Apple vs. Microsoft


I’ve been working on Apple computers for several years. My first significant experience of working on a Mac occurred during my introduction to graphic design at a junior college. At the time it wasn’t a requirement of the class; I used it to work on some side projects. Later, after my first semester at a university I began using a Mac several times a week.

My technical knowledge of Macs (specifically, with OS X) increased dramatically when I began using one in a previous job. A couple of years later I was given one as a graduation present and recently I was given a newer system to use at work. Over the past two years my interest in operating a Windows computer at home has lessened to the point that now I do not own one. I may end up with one at home in the future, but I’m not planning to now.

I have a few friends and coworkers who are familiar with Macs, but most have had limited contact with modern Macs or are more familiar with what were traditional Intel-based operating systems (such as Windows and Linux – now this includes OS X). Some seem puzzled as to why I like my Mac as much as I do.

The primary reason has to do with my having held four different jobs that focused on personal computer maintenance and repair. I’ve seen the inside of many PCs and solved numerous software problems such as BSODs, etc. In addition to these jobs I’ve had a few more that relied heavily on computers (in my last job I had to ensure that computers could “talk” to each other and in my current job I’m in front of a computer most of the day). There’s a point to this history and it has nothing to do with bragging. Many of the people I work with have similar experience.

After having spent years of solving other people’s computer problems, which often required finding a solution (quickly) for a problem I had never encountered before, I’ve grown tired of dealing with such issues. Even IT people swear at their computers and fantasize about destroying the computers they work with (probably far more than the “average user” ever contemplates).

The last thing I want to deal with when I get home is an operating system that refuses to install a required update, a BSOD, or a hardware failure that most other operating systems would have reported long ago…

So I own a Mac.

Some people aren’t qualified to argue a point. For example, movie critics. Another annoying group includes those who don’t vote but complain constantly about their representatives or the administration. The next group are OS Fanboys (which I’ll refer to as “OSFs” from this point on – ladies, I suggest you withhold taking offense at any implied sexism here – this isn’t a group you’d probably want to be included in anyway).

There are two OSFs that stand out. One includes those who think Macs are the best personal computer ever created…

And yes, I just referred to a Mac as a PC. That’s what it is and what it always has been. Whether or not a computer is a “personal computer” is not determined by who wrote the operating system or built the processor but instead by how those parts operate. Saying that a Mac isn’t a PC is similar to pointing to an entire computer and calling it the CPU. It’s not accurate (the CPU is the Central Processing Unit, which is a tiny computer chip inside the PC – the case or other components are not part of the CPU).

Not that I think most readers care about these distinctions… but try being the “computer guy” and having someone walk into the store and tell you their “CPU is broke”. It doesn’t narrow down the problem one bit because the “computer guy” knows that you’re referring to the ENTIRE COMPUTER.

So, I was writing something about OSFs… Yeah, Apple people. I love Apple computers. They work great. And there are specific reasons, which I’ll get into in a moment. Windows OSFs often dislike Apple OSFs, and sometimes with good reason. Many Mac owners are proud of the fact that they bought an expensive, nice computer, often similar to how a person who just purchased a luxury car probably has no clue how to change the windshield-wiper blades, but it sure looks pretty…

Windows OSFs are, in general, more technical. They have to be. Using Windows productively for almost any useful task demands problem solving skills or, at the bare minimum, the ability to call someone who has said skills.

Windows OSFs remind me of people who have lived up north their entire lives. They’re shut-in by bad weather much of the year so they oooooh and ahhhhhh when they visit down south and eventually move to Florida when they retire. Basically, they’re grumpy and not really thrilled with where they live but they’ll fight to the end to prove otherwise.

Not that I have anything against northerners. I’m often mistaken for one, I have many family who are, and I did live up north for many years (though for purposes of disclosure I must admit that I haven’t wanted to move back since and I have lived down south for more than twice as many years as I lived up north).

Off topic, eh? Well, I’m having fun with generalizations. They’re never completely accurate and certainly don’t describe all users of either OS. But these OSFs are the kind of people you hear about in the news or who make comment systems worthless.

There’s a point to this, but I haven’t blogged for such a long time that I feel like dragging it out…

I use both operating systems on a daily basis. I like both operating systems (I just like one of them more than the other when I’m at home). Neither is better than the other. Each is better at certain tasks and better suited for certain people.

But here’s the root of the argument that the media seems to ignore (or more likely, doesn’t even know about). It came up in a discussion at a recent lunch and it’s the heart of the matter in terms of why OS X seems to function more efficiently and securely than Windows:

Apple controls the hardware.

That’s number one. By controlling the hardware and not allowing manufacturers to make clones (as Apple once did, which didn’t work out very well) the OS can be written without worrying about whether or not the core components will work properly. Peripherals have been opened up to many manufacturers, but the actual personal computers have not.

I hope it stays that way.

This is why you pay the “Apple Tax” for an Apple computer.

Some think Apple should make OS X available for any Intel-based computer. I say, screw off. There’s no reason to mess it up. They should be happy that Apple switched to Intel chips and made it possible for users to run Windows XP on the same computer with official software.

Windows systems are traditionally cheaper to build because one can purchase numerous components that will be compatible with it. Guess what, this is also where a lot of problems are introduced.

Apple also has a few other business strategies that Microsoft hasn’t learned very well. For one, Apple seems to be more in touch with consumers. Microsoft is like the asshole on a camping trip who insists on bringing his television and game console, while Apple is more like the guy who brought extra beer and let his cell phone discharge on purpose before he got there.

I’m not an OSF. I have a preference for one OS over the other in certain circumstances. I’ve used both and will continue to use them for different purposes. OSFs have never used anything other than their preferred OS.

Basically, if you’re trashing Windows but you’ve only known Apple or vise versa than I’ll probably tune out your “argument”. In the words of Tom Cruise, “You don’t know!”

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