Having decided what
you want to do with a computer it becomes a lot easier to decide which
you need. There are a number of other factors to consider as well. Probably
the most important is what do your peers use.
What do your friends, relatives and colleagues use?
Modern computing is about sharing data, whether it's emails, photos or
CDs. Your computer must be compatible with the people you share files
with. Having the same type of computer as your friends, relatives and
colleagues saves a lot of heartache and irritaiton.
Having friends and workmates who can help you is the quickest and
cheapest computer support. Few of us know everything and find we have
to turn to friends and colleagues to show us how to do things. If your
computer is different to theirs then you can't turn to them for support.
If you are using your computer for work, then your computer must be
compatible with your industry. Even programs that are available in both
Mac and PC versions can have subtle differences that change your work.
By keeping to the same standards, there are less potential problems
and its easier to find staff and consultants that know your system.
What are you used to?
Your experience is important too. If you're an experienced Mac user then
you will struggle for a few weeks getting used to the Windows way of doing
Windows users will spend some time scratching their head on how to
do things, particularly closing programs, on a Mac. Dan Warne has a
good description of the differences on his website.
Overall though, the superficial differences between the systems is
not as great as it was. Both systems have made great strides in being
more user friendly in recent years. Even the most sheltered Mac or PC
user can quickly pick up how the other system works with some patience,
time and curiosity.
In recent years, the price difference between Macs and Windows machines
has narrowed dramatically. Apples are still more expensive but the price
difference isn't as simple as it first appears and there are a number
of factors that work in favour of the Mac.
Unlike PCs, Macs have a resale value while second hand PCs are pretty
well impossible to sell. There's a thriving industry in selling even
dead old Macs. This alone pretty well eliminates the 15% price difference.
Further in favour of the Mac, the total cost of ownership can be much
higher on a PC. The cheaper Windows systems are not as well built as
Apple Macs and are more prone to failure.
An even bigger issue is the cost of preventing and removing spyware
and the other security problems that plague Windows computers. A couple
of calls from your friendly neighbourhood computer tech will easily
wipe out the price difference.
One plague on Windows computers is the use of trialware where free
programs bog down even the most powerful new computer. While Apple aren't
adverse to putting some of this stuff on their systems, it's nowhere
near the plague proportions seen on many Windows computers.
On security, the Mac wins hands down. A user on a Mac cannot damage the
system files or install viruses and spyware without the root password.
On Windows computers this is not the case. Until recently many software
packages insisted on having full rights to the computer or they wouldn't
work. This one issue is why spyware is such a problem in the Windows
While this has improved with Vista, there's still a big difference
between the operating systems and the Mac is still ahead.
The better security of a Mac has created a myth that Mac users are
invulnerable to Internet problems. While it is true that Mac users don't
have to worry about spyware and the ten of thousands of viruses that
are the bane of Window's users, Mac users still need to be aware of
phishing and other scams.
This is where the Mac falls down compared to Windows. A lot of programs,
including those designed for old Macs, won't work on newer Apple systems.
While Windows can be coaxed into running almost anything if you have
the time and patience. We know of people running twenty year old software
on Windows XP systems.
It is true too that there are vastly more programs available for Windows
systems. Most importantly if you have teenage boys, there are a lot
more computer games available for Windows than the Mac.
It is possible to run Windows on modern Apple Macs, but you need to
run the Apple Boot Camp or Parallels software. Both of these options
require you to have a legitimate copy of Windows and Mac software won't
run on them, which adds to the cost of an Apple system.
Overall, there's some very compelling reasons for buying a Mac. Windows
will remain the dominant system given it's compatibility with older
software and the number of people used to it. But everybody's needs
are different and the Apple systems meet a lot of people's requirements.
We'd strongly recommend the Mac to households that are concerned about
viruses and spyware. The ease of setup is also an important consideration.
For businesses, you should consider very closely what your business
needs are what will work best for your customers and staff. Whichever
you go for, we'd suggest you visit a number of computer stores to try
out the various systems before making a decision.