Contrary to Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) marketing honcho DavidWebster’s snarky recent assertion, Macs aren’t “washed with unicorn tears”– at least as far as I know. However, lots of extremely rational reasonsexist to choose a Mac running OS X over a Windows PC. Macs can leave youhappier and more productive than you would have been if you’d bought aWindows system, and feeling you got good value for your money even though aMac is never the cheapest option.
I’m no hidebound advocate for the supremacy of Macs in every instance — thelast two computers I’ve bought have both been Windows laptops, and Icheerfully and sincerely wrote an article called Eight Reasons Your NextComputer Should be a PC to accompany this one. But when friends toss theeternal “PC or Mac?” question my way, these are the points I bring up infavor of the Mac. They’re listed rough order of their positive impact onyour everyday computing experience as I see it.
1. Macs are consistently consistent.
Windows Vista reminds me of the legendarily inexplicable Winchester MysteryHouse — a place with endless wings and far-flung rooms connected by twistystaircases and secret passages. And every time Microsoft does a redecoratingjob (also known as an upgrade), it moves some stuff around for no apparentreason. OS X’s logical, minimalist interface simply involves fewer thingsthat must be learned and relearned, and Apple, (Nasdaq: AAPL) messes less with it in newreleases such as Leopard. Bottom line: It’s easier to get stuff done.
2. The joy of predictability.
Anyone who’s ever suffered the indignity known as a Kernel Panic knows thatMacs aren’t bulletproof. But logging thousands of hours both on Windows PCsfrom multiple manufacturers and on Macs has convinced me that the averageMac is meaningfully less flaky than the average PC. In my experience Macscrash less, suffer from fewer inexplicable slowdowns, deal better with tightmemory situations, and boot up and shut down quicker and more reliably. Idon’t pretend to have all the answers why, but it presumably doesn’t hurtthat Apple is the only company in the business that writes its own operatingsystem and designs its own hardware.
3. Who needs security headaches?
If the Internet’s bad guys ever decide to pummel OS X with the sameintensity that they’ve pounded on Windows for years, the free ride for Macfans may end. But for now, this fact is indisputable: A Mac owner who usesno security software at all runs less risk of being infected by spyware or avirus than a Windows user who obsessively protects his or her PC.
In thelast week alone, two Windows-using pals have been crippled by attacks; I’venever heard even one real-world horror story from a friend about a Macsecurity meltdown.
4. Crud, or the lack thereof.
Windows is an infinitely better operating system when it isn’t smothered bythe demoware, adware, and other unwantedware that so many PC manufacturerssplay onto the Start menu, the desktop, and the System Tray. Macs areutterly free of such junk, as well as native-to-Windows irritations likeword balloons burbling out of the System Tray, Windows Activation, and UserAccount Control. And while PC manufacturers sometimes fix things aboutWindows that weren’t broken–take the inscrutable Wi-Fi utility that Lenovo bolts onto Windows Vista–Apple wrote OS X in the first place. You can’ttamper with your own OS.
5. Details count.
You can buy a perfectly pleasing Windows PC that matches a Mac’s CPU speed,RAM, hard-drive space, and other specs for a lot less money. But it won’thave an AC adapter with hooks that let you wrap up the cord for travel, or aMagSafe connector that won’t get damaged if it’s accidentally yanked out ofthe computer. It won’t have an oversized touchpad with multitouch gesturesthat help you navigate through documents and around the Web. And it willlikely be heavier and bulkier than a comparable Mac. Next time I encounter aMicrosoft executive tsk-tsking about the onerous “Apple Tax” imposed by aMac’s needless glitz, I’m tempted to ask him what car he drives–and whetherhe chose the model with the cloth seats and hand-cranked windows, or onewith a few creature comforts.
6. Apple is one of the world’s best software companies.
Forget about all those Macs, iPods, and iPhones for a moment: Apple’sapplications are useful, enjoyable, and innovative, from the iLifecreativity suite (whose presence on every new Mac is in itself an argumentfor the platform) to industrial-strength tools such as Final Cut Pro. Mostrun only on OS X. (The Windows versions of iTunes, Safari, and QuickTime areokay, but Apple does its best work on its own operating system andhardware.)
7. The Apple Store’s Genius Bar rocks.
Buy a Mac, and you qualify for free in-person technical support from apatient rep with a deep knowledge of your system. I’ve had Geniuses doeverything from reinstall my OS to replace broken keys on the spot.Microsoft has announced plans to train “Windows Gurus” to provide similarcustomer care at other retailers; it’s worth trying, but there’s no way it’sgoing to replicate the Genius Bar experience. There are simply too many PCsfrom too many companies running too many variations on Windows for any oneperson to be an expert on everything.
8. Hey, Macs are PCs.
By which I mean that Leopard’s Boot Camp feature–and better yet theParallels Desktop and VMware (Nasdaq: VMW) Fusion virtualization utilities–let you runWindows, and Windows applications, on a Mac. (I do it myself on my Macs touse such Windows-only apps as TurboTax Business, as well as Office 2007,which I prefer to Microsoft’s Mac version of Office.) I’m listing this lastbecause I ultimately see running Windows on a Mac as a last resort: It’susually not necessary, and it degrades some of the other virtues of the Mac,such as protection from Windows security risks. But when it’s valuable, it’sreally valuable.
If you’ve got more reasons to buy a Mac, sound off in the comments below.Also welcome: arguments against the Mac…some of which I detail in my listof reasons to stick with Windows.