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NH Dave Tech: PC vs Mac (38) RE: Tech: PC vs Mac 27 Apr 06

Back in the good old days, Macs were easier to learn, had lots of neat programs and applets, and a GUI, Graphic User Interface; but much more expensive to buy, because Apple was the only place with new Mac chips. Later on, you could roll your own Mac to your specs by using chips from a disused Mac and standard cases, power supplies, and all. After a while, Microsoft came up with a long array of Windows versions that gave PC users the Graphics Interface and mouse seen on Macs, and stolen from Sun Microsystems, I believe.

Today the folks who use Macs the most are people heavy into music, graphics, and computerized typesetting/layout design, Like Bat Goddess. Additionally, currently Macs occupy 5-10% of the personal computer usage, which means that common Windows programs will take a bit longer, if ever, to be ported over to Macs. I also understand that several popular Windows programs run much slower on the Macs, but I can't tell you which ones. As to the statement that Word came out on a Mac before it came out for Wintel machines, I believe that to be false, for just as there was WordPerfect before Windows there was also a version of Word for DOS, which predated Macs. Because Macs cover so little of the computing base, there are a few less virii and other nasties out there, but the same can be said for Linux.

At one time Macs were more often used by Liberal Arts folks who really didn't want to have to know about the guts of their computers; and Apple made the cases difficult enough to get inside, that there was little chance of them ever learning about how they worked. MS DOS and Windows, on the other hand were used more by technicians and engineer types, the ones who a few years earlier had modified older and affordable cars into something their makers wouldn't recognise, with performance to match. Today most decent middle schools teach their students enough about computing to construct their own web sites, and almost any other computer literacy achievements, and usually on Windows machines.

What most people with any sense have done is to jumk many of Microsoft's programs for doing whatever they like to do, and gone to third party developers for software and hardware. I used Netscape for years as a browser and email client, and have switched over to Mozilla's Firefox and Thunderbird, for browsing and email. People who have used Windows, Excel, PowerPoint while paying the big bucks to start, and only slightly lesser bucks to upgrade, now have the option of using Open Office, an open source MS Office equivalent, that is completely free, although they do troll for and won't refuse donations. Open Office is available free, for Windows, Solaris Sparc stations, and Linux, but not for Macs according to their web site, . Star Office is available for $ 69.95 downloades, $ 99.95 as a packaged product, and may be installed on five machines for no additional charge.

Up until very recently I felt quite capable on Mac operating systems, having sold them for a few years some twenty years ago. With the advent of their system 10, and perhaps my expectation that everything should be open to the user, I find them very difficult to configure, and although many hardware manufacturers offer their wares for Macs, with the lower user base, these Mac items tend to be more expensive than he same product for Windows. Microsoft's Plug and Play, or Plug and Pray as some detractors claim, makes it a lot easier to hook up hardware like a printer, scanner, or mouse to a Windows machine without bothering to download the proper driver for your hardware and your version of Windows. This same complaint can be made for machines using Linux, where getting and installing the proper driver isn't all that easy.

If I were doing it all again, I'd probably still go for the Windows machine, since you can pick up brand new desktop machines for less than $ 800.00, and my new hp Laptop, while not bottom of the line, only cost me $ 1195.00, and it came with a keypad, like a desktop machine. Although I started out on desltop systems made for me by my local computer shop, my last three machines have been laptops, if only for their portability, and smaller footprint. With the advent of a Windows machine in a keyboard, like the Commodore 64 and the Apple IIc, and the flat screen monitors, this is getting to be less of a selling point.

Another advantage of the Wintel machines is the ease of finding a dealer, or having one built to spec by people like Dell and Gateway. Here in one of the three largest cities in my state, I can buy Windows machines in five local discount houses in town, but have to go to a neighboring town to find the only Apple dealer in about 50 miles. The insistence by Apple that only Appple dealers may sell Macs deprives me of the advantage of comparsion shopping for a better price, and juggling specs to get the most desirable machine for a price I can afford.

Like anything else, try playing with the machines you see on display and ask the sales folk what they think of both brands. Of course if your nearest Apple dealer isn't nearby that may decrease any chance that you might have of getting a better price elsewheres, the way you can with a Windows computer.


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