contrary to this.

I'm doing serious scientific work, as do most of my colleagues. In the last two years, I've worked with two different groups. In the first, pretty much everybody had a Mac--in fact, I was one of only two people (out of 20 or so) using a PC. The built-in integration of a Unix kernel into OS X means that you can do software development work intended to run on a Unix or Linux cluster directly on the Mac. This is a big advantage compared to Windows. Also, intermachine connectivity (not hooking it up to a network, but actually "dialing up" another machine) is another feature where Macs win, hands down.

My new group largely uses PC's, but that's starting to change--my manager is letting me and a co-worker "test drive" the new MacBook Pros, and, as the technology is further refined over the next few years, might switch over from PC's to Mac's.

So, it might be the sample you're working with, JCali, but most of the engineers and scientists I know wouldn't want to work with a Windows box unless forced to at gunpoint (or really heavily bribed).

Posted by: lone1c on September 5, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to add to what Roger said just above by pointing out to the Mac fanboys that they have no idea of the sheer volume of specialized Windows applications used in industry. Programmable controllers and distributed control system are used to control manaufacturing processes, from oil refineries, to paper making and fabric weaving machines, to bottling facilities, to cooking canned soup. Everything that is in the least automated on a plant floor requires Windows based software to setup, to operate, and to be maintained. I KNOW that there are no manufacturing machine programming softwares that come in a Mac flavor. Using a PC desktop or laptop has become an essential tool not just in office cubicle, but out on the plant floors, and in the plant maintenance technicians' toolboxes.

These manufacturing systems have been set up to provide real time operating data so that manufacturing unit costs are reported almost as soon as they are consumed. Data from these systems is able to be automatically called up using Excel, complete with graphs and pie-charts - to whoever wants to see it at anytime they want.

This also means that corporate networks have their tentacles right down at each production machine.

In the manufacturing world, not only is having a PC a requisite, but also MSOffice isn't just used for writing memos and making a few presentations. There's no way that OpenOffice can duplicate the sophistication that Office provides. I also doubt that a Mac runing OS X version of Office could duplicate this.

There's no way that Mac will ever be able to catch up -- even if it were inclined to do so, which is seems not very likely.

I should add that I run both a Mac and a PC at home. My Mac mini has very comparable specs to my Toshiba laptop, and both cost about the same. (But only because I didn't need to get a CRT for the Mac.) Of the two machines, I vastly prefer using the PC. I've found just as many nuisance "hangs" and resets on both machines, but the Mac looses points because of less 3rd party software for the things I'm interested in doing on a computer. (And I don't mean work related stuff, but in general for anything I want to do, the Mac world has less choices in software, and most of those softwares cost a lot more than their PC versions. In fact, I'd say that the one thing the Mac is designed to do extremely well is take money out of my pocket.)

Posted by: grapeshot on September 5, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Re: older PC software on new hardware and new MS OS.

I don't have to change into "classic" mode to run the late-80s DOS software I've got on this PC here. I don't have to emulate another CPU as I would have to on a modern Mac as the PC's CPU understands the binary executable perfectly well. It just runs without crufting around with multiple copies of OSes and translators and crap like that. Launch a DOS program under W2k and XP and it opens a DOS window for you.

I did have to dumb the program down as it used specialised graphics drivers for speed back in the 80s which just aren't made any more, so I told it to run in SVGA mode which is slower (but the CPU is 200 times faster than the first hardware I ever used this program on so it didn't really matter much). Of course SVGA mode is ancient, but MS still support it too.

Posted by: Robert Sneddon on September 5, 2006 at 5:37 AM | PERMALINK

B: "Anyone have any suggestions for "new mac user" for better file transfer software for macs?..."

Would you mind telling us what you are doing, exactly, that requires a "file transfer" piece of software ?

FTP, SMB or ?

Do a command F for "new mac user" in this thread and read it yourself. I'm not doing anything.

Posted by: B on September 5, 2006 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools.

Posted by: johnnypc on September 5, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

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