Anti-Buzz Hardware Software

Anti-Buzz: Mac vs. Windows (Again)

newface-620x461So, as it happens, Apple computers are still pretty hip, but when I started this gig so long ago addressing that hipness and taking the edge of it was a top priority. There was an element of dishonesty in spouting my opinion about Macintosh computers because I hadn’t really used them for any length of time, (at least not since the release of OS X, which really is the important detail).

Well, no more. I spent the summer in a professional software development environment and was given my choice of Mac or Windows. Given the two, (meaning, not given the option of Linux), I would have chosen Macintosh anyway, but I was urged by my team to make that choice, so I did. With the experience over I have quite a bit more to say about the question of Mac versus Windows. Let’s get to it.

First, as I’d always said, the question for me wasn’t whether Macs were any good, it was whether or not they were worth the significant price jump. Some people shrug at the price difference; I think they do not understand how large it is. To make sure I was being fair, I built what I feel is a good default laptop on both Apple’s online store, and Lenovo’s, (Lenovo being the high end of Windows laptops, both in quality and price). To summarize, I began with a 15-inch Macbook Pro as it has roughly the specs that any serious work machine should have.

I upgraded the RAM to 8 GB and included all the usual display adapters, (if you think you don’t need those adapters in the workplace, you are daft). This came in just under $2,000. I built the same machine from Lenovo’s T series, (Roughly their equivalent of the Macbook Pro), making sure to include a camera and upgraded the processor to an Intel i7. There are some slight variations in processor and display type, but these machines are basically the same, and the Lenovo costs only $1,000 – half the price. I will tell you right now that the remains of this article come out more or less in praise of Macs, but I’m not sure they are twice as good as Windows machines.

However, doing a straight price comparison based on components is not quite right either, as the Mac can offer some experiences that Windows simply can’t; I’m thinking right now of the Thunderbolt display. To have it described to you is not quite the same thing as using it. The description is simple: it is a very large monitor with built in speakers, USB ports primarily meant for a mouse and keyboard, and a simple octopus cable that let’s you connect both video and power to your laptop. When your laptop is on but the lid is closed it interprets the Thunderbolt as its primary display. In other words, you turn your laptop into a desktop, (and you only need to plug one thing into the wall). Disconnecting your laptop from this screen/speakers/mouse/keyboard set up is extremely easy, and so your mighty desktop becomes a nice portable laptop that you take to your meeting or your presentation. Again, it’s more impressive in person than in description, but I don’t think equivalent functionality can be had /so easily/ on anything that doesn’t have an Apple logo on it.

Of course, the Thunderbolt display costs an additional $1,000, so now we’re talking $3,000 for your workstation, but we can also say it is undeniably better than the Windows experience. The right analogy is fine wine. You can spend significantly more on wine and you will get a higher quality, but the quality usually isn’t proportional to the price increase. It is a matter of personal taste, really, to determine whether or not the price increase is justified.

With fine wine in mind, it is fair to judge the Mac on all the little conveniences it gets right. Starting with the external hardware design, the Mac is somewhat famous for its power cord, which attaches to the laptop via magnet, preventing big lunks like me from ever breaking it. It is again one of those nuances that have to be experienced instead of read about, but in general the matter of plugging things into your Mac is more pleasant; a minor detail, but it’s these minor details that make the difference between a good wine and a great one. However, counter to this is the choice of brushed steel to case the laptop. It looks nice, and probably wins on durability too, but every time I fumble with a USB port I get a metal scratching noise that is only slightly better than the proverbial nails on the chalkboard. Again, a minor detail, but this is how you have to judge the Mac: Does it succeed as an elegant piece of of designer art? I can’t credit Apple for the Thunderbolt experience and not complain about the noise brushed steel makes when you scratch it; what they’re selling is perfection.

And moving on to the actual software, I was surprised to find OS X just as quirky as Windows. Again, just little things, but the sort of little why-isn’t-it-working-right? things that I had figured were just the domain of the known-imperfect Windows. Halfway through the summer my laptop stopped recognizing my keyboard through the Thunderbolt. A coworker spent an afternoon with no menu bar. Frequently after logging in and working for a few seconds the Mac would inexplicably kick back out to the log in screen as if I had never typed my password. After an evening in suspension, sometimes the computer would just not be able to recover and had to be restarted. These are the sort of weird little ticks that happen all the time with Windows; I was disappointed to find them just as prevalent on a Mac. The Mac propaganda has you believe the user experience is so much better, I made the leap of assuming that my primary use complaint with Windows – that stupid little inexplicable quirky things happen – had been ironed out in OS X. Oh well.

newface-620x461I am not without praise for OS X, though. Being a Unix variant, OS X has many conveniences for the programmers among us, (unless, of course, you are developing for Windows or really want to use Visual Studio – both very reasonable scenarios). I find it ironic, however, that most of the enjoyment I got out of the Mac was for reasons very oblique to the average user experience. I like Mac for its built-in command line terminal, complete with all standard Unix shells and utilities, including ssh and scp for seamless remote work. Even more, I enjoy the Apple key, another subtle nuance in Mac’s favor. On the Mac, the command/apple key more or less replaces the control key from Windows. Copy/paste in windows is crtl-c and ctrl-v; on Mac it’s command-c and command-v. This is not an important distinction for the common user, but the programmer should perk up when I tell you that Macs also have a control key and that the control key still does all of the things it usually does when you are on the command line. In Windows and Linux, you are left with the awkward scenario of keyboard shortcuts changing depending on what type of thing you are looking at. ctrl-c isn’t always copy, because on the terminal ctrl-c is kill process. On Mac, command-c is always copy and ctrl-c is always kill process. A fine wine detail, but I can’t stress enough how much this consistent behavior improved my summer.

But I have a hard time fathoming how these details appeal to the common user. This is actually one of the great ironies of the Macintosh – that the most concrete arguments in its favor are arguments the common user wouldn’t understand or appreciate. Most people don’t realize that the brand has made inroads on two major demographics: the don’t-want-no-hassle common user and their polar opposite, the competent Unix geek. Mac excels as a professional grade, hassle-free Unix system and appears on the laps of computer science professionals everywhere. I think enthusiasts of both Mac and Windows have the mistaken belief that Windows is for people who are more computer literate, but in fact Macs have enormous appeal to the most computer literate among us. Windows, at the end of the day, still has the best selection of software, but this is more or less the beginning and end of its appeal.

However, given that Mac seems no better on the quirky nuisance level than Windows, I’m not sure why so many users are convinced they are getting a better experience, especially considering the price difference. Maybe the price difference is precisely what drives the notion that the computer is better. If you invest more money into your computer, are you more invested in having a good experience? Is the Mac just a status symbol? (For some people, the answer is definitely yes). I invite feedback from Mac enthusiasts because I’m sure my own experience is tainted – I’m clearly biased toward caring about certain features and not others. If you prefer the brand and don’t prefer the command line, leave me a message.

225 replies on “Anti-Buzz: Mac vs. Windows (Again)”

Great article, Andrew! I’ve been “playing” with computers since 1978 (not a typo). I’m always amused (and often annoyed) by those who INSIST that I should “just get a Mac” (and that they know better than me). They implore me to make the move from PCs because “Macs are so easy to use.” And, that’s just it. It’s a solution to a problem I don’t have. I don’t find PCs “difficult.” I have no reason to switch.

I get that they’re “sexy.” I get that they’re “easy,” especially for a new user… who may already have other Apple products like iPods and iPads that will integrate.

I’ve LONG argued that if we are to set up a PC and a Mac equally, the Macs are twice the price. Nobody believed me. You said it again here… more eloquently and more factually.

I’ve got 20+ years worth of PC files. I’ve got that many years of experience using Windows-based software. I have no desire (or need) to learn a whole new system. The Apple fanbois then argue that I can load Windows files on a Mac. OK… So, I’m buying a Mac only to convert it to a Windows machine? Again… WHY?

So, it’s a solution to a problem I don’t have at twice the price. I’m happy for those that like their Macs and work well with them. But, their fervent (nearly cultish) supplications and sales pitches for Macs are simply weird to me. We don’t see PC users spending time as acolytes for their preferred system.

Well done.

I get the feeling most people think the Apple premium is around 10%. They have no idea it is double. That means (in very round numbers? it will cost $40,000 to computerize a dental office instead of $20,000. And you will need to pay out the extra bucks each time you upgrade; every three to four years.

Long ago, I was told that Mac’s were mostly for graphics use and Windows for most everything. I have PC’s in all my dental operatories. PC’s have always worked great for us and are inexpensive to fix. I’ve worked on Mac’s before and they do give you the feeling of working on a high end machine but for double the cost, no thanks.

hi!,I love your writing very so much! proportion we keep up a correspondence more approximately your post on AOL? I require an expert in this house to unravel my problem. Maybe that is you! Looking forward to look you.

I am now not positive the place you are getting your info, but good topic.I needs to spend a while finding out much moreor working out more. Thank you for fantastic information Iwas looking for this information for my mission.

ที่สุดของเกมที่ให้ความบันเทิงสูงสุดเต็มที่ด้วยเอฟเฟคสุดหรูทำเงินเร็วให้เงินไว คงหนีไม่พ้นสล็อตออนไลน์ ที่เหล่านักเสี่ยงโชคชูให้เป็นสุดยอดของเกมออนไลน์ UFABET แหล่งรวมเกมออนไลน์ก็ไม่พลาดที่จะจัดสล็อตออนไลน์มาให้สมาชิกอย่างจุใจ

Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads upand let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly.I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

Hello i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anywhere, when i read this piece of writing i thought icould also create comment due to this sensible post.

Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a fewof the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not surewhy but I think its a linking issue. I’ve triedit in two different browsers and both showthe same results.

Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. Youhave done a marvellous job!

My brother recommended I might like this blog. He was entirely right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

Good day! This post could not be written any better!Reading through this post reminds me of myprevious room mate! He always kept talking about this.I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he willhave a good read. Thanks for sharing!

I’m curious to find out what blog platform you happen to be working with? I’m experiencing some small security problems with my latest blog and I’d like to find something more risk-free. Do you have any suggestions?

Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed!Extremely helpful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I wasseeking this particular information for a long time.Thank you and best of luck.

magnificent issues altogether, you simply gained a new reader. What may you recommend in regards to your put up that you just made some days ago? Any sure?

Thank you for every other great article. The place else could anyone get that type of information in such an ideal manner of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such info.

I haven’t checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are great quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend

F*ckin’ awesome issues here. I’m very satisfied to see your article. Thanks so much and i am taking a look forward to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

954206 405962Our own chaga mushroom comes with a schokohutige, consistent, charcoal-like arrival, a entire lot of dissimilar towards the style of the regular mushroom. Chaga Tincture 166915

I do believe all of the concepts you have presented on your post. They’re really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for newbies. May just you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

Thanks, I have recently been looking for information about this subject for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far. However, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you certain concerning the source?

At this time it appears like WordPress is the preferred bloggingplatform out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is thatwhat you are using on your blog?Stop by my blog post; weight loss

Usually I do not learn article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, very great post.

I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. This great article has really peaked my interest.I will book mark your blog and keep checking fornew information about once a week. I opted in foryour Feed too.

This is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate information… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!

I enjoy what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and coverage!Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve included youguys to my own blogroll.

I will immediately grasp your rss as I can not find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please permit me recognise in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.