Big Mac versus the Whoppin’ PC

You gotta love the Mac-v-PC ads. Besides being a big fan of John Hodgman, they’re just plain funny.

When I met my wife she was a Mac-head. I didn’t as much convert her as I did make the buying decisions for our home computers. Most of her friends have Macs. Even some of my friends have purchased Macs for home.  Let’s face – Macs are slick, fun, they work well, easy to use, look good, and don’t tend to crash as often as PC’s. So, why would anyone want to buy a PC?

Well, the battle between the two is not as black and white as the commercials make it seem. Don’t get me wrong, I like Macs. I used my first Mac SE way back in the 80’s. I was impressed, but you couldn’t find one of these things in a business running Lotus 123 (though VisiCalc  was originally released on Apple II platform). Had I been a graphic designer or an audio/video person doing anything with multimedia, I might have ended up a full Mac-head myself. However, I went the direction of databases, business applications, and development. And, for these things – at least in the 80’s and 90’s – you needed to be on the PC platform.

These days the difference between the two is not as well defined as it used to be. When it comes to locally running applications (ones you physically install onto the computer), the Mac’s library is not as large as the PC’s, but the apps that are available – especially the ones that Apple makes – tend to be extremely well written and powerful. The important business apps, such as Microsoft Office, are available on the Mac as well. In the twenty-first century, many business applications have moved away from the “client” and into the “cloud”. Saas (Software as a Service) applications, such as Google’s Suite of Apps, SalesForce.com, and many others are accessed via a Web Browser. So, as long as your browser supports JavaScript you can pretty  much run these apps from any computer – Mac, PC, even the various Linux flavors. As “Cloud” software expands, I would not be surprised if the physical computer used in businesses becomes less important. Eventually, as long as the machine connects to the Internet and has a Java-compliant browser it just won’t matter any longer. Businesses will buy based on the TCO of the unit.  Of course, mobile computers are more complicated because they need to work in an offline manner. Between offline browsing technologies such as Google Gears and Adobe AIR, I suspect this will change eventually as well.

So, why do I still not use a Mac at home?

The simple answer is because I’m very comfortable on my PC. I can get a huge amount of Open Source and Freeware apps for my computers; Networking is easy (for me); they’re less expensive than Macs; and I don’t ever expect to use a Mac for work. We have iPods at home (though I have a Zune) and I can easily sit in front of either. In the end, it comes down to this:

  • Macs are great for home use and a must for graphic arts and multimedia
  • PC’s /w Windows are the de facto business platform.

Since switching to the Intel Platform, Apple has gone to great lengths to bring PC users over to the “Dark Side”. It started with Bootcamp, allowing Mac users to boot between the two platforms. Then came Parallels which allows Mac users to run most Windows apps on their Mac along side their Mac apps. Honestly it’s extremely cool. If it weren’t for the cost, I could consider a Mac /w Parallels for home use.  Woo, did I just say that? Yikes!

If you’re looking for a new home computer, don’t need it for business applications, don’t have an investment in Windows apps already, and don’t need to network it with PC’s than go ahead and buy a Mac. You won’t regret it.