This is a little essay that I’ve been working on for the last 2-3 hours about my thoughts on Apple and Microsoft. Please have a gander and feel free to give me some feedback about where I need to improve. You can also give me more operating system myths that I can try to debunk or prove! Any feedback would be great!

Thoughts on Apple and Microsoft

August 1, 2007

Written By Lewis Leong

The year was 1995. My Uncle Luke just swung by to see how the family was doing. To my surprise, he also dropped off his old IBM PC that he no long wanted or needed. This was my first exposure to computers and more importantly, Microsoft windows. From that day forth, the Windows operating system was all that I knew. Soon became proficient in Windows 95, 98, ME (gross, I know,) and finally XP. Windows was all I knew.

Then came the introduction of the iPod. This device “revolutionized” the MP3 player but more importantly, it became a platform for Apple to sell their computers, touting the simplicity and ease of use that Macs have with iPods and other Apple hardware. As more and more people switched from Windows to Apple, the more divided Windows and OS X users became.

Apple users touted their sexy hardware and reliability while Windows users argued for compatibility and flexibility. For a long time, I was a Windows fanatic partially because it was all I knew but also because I hated how snotty Mac users were. Years have passed and I am here to announce that I am neutral. I still use Windows and have used OS X for a short while and enjoyed it. I think is silly how divided people are about their operating systems and brands. There is a need for both Windows and OS X so stop your bickering!

With that, I would like to pose a few thoughts about some arguments against Windows from OS X users.

1) Windows is unreliable and crashes all the time, unlike OS X.

Wrong. Simply wrong. Windows does not crash all the time otherwise people would be throwing their Windows machines out the window everywhere. Throughout my life, Windows has only crashed on me a couple of times but it was not the fault of the operating system. They were hardware issues (mostly issues with RAM.) It is true that OS X is stable but I have also seen Mac users crash their system. Moral of the story: No operating system is immune from crashing. There will always be people who have no idea what they’re doing and crash their systems.

2) Macs can’t get viruses and is so much more secure than Windows.

Though OS X is more secure than Windows in a way, it is not because Macs are somehow immune to viruses. NO OPERATING SYSTEM IS IMMUNE TO VIRUSES. I cannot stress that enough. It is true that Macs get fewer viruses than Windows machines but that is because hackers do not want to spend their precious time to infect an operating system that makes up only 2.72% of the market. A few months ago there was a zero-day flaw discovered in OS X that allowed users to have full control and access of their computer via Wi-Fi. Luckily Apple promptly released a patch that fixed the issue. This is why enabling automatic updates in OS X and Windows is so crucial to the health of your computer. For Windows users, just know that you are in the crosshairs of hackers (the evil ones, there are good ones, you know) and you should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and a firewall to protect you. Also, it is important to be smart and do not click on sites that look questionable and DO NOT OPEN ATTACHMENTS!!! For the love of God, DON’T open them unless you’re ABSOLUTELY sure where they came from. Also, phishing has become a major threat to both Windows and OS X users recently. Phishing is when someone constructs a site that looks identical a popular site such as MySpace, Facebook, or worse, your bank and steals your user name and password. This is why there are so many comments and bulletin posts advertising porn by people you know that would never endorse that sort of thing. One tip to spot phishing sites is to look at the address of the site. If it looks fishy, close it. It’s as simple as that.

3) OS X just works while Windows is clunky and programs are difficult to use.

This one has a slight truth to it. OS X programs such as iPhoto, Final Cut Pro, and others work almost flawlessly on a Mac while Windows users are begging for programs with this stability. One reason why some software works so well in OS X is because the programs were designed for OSX. Not to say that software coders for Windows are incompetent (they are most definitely not) but they do face tremendous hurdles by trying to make the software work with many different machines from different companies. The edge that Apple has here is that they are the exclusive producers of Apple hardware and OS X is only licensed to be used in an Apple branded computer only, as stated in the EULA. It is hard for software developers to make their software compatible with computers from Toshiba, Dell, HP, Asus, Lenovo, etc. This makes Apple monopolistic but rightfully so (and people say that Microsoft is monopolistic.) It is just business because Apple wants their image to be of the high end, almost like Bang & Olufsen. Though I do thoroughly enjoy the design of Apple computers, I also enjoy how competition in the PC market has increased innovation and gives consumers choice. With the recent release of the Dell XPS m1330 and Sony’s Viao TZ, PC makers are definitely on par with Apple for sexy hardware designs.

4) OS X is so much nicer looking than Windows.

For a while this was true. Now with Windows Vista, I think a strong case can be made for how pretty Vista is. OS X looks a little dated now but with the imminent release of Leopard, that will change. OS X has always looked fluid with its glossy buttons and transparent effects but Vista also has this. If I may be so bold, I think Vista actually looks nicer than OS X. Problem is, Vista sucks system resources like no tomorrow to produce these nice looking effects. It’s still impossibly pretty. Good job, Microsoft! You’re starting to become more and more consumer oriented. I think Vista is a great step in the right direction but I am still not tempted to switch from XP because I have heard so many horror stories about incompatibility and annoyances in Vista. Release that service pack already!

5) Your Windows computer is having problems? Just switch to a Mac.

STOP IT! Stop telling people to switch to Macs if they’re having problems with their Windows computer. That is not a solution because they will just be in the position of having to learn a new operating system and not to mention, spending thousands of dollars on a new machine. If Windows was truly that horrible, so many people wouldn’t use it.

Side note: The popularity of Windows got to where it is today because it won fair and square. Not many people know this but Windows was never the most popular operating system. It was actually Apple that created the first personal computer which touted BASIC, instead of other machines that ran DOS. Apple was the first out the door, yet failed to capture the market because they were cocky when IBM entered the personal computer market.[1] The Mac operating system almost didn’t make it to production because Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, was heavily opposed to it. Thankfully, he saw it’s potential later and helped develop the Mac platform into what it is today (though he still can’t code his way out of a paper bag. He’s just “the boss”.)

In the grand scope of things, it really doesn’t matter what operating system you choose, whether it be OS X, Windows, Linux, etc because there will always be strengths and weaknesses from all operating systems. These OSes are as different as the people who use them. Can’t we all just get along? (In the computer world, anyway.)

[1] Owen W. Linzmayer. Apple Confidential 2.0.

San Francisco: No Starch Press, 2004

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