In the interests of balance, we asked Nik Rawlinson, editor of MacUser, to leap to Apple’s defence.
1 - Cheaper in the long run
The oldest Macs that can run Apple’s latest operating system have just celebrated their eighth birthday, yet all but a handful of the oldest Vista-ready PCs were still just kit and components this time last year. Macs are often criticised for being overpriced, but when you spread the cost over their respective working lives, the Mac comes out cheaper than a PC.
2 - Greater stability
Macs do crash, and anyone who tells you they don’t is a liar, but the tightly controlled Unix-based operating system is far more capable when it comes to isolating and terminating problematic applications than Windows. PCs come from the baby-and-bathwater school of conflict management and throw out the whole lot – data, app and OS – in exchange for a garish blue screen and a forced reboot.
3 - Mac Office is better
The very first version of Office was out a year before the PC, and it continues to innovate under Mac OS X, with many features appearing on Apple hardware first. Plus, the operating system’s built-in support for creating PDFs means Mac users have been rolling out their spreadsheets as Acrobat files for more than half a decade, while Windows workers have only just been granted that feature with Office 2007 (and even then, it’s an optional download).
4 - More secure
For one thing the operating system is built on a Unix core, with all the restricted and tiered permissions management that affords. For another, the fact it has a smaller user base than Windows counts in its favour, since for the last 20 years hackers and script kiddies have largely left it alone. Long may that continue.
5 - Triple booting
There are Mac-specific builds of several Linux distributions, but the real feather in the Mac’s cap is the fact you can run Windows, Linux and Mac OS X simultaneously, using virtualisation (see p34 for our guide to running Windows on a Mac). This is a world away from the lame emulation afforded PC users by Virtual PC, and it gives alternative operating systems direct access to the Apple hardware. So, while Windows can barely run three native applications at once, with a Mac you can run The GIMP under Red Hat, Keynote under OS X and Access under Windows on the same screen, at the same time.
6 - One company controls everything
The hardware and the operating system (and often the software too) are all made by a single company – Apple – and so they’re guaranteed to work well together. The OS is optimised for the computer line-up, the mouse and hardware are designed with the OS in mind, and the applications are tuned to take advantage of every tweak and innovation in both. Only a Mac can deliver a smooth, well-thought-out experience end-to-end, and only with a Mac do you know exactly where to go for help and support. With a PC you’ll be batted back and forth between Microsoft and whoever made your ugly beige box, as they spend the next month blaming each other for your problem.
7 - Macs are faster
PC Authority’s own Labs tests proved that the Mac Pro, the current top-end machine in Apple’s line up, was faster running Windows XP than any conventional PC at that time.
8 - Lively developer community
Use a Mac and you have access to the fruits of an incredibly vibrant developer community. The same is true of the PC, of course, but the PC shareware, freeware and donationware market is riddled with ugly, poorly designed, unconventional applications. Mac OS X has so many hooks and resources hidden under the surface that it’s one of the quickest platforms on which to develop, and as finished applications draw on Apple resources rather than being designed from scratch, they look as good as any other Mac app.
9 - Mods don’t rule
Nobody ever thought a Mac would look better with neon lighting and a glowing water cooling system. What does that say about Apple’s eye for design?
10 - Goodies use Macs, Baddies use PCs
Studies have shown that Hollywood has a tendency to make its baddies use PCs, and its heroes use Macs. Fact. That’s why Jack Bauer and his CTU colleagues on 24 solve major terrorist threats using machines built for OS X. And when Jeff Goldblum wanted to infect the Independence Day mothership with a virus to save the world from destruction, what did he use? A PowerBook 5300. Except, of course, you won’t find a virus on a Mac.
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