15 reasons Macs are still better than Windows PCs

15 reasons Macs are still better than Windows PCs

 

A journalist colleague of mine recently put this question out there:

“I’m sure I’ll either get ignored or flamed for this but what’s with all the pro-Mac stuff at the moment? It seems as though everyone […] is either using or recommending Macs these days.

I’m not wanting to start a flame war here but I’m genuinely interested in why this general shift has occurred.

Do people think Vista is truly that awful that they can’t use it or even recommend a normal Windows desktop/notebook? I use it every day and I admit I don’t like it much either but I don’t think it’s that bad that I’d jump to using or recommending a Mac instead…”

I long ago stopped actively seeking out Mac vs PC discussions (partly because Macs are now PCs — so the argument is more about Mac OS X vs Windows vs Linux than a proprietary Mac architecture vs an x86 PC architecture) but I still find it confounding that after all these years people still don’t know the basics of the upsides of Macs and OS X. Perhaps it’s because of the tiresome arguments from people like this.

So here’s my answer. Note despite what I said above about the argument really being between operating systems these days I’ve looked at Macs as a hardware and software combination in this article pitted against regular PCs running Windows.

Do you agree/disagree with the points here? Tell me why — but make sure your points are solidly argued and make sure you read the whole article before flaming me. There’s an important bit right at the very bottom.

1. Reliable sleep mode

The killer feature of every Mac which can’t be underestimated (and you don’t realise how important it is until you own a Mac) is OS X’s 100% reliable near-instant suspend and resume.

Windows PCs have just never had this. Reliability on Windows is hit and miss and it’s nowhere near instant. As a result most people are in the habit of shutting down their PC totally — or worse leaving them on 24/7 chewing up power.

The difference between Mac and Windows in this respect is the difference between broadband and dialup internet. Back in the 90s many people couldn’t see the point of paying extra for an always-on internet service as “it only takes a minute to connect using the dialup…”

I always shake my head in bemusement when I read about Microsoft working on dramatically shortening boot time on Windows. Boot time shouldn’t be such a pivotal issue if suspend and resume worked well. Mac users probably reboot their Mac on average about once a month — and often only to install an OS update. Which leads to my second point.

2. Extremely fast boot times

Rebooting a Windows PC can be such a painful experience that you really procrastinate doing it. Unless you’re running on the highest spec hardware Vista can take minutes to start up.

Mac OS X starts up from a cold boot in about 25 seconds on a current-gen MacBook Pro. As another journalist contributing to the discussion observed this is not a faked boot speed where the operating system maker has rushed to get the login window on screen but delayed loading the rest of the OS. It’s a genuine boot-to-usable-desktop time.

3. Apple uses good quality parts.

Aside from the operating system Mac hardware is usually good quality. Apple’s fit and finish doesn’t generally bend and creak like the plastic panels on many PC laptops; Apple’s keyboards are high quality; Apple selects good quality parts like very good LCD panels for its screens.

You can essentially buy a Mac product sight-unseen and know you’ll be happy with the quality of the display whereas PC laptops are a huge grab bag ranging from horrendous dim rubbish to spectacular. (I have to admit I personally don’t think the basic MacBook screen is of a quality that I would want to buy but then I think it’s still better than a lot of PC notebook screens.)

4. Less blinking lights.

Apple doesn’t festoon its hardware with blinking lights and inconveniently placed wireless on/off buttons headphone jacks etc.

PC manufacturers are starting to understand this and are producing increasingly clean designs (The HP 2133 pictured right is quite a good example) but it’s still my #1 bugbear about PC notebooks.

When I’m using my laptop in a dark room at night I don’t want five bright purple and orange status lights blinking away at me. And when I’m using the laptop propped up on my legs on the sofa I don’t want to be constantly accidentally turning off the WiFi. I don’t want the headphone jack mounted on the front of the notebook because when I plug the headphones in the jack will be bumping in to my body if I’ve got the notebook propped up on my knees lying on the sofa.

This lack of basic design refinement can make PC notebooks annoying to use for the entire lifespan of the unit (and it’s not always something you can ‘see in the shop before you buy’ — consider how many PCs are corporate-issued or bought mail-order these days.)

5. OS X + Windows is better than just Windows

Ignoring Linux for a second on a Mac I can legitimately run OS X and Windows (natively or under virtualisation). On a PC I can only legitimately run Windows.

It means I can use OS X for everything but if there’s the occasional application for Windows I need to use (specialised company application; MS Access; mobile phone firmware upgrader utilities) I can easily do use Windows.

Another of my colleagues said she’s found a good use for OS X’s Spaces virtual desktop feature — OS X on one desktop and Windows on another desktop. Of course you can always pause a virtual machine too which means having Windows on-call when you need it doesn’t need to be chewing up CPU time in the background.

6. Easier to troubleshoot Macs.

It’s usually pretty easy to figure out what’s going wrong with a Mac. There are three applications that help you and are all in one place and easy to find in the Applications/Utilities folder:

  • Activity Monitor (a more powerful version of Windows Task Manager)
  • Console (which shows all system logs in one place)
  • Disk Utility (which helps you identify disk integrity issues).

It’s very rare that you can’t get a decent hint of where a system problem lies from those three apps. On Windows similar apps are available in the system but they’re more scattered and immeasurably more difficult for the average user to find.

7. A culture of good quality community software

There’s a culture of very good quality freeware/shareware with excellent user interfaces on Mac — probably a result of Apple leading by example in user-interface design and shareware authors emulating this.

The average Mac user could get away with only purchasing Microsoft Office and using freeware/shareware and Apple provided software for everything else.

On Windows the signal to noise ratio in freeware/shareware is extremely high. There’s so much junk software out there; it can be hard to find a tool that’s good quality.

Some examples of exceptionally good shareware which I don’t think there’s an equivalently good Windows alternative for (taking into account both the software capabilities -and- the front-end GUI):

8. More useful apps out of the box

Every Mac comes with some very useful apps that don’t come on Windows. (Of course you can easily download them for Windows but ubiquity of app distribution can make or break a platform — it’s why people have never really equated Symbian Series 60 phones with “useful applications”.)
Useful apps on every Mac:

  • Stickies
  • iPhoto
  • Expose
  • iCal
  • Time Machine.

Yes this is no barrier to a Windows power user. But remember the majority of computer users are not power users.

9. Neat and contained system settings.

Apple is very neat with its OS config settings. In Windows there’s many many places you can change system-wide settings — the registry add/remove programs the hardware manager the services manager network connections control panel etc.

On a Mac the OS config settings are basically all in the control panel (with a few exceptions — notably the default browser can only be changed through Apple’s own Safari browser — evil.)

It makes both using a Mac and supporting other people using Macs much easier. One specific example: it is overcomplicated to guide a user to editing the TCP/IP settings for a particular network adaptor on Windows but it’s one of the most common things you have to do to resolve network issues.

But accessing network adaptors is a cinch on Mac OS X…

And TCP/IP settings are easily accessible under “advanced”.

10. Apple doesn’t load the system up with crap.

Oh sure Apple festoons its OS with hooks into online services designed to get you to spend money. But on the whole Apple’s festooning with vendor-specific services is much less intrusive than on Windows.
-image-

Just about every (brand name) PC sold comes loaded up with junk that keeps popping up at you reminding you your six month trial is about to run out and some apps are deliberately difficult to uninstall.

Macs come with iPhoto (linked to with Apple’s book/photo printing service) MobileMe (stays out of your way unless you specifically activate it) iTunes (to purchase stuff through the iTunes store) and so on. Basically Apple doesn’t try to force its way into your wallet like PCs tend to — Apple takes a carrot approach with some genuinely useful services rather than a stick (“your PC is our advertising billboard cough up buddy”).

Of course this isn’t a problem with Windows itself per se but it is inextricably married to the Windows user experience for most people.

11. Tonnes of small reasons make Mac OS X better.

There are a large number of very small reasons a Mac is great to work on:

  • every version of OS X has sophisticated screenshot capability built in. CMD+4 provides a selector marquee. CMD+4+Spacebar takes just one window. CMD+3 takes the whole screen. You can set the format of the screenshot file and where Mac OS saves it.
  • The inbuilt image viewing app is powerful — it can view PDF and open/export to most other image formats; you can crop resize rotate adjust colour balance etc.
  • Expose lets you quickly see all your open windows or your desktop or just the windows of your current app. Way better than ALT+Tab (which Macs also have) or Flip 3D (which Macs thankfully don’t have.)
  • The Dock is much more efficient to use than the Windows start menu and taskbar — the icon opens an app or returns to it if it’s already open. It doesn’t become crowded when you have lots of windows open.
  • Target disk mode allows you to boot a Mac into a mode where the whole machine acts like an external hard drive. Plug it to another Mac using Firewire and you have the easiest way in the world to do a system-to-system drive mirror. (Though disappointingly Apple didn’t include this feature in its latest MacBook.)
  • Quick look lets you view pretty much all major file formats by clicking on the file and pressing the space bar — no need to wait for an app to launch. Windows simply doesn’t have this.

12. Still no need for additional security software.

On a Mac you don’t have to run additional security software which therefore doesn’t slow down the computer doesn’t cause problems and you don’t have to shell out for an annual subscription for it.

This is an enormously contentious point. Some people will argue black and blue that you need to be a good citizen in the world and make sure you’re scanning for Windows viruses on your Mac email in case you accidentally forward on a virus sent from one Windows user to you to another Windows user.

My opinion is: if Fords have a problem with their wheels falling off that’s never going to be resolved I’m not going to drive my Holden slowly on every road just because a Ford might find its wheels falling off at any time.

And what’s with Microsoft selling OneCare anti-virus? It has decided to make money off selling a fix to a problem in its original product (Windows). That’s just offensive.

13. Apple seems largely to be lameness free

On the whole Apple seems to come up with far fewer lame ideas that were non-starters to begin with. Microsoft on the other hand is the master of lame ideas. For example Sideshow in Vista. Windows Ultimate Extras. 10 editions of the same OS. XPS file format to compete with PDF. One size fits all UAC — “You just tried to change the date. Did you really mean to do that?”

14. Power of the Linux command line with Photoshop CS4

Just for a moment let me diverge from Mac vs PC and take a look at Mac vs “all the alternatives”.

There are a few key apps that are for many people ‘must-haves’. Microsoft Office. Adobe Reader. Adobe Flash. Photoshop.

Linux can satisfy almost all of those needs. But Photoshop is a sticking point. Although there has been great progress in WINE — even sponsored by Google — you can still only run Photoshop CS2 (or CS3 if you’re lucky.)

And don’t tell me the GIMP is a total Photoshop replacement. I’ve tried it many times. Its user interface just isn’t up to scratch yet.

The reality is until Adobe really puts its support officially behind Linux (like Google has with Picasa for example) it’s always going to be an uphill battle.

With OS X you get a polished OS with the power of a UNIX/Linux command line (not the lame DOS-style prompt of Windows) and the ability to run the latest officially supported version of Photoshop.

15. File sharing is much easier

Sharing files between computers has always been something that feels like it should be a lot easier than it is. Of course one of the reasons for this is the need for security which is opposed to ease of use because security is about putting up barriers.

But it’s also about user interface design. Mac OS hasn’t always been easy for sharing between computers; in fact I’d say it’s only 10.5 which has got it mostly right. But in 10.5 it actually is easy enough for ordinary users to use — if you want to share the files on your computer you switch on file sharing in control panel.

Shared computers on the local network appear in any file management window in OS X like a disk drive — and when you try to open them you’ll be prompted for a system username and password.

It’s the first form of computer file sharing that really puts it in front of the average user’s eyes without them having to do anything to get to it.

Whoah hold up there anonymous flamer.

Before anyone tries to put words into my mouth: here’s what I’m not saying:

  • I’m not saying a Mac is a remotely good choice if you’re a career gamer though there are enough games and adequate performance to satisfy a casual gamer (someone who likes to play a game once a week isn’t involved in the gaming scene and wouldn’t know what LOLZ actually meant.)
  • I’m not saying Macs ‘just work’ and never have problems because like any computer they do.
  • I’m not saying hardware compatibility is the same with Macs. There are endless hardware devices that don’t have Mac drivers. It’s just that there’s enough good ones in every category that do have Mac support for it not to be a problem.
  • I’m not saying Macs are for people who like building systems from scratch or having maximum opportunity to chop and change parts at will.
  • I’m also not saying Apple is a nice company to deal with — it’s not. Its whole corporate ethos seems to be “be smug and arrogant; turn your back and pretend everything’s fine oh and also polished plastic never gets scratched” as often as possible. (Though frankly the superior hardware and software goes some of the way in actually allowing them to get away with this and mostly the front-end customer service is very good.)
  • I’m not saying that Apple is always good at admitting faults. While it is generally good with warranty if it admits a problem if it is in denial about a problem it will sometimes make people wait a year before they will begrudgingly accept the cost of fixing it across the board.
  • And finally I’m not saying Apple’s DRM (which it refuses to share with anyone else) is anything other than a repellant policy from a company that has a monopoly position.

On balance though Macs just let you get stuff done whereas Windows computers constantly find ways of annoying you.

That’s my take on it. What’s yours?

 

  • Mohsin Javed

    excellent point

    • Todd Murray

      i like u mate

  • Doc Oc

    just so you, there are viruses that infect macs

    • Todd Murray

      yeah but mac is better

      • B0ss

        So ignorant

        • Shane Robinson

          lol. right….

          • Obama

            PC FTW

    • http://www.photo-fix.com/ Kelly Basden

      Nowhere near what Windows users go through. Troll much with old, broken talking points? Thanks for playing.

  • Exidos

    PC is better more afordable, powerful, Mac use to be good back when Steve Jobs (A.K.A Mr.turtleneck) was CEO he was leading it in the right way

    • Jason Lowe

      The stuff apple is putting out was still designed or projects that began under Steve jJobs.
      Im a 20+ year mac user, but I admit, im scared now that Steve Jobs has died, RIP, but until apple makes a couple big mistakes back to back, it obvious to anyone with experience on both systems across a wide variety of subjects. And for the average user surfing, checking email, macs are better more stable, less crap.

    • Todd Murray

      mac is still better dickwad

      • Noah Norman

        Jesus buddy calm down its just his opinion no need to call him names, I’m a every day Mac user, I love it but I don’t go harrasing people about there opinions

        • Todd Murray

          Ok mate im on my period

  • Harrison Hoggard

    Exidos: You can’t just say that PC is better, you have to explain it. Otherwise you make a fool of yourself. And mac is worth the money because having to buy Microsoft Office every year and paying thousands of dollars to pay for every year, but only paying $200 for your computer, adds up to being more than just paying $1000 for a Mac and getting the equivalent of Microsoft Office for free.

    Doc Oc: There are viruses for Mac, but there are WAY more for Windows computers. Good attempt for a last minute excuse though.

    • Todd Murray

      he has explained it dick

    • Noah Norman

      I don’t think exidos said anything about it not being worth the money

    • Benny Jones

      There is no gaming for Macs…

      • Harrison Hoggard

        Check the app store idiots. There are games for Macs. There is Steam. (I have about 50 games and they run flawlessly) And (giving credit to Windows users) if you want to play games for Windows, all you have to do is do an easily installation to install Windows on your Mac. Don’t be rude to us Mac users. You’d be surprised how many of the games you play that were created on a Mac and Linux. Think about all the variables when you make the equation for your argument.

  • jimtravis

    We all have different experiences which impact our opinions. All my early hardware failures have been Macs. PCs that cost half as much as the Macs gave me much longer trouble free service that the more expensive Macs. The only OS I had to reinstall was OS X due to OS upgrade breakage, or severe lag issues. Been using Windows since 3.0, never needed to reinstall.

    On the boot times you mentioned, I have several Windows 8 tablets / computers that always boot up ready to use in the same time span you stated for the Mac Pro, or less. They are SSD based, and resume in 2 seconds or less. Are you comparing an SSD based Mac to a spinning drive Windows? If

  • http://chasingwabbits.blogspot.com/ tmfk

    I have a 15″ HP DV-6 laptop and a 13″ MacBook Pro, both late 2011 models. I agree on many of your points. I, however, prefer to use my HP over the Mac to get real work done for some particular reasons. 1) My HP has a built-in 10 Key numbers pad on the right side of the keyboard and that is where my hands look for numbers keys. The Mac does not and it takes me forever to enter numbers. 2) I have better luck networking the HP with everything else than I do with the mac, though they are pretty close to the same. Most networking trouble with the Mac has been getting other machines to be able to access anything on the Mac and then with Time Machine there have been a few frustrations. 3)The GIMP – I am much better with the GIMP than I would be with Photoshop at this point since I havent used Photoshop for years. There is a big plug-ins package available for GIMP on windows that I havent found for MAC or LINUX. I realize I can find them all one by one but the Windows installer just adds the whole shebang in one swoop so my Windows GIMP ends up being the most tricked out graphics program over the same thing installed on MAC or LINUX. 4) My HP has a faster processor (i7) vs the i5 that came in the MAC. It also has two separate graphics chips, one intel and one radeon, similar to how MACS are set up. It was roughly half the price of the MAC.
    Mostly I use the MAC for GarageBand and to surf the net or watch movies while I’m lounging around.

    My last “thing” with Apple would be that I hear they are eliminating their upgradability. Soldered-in RAM and Non-removable batteries and such. Thats a money play that is not only annoying but downright irresponsible when you consider the extra landfill space that these non-upgradeable machines wiil use. Oh and there is malware that affects MACS, mostly targeting the browsers I think so security is needing to be cross-platform as well…

  • Raymond Chabot

    People who owns MAC, in general, seems to have to tell everyone that MAC is better than PC, they seems to have to justify the why they pay an extra 500$ for the same thing. For me the biggest problem with MAC are the majority of peolpe who’s using them, they look like dumb cultist.

    • Harrison Hoggard

      Ironic that you call us dumb cultists when you have a grammar issue in line 2 of your statement.

      • Raymond Chabot

        English isn’t my native language so excuse me for the issues

        • http://www.photo-fix.com/ Kelly Basden

          Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket!

      • http://www.photo-fix.com/ Kelly Basden

        Actually, line one through all of the post.

      • urmum

        “I feel insulted so I’ll point out his grammar, that will show him!”

      • http://zqp.me/ Brad

        You may want to look up the word ‘ironic’ in a dictionary. This contains no irony.

    • Shane Robinson

      the extra 500$ or even 1000$ is worth not getting a new computer every year or being stuck with a crappy one, and its just Mac not MAC

      • Raymond Chabot

        For 500$ or even 1000$ I get something way better than anything “MAC” can do I can also upgrade it to stay up to date for longer too. If you had to buy a new computer every year I think that you don’t know anything at all about computer.

        • http://www.photo-fix.com/ Kelly Basden

          Raymond, you are obviously ill informed, or not informed in the least. What is glaringly obvious is that you have never even looked at an Apple device other than your iPhone.

  • Noah Norman

    Wanting to share my 2Cents on this topic, how do I start? Oh yeah I have been a long term windows user since 3.1. I liked the machines that windows was running on, I liked how I can play all my favorite games stuff like that, I got a Macintosh 2 back in the ’90′s it was a excellent Home computer but on the present day I have both a custom built PC for my gaming and entertanmint and a iMac 27″ for college my PC I built cost $1,100, my iMac cost $1,240. But what I think that my Mac is easier and simpler for my work, and my PC for my gaming because of PC has way more support for game devolepment, but in smaller forum Mac’s and PC’s are both great systems.

    • B0ss

      This guy gets it, I also own both of the systems, and thay fill each other out.

  • Jordan Soulos

    Seriously the writer could only come up with reasons i could come up with hundreds of reasons why apple products and osx is a complete waste of money this article is written by a apple fanboy or fangirl for apple fanboys or fangirls

    • Harrison Hoggard

      Then why don’t you go through the trouble and tell us why PC is better. List AT LEAST 100 reasons. I bet most of those Mac can do that you didn’t even know. Good thing about Mac users: we paid for Windows and got crap. We pay more for a Mac, but paid for better quality for the computer and love it. Windows users are such jerks.

      • B0ss

        Lel this ignorant dofus! :D

  • Benny Jones

    Windows can be custom made, Apple, you are stuck with one machine forever and ever. Mac has amazing ideas contained in their machines and in their philosophy but you can’t custom make a machine or change anything on those.

    • Kieran Richards

      You could make a ‘Hackintosh’ (a custom built computer which you manage to run OS X on), but I guess thats not legitimate Apple.

  • obama

    Macs still suck

  • obama

    Its called steam and Gaming stupid derps

  • obama

    hahahahahahahaha

  • Shane Robinson

    I own a 17 in Macbook pro retina and a i also have killer windows seven gaming setup that i built. windows allows me to enjoy crysis like i never ever ever could on a mac, but as far as laptops go there is no competition AT ALL Macs are the leaders there. seriously I’ve owned windows laptops back when i was an apple hater, and MacBooks are soooo much better, i honest feel bad for people with windows laptops (though i haven’t tried windows 8 yet) and i hope all those haters just give apple a chance, because as of right now its much better. Don’t even get me started with the iphone….

  • Nicolas W. Wolf

    Yes I totally agree. Please buy iPhones & iPads & iDontUnderstandTechnology :)
    Support apple people they are pioneers! They are amazing! Unfortunately recently Apple started building computer systems that look like trashcans (mac mini & mac pro) please don’t mind this, they do it to achieve lower temperatures! See?? They rock! Please write more articles like this one.. Articles like the above and comments by apple fanboys are for me constant reminders about your uniqueness and how awesome you mac users are! I call them little mac web gems, please give us another one! hahahahaha

  • Nicolas W. Wolf

    34634

  • cam

    this is such bs, i swear all those reasons i read a pc can do beter, macs are so popular because of the image attached to the product, lets be honest it does look so much cooler then any pc computer and in my lecture room at uni, there is only ever an occasional non-apple brand, with nearly all the other kids having the bright apple logo on the back of their pc.

    I would never buy a mac because i dont care about the image i have, i care about the product i am getting

    • Brandon

      If you don’t want to get a Mac because you care about the product you are getting, then you are not aware of the better quality of a Macintosh. Generally, Macs are better quality with the OS X system and they tend to last longer. If you said something about the cost or that you use PCs for other things, then your argument would have been more reasonable, but it just is invalid with what you said.

  • IllWillFan

    Quite honestly I don’t care what computer you use. I really do believe it’s all just a matter on what you’re trying to accomplish. I will say that although this post is obsolete by 6 years, the amount of smugness in about 5 of these 15 reasons makes it that much more cringeworthy.

  • urmum

    This article gave me cancer

  • meow

    #justheathenthings

  • jane anne

    Look why don’t we all just end this ongoing rival and say that they both have their ups and downs, I mean they are both the same thing(kinda) I mean they are computer just differently built.Also they both have their up’s and down’s. If you like MAC’s better good of you if you like PC’s better thats fine too. It all comes down to your feel cause in reality they both are great computers!

  • bobby

    Im sorry if your too stupid to use a windows laptop

  • Obama

    PC FTW WOOO