Nowadays there is a war raging between Mac and PC users, each side claiming they offer the best product. For any shopper it’s easy to get caught in the middle and hard to discern reality from stereotypes and false claims. Having worked for FutureShop, Apple resellers and Apple itself, I have been on both sides of the fence and I have a unique perspective of both products.
This article, the first of a series about Microsoft and Apple, will take the most common Mac and PC stereotypes and break them. Clichés should be the last thing you base yourself onto when purchasing computers. Most of the stereotypes concerning Mac vs PC are erroneous and will not provide you with the information you really need to buy the right computer for you. Let’s take a look at the most common ones:
Designers should use Macs, they’re better for them
This claim is false. It takes its roots from the old Mac computers. The Macintosh, released in 1984, was the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a graphic user interface. In 1990, Adobe Photoshop 1.0 (the ancient version of software many designers use today) that had been created on a Mac was released exclusively for that platform. What does that tell us? That over 20 years ago, Macintosh was the computer to buy if you were a creative. But what this stereotype doesn’t get right is that as early as 1985 Microsoft launched a similar user interface and that Adobe resolved its compatibility issues with Windows in 1992.
Bottom line: Although Apple comes with a nice and easy-to-use creative suite for the whole family called iLife, the programs designers use are compatible in almost all the cases with both Mac and PC. You can achieve the exact same results on any machine, so long it has the right components.
The infamous blue screen aka PCs always break
Ever heard of the infamous blue screen of death? It’s the screen you get when your PC encounters a critical error (usually hardware or driver related). It’s often used as a symbol to depict Windows computers’ unreliability and frequent crashes. But do they break that frequently? In my experience, what causes issues in PCs most of the time is not the operative system (although Vista isn’t the most stable, both XP and Windows 7 run smoothly) but low-quality hardware. Cheap computers are built with cheap parts that are more likely to break. Buying a good quality PC or building your own computer part by part can prevent those issues from arising.
Apple has an advantage over PC on that matter; they offer a limited product line but all of their products have high-quality components. That said, Mac OS X also experiences crashes and, like computers running Windows, need to be rebooted or reinstalled in extreme cases. No technology to this day is exempt from bugs or hardware failure.
Currently, OS X’s bug report screen is prettier than Windows’. But with the upcoming Windows 8, it seems Microsoft decided to enter the competition with a redesign. Isn’t it cute? Almost makes you want to wish your PC will break! Or not.
You can’t get viruses on a Mac
This claim is mostly true, but not entirely. Mac OS X and Windows are wired differently and since most viruses are programmed to infect PCs running Windows, they will not be “processed” by a Mac, usually laying dormant until they are deleted or transferred to a PC. What protects Apple computers from viruses, besides their small market share (less than 10% in August 2011) is their Unix-based file system and kernel that is harder to infect with a self-replicating program.
However, keep in mind that OS X, although almost invulnerable (to this day) to viruses, can still be affected by spyware, malware and Trojans. Spyware will spy on you by monitoring the activity performed on a computer, malware can spy on you, damage your computer or any other malicious task, while Trojans are programs used to gain access to your computer and infect it in some way. Last summer, the Mac Defender malware was running wild, a phishing scam targeting Mac users that redirected users to fake websites advising them to install this false “anti-virus” software to protect their computer.
Conclusion: Even if you own a Mac, you have to be careful what you install on it because you could also be victim of a virtual attack, even if the risk is lesser than on PC.
Macs are sexier than PCs
Apple computers are indeed very sleek with their thin aluminum body. After the release of a new Apple product, typically other brands will try to copy their design. Apple computers don’t follow trends; they make them. And that is often the reason why so many people go for Mac.
So, Apple computers are really pretty. Are they prettier? It’s arguable. PCs can be very cool as well, especially if you are building your own tower. There are thousands of computer cases models to choose from (click here to see some Antec cases, for example) and that gives you ultimate freedom when it comes to customization. If you prefer laptops, you might want to take a look at Alienware, a line of gaming computers by Dell, applauded for their designs and performance. A lot of other brands offer nice and thin designs as well and to name only one, Samsung Series 9 is not bad looking at all!
So, you see? PC computers can be pretty too. Different, but nice.
Mac has a lot of compatibility issues
“I can’t buy a Mac because the programs I use won’t run on it” is a common statement in shoppers. It is true that the Windows operative system still runs more programs than Mac OS X, but there is a way around that. If there is absolutely no equivalent for Mac of a specific software and you still want to buy a Mac, you can use BootCamp to partition your hard drive and install the latest version of Windows on it. It runs very smoothly and you will be able to run all your PC applications after rebooting. Other solutions to this “compatibility issue” are Parallel Desktop and VMware, programs that will run on your Mac and let you work simultaneously with Windows compatible-only software. Nowadays, compatibility isn’t really an issue anymore.
I hope that this article helped you to see more clearly in the Mac vs PC battle. Please let me know if you think I forgot an obvious stereotype and I’ll add it to the list if it is erroneous. Check back soon for another article about Mac vs PC!