Mac v. PC

Via XKCD:

 

Mac/PC

 

Indeed.  But try explaining that to a teenager who has decided that the Mac is just way cool despite the the relative price tag of the two devices.*

—-

*And before a platform war breaks out:  yes, I know it is more complicated than that (although, for a 14 year-old who does almost everything online, it is pretty darn close).

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Science & Technology
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    Yes, but do Macs have properly working Delete keys yet?

  2. Jay Tea says:

    Gosh, did someone JUST discover the brilliance that is XKCD?

    This one is the absolute best ever:

    http://xkcd.com/591/

    J.

  3. @Jay Tea: Oh, no. I have been aware for quite some time. 😉

  4. starkruzr says:

    @Franklin: Yes. :p And they’ve had right-click since before System 8.

    For a lot of casual users, Macs make the most sense since they’re so hard to screw up unless you know PRECISELY how to do it.

    Typed on my Macbook Pro, currently running Windows. Because I’m weird.

  5. anjin-san says:

    I don’t think I have ever had a PC that did not start to become less stable with use pretty much right out of the box. After three years they are landfill. My Macbook pro is solid as a rock 3.5 years in. Also, since it is not a plastic piece of crap, it holds up much better if if gets banged around a little.

    The browser analogy is a bit like saying since we all drive our cars on roads, it really does not matter what car you drive. PCs are Chevys, Macs are Porsches, without the maintainence hit.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    But try explaining that to a teenager who has decided that the Mac is just way cool despite the the relative price tag of the two devices.

    Has “despite” now become an auto-antonym?

  7. Dave says:

    I run a program that tracks my time spent in each application (to track freelance hours) and I can tell you straight out, at least for my daily habits, the whole “everything you do on your computer you do through the browser now” thing is wrong.

    The browser gobbles up less than 20%. How you work in that 80%+ is important.

  8. JKB says:

    And why would that argument work with computers when it hasn’t worked with shoes, jeans, sunglasses, cellphones, pretty much anything that they insist must be bought someplace besides Walmart. Apple went a different way and captured the status market which is where the major profits are since people with money will pay extra to signal they aren’t one of the masses.

  9. Ernieyeball says:

    @Franklin: I thought U were deleted (sued out of existence) by Jobs and Woz back in the ’80’s… http://www.oldcomputers.net/ace1000.html

  10. mantis says:

    The browser analogy is a bit like saying since we all drive our cars on roads, it really does not matter what car you drive. PCs are Chevys, Macs are Porsches, without the maintainence hit.

    Not really, no. It’s more like putting the same three stereos into every car on the road while people’s habits change to where most of them don’t even bother to drive, but rather just sit in the car listening to the stereo. What difference does it make what car you have if all you do is use the same three stereos everyone else has? When most computer users only use their browser, Microsoft Office, and Solitaire on a modern computer, they have no need for the computing power under the hood. Most people would be better off with netbook or tablet.

    The exponential expansion of web-based applications and services have made the hardware and operating system differences largely irrelevant to a large base of users. Hardware and OS matter greatly to programmers, designers, engineers, and others who use specialty software, but for your average office worker, mother, or college student, they do not, beyond aesthetic and other personal preferences.

    Since you brought up the car metaphor though, let me link you to a great essay by Neal Stephenson on the evolution of OS development, using an auto metaphor (ca. 1999):

    Imagine a crossroads where four competing auto dealerships are situated. One of them (Microsoft) is much, much bigger than the others. It started out years ago selling three-speed bicycles (MS-DOS); these were not perfect, but they worked, and when they broke you could easily fix them.

    There was a competing bicycle dealership next door (Apple) that one day began selling motorized vehicles–expensive but attractively styled cars with their innards hermetically sealed, so that how they worked was something of a mystery.

    The big dealership responded by rushing a moped upgrade kit (the original Windows) onto the market. This was a Rube Goldberg contraption that, when bolted onto a three-speed bicycle, enabled it to keep up, just barely, with Apple-cars. The users had to wear goggles and were always picking bugs out of their teeth while Apple owners sped along in hermetically sealed comfort, sneering out the windows. But the Micro-mopeds were cheap, and easy to fix compared with the Apple-cars, and their market share waxed.

    Eventually the big dealership came out with a full-fledged car: a colossal station wagon (Windows 95). It had all the aesthetic appeal of a Soviet worker housing block, it leaked oil and blew gaskets, and it was an enormous success. A little later, they also came out with a hulking off-road vehicle intended for industrial users (Windows NT) which was no more beautiful than the station wagon, and only a little more reliable.

    Since then there has been a lot of noise and shouting, but little has changed. The smaller dealership continues to sell sleek Euro-styled sedans and to spend a lot of money on advertising campaigns. They have had GOING OUT OF BUSINESS! signs taped up in their windows for so long that they have gotten all yellow and curly. The big one keeps making bigger and bigger station wagons and ORVs.

    On the other side of the road are two competitors that have come along more recently.

    One of them (Be, Inc.) is selling fully operational Batmobiles (the BeOS). They are more beautiful and stylish even than the Euro-sedans, better designed, more technologically advanced, and at least as reliable as anything else on the market–and yet cheaper than the others.

    With one exception, that is: Linux, which is right next door, and which is not a business at all. It’s a bunch of RVs, yurts, tepees, and geodesic domes set up in a field and organized by consensus. The people who live there are making tanks. These are not old-fashioned, cast-iron Soviet tanks; these are more like the M1 tanks of the U.S. Army, made of space-age materials and jammed with sophisticated technology from one end to the other. But they are better than Army tanks. They’ve been modified in such a way that they never, ever break down, are light and maneuverable enough to use on ordinary streets, and use no more fuel than a subcompact car. These tanks are being cranked out, on the spot, at a terrific pace, and a vast number of them are lined up along the edge of the road with keys in the ignition. Anyone who wants can simply climb into one and drive it away for free.

    There’s lot’s more at the link if you haven’t read In the Beginning was the Command Line before.

    I for one own a PC, a Macbook Pro, two Linux machines running different distros, and an old, but still working, dual-boot Mac clone running BeOS. But I’m a huge geek.

  11. lunaticllama says:

    All I’m going to say is that why anyone would want to use a non-unix derived OS is beyond me. The reason Macs are more stable over the long run is because they are using a flavor of BSD Unix under the hood while Windows is some weird OS that’s derived from DOS. I have no idea how that’s even a serious choice, unless you have special software needs (such as gaming.) Why ride a tricycle when you can have a motorcycle?

  12. mantis says:

    I have no idea how that’s even a serious choice, unless you have special software needs (such as gaming.)

    Well, you identified one reason. Software compatibility. A second reason is cost, at least when it comes to Mac vs. PC (Linux is a different story). The third, and possibly most important reason, is that most people are just used to Windows.

  13. lou91940 says:

    I’ve been around computers since about 1958. I started out with computers in the Navy. In business I worked with and on an IBM 9500 mainframe with dumb terminals at the front end. In the early years of home computers I owned the Commodore 64 and 128D.

    I can afford to buy whatever kind of computers I want, and 16 times over the last 17 years I’ve bought Apple/Macs for myself and family members including children and grandchildren. They have ranged from Performa’s to laptops, and jelly beans, lampshades and chins….and while my family prefer laptops I prefer desktops… my current Mac is a 3.6 intel core i5.

    I prefer Macs and OSX, If I wanted a PC/Windoze….I would have bought one by now.

  14. Ernieyeball says:

    I used to help a disabled friend transfer the contents of his old Windows machine to a new Windows computer every few years. He had to buy discs. Run programs. It took days. It was a mess. When everything was complete, he had to rebuild his desktop, reenter contact information and manually type in data that the disks he paid for screwed up.
    When I bought my MacBook (Intel Core 2 Duo) four years ago one of the first questions it asked me was “Do you have another Mac you want to transfer information from?”
    I connected one cable from my then 3 year old eMac (PowerPC G4) to the MacBook.
    Click. Click.
    In a matter of maybe 2 hours it was done.
    The Desktop on the new MacBook was identical to the eMac. Didn’t lose anything.
    After screwing around with my friends Windows clunkers I couldn’t believe it myself.
    Thanks Apple!

  15. DC Loser says:

    Even some applications behave differently on a Mac vice PC. My prime example is iTunes. I’m no fan of it, but it just runs much more smoothly on a Mac than the PC version I’ve tried to use on a Windows machine. I also like the other iLife software that’s integrated into OS X (i.e., iPhoto). I do think Win7 is a vast improvement and works pretty well, but OS X still noses it out over stability and speed (booting up).

  16. sam says:

    @mantis:

    But I’m a huge geek.

    You said it, dude, not us.

    Years ago when I was taking a series of courses to become Unix ceritified, I was taking an online course (in shell scripting, I think). We were all connected via some chat software. I remember one guy asked the instructor if we would become geeks via these certification courses. “God I hope so,” I said.

    Funny Windows story. A friend of a friend was the IT guy in this small company, everybody running Windows boxes (Win95, I think). My friend, his IT friend and the IT guy’s boss went to lunch one day. The guy’s boss was raving about what a great job the guy did. At one point she excused herself to go the the ladies room. My friend said to him, “Jesus, she thinks you’re the greatest ever.” “Yeah,” the other guy said, “anytime anyone has a problem, I just go down and reboot the box.”….

    I’ve run Linux boxes exclusively since 1999. But then I did became a geek after a fashion.

    As to why Macs failed to capture the desktop in business, Guy Kawasaki, the most famous Mac Evangelist nailed it: It was simply that the PC was good enough (and a lot cheaper).

  17. mike says:

    Macs all the way. Why? Simple – I am an idiot when it comes to computers and they are idiot proof.

  18. anjin-san says:

    I do think Win7 is a vast improvement and works pretty well

    It is, but the way Microsoft has marketed it tells us all we need to know. Essentially they are saying “we are the biggest software company in the world, and hey, we made an OS that actually works”.

    I would rather not give my money to these folks.

  19. Trumwill says:

    It was simply that the PC was good enough (and a lot cheaper).

    This.

    Well, you identified one reason. Software compatibility. A second reason is cost, at least when it comes to Mac vs. PC (Linux is a different story). The third, and possibly most important reason, is that most people are just used to Windows.

    And this. I would add that while Linux is free, it is not hassle-free, and time is money. The amount of time it would take me to learn Linux as much as I need to, I can simply pay a little extra money and buy Windows. Others, of course, pay extra money for a Mac. And if that’s what they need, power to them. It is not, alas, what I need. And I’d have to learn how to re-do everything, bringing me back to the time is money kick.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    First: Credentials. I have written programs on punch cards. I have designed circuit boards that plugged into “IBM” PC’s (back when they were actually made by IBM). I could go on, but you get the idea – I’ve been into this stuff for a while.

    I have always resented any time spent dealing with the computer, OS or applications rather than achieving the output I was looking for. Mac vs. PC? Well, what led me to buy my first Mac was two lists that BYTE magazine (hey, I said I was old) used to keep: Top ten best selling applications for Mac, Top ten best selling applications for Windows. Month after month the top ten for PC’s were things like Memory extension programs (if you have to ask, you don’t want to know), disk partitioners, disk defragmenters, anti-virus, file recovery, etc. Usually, eight or more of the top ten were things to make the computer run better. On the Mac side, the ratio was exactly reversed, perhaps even more than reversed as there was often nothing but actual productive applications on the list.

    Things have changed over the years, and Windows boxes have gotten better, but the reality is that my work PC takes 15-20 minutes to completely boot, and I’m luck to get an hour and a half on battery life. If I put it in sleep mode (rather than shut it down) about a third of the time it restarts in some screwy mode. My wife, on the other hand, rarely (never?) reboots her MacBook. She just closes the lid and sticks it on the charger every other day or so. I think of my battery as a way to bridge the distance between two outlets. She thinks of being unwired as the norm, and her charger as the exception.

    Oh, and Linux? What a god awful bag of hurt for anyone who just wants to get something done. (Yes, I know that your router, your phone, your answering machine, your alarm clock, etc all run Linux simply and easily. I’m talking about for a general purpose computer where you need to install and update useful applications.)

  21. Socrates says:

    “All I’m going to say is that why anyone would want to use a non-unix derived OS is beyond me.”

    All I’m going to say is why would anyone care if their OS is derived from UNIX or from DOS or from shinola – as long as it works.

    I’m a “serious” professional and my non-unix derived OS works just fine.

    I’m a reasonably successful graphic designer and 3D artist. I have a rendering farm of very cheap, very fast computers. They are all running at about a 50% overclock. If a motherboard fails, or a power supply fails, it’s cheap to buy replacement parts. I can upgrade to a faster CPU without buying an entire new system.

    If you’ve chosen hardware that runs Apple’s unix-derived OS, you don’t have these options. Want more speed? Buy a whole new system. Want to upgrade to the new video card that just hit the market? Likely not an option.

    All of the best, industry standard design and 3D software runs on my non-unix derived OS. Some of the most important ones, like Revit, Inventor, and 3DS Max, aren’t even available for your unix-derived OS.

    If you’re a web/database programmer, Visual Studio and MS SQL Server is an excellent development environment. But, unfortunately, not available for your unix-derived OS.

    There are reasons to choose a unix-derived OS and reasons to choose a non-unix-derived OS. There are happy and unhappy unix-derived OS users, and there are happy and unhappy non-unix-derived OS users.

    There’s no reason why it should be “beyond” understanding that many serious, informed people make different choices than you would make.

  22. george says:

    For work, I use a unix OS; they’re several orders of magnitude more stable than either Mac or Windows, quicker, and don’t hide the internals the way Mac does (not at all useful if you’re doing development work). Tried both Windows and Mac, and neither have come close. Even Linux is much better for engineering use than either – unless of course you’re developing apps for Windows or Mac, in which case you use the system you’re developing for. We have a Mac for the graphics person, who swears that they are much better for that function. And the bean counter uses Windows, because it does the best job with the apps she runs.

    At home, we use a Windows machine for games, and have a Mac for the laptop. I’ve had zero problems with either (and have gone this route for several decades – still have functional PC’s and Macs from the 90’s … good for old games if nothing else; most computers can last a decade or more if you take care of them); I think a lot of the problems folks have with Windows comes from not knowing the system – you can screw up a Windows machine much easier than you can screw up a Mac, which is why for non-techs Mac is generally the way to go. For technical people its a wash – though Windows is better if you’re planning to build up your own machine (again, have to know what you’re doing).

    Most of this “which is the best” argument is theology; OS’s are tools, and different tools work better for different tasks.

  23. george says:

    PCs are Chevys, Macs are Porsches, without the maintainence hit.

    Actually PC’s are half-tons (or all-terrain vehicles if you put Unix on it as a developer), Mac’s are Porsches. You can do almost anything on a PC, but for what it does well (graphics, user friendly for non-technical users) Macs are better. For what they don’t do well (try doing firmware development on a Mac), they’re worse.

  24. Socrates says:

    “You can do almost anything on a PC, but for what it does well (graphics, user friendly for non-technical users) Macs are better.”

    If by graphics you mean graphic design / CAD / 3D / architecture / animation etc. then this simply isn’t true at all. All of the important design / CAD / animation tools like Photoshop, Flash, After Effects, AutoCAD, InDesign, Illustrator, Quark, etc. all run on both OSs and have almost exactly the same interfaces, features, and capabilities.

    But some of the most important graphics applications, like Revit, Inventor, and 3ds Max are not available for Macintosh – and these three programs, in particular, dominate their respective catagories (in terms of what professionals use for BIM architecture, product design, and 3D.)

    Also, in the graphics profession, workstation speed and access to the latest and fastest graphics card is crucial. And Windows boxes have an significant advantage here as well (even more so if you consider the costs involved.)

    There was a time when the graphics software was better for Macintosh, but that is in the long gone past. Now it’s just a myth that Macintosh users still love to nurture.

    If by “graphics” you mean something else, like, the graphics on the Macintosh OS are prettier, or cooler, or whatever, well, I guess my response would be, even if that were true, so what? I’m a graphic artist but I don’t need zooming animations and transparent windows in my OS. In fact, that stuff is really annoying, and slows down the system, so it’s the first thing I turn off. I just want to get some work done.

  25. george says:

    There was a time when the graphics software was better for Macintosh, but that is in the long gone past. Now it’s just a myth that Macintosh users still love to nurture.

    If by “graphics” you mean something else, like, the graphics on the Macintosh OS are prettier, or cooler, or whatever, well, I guess my response would be, even if that were true, so what? I’m a graphic artist but I don’t need zooming animations and transparent windows in my OS. In fact, that stuff is really annoying, and slows down the system, so it’s the first thing I turn off. I just want to get some work done.

    No, I’m an engineer, so my views on graphics are just based on what the graphics people I’ve worked with tell me – most still say a Mac is the way to go for web design, graphic design etc. CAD, GSI etc programs I’ve never considered graphics programs – they’re engineering programs, and most folks using them prefer either Unix based systems if they can get them, or PC’s. For really heavy duty CAD (such as VLSI design, neither the PC nor the Mac is particularly good).

  26. Franklin says:

    @Ernieyeball: Ha ha, good catch! I do vaguely remember that brand.

  27. Ernieyeball says:

    @Franklin: My first computer was another Apple clone made by
    V-Tech. The Laser 128. http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=13

    The CPU/Keyboard, one extra 5.25″ disc drive, a 13″ color monitor, 9 pin printer and a printer stand cost about $2000 in 1986(?). Worth every penny! (no mouse)

  28. MarkedMan says:

    Wow. You must be really old because the first computer I ever bought for personal use was a Laser. The first computer game I ever bought (not counting Pong) was Zork for that Laser. I can top that though: the first computer game I ever played was ADVENT(ure) on a mainframe with a 1st gen teletypewriter terminal spoiling out rolls of yellow paper. Yes, youngsters, in the early days of computing there were no LCD’s or CRT’s, instead you typed on a keyboard (or fed on punch cards) and the computer clattered it’s response on paper.

  29. Ernieyeball says:

    @MarkedMan: OK. Since we are making this into some sort of punch card pissing contest:
    When I was in my second year of Junior College (fall ’67) I took Data Processing and Computer Programming classes that were taught using an obsolete IBM 1401 computer that had been donated to the school. The tape drives were the size of refrigerators.
    When I transferred to a 4 year state school (to keep from being drafted), Sleepytown U did not have equivalent courses yet and I lost some credits. After 2 years of college I was a freshman again!

  30. Socrates says:

    “No, I’m an engineer, so my views on graphics are just based on what the graphics people I’ve worked with tell me – most still say a Mac is the way to go for web design, graphic design etc.”

    You’re talking about graphic designers – just one part of the graphics community.

    And they say Macintosh is “the way to go” for graphics because they prefer the Macintosh OS, not because the Macintosh graphic design software is better. It isn’t – in fact, it’s virtually identical: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. have almost exactly the same interface, features, and capabilities on both platforms.

    So it’s not Macintosh for graphics is “the way to go”, it’s “I prefer the Macintosh OS”.

    But – creating architecture, doing 2D and 3D animation, and 3D illustration, and product design – that’s not “graphics”?

    I don’t think you’ll find many architects, product designers, game designers, illustrators, or animators who would refer to their profession as “engineering”.