Mac vs. PC

Mac Vs. PC

The Mac Vs. PC debate has been going on for decades. This article explains why the Mac is a better choice for most people.

Table of Contents:

  • Personal Experiences with Windows PCs, Servers and Macs
  • Machines Used in Evaluation
  • Material and Build Quality: Mac Wins
  • Performance: Mac Wins
  • Efficiency: Mac Wins
  • Privacy: Mac Wins
  • Third-Party Integration: Mac Wins
  • User Experience: Mac Wins
  • Built-In Apps: Mac Wins
  • Cybersecurity: Mac Wins
  • Adherence to Standards: Mac Wins
  • Gaming: PC Wins
  • Operating System Customization: Mac Wins
  • Useful Lifespan: Mac Wins
  • Repair and Upgrade Device: PC Wins
  • Cost: Mac Wins
  • OS Stability and Reliability: Mac Wins
  • Most Software Developers Don’t Use Windows
  • Google Uses over 43,000 Macs

Personal Experiences with Windows PCs, Servers and Macs

I am a techie to the core. I started using my first computer in 1978, at the tender age of 6. Although I don’t have a degree in computer science, I studied programming at a top university. I learned enough to start a career in technology before the .com boom, when it was actually difficult to get a job as a developer.

It wasn’t easy. I actually knew quite a bit of computer science theory and practice, such as how to create applications by developing my own data structure implementations (linked lists, BST, AVL). This is far beyond what most developers need to know.

Today, we use databases or non-SQL data stores instead of developer-defined data structures. For the most part, the modern developer defines data models and the underlying data-centric code is abstract. Object-Relational Mapping technology is actually over two decades old, but now it is standard, in one form or another. If one needs to use a data structure, most modern programming languages have a plethora of them. They’re implemented far better than most developers can do on their own. In most cases, rolling your own linked list or binary search tree is akin to reinventing the wheel.

Even with the knowledge I had, experience is key. It took me years to hone my skills, focusing on integrating SQL databases with the web. This was not an easy task in the mid 1990s. It took a lot of late nights and weekends to become a competent developer, but I did it.

I’m not bragging. I want to explain my background before I proceed with this article. Most tech writers have no background in technology. They have communications or journalism degrees. They’ve never worked in technology. The best of them tinker with PCs and smartphones and the lay people in their orbit think they’re geniuses. This seems to inflate their sense of digital competence. “My grandma thinks I’m a computer whiz!” Really, their knowledge of technology is superficial.

Building a PC “from scratch” is very easy. Some people seem to think they’re geniuses because they can plug a few components into a motherboard, flip a few switches and install some drivers. Indeed, they seem to be the most narcissistic “techies”. It’s kind of like how hip-hop musicians are the least talented, yet most arrogant. They impulsively go for low hanging fruit, acting like it is some great achievement.

Building a PC is instant gratification for the impulsive. Working on a software project for several months takes discipline and focus.

The freelancers, contractors and employees who write for most major tech publications can’t even build a PC, let alone write industrial-strength enterprise code. Typically, they just regurgitate other “techies” in the echo chamber of errors. After all, you need to know something about a subject to have an original thought about it.

This problem is rampant in most corporate-owned news organizations. It extends far beyond technology. “Write what you know” seems to have been replaced by “those who don’t know, write”. Those who don’t know will work for very little, so, unfortunately, they’re the ones who generate technology news.

Putting it in perspective, there are far better software developers than me. I’m above average. I’m not the Ph.D. computer scientist developing cutting edge AI technology. Google is not trying to recruit me, but I am constantly bothered by recruiters. I had to stop updating LinkedIn, because I was sick of being pestered by recruiters.

I’m also not the newbie marveling at the static “touch this, show that” app or some simple SQL query. I never rested on such low hanging laurels. You have to start somewhere, but some people have too much self-esteem to become decent developers. Good developers don’t feel great after a project is finished. They always think they could have done better, and aim to do so next time. They realize there’s always more to learn. Bad developers stroke their egos over the simplest achievements. “Hello world! I’m a developer now…”

Most of my professional computing experience is with Windows PCs. For most of my career, I have written code on a Windows PC and deployed solutions to Windows Server. Although I have worked mainly with enterprise Java, I’ve also spent quite a lot of time developing Microsoft solutions (COM, ASP, T-SQL). That’s how I started my career.

I actually quit my first job, at a marquee software company (you probably use their software sometime between January and mid-April), because I grew sick of working with Microsoft technology. I found that many of the bugs in my code were due to defects in Microsoft’s APIs. I was working late nights and weekends to find workarounds to Microsoft defects.

I attended Microsoft developer conferences, only to see SVPs demoing technology that didn’t work! Even Microsoft can’t get their technology to work. Having attended Java One a few times, I was impressed by how every demo worked. I was determined to find a job where I could learn Java.

I jumped out of the frying pan, into the crock pot. The new company I worked at, an e-prescribing startup, was bullish on Java. Unfortunately, they used Windows Server to run Java app servers, in addition to database and web servers. They gave developers Windows machines.

Back in 2000, Windows still ruled The Valley, as Microsoft and hired analytics firms manufactured consent for Windows NT. The Mac was expensive and useless, as most software development tools only worked with Windows. Although I couldn’t escape Microsoft, this helped me ease into Java while still using a familiar platform — Microsoft Windows.

After almost 20 years of using Windows, I purchased my first Macintosh in late 2009. It was the large, aluminum tower Mac Pro, which was about as close to a Windows PC as a Mac could be.

2009 Mac Pro

I bought this machine because I was still thinking like a Windows user. I needed a super powerful CPU and loads of memory to write code and compile large projects, because that’s true with Windows. At the healthcare company, our server-side Java project grew to over a million lines of code. To work with this project on Windows, I had to stop using an Integrated Development Environment (IDE). There was no way I could work on this project with an IDE, even with all of the bells and whistles turned off. I had to roll up my sleeves and use a text editor and ANT scripts to compile the project. It took an hour just to compile and deploy the project.

Given this experience, I figured I would need a ridiculously powerful Mac to write code. This was not the case. In fact, I bought way more Mac than I needed. It’s 2019 and I still have this Mac Pro. It’s a decade old now, and it still “just works”. It has never given me a problem! I just bought myself a new MacBook Pro for Christmas. It’s the least expensive MacBook Pro, and even then, it’s more than I need. macOS is a very efficient operating system, unlike Windows.

While visiting for Christmas, my mom’s HP machine died. It seems to be the power supply. I came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t worth fixing. It’s easy to fix, but something else would likely break. In my opinion, HP stands for “huge problem”. I’m not a Dell fan either. I looked to Lenovo to find a new PC for my mom. She’s used Windows for decades and is afraid of moving to a Mac.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve used Windows 10. I’ve helped her with all of the various issues that came up with Windows 10 on her previous HP system. I also used it to work on this website when visiting, before I bought my MacBook Pro.

This experience taught me that even a simple task, such as working with WordPress, is much easier on a Mac. With Windows 10, large pages bogged down when editing in WordPress (a browser-based tool). I would type a character only to have it show up 3 seconds later. I can’t work like that. (Yes, the machine had plenty of RAM and nothing else was running. The problem remained after restarting.)

This long preamble is to let the Apple-haters know that I wasn’t born a Mac fan. I am no iSheep. I know tech. Windows drove me to the Mac. The Mac is not perfect, but Windows 10 and the machines it runs on are (comparatively speaking) garbage. You can install Windows on a Mac, and it too would be garbage. For the purposes of this article, a Mac runs macOS.

Machines Used in Evaluation

I am an independent publisher. I don’t take anything from tech corporations or marketing companies. I get offers to write sponsored content all the time and I refuse them. This is how I know that tech news is extremely biased. Read any major tech website, and the articles, in and of themselves, are ads. They were paid for, by a tech company, to produce a favorable review of their product. This is not illegal, but more rampant these days, as the line between news, public relations and marketing blur.

I used machines that were readily available, in addition to almost 30 years of experience with Windows and a decade with the Mac, to reach my conclusions. The Windows machine is a Lenovo IdeaCenter AIO 520-241CB. It was manufactured in 2018 with one of the latest, 8th generation Intel processors.

Lenovo IdeaCenter AIO 520 241CB

 

I am comparing this to a 2017 13” non-TouchBar MacBook Pro. It features a 7th generation Intel processor.

2017 13 Inch MacBook Pro

Here are the exact specs, straight from the operating systems:

MacBook Pro System Information

Lenovo IdeaCentre System Information

This is actually an unfair comparison, as the Lenovo machine has better specs than the MacBook Pro. After all, it’s a desktop computer and the MacBook is a notebook. The Windows machine gets slightly better results on GeekBench, at least with multi-core tasks. The GeekBench scores are so close, I feel this is a fair comparison.

MacBook Pro Geekbench 4 Results

Lenovo IdeaCentre Geekbench 4 Results

Although the MacBook Pro costs about 30% more than the Lenovo machine, we had to buy software that’s included on a Mac. It’s fair to say that the machines cost the same, although, accounting for all of the free software, the Mac is a better deal.

Material and Build Quality: Mac Wins

Material and build quality are not just about aesthetics. End users need a machine that can get from warehouse to desktop in one piece. Some tech products are so poorly made that they can’t even survive the journey to the customer. Beyond that, the product needs to endure for a reasonable lifespan.

I am actually impressed with the Lenovo IdeaCentre. For a Windows box, it’s fairly well-built. You could do worse. This all-in-one PC features slim bezels and solid construction. Unlike a Mac, however, it’s constructed out of plastic. It’s high quality plastic, but aluminum is better. It’s not only stronger, but a much better material in terms of thermodynamics. Aluminum dissipates heat while plastic acts as an insulator.

As with most PCs, if you look hard enough, you’ll find manufacturing flaws — marred plastic and other imperfections. It’s not worth sending it back, as you may get an even worse replacement. The Lenovo is acceptably imperfect.

The MacBook Pro, on the other hand, is flawless. On close examination, I can’t find a single manufacturing flaw. It’s encased in aluminum and, other than playing Fortnite, I have yet to hear the fan. The Lenovo will kick off its fan whenever it starts up or wakes from sleep. The simple act of booting up Windows or waking necessitates cooling. This is both a consequence of materials and an inefficient operating system.

My old 2009 Mac Pro was similarly flawless. After purchasing numerous Apple products, only one had a noticeable manufacturing flaw. My 2nd generation iPad had a slight backlight leak below the bezel. It’s not that the casing was compromised. The flaw is below the glass. I have to hold it at a certain angle to see it, and it’s extremely small. It took me years to even notice it. If anything, it’s a testament to how close-to-perfection Apple products are.

Critics may claim there are well-built Windows PCs, constructed of aluminum. This is true, however, they cost more than a Mac, even without accounting for Apple’s pre-installed, fully functional software suite. In my experience, expensive Windows machines either break or become obsolete within three years. I don’t go for the cheapest ones, but I wouldn’t splurge on a PC (or Mac, for that matter).

Dell XPS Is Expensive

The Lenovo is much bulkier than Apple’s all-in-one offerings. Although this article compares the Lenovo to a MacBook Pro, anyone who has seen a contemporary iMac knows how thin it is. There’s no marveling at the Lenovo’s thickness. They just took a bunch of off-the-shelf parts and put them in a different case. The saving grace is that it’s a user-serviceable machine, albeit in an era where most people don’t really upgrade or fix computers anymore.

My MacBook is a notebook computer, so it comes with a built-in keyboard and trackpad. Both are marvels of engineering.

Although the butterfly keyboard mechanism is controversial, I love it. As a writer of both code and prose, I do a lot of typing. It’s the best keyboard I have ever used. It’s sensitive and takes a little getting used to, but it has really accelerated my typing. I truly enjoy working on this machine.

The embedded trackpad is truly innovative. Instead of using a mechanical click, it’s virtually implemented with haptic feedback. It’s a mind-blowing experience. When the machine is off, clicking the trackpad is like touching a solid surface. It doesn’t move and there’s no feeling. Once powered on, the haptic feedback feels exactly like a click. The trackpad is enormous, however, with innovative palm-rejection technology, I never move the pointer accidentally while typing.

The Lenovo comes with a cheap wireless keyboard and mouse. The mouse is constructed of very flimsy plastic — slightly stronger and thicker than a yogurt container. The keyboard is decent, but nothing to write home about. At least they’re wireless. Some Lenovo machines apparently come with wired keyboards — in 2019!

Setting up the keyboard and mouse is counterintuitive. They don’t connect to the computer directly via Bluetooth. Instead, the mouse comes with a USB dongle that must be connected to the computer. You lose a USB port just for the keyboard and mouse. The keyboard piggy-backs on the mouse’s wireless connectivity. This means if the flimsy mouse breaks, you need to buy the exact same mouse, or a new keyboard and mouse. I’ve never seen such a Rube Goldberg-esque implementation of a wireless keyboard and mouse.

To make matters worse, the start-up guide didn’t offer instructions on how to use the keyboard and mouse. It was a generic guide, offering vague instructions for wireless keyboard models.

Lenovo Vague Keyboard and Mouse Instructions

After struggling to get the keyboard to work, I finally found the instructions. One opens the mouse to take out the USB dongle, which must be plugged in to the PC. It’s weird, unintuitive and the epitome of the PC — they designed it that way because it’s cost effective. There is little concern for the end user. There is much more concern for profitability. Funny how Apple ends up being more profitable without cutting corners.

It should be noted that Apple’s all-in-one iMac comes with a high quality wireless keyboard and mouse. Both connect directly via Bluetooth, without the need for a USB dongle.

My 2009 Mac Pro keyboard, although not wireless, has served me well for a decade. I must have typed millions of keystrokes over a decade. The Lenovo keyboard and mouse will likely need to be replaced, that is, if the computer lasts more than three years. It’s another hidden cost of Windows PCs.

Performance: Mac Wins

As previously mentioned, the Mac and Lenovo have similar Geekbench scores. Geekbench is a cross-platform benchmarking tool. It tests the execution speed of widely used algorithms and generates a score. This score can be used to compare apples to oranges. It tells us how fast a computer, smartphone or tablet can execute a set of algorithms. With Geekbench, you can compare a smartphone to a desktop computer. Therefore, comparing a MacBook Pro to an all-in-one Lenovo machine is not a stretch.

Based on Geekbench scores, the Lenovo machine is actually slightly “faster” than the MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, it has a very sluggish user experience. It takes much longer to boot up. Once booted, it takes another 5 minutes before apps can launch, as the hard drive churns and the fan blasts away. The Start menu is empty until at least 5 minutes after booting up. Only apps pinned to the Task Bar can be launched immediately after startup, with much latency.

Launching apps takes a long time. UI controls are often unresponsive. It’s such a different experience from my MacBook Pro, which is extremely snappy. I launch an app, and it’s up and running immediately. I never experience keyboard lag, even when editing a huge web page in WordPress. It’s the same experience I went through with large Java projects. Windows chokes on large projects and documents. The Mac can handle these documents and projects with ease — even a Mac with “weaker” specs.

Windows only gets worse over time. As more apps, documents and other assets are installed, Windows continues to slow down. Experienced Windows users are well aware that, for peak performance, one must wipe out the operating system and reinstall it every 6-12 months, depending on usage. (Power users do a disk image of a clean Windows install to expedite this process. Just format the drive and restore the disk image.) This Lenovo machine will only get more sluggish over time. I have never experienced this with a Mac.

Part of the MacBook Pro’s performance could be chalked up to the solid state drive. SSDs are remarkably fast. They enable computers to boot quickly and launch apps rapidly. The Lenovo machine boasts a speedy 7200 RPM hard drive, but it’s not as fast as an SSD.

While this can explain the superior boot and launch time of the Mac, it doesn’t justify sluggish performance within apps. Even with an SSD, the Lenovo would still be slow in many aspects of computing. This Lenovo PC was not cheap. It could have included an SSD drive. They offer it in a more expensive model. It’s more evidence that PCs aren’t a great value after all. PC makers also charge extra for storage space, but for some reason, people scream “bloody murder” when Apple does it.

Speaking of hard drives, I must mention that Windows still has not overcome the churning hard disk issue. Every Windows machine I have used seems to run the hard drive constantly. Part of this is due to swap space used for virtual memory. Windows uses swap space, even when there’s ample RAM to load everything into memory. But that’s not the only cause. OneDrive is constantly churning the drive to sync local files with the cloud. It’s an endless process that seems to sync files that haven’t changed! Beyond that, there’s all the spyware in Windows 10. Then there’s all the third-party tools that look for updates using their own schemes. Both Intel and Lenovo have software update apps that start up at launch and slow everything down. If I shut them off, I could miss an important update.

Windows 10 Idle Hard Drive Usage

 

Windows 10 Idle Hard Drive Usage Graph

Needless to say, a constantly churning hard drive is prone to failure. When it fails, the end user must decide whether to replace the drive or simply buy a new system. If the drive wasn’t backed up, users must either kiss their data goodbye or pay for an expensive data recovery service. Although this is probably more of a case of incompetence than a conspiracy to sell computers, Microsoft executes planned obsolescence far more aggressively than any other tech company.

Speaking of updates, the Windows machine was manufactured in 2018. My new MacBook was built in 2017. The Lenovo shipped with a recent build of Windows 10. Nonetheless, it was tied up with updates for 8 hours over the course of two days! It was unusable, with a blue software update screen preventing access to the Windows UI. My new Mac needed a full, major-version macOS update. I could still use my Mac while the update was downloading, and it only took minutes to install.

I hit the ground running with the MacBook Pro. The Lenovo machine is more like a virtual Ikea product — lots of assembly required. Fortunately, the operating system does this automatically. Unfortunately, you will have to stand around watching a blue screen instead of using your new computer. What a poor user experience! Apple would never subject their users to anything like this. At least Ikea customers know what to expect…

Efficiency: Mac Wins

The Macintosh is efficient in multiple ways. It uses very little power. The operating system offers better performance, even when compared to a Windows machine with slightly better specs. Technologies like High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) use less storage space for videos and images — assets that tend to hog storage space. The new Apple File System (APFS) similarly provides additional storage space compared to its Hierarchical File System Plus (HFS+) predecessor. Additionally, the technology speeds up disk access. In general, macOS and its apps take up less space than Windows and equivalent apps. Windows has always been a bloated operating system.

Over the past decade, Apple has earnestly committed to environmentally friendly practices. Power efficiency is one aspect that Apple takes seriously, on both portable and desktop devices. Even with the iMac, which is always connected to a power source, Apple has continually improved efficiency, without sacrificing performance. This not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also minimizes electricity bills.

Windows PCs, including the Lenovo all-in-one test subject, use a lot of power. Lenovo provides no information on power usage. It’s a cascade of inefficiencies. More power generates more heat. When the fan kicks in, you’re using even more power. This can add up to higher energy costs, negating the savings from an “inexpensive” PC. It’s yet another hidden cost to PC ownership.

macOS is more efficient than Windows in virtually all aspects. Windows used to offer superior graphics capabilities, however, with Apple’s Metal and Metal 2 technologies, this is no longer the case. Apple computers can also use external GPUs, further boosting performance. It’s no coincidence that Hollywood movie studios use Macs for video editing and CGI.

Macs Used in Hollywood

There’s a reason for this efficiency — macOS is not original. It’s based on an almost 50-year-old operating system — Unix. Indeed, most Mac users have no idea that they’re using a Unix machine. Unix has powered servers and high performance machines for decades, although Linux is more widely adopted these days.

Specifically, the macOS kernel is Darwin — an open source, POSIX-compatible, Unix operating system. Microsoft has always bucked standards, and Windows is no exception. They created the operating system from the ground up (with a little help from IBM), which isn’t always a good idea. Unix and Linux adhere to standards and have been developed for scalable, high-efficiency computing. If you doubt this, install Linux on an old Windows notebook. You’ll be amazed at how fast it performs. Windows is slow as molasses! Even IBM went the Unix and Linux route.

As for efficient video and image formats, Microsoft charges extra for these technologies. Even worse, they’re not fully integrated into the operating system. If you want to save storage space on a Windows machine, you need to pay and put forth some effort. These new, efficient standards are available out-of-the-box on all new Apple devices. It’s completely abstract to the user and fully integrated in the operating system. It just works. With Windows, you need to explicitly convert videos to HEVC and HEIF.

Windows 10 still uses the New Technology File System (NTFS), which they developed over two decades ago. It’s another reason why a Windows PC’s hard drive is constantly churning. NTFS fragments over time and needs to be defragmented. By default, Windows 10 systems are configured to defragment drives regularly. Constant disk activity, especially with a hard disk drive, increases the probability of hard drive failure. There’s only so many reads and writes a hard disk can do before it breaks.

There’s really no concept of disk fragmentation on a Mac. With HFS+ it was only possible in rare circumstances, such as video editors using massive video asset files. Both HFS+ and APFS write and read from disk or SSD differently than NTFS (Windows). Similarly, Linux doesn’t have a problem with disk fragmentation. It’s exclusive to Windows. Microsoft bucks standards resulting in a sub-standard product.

Regardless of file systems and modern video and image encoders, Windows and its apps take up a lot of disk space. A terabyte of disk space on a Mac goes much further than the same amount of storage on Windows. It’s another hidden cost. Heck, my MacBook Pro only has 128GB of storage space, and I still only use a fraction of it. It’s not a bloated operating system.MacBook Pro Storage Space

Windows 10 Storage Space Used

The MacBook Pro has many more apps and files installed. It has two browsers and loads of Apple built-in apps. The Lenovo machine has 21.5 GB of space taken up by a backup of the last Windows machine that broke. Other than that, it has fewer apps than the MacBook Pro — only one browser, nothing like GarageBand, which is a space-consuming app. If you subtract the backup, the Windows machine still takes up 55.3 GB compared to 24.08 GB on the Mac.

Between the antiquated file system, bloated operating system and inflated apps, Windows devours disk space. If I had a lot of image and video files on each system, the difference would be even more staggering, as Windows 10 does not have native support for HEVC and HEIF.

Privacy: Mac Wins

Apple earns revenues from selling devices. The Mac is a product, not you. Apple does collect data on their users, however, it’s used to support predictive computing. Unlike their competitors, Apple’s business model doesn’t involve selling your data to third-parties.

I’ve never experienced any creepy coincidences with Apple products. For example, if I write an article in Pages and surf the web, I don’t see ads and search results that are based on this past activity.

Apple has gone so far as to obfuscate HTTP headers (to prevent device “fingerprinting”) and randomize MAC addresses so that your web browsing and WiFi connections can’t be tracked by other corporations.

Microsoft takes a different strategy. Even though they sell Windows to PC manufacturers and end users, they also sell your data to third parties. Simply search for “Windows 10 privacy” in a search engine, and you’ll see countless articles about configuration changes you should make to ensure privacy. Unfortunately, altering these settings still does not ensure privacy.

I’m not a huge privacy fanatic, and I think it’s a bit overblown. Due to the 2016 election, privacy and cybersecurity have come front and center. They’re not the same thing. The two concepts have been muddled together by the “tech” media. People have forgotten that the biggest threat to privacy is our own government. There’s nothing you can do about that. People forget that even world leaders like Angela Merkel had their cellphone conversations intercepted by our government. That said, Apple’s commitment to privacy is essential to many. If you’re a tech startup working on a top-secret product, I’d be weary of buying a bunch of Windows machines.

Given Apple’s inability to unlock the iPhones of notorious criminals, you can rest assured that they’re not spying on you. They don’t care. It’s not their business model. They don’t know how to break their own security, which is reassuring to the paranoid or devious individual. That said, your Internet service provider and other devices are much less concerned about your privacy.

Out of the box, Windows is full of privacy breaches, spyware and adware. For example, by default, Windows will display a ridiculous number of notifications, including your emails. I was watching Netflix with Windows 10 notifications continually popping up, including every new email my mom received.

I have to wonder if they’re just sleep walking in Redmond. This problem has been around for decades, plaguing corporate PowerPoint presentations. It’s a major reason why corporate leaders have switched to the Mac. They still haven’t figured it out.

Although it took me about a minute to figure out how to turn these off (Focus Assist), why would that be the default? Shouldn’t people opt-in to security lapses, only if they have a clear understanding of the tradeoff? Not in Redmond, apparently…

Third-Party Integration: Mac Wins

Critics have constructed an Apple straw man — a greedy, proprietary company that doesn’t play well with others. The reality is that their systems are built with components from different vendors, including Intel, Texas Instruments and LG. Some components are off-the-shelf and others must meet stringent Apple standards. For example, I purchased an additional hard drive for my 2009 Mac Pro. It was an official Apple part, however, it was manufactured by Western Digital. That said, it’s a server-grade drive made specifically for Apple. It’s not a consumer-grade WD hard drive that one would pick up at Fry’s.

The truth is, Apple does such a great job at third-party integration, most consumers assume that everything was made by Apple. macOS doesn’t ship with an Intel app that looks for Intel updates. Apple folds all third-party updates into system updates. It’s completely transparent to the end user. Apple’s branding is preserved and users have a streamlined experience.

Windows 10 is a completely different animal. They sloppily strap on third-party support with virtual duct tape. If your PC has Intel components, such as a CPU or WiFi (often embedded in the CPU), it will likely come with an Intel update manager. By default, it will launch at startup, slowing down the already latent boot-up process. That’s the best case scenario.

Windows 10 Start up Processes

An Intel wireless update took out WiFi on the Lenovo IdeaCentre, just a day after I set it up. It happened while I was surfing the web!!! There was no notice or no way to opt out. I was online and was suddenly knocked offline. I had to manually reconnect to my hotspot, as the Intel installer didn’t reconnect me. Any way you slice it, that’s just sloppy, irresponsible and unprofessional. I’d never do any serious work on such an unreliable machine. I wouldn’t execute stock trades or banking transactions on a Windows machine either.

Lenovo adds an additional startup app to connect the wireless keyboard. They also have a whole other mess of settings on top of Windows 10 settings. It’s very confusing. For example, Windows 10 has a Nightlight feature, which is a fixture on every operating system these days. It reduces blue light after sunset, which may provide deeper sleep. Lenovo has their own similar feature on the same machine. How these work together is anyone’s guess. I don’t have the will or interest to fiddle and find out. It’s just poor third-party integration. The app also tries to up-sell some Lenovo extras. Indeed, Windows 10 is more like a virtual vending machine than an operating system.

Lenovo vs. Windows 10 Settings

Microsoft should just copy Apple again and unify software configuration management. Intel, Lenovo and third parties could push updates through a unified mechanism in the operating system. It’s such a simple thing, yet Microsoft just can’t do it. This results in slow start-up times and unexpected behavior.

Beyond update apps, third-party trial software constantly bothers users to make a purchase, even if you have Focus Assist turn on. McAfee anti-virus intimidates users into subscribing to their service, popping up messages through some Windows 10 adware mechanism. OneDrive will badger you to subscribe, over and over. Focus Assist should mean “leave me alone so I can work”, not “gee, I’d like to see some ads when I’m trying to get my work done”.

McAfee AdwareThere are numerous issues with Windows 10 updates. Users can really paint themselves in a corner where they need to restart (because Windows is buggy), but restarting could mean waiting 30+ minutes for an update to run. This happened to me. They have added some more control over “restart updates”, however, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could miss a deadline as your computer is unexpectedly unavailable.

User Experience: Mac Wins

Out of the box, a Mac is designed for the end user. Users breeze through a streamlined configuration process and hit the ground running. Although macOS uses some unfamiliar gestures (for Windows users), they quickly feel natural and accelerate computer usage.

Everything I need to use the operating system is a flick or click away. Siri doesn’t need to be trained to be used. macOS comes pre-installed with a suite of essential apps. Beyond Chrome and GIMP, I haven’t installed any other software (I uninstalled Fortnite), because everything I need is already here, or on the web. (I use a lot of Google apps and services, but mostly over the web.)

Windows 10 is a completely different user experience. It tries to provide a streamlined setup process. Heck, you can even use your voice to guide the process. The problem is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. After the initial configuration, users must continually go through updates from Microsoft and third-parties. With the Lenovo IdeaCentre, it was three different entities trying to update the computer — Microsoft, Intel and Lenovo. If I installed the HP software for the printer/scanner/fax, it would have been even worse. What a mess! It’s one of those things that Windows users have grown numb to. As a Mac user, it’s a big slap in the face. Microsoft is far more heavy-handed and treats the end user like a chump.

The Macintosh offers far better on-screen graphics than a reasonably priced PC. This goes beyond the obvious specs. I’ve noticed that Windows machines, even with powerful GPUs and high-resolution screens, still have jagged fonts. I’ve never even seen an Apple device with jagged fonts in almost a decade. Even with font-smoothing turned on, I can still see pixelation on the fonts with Windows 10. Perhaps if you get an ultra high-end PC, you can get smoother fonts, but maybe not. Subtitles on Netflix are smooth, even with much larger characters than one would see on a Word doc or web page. Jagged fonts are just part and parcel of Windows. With the exception of my old iPad 2, every Apple device I own has smooth fonts. Documents look even better than a page printed out with the highest resolution laser printer and the finest paper.

Smooth fonts are a big deal if you write for a living, be it code, news or the great American novel. I can work for hours on my MacBook Pro, without eye strain or fatigue. Beyond smooth fonts, the high contrast, bright screen is easy on the eyes. Every time I go back to a Windows machine, I feel like I stepped into a time machine and travelled back to the 90s.

Speaking of which, when I used the alarm clock app on Windows 10, the icon to save the alarm is the image of a 3 1/2” floppy disk! You gotta be frigging kidding me! This speaks volumes of Microsoft’s horrible user experience. The alarm clock app is drab with a massive, mostly empty window upon launch. I thought Apple’s built-in apps were bad, but they’re just mediocre. No one can beat Microsoft when it comes to horrible first-party apps. Even free Linux distributions come with better built-in apps!

Windows 10 Alarm Clock Horrible UI

Even worse, I had to search for the alarm clock, and the results show it as being available in the Windows app store. I had to wonder — do I need to buy this? I clicked on the search result, and it launched the app, which appears to have been installed on the system already. Wow. It’s really that bad! Windows 10 doesn’t even know if an app, developed by Microsoft, is installed or not. How well will it fare against malware? History has shown, quite poorly…

Is Alarm Clock App Installed?

If that’s not enough, Windows continues to provide users misleading and conflicting information. When I delete local files, Windows 10 tells me they’re not even on the computer. But they are! If they’re online-only, how can they be permanently removed from the PC? Does anyone read this stuff? Quality assurance? Documentation? It doesn’t even make sense!

Misleading Delete Dialog Box for Local Files

macOS is gorgeous and sophisticated. Windows 10 tries hard, with dynamic photographs on the login screen. Once you get beyond this elegant wrapper, it’s just lipstick on a pig. There’s not much aesthetically pleasing on Windows 10. It’s not a pleasure to use. It’s just a bland tool. Windows 10 is still the oatmeal of computing, but now we (should) know that carbs aren’t healthy.

Built-In Apps: Mac Wins

Apple develops mediocre first party apps. These are the apps that ship with macOS, such as iTunes, FaceTime, Messages, Photos, GarageBand, iMovie, Maps, Reminders and more. The fact that iTunes is mediocre, at best, is well-known. It’s hard to find anyone with kind words for this bloated virtual media vending machine. Apple’s other built-in apps are nothing to write home about.

macOS Mojave Built-In Apps

Unfortunately, the grass isn’t greener in Redmond. As bad as Apple’s built-in apps are, they at least give the user everything they need to hit the ground running. You can even record your band with GarageBand and edit the music video in iMovie. That’s well beyond the basics.

Microsoft Windows is a kit. When you get a new PC, you don’t even get the basic apps needed for a non-technical person’s lifestyle. Windows 10 ships with a limited trial version of Microsoft Office. Users are continually harassed about subscribing to Office and OneDrive. Contrast this with Apple’s free iWork suite. You get a fully functional office suite included with a Mac. I prefer Pages to Word, as do many people, even though I’ve grown up with Word.

There is one case where Microsoft Windows offers an app that Apple doesn’t include. One of our family friends wanted to buy a Mac for her grandson, and she asked if Apple has anything like Paint, included for free. (Windows 10 also has 3D Paint, which is pretty cool.) Macs come with image processing software in Photos and Preview, but nothing like Paint. You can download a similar app for free. Of course, Microsoft ripped off MS Paint from the original 1984 Macintosh:

MacPaint 1.0

In this case, Windows won. I think most people would rather have a free office software suite (iWork) or a multitrack recorder with amazing virtual instruments (GarageBand).

Cybersecurity: Mac Wins

Cybersecurity is another area where Apple shines. You don’t need to buy anti-virus software for a Mac. Any operating system can have security flaws, and some are worse than others. When you buy a Mac, security is part of the operating system. Apple patches security flaws quickly. I’ve never installed third-party anti-virus software on a Mac. With Windows, machines are often repeatedly infected, even with McAfee or Symantec security software installed.

I remember a Windows machine that I had to rebuild 5 times, as it was repeatedly infected with Code Red/Nimda. None of the Windows anti-virus software could remediate the malware, even months after the virus was known. I finally traced it down to a shared drive on a development server. The point is, Windows cyber security is a joke. It won’t even prevent infection from an old and well-known virus. It’s like buying auto insurance after you crash your car.

Misleading tech pundits claim that Macs get infected with malware as often as PCs. This is not the case. They’re conflating vulnerabilities with actual cyber attacks. Vulnerabilities are merely security holes. When a malicious user exploits a vulnerability, that’s a cyber attack.

If you leave your front door unlocked, something bad could happen. That’s a security flaw. If you leave your door unlocked and a burglar enters your home and steals your belongings, that’s akin to a cyber attack. Apple devices don’t fall victim to cyber attacks very often. The biggest security flaw was (and still is) Adobe Flash, which is partly why Steve Jobs didn’t want it on iOS. It is also the cause of most crashes on the Mac.

The typical Apple security flaw is actually difficult to exploit. Most of them have only been exploitable by malicious actors who either have physical access to the device or are on the same WiFi network. The widespread, virulent ransomware that cripples institutions? That’s unique to Windows.

A few iPhones have been subjected to ransom attacks, but these users had obvious passwords that were hacked from the front end. They left their door open. If you use “password” as your password and you get hacked, that’s not Apple’s fault. After these incidents, Apple has been aggressively steering users toward two-factor authentication. That said, they bug me less about this than McAfee’s intimidation on Windows 10.

Working with Windows Server in the enterprise, we had a third-party security firm do an audit of our systems. I was the “lucky” guy who had to fix all of the issues, as many of them went beyond what a network administrator could do. I was shocked at how many vulnerabilities were in Windows Server.

This experience gave me the first inkling that I should switch to a Mac. Our company was planning on moving our platform from Windows Server to IBM AIX, however, the product was discontinued before this happened, due to a government subsidy given to our competitors. (Gotta love corporate welfare!) The impetus to move to AIX stemmed from both performance and cybersecurity concerns.

It’s not so much that Macs have the best security. It’s more that Windows has the worst! There are other operating systems that offer better security than Windows. That said, the typical consumer isn’t going to run an AIX box at home.

The only reason we used Windows Server in the first place is because we, along with the rest of The Valley, fell for the Windows NT snow job. I learned to take Gartner’s prophecies with a grain of reality. I suspect that they may manufacture consent for preferred corporations.

Adherence to Standards: Mac Wins

The notion that Apple is a closed, proprietary company isn’t completely true. Apple does leverage some exclusivity. They famously only allow Apple device owners to send and receive iMessages. Although you can still text with anyone on any device, the richness of iMessages is only available within the Apple ecosystem. This is because they didn’t want to wait around for other mobile operating systems to have this capability.

Similarly, Apple went with the lightning connector, because USB-C was not yet available. In fact, Apple engineers were predominantly involved in creating the USB-C standard, which is inspired by Lightning. Lightning still has some advantages. It’s less prone to breakage than USB-C.

The other side of Apple is that they thrive in the open source world. The WebKit rendering engine is open source and serves as the “guts” for Safari. Almost two dozen browsers use WebKit, and Apple has contributed much of the code base.

Swift is another Apple technology that’s taking the world by storm. Apple open sourced it, and companies like IBM and the Linux community are adopting the technology.

As mentioned, OS X and now macOS are built on the open source Darwin kernel. Apple also uses open source implementations in many different products. For a complete list, please visit Apple’s open source website.

Microsoft also contributes to open source projects. Their Edge web rendering engine is open source, but, as far as I can tell, only Microsoft uses it. They have contributed a wide variety of utilities, however, much of this functionality already exists in more mature operating systems and software products. They were a bit late to the open source trend.

Open source doesn’t necessarily mean that a company adheres to standards. macOS is POSIX-compatible, which puts it in line with most operating system standards. On a Mac, you can start Terminal and run Unix shell script commands without installing anything else.

macOS Terminal

Recent versions of Windows include PowerShell, which is a POSIX-like interface for executing shell scripts. Unfortunately, it’s not POSIX compatible. It borrows ideas from Unix, however, it passes around .NET objects instead of working with piped text. It could be seen as an improvement, however, it still doesn’t meet standards. For example, if you were to use PowerShell to build enterprise Java, your scripts would not be portable across operating systems.

Windows 10 PowerShell

 

This is part of a long history of Microsoft doing things their own way. Yes, you can install software like MKS Tools, which simulates a Unix shell on Windows. Having used this technology, one must make slight modifications to shell scripts to make them run. Windows now supports a BASH shell, but it must be installed separately. Apparently, it can run graphical Linux apps, but not out of the box.

Beyond the geeky details, Apple develops cross-platform apps and technologies, such as AirPlay, iWork, iTunes and Apple Music. AirPlay has been incorporated into many AV receivers and will now be a fixture in LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio smart TVs. This cannibalizes Apple TV sales, however, it’s a device that doesn’t seem to have much of a future.

macOS AirPlay Audio

macOS AirPlay Display

macOS AirPlay Menu Bar

AirPlay is so ubiquitous, it’s pretty much a standard. If a media app doesn’t support it directly, you can usually turn it on from Control Center and it “just works”. In addition to Apple devices, AirPlay implementations are available on Windows, Linux, Chrome OS and Android. It’s a de facto standard.

Microsoft has some media beaming technology in Windows 10, but it’s not even close to being a standard. Miracast is only supported by Windows PCs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku. It’s ridiculously complicated to implement, at least compared to AirPlay. There are alternatives, such as beaming to a media server. It’s no wonder why AirPlay is so widely adopted. Launched almost a decade ago, and descending from AirTunes, the technology is mature and easy to use.

If you want a free suite of office software, look no further than iWork. The entire online iWork suite is available for free, to anyone. You don’t even need to own an Apple device. It works on most computers and devices.

I’m not the only one who feels that Pages is superior to Word. Although this doesn’t make iWork a standard per se, the fact that anyone can use it on virtually any machine, for free, isn’t the proprietary, walled-off Apple straw man that tech pundits have created.

Apple was one of the first companies to truly integrate High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF). It’s not a “strap on” product that users must pay for and install, like with Windows 10. With Apple, these new standards “just work” and free up valuable storage space. You’ll need to manually install, pay for, and initiate HEVC and HEIF video encoding on a Windows 10 machine. Once again, Microsoft bucks the standards, leaving it to informed users to assemble a virtual kit. Uninformed users will end up buying more storage. That’s not fair to the customer.

Gaming: PC Wins

Gaming is one area where Apple lags behind the competition. Although Macs have featured advanced graphics capabilities for years, software developers have shied away from creating games for the platform. Video editors and CGI experts have relied on the Mac to produce movies and TV shows that we enjoy. Clearly, the Mac has excellent graphics capabilities, particularly with high-end models.

With Windows, you get what you pay for. A low-end PC isn’t fit for gaming, however, the Windows world has a legion of PC gamers with expensive gaming machines. These tend to have ridiculous specs and price tags. If you think Macs are expensive, check out the price tag on a high-end gaming PC.

Corsair Gaming PC

If you want to play games on your computer, get a Windows 10 gaming PC. It’s not going to be cheap, but if you really love gaming, it’s worth the price. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to woo game developers, and Windows still has a massive market share.

iOS is actually the most popular gaming platform in the world, but it’s not better than Windows. If you want a truly immersive gaming experience, it’s not going to be on an iPhone or iPad. If we’re talking about the highest quality video games, an ultra-powerful Windows 10 computer is the best option.

Times are changing rapidly, and Apple has made further improvements on their Metal technology, with Metal 2 expanding on “bare to the metal” graphics code execution. Epic games, creator of Fortnite, has a deeper relationship with Apple than with any other company. They’re a fixture at the WWDC, with amazing demos. They have embraced Metal 2 and praise Apple for making great strides in graphics technology. They claim that with Metal 2, even an iPhone can outperform most desktop computers.

Macs now support various external GPUs. If you can’t upgrade the GPU in your Mac (before or after market), an external graphics processing unit can greatly enhance gaming.

For now, and probably a few more years, Windows 10 is the best option for high-end gaming. I expect Apple to eventually dominate this field, as developers will be able to port iOS games to the Mac. Sure, a lot of iOS games are simplistic, but there are many new high-end games which could be ported to macOS and improved. macOS can piggyback on the success of iOS, and Apple is working to make porting apps even easier.

Operating System Customization: Mac Wins

Myths abound about Apple, and the notion that they don’t support customization is yet another fallacy. It’s true that iOS is not very customizable. Although Apple has gradually added more tweak-able features to iOS, it’s still not nearly as customizable as Android.

Most people are unaware that quite a few customization features in Android actually came from the Mac. For example, the Mac had widgets before smartphones even existed. It was the first consumer-oriented OS featuring widgets. I really didn’t care much for them, and definitely didn’t lord them over Windows users.

The Mac is not an iPhone. macOS is not iOS. Apple has a much different strategy with the Mac. iOS is a streamlined user experience. macOS has more bells and whistles than you can imagine. Most of them can be toggled using Terminal commands. For the most part, you won’t need to purchase or install any UI tweaking software. Simply do some research and you’ll be amazed at how customizable a Mac is.

Beyond Terminal commands that can shape the behavior of the UI shell, there are some amazing apps that add powerful customization features. One essential app that I bought for my Mac is Moom. It makes it ridiculously easy to manage window sizes and positions.

Moom is tightly integrated with macOS — far beyond anything I thought Apple would allow. It overrides the full-screen window button such that hovering over it shows different options for window sizes. It’s ridiculously easy to tile windows horizontally and vertically. Moom can be customized in so many ways, with full automation. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what Moom can do. I kind of wish they had a “lite” version that simply had the basic window controls. Anyone who doubts the customizability of macOS, needs to take a look at Moom. The developer was able to override core macOS UI elements, which I didn’t even think was possible.

Moom on macOS

Windows 10 can be tweaked a lot, but in my research, these are all underwhelming compared to what one can do with macOS. It seems that the market for Windows customization utilities is dwindling. I couldn’t find any Windows 10 analogue of Moom or any evidence that Microsoft allows developers to override window sizing and positioning with the same degree of freedom.

The main reason I mention this is because I have read the “Apple doesn’t allow customization” straw man comments on countless web pages and social media. The people who say that don’t seem to have ever used a Mac. They have conflated iOS with macOS. I am fully aware that iOS is not very customizable. I think Apple understands what a mobile operating system should be, more than the competition. Most people don’t want a PC experience on a smartphone.

I also consider automation to be part of customization. After all, if you can kick off a macro that simplifies your user experience, you are customizing. macOS ships with Automator, which is a powerful automation tool. With Windows 10, you’re stuck with batch files, PowerShell scripts and task schedulers that are old, stale and obtuse technologies. Anyone can use Automator on a Mac. If you’re a software engineer or dabble in coding, you can do even more with AppleScript.

Automator for MacOS

macOS is not the most customizable operating system. Linux has far more possibilities. But if we are to compare Windows with macOS, it’s no contest. macOS is much more customizable than Windows.

Useful Lifespan: Mac Wins

Apple creates high quality devices. Although they outsource manufacturing, Apple is known to define industrial processes with a heavy hand. For example, they had to create the manufacturing processes to shape aluminum into a unibody case. The manufacturers themselves don’t have the expertise to do these things.

PC manufacturers have taken a free ride on Apple’s hard work, copying many of these processes. That’s why you see so many PCs, particularly notebooks, that ape the MacBook. Unfortunately, they haven’t managed to copy Apple’s quality.

Every PC I have owned (lots of them) has become obsolete or broken within 3 years. It doesn’t matter if it’s a high-end or low-end machine. You can spend a lot of money on a PC, and it will still break or become obsolete quickly. Most corporations I have worked at replace Windows PCs every three years.

The Macintosh is completely different. It’s well-built and Apple supports their devices for a long time. It’s actually become a problem for Cupertino. If your iPhone or Mac lasts a long time, you’re not going to replace it often. Their pivot into services hasn’t made up for this shortfall.

This isn’t just my opinion. Apple devices have a much higher resale value than the competition. This is because Apple builds quality machines and supports them for a long time.

They’re not perfect, but they’re better than the competition. My 2009 Mac Pro still just works and it’s still quite fast. I haven’t seen Apple try to throttle my Mac Pro with updates. That’s why I recently purchased a MacBook Pro.

I never feel cheated with Apple products, even though they cost a little more. Look at the value, not the price. Windows PCs will cost you more in the short run and long run. Don’t be fooled by the “cheap” price tag. Many of the MacBook knockoff PCs actually cost more than a Mac!

Repair and Upgrade Device: PC Wins

Apple devices are notoriously difficult to repair and upgrade. This wasn’t always the case. For some time, the Mac Pro was one of the most easy machines to upgrade and repair. I still own a 2009 Mac Pro tower, and it is far easier to upgrade than any PC I have owned.

Beyond upgradability, they designed the hard drives to be easily swappable. The Mac Pro’s case opens from the side, and a hard drive can be removed or inserted without touching a screwdriver or cable. This was essential for audio-visual professionals working at multiple locations.

Inside 2009 Mac Pro

A lot has changed at Apple. Their focus on consumer products has shifted priorities away from pro users. Changes in technology have also externalized upgrades. With the Thunderbolt interface, users can upgrade devices externally — even with GPUs.

It’s not the 1990s anymore. For me, upgradability and repairability do not influence computer purchasing decisions. If I get a fast, reliable machine, these issues are of no consequence to me. I’ve spent a lot of time fiddling with PCs. Some people love it. I just want to get my work done. Apple’s devices let me do that with a minimal amount of fiddling, both in terms of hardware and software.

If upgradability and repairability are still important to you, a Windows machine is your best option. I would recommend getting a tower PC. The Lenovo all-in-one is user-serviceable, but they also advise the user to check the warranty before opening up the machine. That’s another consideration for those who love to fiddle with PCs. You can fiddle your way into voiding the warranty!

The MacBook Pro I have is notoriously difficult to fix. The butterfly keyboard mechanism, keyboard, trackpad, battery — basically the top of the notebook computer — are all one assembly. This means if one key breaks, I need to replace the whole assembly, which can cost as much as $800. (Apple has extended the warranty to 4 years on MacBook Pros, because some users have experienced problems with the keyboard.) If you open your iMac or MacBook, you void the warranty. That said, it makes no sense to fix a computer yourself if it’s still under warranty.

If we are to compare the Lenovo IdeaCentre to an iMac, the iMac has a very low 3/10 repairability score on iFixit. Unfortunately, iFixit doesn’t have a repairability score for the Lenovo machine. There’s so many brands and models of PCs, many of them aren’t even on the tech radar. I can only assume that it’s easier to fix and upgrade, as the manual claims it is user-serviceable. Just check that warranty and also question whether the time and money is worth it. PC fiddling can be a really expensive time-suck. Time is money.

Cost: Mac Wins

Popular opinion seems to indicate that Apple customers are ignorant sheep who gladly pay “Apple tax” to use their shiny, useless machines. This used to be true, back in the 90s and early naughts. Macs were overpriced and limited. It was irrational to buy a Mac. This is no longer true.

Decent Windows PCs are not cheap. Sure, you can find a close-out model that a shoddy PC maker is trying to unload. The superficial specs seem great (processor, RAM), however, the machine is slow as molasses. That’s because these budget PCs usually have older motherboards with a slow bus speed.

These detailed specs are hidden from the customer. It gives the appearance that a $300 PC is as good as a $1100 Mac. That’s simply not the case. If you dive deeper and read reviews, you will find a horror show of complaints, such as motherboard failure after 3 months. I went through this process when trying to find a new PC for my mom. Most of them are garbage.

Microsoft actually had an ad campaign a few years back (“not cool enough to be a Mac”), where they schooled customers in comparing PCs and Macs based on minimal specs — screen size and “speed”. This conned a lot of people into sticking with a PC, when a Mac with lower specs would perform just as well (if not better), last longer and include a suite of free software. Anyone claiming an HP is better than a Mac is smoking something that rhymes with “Mac”.

If you look at Windows PCs that are trying to convert MacBook users, such as the Dell XPS series, they’re actually more expensive than a MacBook Pro. Don’t be fooled by the Dell having an additional 128GB of storage space or a slightly faster processor. A MacBook with “lesser” specs will perform better in real life. It will sometimes even have better Geekbench scores.

Beyond the physical machines, Windows PCs ship with trial ware and a lack of adequate built-in apps. A Mac ships with pretty much everything an end user could want. You hit the ground running. With Windows 10, you’ll be reaching for your credit card to get all the software that ships with a Mac.

Let’s compare my mom’s Lenovo IdeaCentre to my MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro should cost more, as it has a similar GeekBench score to the Lenovo, but a much smaller form factor. It’s also made of high-grade aluminum, not plastic. It has an excellent keyboard and trackpad. The brighter screen, although smaller, has much higher resolution, with a wider color gamut. I wouldn’t trade it for a bigger, dimmer screen with lower resolution.

The Lenovo cost $679 and the MacBook Pro was $1099. Both machines were purchased from B&H Photo-Video-Audio. Already, we have had to subscribe to Microsoft Office on the Lenovo machine. This costs about $70 a year. If the computer lasts 3 years, Microsoft Office will add $210 to the cost of the machine. If I were to buy all of the apps, codecs and technology to make the Lenovo closer to the MacBook Pro, it would end up costing much more. Remember, this is an all-in-one PC, constructed with plastic and it only has a 1080 HD screen. It actually costs more than a Mac, when software is considered.

Beyond hardware and software, Apple offers excellent support. You can bring your Mac into any Apple Store for help and support. I’ve called Apple’s customer support a few times, and they’re excellent.

Lenovo has a support hotline, but they don’t have the brick and mortar advantage that Apple has. The fact that an actual person will meet with you, face to face, to help solve your problem is priceless.

Don’t be fooled by the initial cost of the machine. When you add up everything that’s missing in a Windows PC, you’ll find that those cheap, plastic boxes cost more than a Mac!

OS Stability and Reliability: Mac Wins

macOS is a rock solid operating system. Before that, OS X was also similarly robust. In a decade of Mac use, I can count the number of app crashes on one hand. The main culprit is Adobe Flash, and Steve Jobs really wanted to rid the world of Flash.

None of my Macs have ever frozen or locked up on me. I’m thoroughly impressed with the stability and reliability of macOS.

Windows still has so many reliability problems and defects. Part of it is because they allow OEMs to fiddle with Windows. For example, I configured Windows security to bypass the login on startup and waking. It doesn’t work, because Lenovo has some garbage on the startup screen that compromises the ability to bypass a login. So, this machine, which sits in a home protected by an alarm system, needs to be authenticated every time it wakes. The security bypass only works when the computer restarts or cold boots. My 75-year-old mom has to remember and type in her password all the time, because Windows is so defective. The login screen can’t display her password, so even when she remembers it, it can take a few attempts.

I can go on and on about the bugginess of Windows, like Melville can elaborate on the whiteness of the whale. I experience more defects, crashes and slowdowns in one day of using Windows than in a decade of using a Mac. They’re that much more reliable.

Macs are not perfect. Although Adobe Flash is the buggiest thing on a Mac (it’s not Apple’s fault), iTunes is the second buggiest. That’s Apple’s fault. iTunes is garbage. I haven’t used it in years, and Apple seems to be phasing it out, in preference to the TV app and Apple Music. The iTunes Store app on iOS is much more robust. If you avoid iTunes on a Mac, you will have a much more robust experience. I use Google Play Music for my listening enjoyment.

Some of Apple’s apps have annoying defects, but they tend to fix them quickly. For example, Pages (Apple’s word processor) has a problem with copying and pasting text where title capitalization has been applied. I have to point out, Microsoft Word doesn’t even have this feature, and it’s very useful for writers like me. Capitalization rules are somewhat complex. Word will only capitalize each word, which is not correct title capitalization. Pages will save me from having to refer to Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style or use an external website — after they fix this bug. As it stands, their title capitalization feature is useless if it can’t be copied and pasted when I publish to the web.

These are minor defects, not the egregious mistakes one is subjected to with Windows 10. In fact, Windows 10 seems to be one of the most defective releases since Vista. I never used Vista, as I got my computers from work at that time. The IT department decided to pass on Vista.

The best version of Windows was Windows 95/OSR 2 (released in 1997). That was solid as can be, at least for Windows. All of the feature cramming and catering to third-parties and OEMs has resulted in the continued deterioration of Windows. In my opinion, they should rebuild the OS from the ground up, using the Linux kernel, and limit what OEMs and third-parties can do. In other words, they need to ape Apple. Microsoft couldn’t truly copy Apple. They’re not good enough.

Most Software Developers Don’t Use Windows

In the 90s, Windows was the go-to operating system for techies. Macs were for graphic designers and musicians. If you were writing code, chances are you were doing it on a Windows PC.

A lot has changed since the 90s. My interest in the Mac came about while looking for new employment as the product I was working on was being phased out. I saw more and more employers who wanted Java developers familiar with OS X software development tools. It became clear to me, if I wanted to fit in, I had to learn how to use a Mac. I didn’t want to show up at a new job, not knowing how to use the MacBook they just gave me. I didn’t want to be the Windows equivalent of the Mac enthusiasts I dealt with in the 90s. I begrudgingly bought a Mac and never looked back (other than to help people with their Windows PCs).

Today, Linux and macOS are the most popular operating systems for developers. This is mainly because developers tend to prefer POSIX-compatible operating systems. After all, a lot of developers write code that’s deployed to servers. Most servers run on Linux. It’s best to have a development machine that’s as close to production as possible.

I researched various online polls, and found that The Valley is not an exception. Some polls show that developers prefer Linux, with macOS being a close second. Other polls have macOS in the lead, with Linux being second. No polling data show that Windows is the number one choice for developers. If you’re writing code on Windows, chances are you’re developing a .NET application or a Windows app. For these projects, Windows is the best option.

Similarly, if you’re creating iOS or macOS apps, the Mac is the only way to go. It’s also better for Java apps. I am well aware that a few of the Android phone makers give their developers Macs. These are the facts I learn living in the Silicon Valley. Having developed Java on a Windows machine and a Mac, I completely understand why. That additional $300 for a Mac is well worth it. We lost weeks of software development due to problems with Microsoft Windows. That company was penny wise and pound foolish. Smarter tech companies will just buy Macs for their developers, because they want them to be productive. Fiddling with PCs undermines productivity.

Google Uses over 43,000 Macs

If the contentions in this article aren’t convincing, there are much smarter people who prefer the Mac. Google has over 43,000 Macs in use.

Google Uses Macs

They have some of the smartest people on the planet working with cutting edge computer science. They all tend to use Macs. Google does use some Windows machines, as they’re needed to develop Windows-compatible software. I suspect that many of these Windows machines are Macs, as a Mac is fully capable of running Windows.

“There was a time when Macs were a small part of the Google fleet,” Google system engineer Clay Caviness said, “but as of now if you start at Google and want to use a platform other than Mac you have to make a business case.”

You’re probably well-aware that Google and Apple are competing companies. Steve Jobs vowed to go “thermonuclear” on Google for copying iOS. Google competes with Apple in virtually every respect, except computers. Chrome OS has come a long way, but it is not intended to be a fully featured operating system, like macOS and Windows. Much like we purchase oil from people who would like to see us dead, Google buys Macs from Apple. It’s the rational thing to do. Even people who “hate” Apple choose the Mac over a Windows PC.

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