Why Switch to the Mac? Five Top Reasons

50 Comments

Although the types of tech writing that I do require me to spend the majority of my  time on Windows PCs (and some on Linux systems), I also use a MacBook, and have accumulated a list of Windows-vs.-Mac gripes over the years. I know that a lot of readers of this blog use Macs, but quite a few use Windows machines, too. If you’re considering switching to the Mac–and more people are than ever–here is my top five list of advantages the Mac offers.



An actual file system.
Microsoft has been promising a fast, full-featured file system in Windows for years without ever delivering one. WinFS, which was supposed to be a Mac-like, robust file system was planned for Windows Vista, but then shelved. The speed with which I can retrieve anything on my computer with the Mac is a huge advantage.

Much better video and graphics. The Mac OS and Mac machines have been recognized for years as trouncing Windows PCs in these areas, but I don’t see this as just a hardware or operating system issue anymore. That’s especially true now that Apple uses Intel processors. It’s the applications I can use on the Mac that have become more robust than their Windows counterparts. Even iMovie is more robust than Windows video editing applications that cost hundreds of dollars.

Cooler looking machines. Hey, it had to be said. Apple dominates at design. The Mac OS also looks slicker than Windows XP or Windows Vista.

True plug-and-play. Mac users, when was the last time you tried to plug any peripheral in and ran into problems? Even after years of Microsoft’s plug-and-play initiatives, I still run into nasty driver issues and incompatibilities. I think the key here is that Apple keeps compatibility simpler for developers and hardware manufacturers.

More reliability. Macs are more reliable than PCs for several reasons. The operating system is far less prone to crashing. Support is head-and-shoulders above what you get with a PC. And because the user base is smaller than Windows’, Macs and Mac applications are less of a target for hackers.

Mac users, what would you add to this list?

50 Comments

A.E. NEUMAN

@Jason Kratz: Photoshop was written to run on older OS like OS9. Apple came up with Carbon to allow old apps to run on OSX. Photoshop needs to be re-written in Cocoa to take advantage of OSX and 64 bit processing. That is why Photoshop runs faster on Windows and won’t be ready for OSX. Adobe has to start from scratch and it will be expensive. Now that Macs are selling in higher volumes and more and more companies are switching, I think Adobe will make the effort to adapt.

Ben Byrne

I hate to get involved in a holy war here. I’m not going to argue any inherent superiority of Macs over PCs. That said, I think this piece missed the three biggest advantages held by the Mac:

Ability to run Windows as well as Mac OS. As a web worker, I need to be able to test that everything appears and works properly on several browsers. With a Mac, I can test on Safari, as well as boot into Windows (or run a virtualized install) to test on IE. I can even have multiple instances of Windows, allowing me to test on both IE6 and IE7 since Microsoft doesn’t think I should have both on one machine. This is huge.

Off-the-shelf security. It doesn’t matter whether it’s because the Mac OS is inherently more secure, or if because no one bothers to write malicious code to attack them. The fact is, I don’t need to install and run any third-party antivirus tools, spyware eliminators or any of that crap. It just works.

It’s Unix. I like that the Mac has a stable core underneath the hood. It makes it easy to install and run mySQL/PHP/Apache so that my local machine can serve as an ad-hoc development box before I commit changes to a Web server. Of course, if your live Web site is hosted by IIS, the web stuff is moot.

Again… these are just some Mac advantages. PCs have their advantages as well. But if you’re a web worker pondering a switch, I think these are some key strengths to consider.

Jason Kratz

Ridiculous article. I am a Mac user and a Windows user. The Mac is great. Vista is also great. They both have their uses.

#2: “It’s the applications I can use on the Mac that have become more robust than their Windows counterparts. Even iMovie is more robust than Windows video editing applications that cost hundreds of dollars.”

Really? Is that why Photoshop is faster on Windows? Is that why the next version of Photoshop won’t even be available for the Mac? Because the graphics are better on the Mac?

And what criteria are you using to judge iMovie being more robust than Windows video editing apps? I’ve used Premiere Elements for several years and its a wonderful application.

#4: I think the key here is that Apple keeps compatibility simpler for developers and hardware manufacturers.

Well yeah that does a lot for making things more stable and robust doesn’t it? When you control the hardware? Microsoft doesn’t have that luxury.

Michael Thompson

@Brendan: what do you mean Windows has more free software?!

Because of the BSD (Unix) core, you can run just about anything in the (F)OSS world.

Coupled with X11, you can do far more than a Windows user could ever dream.

doug mitchell

Ahhh these posts bring out the best in us! As a lifetime PC user who just switched to Mac, I can say that I’m impressed. Hosted apps have made the switch a non-issue since I have no legacy software concerns.

I guess I’m easy to impress…since it pleases me to see the darn thing when I walk in the office and the keyboard is fantastic. Is that bad?

Brendan

@Guillaume
Yes exactly Logitech and Mac. Mmm… there are more brands and types of mouse. Furthermore concerning the software, are you serious? What software quality thing? This depends strongly on what you’re looking for and what type of user you are. For some Apple is an improvement. Maybe I was also disappointed, because some people tout Apple so much that expectations become too high. It’s just a tool for me and I see the advantages and disadvantages of a Linux, Windows and an Apple. I’m far from a Windows fan, but I’m used to a lot of stuff on it. My mother lately bought the Asus eee PC which also on offer here now with mobile broadband internet. For every person there is a certain type of pc and OS. I think that is a more important question than getting a Mac which I get the feeling is often more of a status thing than a real informed decision.

Neal

The 1# reason not to switch to a Mac is that we won’t go around writing articles and telling other people why they are dumb for using a PC and should switch to Macs. Mac users are like Jehovah’s witnesses with their preaching.

Matthew Lang

I converted to a mac in February and it’s been an amazing experience. As a developer I have found that my productivity has increased by switching to the mac. But where I am really happy is the ability to manage my family photos and videos. The software included with OS X is simple and fast.

Greg Wolejko

I am a converted mac user for some months now.
I’ve been using Linux and or Windows all my life and the switch made a difference.

What I would add to the list is that OSX has general better user experience. Apps look way cooler and more esthetically pleasing and the system in some way inspires you to do something creative.

Guillaume

Well, it’s a strange thing to see LifeHacker ignite such an endless FlameWare.
I use Windows @work and veryday I’m very very pleased to get back home to my Macs. But well, your mileage may vary.
@Brendan : I’ve always found the offer for free or cheap software better on Mac OS X than on Windows. Of course, there may be a lot more on Windows, but not so many are free and quality frequently sucks. As for mouse, over the years, I’ve used devices from Microsoft and Logitech… exactly the same ones as I would have bought for a PC, and for the same price. I don’t see your point here. Many peripherals work out of the box on a Mac, even if it’s not certified by the vendor.

Brendan

Please get over the whole Apple thing. It’s so 1985. I’ve used a MacBook for a month as a main machine, here’s my gripes on the whole Apple pc, OS, hardware combination:

Why is there no del button? Is this some sort of userfriendly design thing?

They look so cool, just too bad all my colleagues had the same machine. Feels kind of communist.

GO and google freeware and software for the PC, a bonanza. For the Mac?

Pages was installed on the machine as wordprocessor. I found after working on a projectplan for two hours that it doesn’t have an autosave feature.

Guess how I found out? The program crashed.

I wanted a mouse, guess how many choices I had and guess the price of the thing.

What’s wrong with right and left clicking? It’s not available on the pad of the MacBook.

I do a lot of text editing, in Windows all programs are opened with the title of the document. You see them in the Taskbar. What do I have in OSX in the dock? Icons, ehh.. yes but I need to have the text because I have multiple text documents open.

Then searching and finding of documents is a pain. I actually know where I put my documents so I prefer explorer type programs to find, search and save documents and files. With OSX which is great for searching I felt cutoff from the “physical” and association aspect I have with my files.

Then the price of the whole thing. I’m glad my company paid for the thing, because I would never dish out that kind of money for a pc. I could buy a regular laptop, an asus eee pc and a high performance graphical laptop all together for the same amount.

Yes Apple does offer some great things, but I am thankful that I have returned to Windows. Not because it’s so great, but it actually does the best job for me with what it offers and that is what is most important to me.

Luke L

I switched last month after a lifetime of using Windows. I now dread using XP/Vista at work. Reasons:

The Vista UI just looks like a gradient mess with all its ugly transparencies. And XP still looks like a pastel drawing.

I plugged 4Gb of RAM into my MacBook Pro without having to worry if the OS could handle it. 64-bit Vista is getting better, but XP was a joke for driver support.

The software. Just take a look at the apps developed for each platform. Sure they all accomplish the same job but Mac ones feel as if they’ve actually being designed for human use. And with the Cocoa frameworks they can tie in to some advanced functionality with minimal code.

The one downside I would say is lack of overall keyboard support. When I’m working I’ll very rarely touch the mouse and while I can get along alright on the Mac it just doesn’t have all the keyboard shortcuts other systems have.

And I still use Linux for all my server needs purely for its overall stability and modular nature.

Mads Kristensen

I used to work for Microsoft (5 years) and today proudly own two Macs and a PC, so I have a leg in both ‘camps’. To me there are two fundamental issues here that play to Microsofts disadvantage:

First of all Microsoft never managed to persuade its hardware partners that design mattered. Perhaps Microsoft didn’t want to. After all Microsoft is most interested in the enterprise market, and here design is perhaps not so important.

The second part is the compatibility. Try and design an OS that has near world domination and has to work one way or the other with everything millions of external hardware and software producers could think of throwing at it. No wonder that Windows sometimes crashes and need constant updating.

Speaking of updating this is the number one reason for me to have Macs today: No constant security updates…

Juanito

Robert “one time in three years”. Come on, mand. Are you kidding us ? I’ve 21 years of computer experience. I know microsoft and actually i’ve macbook pro. No color. it’s perfect. i use vmware fusion for windows xp. In xp i ve problems with printer in vmware desktop. In fusion runs. Incredible. And the sleep mode ? open close, open close and no problems.

Expensive ? When i was looking for a new laptopt, windows with the same features had a bigger price.

Mike Gale

I dare say you can “prove” anything if you pick your factors right and you decide the answers.

People have different needs. For me it’s the programs and tools on the platform. For others it’ ll be different.

Take a thousand people (who bother to think) get a thousand different ways to decide.

John Ferin

Comparing the Mac platform to Windows OS is not a fair comparison. I’m no fan of Windows, but give credit where it’s due. Windows has to deal with a ridiculous number of hardware combinations, whereas Mac has what has been approved for the OS. Of course OSX compatible with all the OSX-approved hardware, because it only has to be compatible with a limited amount of hardware.

And beyond that, linux has the best driver compatibility out there. The only reason you’ll find something that doesn’t work is if the vendor doesn’t open their drivers. Of the three Linux is the most stable. Case and point, a stick of my RAM died, Windows would explode within a few minutes of being up, whereas Linux ran without a hiccup.

OSX is a really nice GUI over a POSIX OS. Being a Windows/Arch Linux user, sometimes I get that urge to switch, but what stops me is the lack of customization inherit in the OSX platform. The fact that I can’t remap Capslock to escape and that I have to get a third-party utility to accelerate the mouse-curve to faster than “handicapped-child” are deal-breakers.

Chris

“Plug and Play? Great, if you can find a Mac peripheral. And you still have to install drivers.” – Not Quite

Bzzt. You’re still stuck in 1995. How many peripherals out there don’t work with Macs these days? Not many. And many work right out of the box, no driver installation necessary.

Here’s a big reason you missed: no spyware, no viruses. I browse and download with complete peace of mind. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent cleaning spyware off friends’ and relatives’ Windows PCs. Fortunately for me, many of them have switched to Mac.

I use Windows 40+ hours a week at the office. Have done for 15+ years. I know Windows well. And at the end of the day, I can’t wait to come home to my Mac.

Claude

# Typography is sharp and clean. Easy on the eyes, you can work longer without eye strain.
# Built-in UNIX system.
# Multi-monitor support that just works.
# Startup and shutdown in mere seconds.

Prostr8

Ease of software installation. “Drag the little icon to the applications folder.” Done. I know, that’s not always the case, but even apps with installers are far simpler to install than any Windows App.

Brian Carnell

“True plug-and-play. Mac users, when was the last time you tried to plug any peripheral in and ran into problems? Even after years of Microsoft’s plug-and-play initiatives, I still run into nasty driver issues and incompatibilities. I think the key here is that Apple keeps compatibility simpler for developers and hardware manufacturers.”

As long as its from Apple. Then again, I’ve never had a problem with a Microsoft product working in Windows either.

That said, we have both Macs and PCs in my shop, and the best experience I’ve had yet from a computer was running Ubuntu. All the flexibility, half the price.

thomas

I use Macs some of the time but my choice is PC’s I love my lenovo laptop. same hi rez screen, fast, crashes once in a while when I tax it with PS CS3, dreamweaver, word, outlook and internet explorer is all open at once. So really what’s the big deal? Many windows computers are ugly but not all. Soem are quite beautiful, right up ther w/ mac books etc. Main question… if macs are so great why only 10 or so percent of the market? nobody is twistinga anybody’s are here? It’s liek saying “my wife is better than your wife” It’s just dumb and irrelevant. or you could say perhaps “lets trade for a few days and I’ll let you know” ;-)

Ken

#4 Unless Apple comes out with a new operating system. Then you need to upgrade your IPOD since its no longer compatible.

Not quite

1. HFS+ is not that great. Don’t believe me? Ask Linus Torvalds
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/?p=1278

4. Plug and Play? Great, if you can find a Mac peripheral. And you still have to install drivers.

5. Reliability? I find XP very good with reliability, and Vista has been outstanding.

Paul

Visited a mac store the other day and saw the air,cool pc mac case,ipods,and more.
Just like to say Steve Job got it right the first time.
microsoft user since inception of computers
and after many H.D. crashes,trojans,anti spyware,and the blue screen of death, i may just buy a mac.
Maybe just maybe… still undecided,xp has many issues,but it kinda grew on me and like a lost child I really can’t abandon it,it needs nurturing and tlc that I’m more than willing to provide.
Hate & love relationship with my xp goes on.

robert

Totally agree with the first four, but not with the last one.

My XP hasn’t crashed a single time in three years of daily use, weekends included, and when I’ve had a problem I’ve always found a solution quite quickly thanks to internet (not microsoft) and the larger user base.

I’d like to have a Mac also… (and a good digital camera, a good espresso machine, an old beetle, ….)

Chad

“Support is head-and-shoulders above what you get with a PC”
Maybe for those first three months, but three months? Come on

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