Can't We All Just Get Along? (Win/Mac)

In a recent thread in GQ, I pointed out (admittedly, in a hijack) that Apple Computer’s new PowerMac G4 is, out of the box, technically superior in many ways to easily obtainable Wintell machines.

Or something like that.

TheNerd contended that he could, for less money, “build a PC that will kick it’s candy colored ass.”

So, here is the way I see the whole issue. I am going to list some things, point by point:
[li]Apple Computer is a unique company; it builds PC’s and writes the software that runs them. No one else since IBM has attempted to do this, and IBM failed at it. Occupying this unique niche makes Apple very difficult to understand, and even tougher to compete with.[/li][li]As I understand it, Apple’s new strategy is not to build the best computers in the world; it is to build the easiest computers in the world to use. I mean, they scored big with the iMac, which really did get from the box to the internet in less than 5 minutes. Now, every system they market is designed to get out of the box and be useful, immediately.[/li][li]Apple is dedicated to technical innovation:[/li][list]
[li]They were the first company to build boxes with USB ports, right?[/li][li]They were the first to ship a PC with no floppy drive, forcing users to adopt ethernet and the internet as “standard” ways to get data on and off of their Hard Drives.[/li][li]They were the first company to ship a PC with an optical mouse.[/li][li]They were the first company to ship a PC with Wireless Networking capability.[/li][li]They were the first company to ship a PC with Gigabit Ethernet built in.[/li][li]They were the first company to ship PC’s with no fans.[/li][li]They were the first company to ship PC’s with software like iMovie, making the creation of edited Home Movies a snap.[/li][li]They were the first company to ship PC’s with standard dual processors.[/li][li]They were the first company to write an OS that utilized those dual processors.[/li][li]They were the first company to ship PC’s that broke the giga-flop barrier (“supercomputers”).[/li][li]They were the first company to ship PC’s with standard DVD-R drives.[/li][li]They have won more design awards than any other PC manufacturer in history.[/li][/ul]

Now. Considering all of that: Here is my assertion:

Given all of Apple’s technical innovation, unique niche and stated marketing strategy, their role is to provide all-in-one, easy to use, personal computers for all levels of the vertical PC market.

Of course, other software and hardware companies can make lower-cost products. They can also produce better products. (See, TheNerd, you were right!) But, Apple provides units that exceed the needs of most users (both novice and advanced) for a reasonable price.

So, to arrive (finally!) at my point, individuals who are inclined to enjoy the technical challenge of building and working on their own systems will enjoy Wintell machines, while those people who would rather leave that up to someone else, would be better served by Macs.


I will attempt to get into this :slight_smile:

When you say company to build PCs, I gather you are talking about big factories and not small ma and pa stores? If not, then I would have to say no off the bat to almost all of your points.

  1. USB - I don’t believe Apple was first. I think it came out in the PC96 spec if memory serves…I am sure others more in tune will correct me if I am wrong

  2. No floppy. Let me understand this…you think that is a GOOD thing?

  3. Optical mouse. Not sure. As I am sure you are aware MS had those out for a couple years now…which is predominantly for a x86 machine, although they were/are mac compatible I believe. Regardless though, they are still using that gay 1 button set up. That nullifies any possible gain IMHO :slight_smile:

  4. Wireless networking. Most wintel mobos support infrared linking. whether its used or not us another story. I have also heard from a freind of mine that <gasp> works at a Mac store that says their wireless networking suck ass, big time. This is from a big-pro machead.

  5. Gigabit ethernet. I believe that. Once again though, who cares? Although it may have some good use. 100Mbit is the std for PCs now, and pretty damn fast for me. I will concede you win on this one though :wink:

  6. No fans. Again, so what. I guess since its quiter? OK. The G4 is a cooler running chip though, so I guess thats a good thing. I would hardly call that a huge technical leap though.

  7. iMovie. Ummm…OK. I guess its good for homemade porno? OK you win that one too! :wink:

  8. Dual processors. Nah. IBM has been making dual processor servers for YEARS.

  9. OS. Nope.

  10. Gigaflop. Unsure…but I would buy it :slight_smile:

  11. DVD-R. Maybe the first from the factory, but they have been available for several months for wintel machines already.

  12. Design awards? Are they building computers or making dresses? I don’t care if it looks real spiffy…I want it to work well.
    Regardless of all of the above, it all comes down to software. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Wintel absolutely demolishes the MacOS for available software and games, and thats what counts.

My .02

  1. USB was innovated by Intel. Intel MBoards were the first to have USB.
  2. Ethernet was made a standard by IEEE 802 project. When ethernet was standardized, Apple’s were incompatible with it. Apple dropped floppies because most of the files they used (Large graphics or movie files) were far to big to fit on floppies.
  3. Apple didn’t jump on the optical mouse bandwagon and widely utilize optical mice until they came out with the G4. PC’s had earlier generation optical mice a while before that.
  4. PC’s have had wireless Infrared, Laser, and radio ethernet devices for several years. Apple had them about the same time.
  5. Mac was the first to place GB ethernet cards in desktop machines, but they’re far too expensive to be worth it. Besides, you would need the whol network to be running at 1 GB in order to get the full usefulness of a GB card.
  6. They have an unconventional design which allows this. However, they weren’t the first to make a cube shaped computer, a PC linux box called Qube was the first cube machine (It’s 7"x7")
  7. iMovie: Big deal. It’s not that great of video software. You can get better video editing software for PC’s (I’m not sure if it’s available for Mac or not)
  8. Conventional dual processors have been in PC’s since Pentium Pro.
  9. Mac doesn’t have an OS that utilizes them, not until OS X is shipped.
  10. Good for them, I’m glad they have something going for them.
  11. They did have DVD-R, but early versions made DVD’s that were incompatible with the majority of all DVD players on the market. What’s so useful with that?
  12. Actually, IBM is, as far as I know. They put more money into R&D than almost every company (Over 5 billion), and have had the highest number of patented designs for 8 consecutive years.

I don’t think people who should buy Apple’s should be the one’s who don’t enjoy technical challenge. Rather, I think the only reason people should buy Apple’s are for the sheer power of the G4 (The only good product Apple has designed, IMHO).

I will also address your points about which I have any knowledge in order. I’ll just skip the ones I know nothing about.

  1. USB- I also believe that Apple was not first, but I have no cite.

  2. No Floppy- For years, nearly any major PC manufacturer would design a system for you with the components that you want/need. You could get any standard PC without a floppy drive. That’s no great accomplishment. However, try to get an iMac WITH a floppy drive, and you have to worry about getting an external drive that uses one of those 2 USB ports. The keyboard also uses one, and you have to get a special adapter if you want to daisy chain them, because the external drives don’t come with them.

  3. Optical Mouse- Also unsure, but I was the recipient of a new iMac 10 months or so ago, when they first started shipping with optical mice, and the damn things sucked! I could almost never get it to work as well as the old iMac mice, which also were really annoying to use because they were the wrong shape to fit your hand. I am not the only one to notice that the mice were less than fully functional. At the time I was working as in-house tech support at a local business, and I got so many complaints about the mouse that I eventually ordered a new one. Good thing they were the first to ship a sub-standard product.

  4. No Fan- I don’t know for sure, but I think that AMSTRAD was the first company to make PC’s without fans.

  5. iMovie- Conceded. iMovie is really nice and easy to use. However, this is approaching the realm where traditional PC’s, which are separated in terms of hardware and software, can’t possibly compete. A hardware manufacturer couldn’t easlily include software.

It is great that Apple creates integrated systems, producing both hardware and software, but there is also a great deal of 3rd party software that is made for Apples, and is really necessary for many tasks.

  1. DVDR- I don’t know, but if so, why? Is there any need in the marketplace today for a standard DVDR drive. DVDR’s are still very expensive, and are not an ideal storage medium for many things. It is cool that you could make a movie with iMovie and then burn a DVD to play in a home player, but I’m not sure if there is a big enough market for that.

On the whole I really like Apple computers. Don’t get me wrong. They really are out of the box usable. The interface is very user friendly. They do make quality machines. However, they are not the end-all be-all that you think they are.

Also, Apple computers are lacking in one serious way: software. There is just not the software support available for Macs that there is for Window’s based PC’s.

I would be first in line to buy an Apple if they weren’t always 18 months behind in getting new programs adapted for their systems.

Whoops…I misread statement 12. I thought he was saying that Apple has designed more innovative products, but on readin it again, I think he means appearance designs. Oh well.

I never really understood Apple until I read some columnist who said that Apple is a “boutique computer manufactuer”. That’s really it, I think. Apple makes computers that are pretty and exceptional in a thousand small ways, none of which particularly matter (or haven’t for years) as far as getting work done goes. They’re an item, a collectable. They’re very good computers, generally, but the reason they’re more expensive is that they’re not about computing, they’re about having.

I am a Mac newbie, so I certainly cannot address each individual geeky hardware point brought up here.

But I have both Mac and PC. I love them both, for different reasons. I can testify that I did not buy my Mac(s) just to “have” them. I use them. A lot. Especially for graphics. I find them generally more stable.

If a Mac is not your cup of tea, that’s just dandy. But please don’t assign motives for why Mac users prefer them. We can speak for ourselves.

I didn’t mean to suggest that they’re an end-table fixture. Mac users certainly do use them, and use them lots and well. The ease of use for which Macs are justifiably famous probably leads lots of Mac owners to do more with their computers than they would if they owned a PC.

What I’m suggesting is that Macs scratch a lot of itches that fall far outside the realm of “getting something done on a computer”, and my experience of Mac users bears this out. From trendy Imac colours to the sense of elitism that I find typical of Mac defenders, a Mac is more than a computer, it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s buying designer jeans or foreign cars; it’s knowing about a charming little bistro on a side-street. They’re things that are demonstrably better in many ways, but are also unavoidably clubby and insider-ish.

I don’t think Mac users are so easily classified. What I’m addressing is the direction very consciously taken by Apple since Steve Jobs took over again.

Has anybody seen the mouse to my Amiga?

This is true. However, with Virtual PC or Softwindows, a Mac can emulate Windows and therefor use almost all software available for that particular platform. So, even on my lowly Rev.B iMac, I have MacOS9.1, MacOSXb, and Windows2000 (along with YellowDog Linux and NetBSD).

Hansel: Thanks for the clarification! I am not sure I feel so “elite” with my Mac. I just feel a sense of security knowing that I won’t be getting multiple freezes and Blue Screens of Death on it! :smiley:

Lowly!?!?! Are these iMacs already “lowly”? I have a Rev. C. I am tickled with it. It is good to know that you are getting so much out of a “lowly” Rev. B! OS X? How do you like it? How much RAM? (Pardon the hijack…)

These two camps will never get along. The divide is over more than a simple computer purchase, it’s over a philosophy.

If you’re torn between the two platforms, I think the decision is simple:

You want to play games? Buy a PC.
You want to make stuff? Buy a Mac.

PCs win the game battle not because they’re faster (they’re not) but because of the sheer availability of software. And even so, the Mac has plenty of games available for it. You just have to know where to look.

Macs win the creative battle because they KICK ASS at designing stuff and manipulating images and audio. The Mac interface is also very user friendly. I have a lot of experience on both Mac and Wintel and think I can attest to that.

At work I was running a beige G3 (yeah, even Apple used to make beige computers) that was a lovely machine, even though it got its ass kicked by the design department G4s. But, it ran Quark just fine. The GUI on Macs is also far more intuitive than the PC interface. Everything is wholly consistent from one program to another and all the keyboard shortcuts make sense.

If only people would wise up to this. Macs are faster and friendlier and the price difference isn’t that much. Yeah, you can’t get to all the little technical parts on a Mac as easy as you could on a PC, but the thing is, you usually don’t have to.

I feel I have to defend the one-button mouse attacked earlier. Who needs two or three buttons? Don’t get me wrong, I like gadgets and knobs and dials and all, and I kind of like the weird wheel on some wintel mice (mouses?), but really, I’ve gotten along fine without multiple buttons on my mouse for years.

Anyway, before the Mac-as-art-object crowd gets too revved up, they should remember that the Mac’s graphic interface was getting making computer print design realistic when PC users were learning MSDOS 3.x commands. Despite the anti-polycarbonate backlash bandied around these days, Macs are made to get things done, just like wintel clones, but intended to be easier.

There’s also some stuff about certain applications being native to one platform or the other, but I’m not going to pretend to understand exactly how that works. Maybe someone can shed some light?

Sorry, that came our harsher than I intended. I guess enough gang attacks by CS and CPE majors will turn anyone into a raving lunatic (maybe a short trip?).

In no way can you use them to run even slightly new software at a decent speed with any of those products. Especially those that involve graphics…and even more so on an iMac

My buddy with a 128MB and a G4 (sorry, don’t know how fast…does 450 sound possible?) fired up Virtual PC and tried to play Descent Freespace and Carmegeddon (both 2-3 year old games). They play faster on a 166Mhz Pentium. Easily. They were totally unplayable and sure liked to crash.

However, I would bet they would be fine to run programs like Word or something along those lines.

Don’t get me wrong, I really do respect Macs and I do not want this to turn into a bash thread…but they are not the ideal home computers. Some of the owners are almost zealous about this and spew garbage about and for some reason feel that they must defend their purchase.

If you want a good little computer and you are happy with your iMac, great! However, for the same price you could have bought a wintel machine that is a unarguably a TON more expandablity for the future and (arguably) more powerful that actually has some leading edge software out for it that doesn’t have the name “adobe” on it. Thats my point :slight_smile:



I am not going to argue that a one button mouse is unusable…that is totally false. However, a 2 button mouse is much easier IMHO. Anyone who disagrees more than likely has not used one for any period of time. Saves on all the “keyboard shortcuts” or having to go the menu bar all the time.
Don’t even get into the GUI argument :slight_smile:


Eric – who for some strange reason is longing for his Amiga again…

I haven’t run Virtual PC on my Mac, since I already have a PC. I am sure you are right, though. I would agree, if large part of your computer existance is games, games, games, then maybe a Mac isn’t the best choice. (However, if games are just part of your reason for enjoying a Mac, then I think the major game titles are out on Mac.) I am not a gamer, so I don’t really care.

Well, yeah, if they go up to you and feel that they must defend their Mac purchase, then they needn’t have bothered. However, many Mac people will tell you, that some PC people roll their eyes and give them crap because they have a Mac. It’s natural to get a little fed up with this.

Oh, but you would have a Wintel machine. That’s my point! :slight_smile: And I strongly prefer Adobe products.

It’s too bad the G4 is so expensive. But there are so many advantages to the Mac (in my mind) that I hope to get a G4 eventually. I am happy with my iMac for now, though.

Of course, I want a nicer PC too. I guess I am cross-platform all the way.

I had to get used the the one-button mouse when I first got a Mac. But then I realized that with most things, if you just held the mouse button down for a second or two, and menu would pop up, (just like with a right-click.) Also, before I got my first Mac, I was woefully uneducated on keyboard shortcuts. I decided I’d better start learning them, because of my Mac. Now I love using keyboard shortcuts, and prefer them! I would use them more on my PC, but keyboard shortcuts are not standardized in the same way on the PC. (Another reason to like my Mac.) And since I am constantly switching from PC to Mac and back again, I find myself trying to do the “Get Info” keyboard shortcut with my PC. And I find it very irritating that I cannot. Oh, by the way, I now have a two-button mouse for my iMac. (It comes with my digital tablet.) It is very nice.

sdimbert, my little jab in that other thread was just a bit of friendly rivalry (though I do believe that I can follow through with it).

I really have no problem with Macs as a viable choice for some people. As others have said, it is a choice based more on philosophy of what a computer is for than anything else.

I for one value having control of my system at as fine a level as possible. I also find it far easier to develop software for x86 (pc) systems, and I find it easier to develop software ON those systems.

The thing that gets me is that Mac users tend to have this idea that PC = “Wintel”. That’s far from the truth. I have before, and will again, build PC systems with no intel parts and no Microsoft software. And the fact that I can do that is exactly the best reason why I like the PC platform.

Technical innovation? Exactly how long did it take to finally get a version of MacOS with preemptive multitasking?

A 2-button mouse is ergonomically awkward. Your finger has to stretch either to the extreme right or left to reach the button it wants. That kind of side to side movement can easily cause a RSI. Speaking of which, I’ve been the victim of mouse-related finger fatigue in my life; when I start feeling it, I switch to using the mouse left-handed for a few weeks and then switch back. That’s not nearly as easy to do with a 2-button mouse. And don’t get me started on those models with the damn scrolling wheels…

Saves on what? On my Mac, with one hand on the keyboard and the other on the mouse, I can execute commands with blinding speed; people often have trouble following what I’m doing when I do computer work for them. Perhaps this is because Mac keyboard shortcuts aren’t counter-intuitive nonsense like “Alt-F4”.

And going to the menu bar on the Mac is no chore, like it is on the PC. When your menu is always at the top of the screen, one need only slam the mouse quickly skyward to run directly into the menus. On a system when menus are present in each window, one must orient oneself in two dimensions to click on the correct item. What a way to build a GUI…

While we’re on the subject of design, y’all seen Apple’s latest PowerBook? Just over 5 pounds, 1 inch thick, 400-500 MHz G4, titanium outer shell, and a 15.2" widescreen display. drool…

Max Torque:

I’ve never heard of anyone holding a mouse like that… I put my index finger on the left button and my middle finger on the right button. I use either finger to turn the wheel.