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Mac vs PC – The Definitive (?) List

This is purely personal, I’m not making any recommendations here, just my observations of what’s good about each of the two after almost 6 months of using an Apple Macintosh G5 at work and a Dell Laptop at home. Some of it’s based on cold hard facts, the rest is just my perceptions.

First off… advantages of PC’s over Macs:
Sepy Actionscript Editor They’re porting it to OS X, not a big reason.
Price, price (did I mention price)
Office’s native platform Office just feels nicer on the PC to me… can’t quite explain it.
ActiveX controls (3cim, timecharge) Some of the companies I work for or do work for have web apps that require IE 5.5 or higher.
Counterstrike… minesweeper… I’m not much of a gamer. Buying a mac would ensure things stay that way.
Dreamweaver, Flash are just plain faster and easier to use on the PC.
Filezilla and leech Ftp programs that take RBrowser and kick it all over the room.
Way better IM programs Can iChat do desktop sharing? How about games? Ok.. so it does video and voice, but only with AIM, not MSN…
Camtasia I’d miss Camtasia studio.
Gospel link, LDS collectors library – These are programs that have large collections of books written by memebers of my church and, you guessed it, PC only. PAF is a family history program my church distrubutes and my family uses–again, PC only.
Swift 3d This is more just for fun, but I really do like using Swift every once in awhile.
IE 6 – for testing… blech. Personally, I can’t stand IE, but everyone uses it so I have to keep it around somehow to test things.
Taskbar. I like the taskbar better than the dock. Sorry… I just do.
No fear that the next software pkg I need won’t run on Windows. Another one of those intangibles.
Pocket PC support without buying any 3rd party software (and I like my iPaq). Now if Apple came out with a sub $500 handheld, I’d jump ship and get it in a heartbeat… I have no doubt it would be good.
Better networking in my experience anyway.

Ok. That having been said, here are the advantages (in my mind) of the Mac over the PC.
Expose – One of the things I miss the most when I’m not using a Mac.
Apple (command) Key location. Whose idea was it anyway to put my left pinky through so much stress pressing ctrl? The command key on the mac makes so much more sense.
Resell value – My laptop (1.13ghz Inspiron, all the goodies) is worth maybe $500 now. That’s a pretty big drop from the $3000 I paid for it. On the other hand, a Powerbook from around the time I bought my laptop is worth a few hundred dollars more and it cost a few hundred dollars less new.
iPhoto, iMovie, iDvd, iTunes, Garage Band – I really love the iLife suite. In fact, that’s one of the big deciding factors for me. iTunes runs on the pc. I know. It just feels so much more at home on the mac though. Adobe Albums (for what it is) makes a lot more sense than iPhoto, but for some reason I still like iPhoto better–I think a lot of it is because it takes care of organizing all my photos automatically. I have to tell Albums where they are. iDvd and iMovie… more goodness I don’t want to live without.
Final Cut – Speaks for itself.
Good looks – I’m a designer. My laptop is ugly. All Dells are ugly. Some gateways are okay, some Alienware computers are okay, but on the whole, Apple’s just look better. That’s important to me.
Quicksilver – Woah… just wrote about this one the other day. This is one piece of software that I don’t want to live without.
Fink, X11 – Cool. I can run my linux stuff on my mac and do it easily. I don’t even want to ever hear the words cygwin again. No. Stop.
Responsiveness – I like being able to click the Flash, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Word, Entourage, iChat, iPhoto, iTunes and whatever else I feel like clicking all at once and still browse the Internet while I’m waiting without major lag. I’ve never seen a PC that can handle that.
MacJournal – Yet another piece of software I don’t want to live without.
Free SDK – There’s probably one for Windows as well, but developing for the Mac seems so much more sexy and fun. I’m not really even a programmer, but using a mac makes me want to become one.

So that’s my off the cuff list. I’m sure I’m forgetting things. Which way will I go for my next computer? I’m not sure, but at the moment… that G5 is looking really tempting.

[updated 6/8/2005 to fix some encoding issues]

16 Comments

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  1. John
    March 29, 2004 at 10:28 am #

    Networking on a Mac is light years ahead of Windows, just open a finder Window and it is there for you. It doesn’t get any easier. Try an HP 8500 printer, just pops up on a Mac, one click and it is setup.
    Games, not as big an issue as one would think. Buy a Playstation. or an Xbox.
    Here is food for thought, as you speak another virus is being produced for Windows, still none fo OSX

  2. Marcus
    March 29, 2004 at 10:52 am #

    I’ve found networking between macs better on OS X, but networking between Mac and PC (which I’ll be stuck doing no matter what), OS X has been, in my experience, not so great. I really don’t like all the hidden files it leaves everywhere.

    Games… Agreed. Not a big deal for me either.

    The virus issue! I’m glad you mentioned that. I’m VERY sick of Norton popping up 10 times every time I check my email. It worrys me however, that once a Mac virus is finally created (and one will be) that everyone is pretty much wide-open since no one uses anti-virus software on their Macs. We’ll see.

  3. AM
    March 29, 2004 at 11:06 am #

    Great write-up. To the point and accurate in most respects.
    Apple is all about personality. Some people look at a Mac and fall in love with it. Others have even the shipping cases of their computers lying around in their office or home. Matter of taste.
    AM

  4. stu
    March 29, 2004 at 11:22 am #

    Price?

    Try comparing an eMac vs an equivalent Dell + 17″ monitor. They’re the same! (Front page bait-and-switch ads very misleading)

    Try comparing a top of the line Mac with a top of the line Dell. The Mac will win in pricing.

  5. dave
    March 29, 2004 at 11:53 am #


    nice: a fair and honest evaluation (always good to see that amidst all the usual bickering)

    comments:
    minesweeper-there’s at least one shareware version for OSX, It’s got the little aqua bubbles for the bombs, so it’s lickable! ;)

    the taskbar-I used to like the concept of the taskbar better, but the implementation is not so great, imho. The thing that bugs me the most is that while generally the application/document ‘tabs’ on the taskbar are supposed to stay in the order they’re opened, they move around when you open a new document in a program that’s already opened. So, stuff moves around sort of unexpectedly, and you can’t rearrange it, like you can in the dock (I’m not using XP, btw, so I can’t comment on that). There’s a lot of other confusing stuff that’s related to the ability to run more than one instance of the same program. I never know what windows will close or not close if I close out Word, since there may, or may not be more copies running. It’s all just so confusing!

  6. spw
    March 29, 2004 at 11:59 am #

    The Mac will never get a pc virus to work, unless it can get you to type your password in and say ok run your nasty self.
    And then, to spread, everybody else would have to ok it too.
    Fear not for your protection, for you have a modern operating system.

  7. Mel S. Hutson
    March 29, 2004 at 12:33 pm #

    Yes, Office for Mac is definitely inferior – I used both versions all the time. Entourage is very buggy compared to Outlook.

  8. Doug Petrosky
    March 29, 2004 at 1:25 pm #

    Interesting perspective, but I take issue with:

    >>Way better IM programs<<

    If you said cool built-in desktop sharing system, I’d agree (although apple provides an application for similar abilities mac to mac and another company Timbuktu provides cross platform as does WebX). But your comment to me assumes that desktop sharing is more important than voice and video for IM purposes. It may be that desktop sharing belongs in IM but the most important aspects of IM are communication. iChat allows for A/V communications to more users than any other IM client that I know of. And much like the iLife suite it’s stupid simple to use.

    Other thoughts:

    IE 6 testing and actually windows testing overall can be very cool on the mac. With enough RAM and virtual PC you can test multiple browsers on multiple platforms all of the same local code.
    You can have one or more “VirtualPC’s” running, each with a different test target audience. (XP vs 98 vs ME etc) and each with their own version of IE running. At the same time you can test out Safari and the mac browsers. Any time you put something onto the web, being able to state multi platform support is a big plus.

    You also sound like you are at least interested in programing and AppleScript can be a huge advantage on the Mac once you understand it.

    Lastly, Dock vs Taskbar. You could write a whole article on this to really talk about the differences but what features of the taskbar made you feel it is better?

    For me apple only has to fix two things in the dock.
    1) allow minimized windows of the same application to minimize into their application Icon (I tend to hide things to get them out of the way now to avoid extra doc clutter)
    2) When creating a standard icon on the dock (like a folder) allow a simple way to customize it (like the Application folder icon) for easy reference and/or allow for text descriptions.

    That said, I really like that I can make multiple menu’s on the dock and that I can resize it to the users desires. Also, the notification on the dock is great and the possibilities are endless for support into the future with the multimedia features of the dock (hell you can watch a movie in the dock). So, although I would like some tweaks, I think it is better positioned for the future.

  9. Mac Man
    March 29, 2004 at 1:36 pm #

    First off… advantages of PC’s over Macs:
    Price, price (did I mention price)

    Ok. That having been said, here are the advantages (in my mind) of the Mac over the PC.
    Resell value – My laptop (1.13ghz Inspiron, all the goodies) is worth maybe $500 now. That’s a pretty big drop from the $3000 I paid for it. On the other hand, a Powerbook from around the time I bought my laptop is worth a few hundred dollars more and it cost a few hundred dollars less new.

    $3,000 for an Inspiron? What a mistake. Anyway, you even say that the Powerbook cost a few hundred less. Contradict yourself much?
    And don’t even talk about networking, if you like networking on Windows, you must be a Network Administrator who wants to keep his job, because if you or your company actually used Macs you wouldn’t have a job.
    People like to talk, but normally don’t have much to say.

  10. Britton Stanfill
    March 29, 2004 at 2:03 pm #

    hey I’m LDS too, I a mac guy myself… though I own a PC and have used PCs extensively I just find that the overall “experience” is better on the macs. You might get more bang for the buck on the wintel platform (performance) but I think most users are really looking for a good experience more then anything and apple pays much more attention to detail then the competitors…

  11. Britton Stanfill
    March 29, 2004 at 2:05 pm #

    hey I’m LDS too, I a mac guy myself… though I own a PC and have used PCs extensively I just find that the overall “experience” is better on the macs. You might get more bang for the buck on the wintel platform (performance) but I think most users are really looking for a good experience more then anything and apple pays much more attention to detail then the competitors…

  12. simon
    March 29, 2004 at 2:43 pm #

    I like the scrolling on WXP. I hate the task based UI. My brother’s a graphics pro and he’ll often have 30 – 50 open windows or files active on the desktop at any one time, it’s like a digital ballet. Working that way would be a non starter on a PC and he couldn’t work any other way.
    I’m a music pro and PC’s are hell for music. You can make it work but you have to dedicate it to one task. Some of my PC breadbins say they’d want to dedicate it whatever platform they are using, but the ones who say that are always the people that have never used a MAC.
    I just set my sister up with a 6 year old iMac running the latest version of OS X try that with XP on a 6 year old PC.
    I just realized that my 4 year old G4 has gigabit ethernet on it a technology which is only now being supported on the Intel logicboard. My G4 will be in action for a long time to come once X-grid takes off.
    Apple computers often include technologies that don’t come into there own until the point where the average PC is on the scrap-heap. It was like that with the blue and white G3 too. First computer with built in Firewire, still a great computer today.

  13. Marcus
    March 29, 2004 at 2:47 pm #

    Ok–one quick point that Simon brought up but I failed to mention before. Another reason I’m seriously considering a Mac is because Apple is such an innovative company and I’d like to think that I support innovation.

    USB, the Newton (even if it failed–a noble effort), Firewire, the iPod, ditching tube monitors… to name a few, all things that just make me that much more excited to have a Mac, they seem to be one step ahead of PC’s all the time.

  14. Joe Kimmel
    March 29, 2004 at 3:54 pm #

    Woah…how about…crashing…I am surprised no one has mentioned the vast number of errors and restarting that one requires with a Windows computer. Come on… you know it is numerous. It used to be that multi-tasking and crashing were horrible on a mac. It really didn’t exist before OS X.

    OS X can now have one program crash….like Entourage on my mac and then one can restart the program and not affect the OS or other programs. Rarely do I restart my mac. 99 times out of 100 it is when I have to by installing a new program that REQUIRES a restart. OS X is virtually crash proof.As mentioned the virus thing is non-existent unless one chooses to download mp3′s from some obscure Russian site.

  15. Marcus
    March 29, 2004 at 3:57 pm #

    Crashing has been a non-issue for me on both Windows XP and OS X. I can’t remember the last time either of them crashed.

  16. Marcus
    March 29, 2004 at 7:44 am #

    Ok… here's why MacMan (since you asked):
    Why pay $3000 for an Inspiron rather than get a less expensive powerbook? Well, I probably wouldn't do it again, but at the time, I had some very compelling reasons… namely, Mac doesn't make laptops with 1600×1200 screen resolution. Also, as I recall, video cards in the old Powerbooks were pretty bad–definitely not the 32mb nVidia that came in the Dell.

    Other reasons: Because you can't replace a 1 button trackpad with a 2 button trackpad (say what you will, I like having two buttons and after almost 6 months of using a one button mouse at work, I still like 2 better), because a 500mhz G4 (I think that was what was out then) isn't as fast as a 1.13 ghz PIII. You may beg to differ, but in my personal real-world experience, my laptop is much faster than 500mhz G4's.

    Networking. Again… it's my personal preference. At home I've never had a problem networking my PC's and PC's to Linux. At work I get resource forks everywhere, permissions errors and before the latest Panther update, there were PC's on the network I couldn't browse to. Maybe Apple networking is better for many or most people, but in my personal experience, It's been easier on the PC.

    With the release of the G5, I think Apple is moving in a much better direction in price. It is still my personal opinion that PC's are more competitively priced. For instance, if I were to get a PC (and I probably won't), I could get an Athlon XP 2800 with everthing I need for about $1,200. Now, before you start doing a point by point comparison, I know–I'm not getting everything the G5 comes with and there are a lot of points where it's comparing apples to oranges, but the truth is, if I personally were going to get a PC, I could get a very good one for a lower price simply because there are more options available to me.

    All that having been said, and as I mentioned in the article, I'm still leaning towards getting a Mac because I feel the advantages I listed above outweigh the disadavantages. I don't think either are perfect, but any rational person can see that there are advantages to both.

    Ok… a couple quick responses to those of you with constructive comments (I appreciate them). Doug: Virtual PC–good point. I've thought about that, but is that out for the G5's yet? I heard there were problems with getting virtual PC and the 64bit processors to work. Hopefully I'm wrong.

    IM- I hold my ground. I agree with you that voice, video and chat are most important, but if I can have the three of those and others as well, why not? iChat can do some of the things AIM and MSN can do, but not all of them. I regularly use the remote desktop assistance feature in MSN with friends who need a little help–it would just be an added hassle to have them install other, 3rd party software. Of course, I wouldn't mind having a mac just to save some time by being able to say "hmm… I'm not sure how to do that, I use a mac." :) The chat issue really is not a big one with me–I just thought it was one worth mentioning. If I got a Mac I'd probably end up using Fire half the time anyway (and as far as I know, it doesn't support anything but text messages).

    The Dock… yeah, I don't even have time at the moment to get into that one and discuss it as well as it should be discussed. Next time gadget, next time.

    Thanks again to those with suggestions and helpful comments. Where are all the PC people ;)?