I still remember this argument back when I was caught up in it. It was me and my best friend. I was the proud long-term owner of a Texas Instrument 99-4A with practically every add-on and upgrade you could attach to it. He was the proud new owner of a Commodore 64. I loved that TI. I had learned to program in Basic on it and darn it, it would always be the best computer you could own! But then he got a modem and the world changed. The boards, ah yes the boards. I won’t bore you with the details, but when it came down to it, his Commodore was better at certain things than my TI (and faster!). My TI was still easier for me to use to accomplish other things.
It’s a matter of apples (no pun intended) to oranges people, and the sooner all the eternally devoted, the sarcastic, and the bitterly nasty people out there understand this, the better. Out of the box, Macs are much better than their counterparts in some environments, especially with many creative fields such as advertising or design. Period. Out of the box, Windows based machines (as well as Unix, Linux, Solaris, etc) are much better than Macs at things that businesses (specifically medium to large businesses) need to accomplish. Period.
The argument that Macs are just over-priced well marketed toys is just stupid. You tend to get what you pay for in this world. The average Mac is more expensive than your average PC. The Mac also tends to be a bit beefier on average, and comes with a lot of software that is very useful to much of Apple’s target market. They’ve also done a lot in the past 5 years to make them more applicable for average home use when business isn’t the primary function. Flip that and give a die-hard gamer the same money you just spent on that Mac and they’ll build one kickin’ PC. And you guessed it, it will be tricked out and ready to do what THEY want it to do best. Flip again and give that money to a developer (of any affiliation) or business power-user and they’ll get a pretty sweet machine as well with the software they need to do THEIR job.
You can purchase extra hardware and software to make either “better” at what the other does, and in some cases it makes sense. In most cases it doesn’t. Why does a company need to be a “Mac House” or a “Windows House”? Again, it’s apples and oranges, so why can we have the whole fruit basket?
Most of the time the issue comes down to prejudice and/or ignorance getting in the way. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard of someone trying (or even personally tried) to get a Mac in use at a company that runs a Windows shop. The IT guys act like whiney crybabies or just stuck-up brats. “I’m not helping you get that thing to work”, “I don’t support that stuff”, or my favorite, a nice simple, “Have fun, you’re on your own”. We had an Admin years ago who went out of his way making sure the Macs never played well on the network. He in fact spent multiple times the hours working against the idea than it would have taken to simply do his job, support the computer environment.
I do understand to some degree though, the animosity. Apple and the Mac base has made it a pass-time trying to figure out how to unfairly compare what Macs do well to what PC’s generally aren’t geared to do. Then in turn, they like to point out every time Microsoft trips over issues that Apple has never been in a position to falter at. The sidelines are always an easy place to criticize from. I doubt any of that type of Mac user has an inkling of an idea what goes in to creating and maintaining a corporate network with file sharing, databases, e-mail & communication systems, and all the layers of security needed to make sure every user can get their job done while securing everything so that malicious activity doesn’t occur.
It really irked me when I saw the first “Hi I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” about the Vista release. They had the gall to make fun of Windows for releasing an operating system that not all software and peripherals would be compatible with. Talk about hypocritical! This was the same company who just a few years back released OSX. A great step for them, I admit, but they left EVERY Mac user in the lurch on that one. All the software needed to be upgraded. I know, I was running one at work at the time.
Neither system is ever going to be the silver bullet answer to all computer needs. I’d just like to use them both in peace for what they do well. The arguing always feels like politicians going at it. Different versions of the same imperfect, problem ridden blah blah blah, too wrapped up in their dislike of the other side to ever open their eyes and look at their own faults.
Things for the record:
1) I’ve used both Macs and PCs over the years. At work, I currently use an HP laptop running WinXP and I hate it. It’s slow as snot. I had trouble logging in to domain this morning. I’d love to have one of the Macs that the folks across the hallway use because that would mean I get to play with graphics and video all day. An over-simplification, yes I know. But you know what? I’d have a nice fast machine that isn’t capable of doing half of the tasks that *I* do each day. So I use the tool need.
2) I bought an iPod. It was a cheap piece of junk. The first one died after 10 months. The brand new replacement they sent me died a year later. I think I’ll go back to a Rio. Not everything Apple makes walks on water…
3) I lived through running an IT department during the Win XP release. I don’t plan to even consider Vista for at least another year. MS has never gotten this “new OS” thing right, and I doubt they will this time.
That’s all! Whew, I like this ranting thing… 🙂