Mac OS X vs. Windows

I’ve been using Apple’s Macintosh computers since 1984, yep the year they came out. Since that time I have been a big fan of them, and have owned 11 different models, 8 desktops, and 3 laptops. I have also been using PC’s since 1981 when they ran on DOS. I have used Windows from it’s inception up to XP. Having used both over many years, it still surprises me that Windows remains the dominant platform. I often get into debates about which one is better, and often even when the other party grants that Apple makes better products, they claim they are too expensive. I’m going to leave the whole stability question out of this article and instead concentrate on specific differences between the two platforms that I feel make Macs worth that extra money. (It really is hard to leave that stability issue alone though after seeing so many friends and clients loose work and data to viruses, or have their Windows machines slow down so much because of their virus protection programs hogging resources.) These are listed in random order, as I think of them. 1. PDFs – Apple’s operating system includes the ability to create PDF files from any application. Windows you need to purchase Adobe’s Acrobat program to get the same functionality which will cost you an additional $300. If you need to combine two or more PDF files into one, on a Mac you can use the provided program Preview to do this. With Windows, you need to buy Acrobat. 2. Screen Shots – Macs have always had the ability to take a screen shot simply by pressing Command-Shift-F3 and you get a nice shutter sound as confirmation. It leaves the screen shot as a file on your desktop. OS X also includes a program called Grab that provides lots of other options for screen capture. Windows users can press the PrtScn key (which under DOS actually sent the screen to the printer) and find that nothing really happens. Until you open a graphics program, and select paste. Then you have to save the file. 8 steps vs. 1 for the Mac. In my web design work, I often ask clients for a screen shot when trying to solve layout problems (usually caused by Internet Explorer). It amazes me how many Windows users I have to explain the procedure to. Speaking of Internet Explore, that brings up two related items: 3. Mac OS X includes one of the best browsers out there, Safari. It is known for displaying HTML and CSS code as the standards define them. Windows, on the other hand includes Internet Explorer, the absolute worst browser out there. While each version of IE has gotten better about following standards, the early ones were so buggy that they’ve left a path of destruction all over the Internet. Webmasters regularly pull their hair out and have sleepless nights because they can’t get their web sites to work with all the different buggy versions of IE out there. Every time Microsoft fixes one they create another so many sites end up serving different content to each and every version of IE that hits their site. 4. To test a web site design I’m working on, I need to be able to open it in all of the major browsers out there. On the Mac I can install and run multiple versions of the same program. On Windows you can’t do this because different programs use external library programs that also get updated and prevent backwards compatibility. Not only is this helpful for browser testing but it’s handy for other purposes as well. I have three different versions of Photoshop installed on my Mac, CS, CS3 and CS5. Adobe has a habit of removing features in newer versions so sometimes it’s easier to open the older version to complete some tasks then try to figure out how to do it in the new version. 5. Apple’s OS X supports running Windows (or multiple versions of Windows) either natively through BootCamp, or as emulation through various software programs. The reverse is not true. So Apple’s computers can run more software than Windows computers. 6. Apple support. Even if you don’t sign up for Apple Care, you get support from the company that has consistently been ranked number 1 in the tech business. After experiencing the support with Apple Care, I’ll never buy a computer without it again. But most importantly, because your hardware and software come from the same vendor, there is no blame game played when you call with a problem. With Window’s you problem could be caused by the cpu, the graphics cards, the keyboard, the mouse, the hard drive or Windows, all of which might be different vendors and each can say it’s not their problem until you’re left spinning in circles. 7. Apple includes more hardware than those lower priced machines you see advertised. I remember back in the early 90s when every Apple shipped with Ethernet built in. PCs you had to add and configure a card, and good luck if the Ethernet card didn’t cause a conflict with your modem card because they shared the same Com port. Oh you had to open the PC and move some dip switches and jumpers to get it to work? Isn’t that handy! So yeah, now Windows has caught up and has plug and play. In my experience it sort of works, but not to the level that Apple’s does. On a recent forum someone was mentioning how expensive the new Mac Mini was at $799. Funny thing was that when I compared it to a similar package called the Pandora Mini and configured them the same, the Pandora ended up being several hundred dollars more expensive because the cheap base price only included things like 512 meg of memory, vs. 4 gig for the Mac Mini.