Is Mac Really Better than Windows?

I was just reading a post over at the Global Thoughtz Technology blog about Brian Croll, Apple’s OS X Marketing Vice President, commenting that Windows 7 uses antiquated technology. The post itself I think is valid, Brian Croll’s comments may be fair, they may not be, but either way Windows 7 is a huge improvement and a huge leap forward for Microsoft. What really got me was the comments, particularly the anti-Mac ones.

As some of my readers will know, I have a Macbook Pro, and I love it, but I also use a workstation that is running Windows and has just recently been upgraded to Windows 7 (you may not have known about the Windows 7 upgrade though), and to me, each one is equally valuable. I left some comments regarding the things others had said on that post, but I would like to quickly go over them here as well.

  1. You don’t have to be totally for Windows or Mac. It was interesting to note that in the comments, every one of them seemed to be totally for Mac and against Windows, or totally for Windows and against Mac, plus one about Linux. The truth is though, despite what it may have been like in the past, Windows and OS X do play nice together, you can use both. For example, my data synchronises between my Windows and Mac machines and I can do everything on them both, it just depends if I’m out and about or not.
  2. Many Windows user’s arguments against Mac are outdated or entirely false. Really the only valid argument against using a Mac is the cost. As a regular user of both, I really see no other argument. If you are a gamer, then yes, there are still more games available on Windows, but hey, no one is stopping you from running Windows on a Mac, if you want to. I don’t play games much when I’m out and about on my laptop, it’s usually work or uni related, so the only time I game is when I’m at home on my workstation anyway. Did you notice that a huge amount of games don’t actually natively work on Windows 7 either? You have to run them in Windows Vista mode, or in some cases, Windows XP mode, I’ve not played one game since upgrading to Windows 7 (aside from those that come with it) that did not need to be run in one of those modes. Let’s look at some of the other arguments briefly:
    • Mac’s can’t right click. Actually they can, don’t let that single button deceive you, there are actually two buttons underneath it (in the case of the workstation mice), and on the laptop, the touch pad is smart enough to figure out if you are tapping with one or two fingers, two being the equivelant of a right click.
    • Mac’s now use the same hardware and so are obsolete as quick as Windows computers. Fair enough assumption. However, as one that has been through a number of OS X upgrades, I can in all honesty tell you that my Macbook has gotten faster with each upgrade. The hardware may not have changed, but the operating system did and it was great. This is something that never happened with Windows, each operating system upgrade needed more power in order to get similar performance to the old version on old hardware. However, Windows 7 has changed that. The performance improvement on older computers, particularly those that were running Vista is quite significant. It’s great to see Microsoft doing this and I’m looking forward to seeing how this path develops.
    • You can’t do everything on a Mac that you can on Windows. I’ve heard this so many times, or the similar argument that software isn’t available on a Mac or anything like that. In some cases this is still true. In most cases though, the software is available on a Mac or there is a compatible alternative that is just as good. I actually find I have the opposite problem. I find great software for Mac but then can’t find anything as good for Windows. One example is Espresso. The closest I’ve found is PSPad, which is excellent but isn’t quite on par with Espresso, this can probably be attributed simply to the fact that Espresso is paid, PSPad isn’t. Look at it this way, Mac’s actually support Microsoft Exchange email straight out of the box with no extra software. Windows only supports Exchange if you purchase Outlook or any version of Office that has Outlook included (on that note, if you subscribe to an Exchange email plan through TerraMedia, you get a free license for Outlook or Entourage for each email account that is setup on the Exchange server).
    • Mac’s are not customisable. Ha. If you can’t customise a Mac, you either aren’t creative or aren’t trying hard enough. So what if they don’t come in pieces, that doesn’t mean you can’t take them apart and do something creative with them.
    • Mac’s are not user upgradeable. Really? Then how have I upgraded every Mac I’ve ever owned? When I had a G3 Power Mac, I upgraded it myself, (admittedly only the RAM and attached drives since it used a Power PC CPU, and they weren’t exactly easy to get hold of). Since I’ve been using MacBook Pro’s, I’ve upgraded them as well, both hard drives and RAM, as for CPU, I really haven’t needed to consider it.
    • It’s confusing/difficult to install software on Mac’s. The problem here isn’t so much whether it’s hard, it’s more that most user’s are so used to how you install applications on Windows that it takes a bit of getting used to. Most software for Mac though is installed simply by dragging the program into the Applications folder. Some programs require an installer similar to what you will find on Windows, but for the most part it’s just drag and drop.
    • Mac’s cost more. In many cases yes, they do, they also resell second hand on average for more as well. Ultimately though, do the pay for themselves in time saved is the real question. For me that answer is yes, my Macbook Pro saves a huge amount of time and pays for itself over and over again.
  3. Windows is just as productive as OS X. I totally agree, if it’s a workstation. That’s why I continue to use a Windows workstation, it really doesn’t make any difference. As for laptops though, Macbook’s are significantly more productive in my experience than their equivelant Windows laptops. This stems primarily due to the fact that the touch pad and keyboard short cuts are very close together and provide an additional level of usability that simply isn’t available on anything else. Windows laptops are starting to try and mimic some of the functionality of the Mac touch pads, but they really aren’t comparable yet. I can perform many tasks on my Macbook Pro faster than I can on my Windows workstation, even though the workstation is a more powerful machine. This is simply because the touch pad is extremely intuitive and user friendly. Even for most Photoshop work, I would rather use the touch pad than a mouse just because it works better. A graphics tablet for a Windows machine add’s some of the functionality but it still really isn’t there, a tablet really is an entirely different tool. For me, all it comes down to is productivity, which one will let me get the job done faster, I love Mac’s, don’t get me wrong, but realistically, whatever get’s the job done fastest is the key for me.
  4. You have to be all Mac or all Windows. What? Why? In case no one has noticed, both Microsoft and Apple have made sure that their systems work with each other. It may not always be friendly between the two companies, and it may not always be friendly getting the two systems to work together, but it’s at the point where in most cases, it is. As I mentioned earlier, I run both systems here with no issue. I also am the network administrator of a Windows network that has recently been upgraded from a Windows 2003 server to Windows 2008. All the computers there run Windows, but Mac laptops are regularly on the network as well, and hey, all you have to do is plug them in and login, and they have access to the internet and all the network shares, just like if you connect a Windows laptop.
  5. What about viruses? Hey, Mac’s get viruses too, that’s why there is anti-virus software available for them. It just happens that there is many, many less Mac’s, so many less targets. Thus targetting them is not really worthwhile. In saying that, there are starting to become more viruses around for Mac’s, especially as they are growing in popularity. In either case, Windows or Mac, if you avoid anything that’s obviously malignant you are probably fine with no virus protection at all. It’s better to be safe than sorry though, so you should really use it whether Mac or Windows.

Really, that’s the main points as I seem them. It’s not about Mac verse Windows, it’s about what lets you do what you need to do in the most efficient and productive manner.

As for the Windows snobs out there, who really cares? Same to the Mac evangelists. Both are tools, a means to an end. One may be nicer in one situation, one may be nicer in another. Macbook’s are just plain awesome either way (sorry, had to throw that one in there, my Macbook Pro’s have been the single biggest productivity boost that I’ve had from one simple change). Microsoft have been making what I can only describe as a monolithic effort to improve Windows after the massive amount of criticism of Vista (which wasn’t as bad as many people make it out to be), and they really have made a huge improvement with Windows 7. It’s certainly not enough for me to consider a Windows laptop, but it is a massive improvement. If you are tossing up the switch to a Mac from Windows Vista, I suggest trying Windows 7 first, it will save you some money on a completely new machine and it really is much better than Vista. Otherwise, take it from me, Mac’s are amazing machines, but don’t listen to everyone’s arguments for or against anything. See if you can test out Windows 7 or OS X, or both. Find what is the most productive system for you and use it.

What’s key for you when choosing an operating system and computer?

2 thoughts on “Is Mac Really Better than Windows?”

  1. nice balanced article – i keep nearly buying a mac – but then i dont – saving money mostly I guess – and the frustration of having to make it work – win 7 just works

  2. Thanks Tim.

    I would say I actually had more issues with Windows 7, and even more so with Vista than I ever have had with my Mac.

    In saying that though, my network has been multi-platform from the word go and doesn’t currently run a dedicated server, only a Linux NAS. In a network that is predominately Windows, such as yours, it certainly would be much easier to get a Windows 7 computer running on it with full user access to the things they are meant to have access to than a Mac computer, especially given how easy Windows install profiles are to use

    For me though, even if I had those sorts of issues with getting my Macbook Pro onto my network, I think I’d still use it, simply because I have not found any other laptop that is as intuitive and subsequently as productive to use for my purposes.

    I’m quite liking the look of some of the new Windows 7 ones though.

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