The whole Mac/PC thing going on...Why do people care?

I am sorry if this is a topic that has been recently discussed, but I couldn’t get the “Search” function to work, and I cannot remember seeing any thread on this topic of late.

I am currently a “cross platform” person, with both a PC (the newer, faster machine) and a PowerMac. I felt a little “left out”, not knowing about Macs, and I had heard they were good for graphics. (I’m an artist, so it made sense for me to be curious about Macs.) So far, I really like my little Mac. I think it has a lot to offer. But I like my PC as well.

Anyway, during my exploration of Macs, I found that many people have violent feelings (on both sides.) I discovered many “hate sites” on the web, (especially directed towards Macs.) And I just can’t figure out why people would give a damn about what kind of computer someone else is using. They are just computers - machines. This is not a religion or political philosophy we are talking about - just a machine.

Well, I can kind of see that some Mac people would get a little frothy about the mouth - they are “underdogs”, they are in the minority, and they probably feel the need to stick together for support, help in finding products, troubleshooting, etc. (But thanks to the iMac, Macs are getting a litle more popular, so Macs are a tad more “mainstream” these days.)

But what is the big deal with the Windows people ragging on Macs? They are by far in the majority, so much more support for PCs, everywhere, so when a PC/Windows person gets all frothy against Macs and Mac people (and I’ve seen it) it reminds me a little bit of a Big German Shepherd barking up a storm and having a fit becuase there’s some little poodle or terrier in their sight. Or the Big Fish having a fit because there are a few guppies swimming around in a corner. Why care? Why even notice?

I just don’t get it!

Hmmm…maybe this doesn’t belong in “Great Debates”, maybe in General Questions, or MPSIMS. I just thought with the “Mac vs. PC” element, Great Debates might be the place for it…

The whole thing dates back to the days of DOS – real men type code, real computers had open architecture, etc.

Then Mac came along – extremely simple point and click interface, peripherals that were made for the machine, and only those peripherals, etc.

Pretty soon it got to be a war between the “engineers” and the “artists.” Nowdays, of course, Windows is a graphical interface and there are many different monitors and printers for Macs, but the perception of the powerhouse vs. the elegant solution remain, sort of like the feud between ISP users and AOL users.

I understand all the words, they just don’t make sense together like that.

At this late date, I think it’s mostly just the Mac people who still care.

Oh, that would make sense…the Mac people are the underdogs, the faithful few, getting into a lather over the Big Evil Windows Empire…etc., etc. I’m sure that there are Mac people out there that think like that, but they’re only one side of it.

Check out And their forums are full of anti-Mac people (often young men) who obviously have it in for Macs. (One kid bragged about attempting to sabotage and ruin an iMac in a Sears salesroom.) There are Mac people in the forum too, arguing back, but since the site is called “I hate Apple”, you figure it out. There are plenty of anti-Apple sites out there. Plenty of anti-Windows sites too, but they’re not all from Mac users! :wink:

Regarding the contention between computer users…I remember witnessing a rather unpleasant exchange between two co-workers once. The PC person really dug into the Mac person, Big Time. My sister and her family are very anti-Mac, and are not pleased that I now have one. I just don’t get it.

Personally, I prefer the Amiga.


We’re not talking about individual machines, but companies and ideologies. Also, this conversation must be held in the light of history.

One of the basic differences between the two platforms today is that Apple is proprietary and IBM clone (PC) is not. Therefore, if you want to add 64 MB RAM, it costs twice as much if you own Mac. Let’s talk about software. Mac software comes at a premium if it even exists which many times it does not. As an example, a friend of mine invested $5,000 in a top of the line Mac in 1989 (against my most urgent advice.) I bought a 286 for $1500 (w/monitor and printer). Not the top of the line, but at the time the top of the line was a 386. He’s still got the same Mac and doesn’t even use it because it’s waayyy to slow. He can’t afford to upgrade it either. I still don’t have a top of the line, but it’s still is not too far behind. Over the years I’ve upgraded as I went for a yearly budget of about $100. His total investment: $5000. Worth: $0. My total investment: $2500. Worth: $500. Amount a current top of the line computer would cost me to build? Athlon 850, MB, 128 MB Ram, GeForce, DVD recorder using my current parts: $1600. Total cost still below $5000.

Historically another basic difference has been the accessibility of the operating system. Macs have always had a graphical user interface (GUI) operating system. This makes them very easy for a novice to medium lever user to operate. PC’s have traditionally had what is called a command line operating system. Not as easy to operate, capable of doing more. My experience with Macs when I worked in the computer lab in college was that one could never get the damn things configured properly and because the intention of the company and the OS was to keep things hidden from the user, it was often next to impossible to determine what the problem might be. On the other hand, the PC required a little more upfront knowledge, but after all is said and done they are infinitely easier to operate in non-ideal environments (like a computer lab.) With the advent of Windows, the ease of use of the PC has taken a hit, but I believe Win2K is getting back to where a little bit of knowledge can go a long way. Macs are still indeciferable.

Personally I prefer the Coleco Adam - NOT!

Anyway, I don’t get all rabid about Mac owners, I just pity them. They don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. I try to talk 'em out of it, but like my friend they don’t listen.

The real underdogs are AMD and Unix who are both on the verge their just desserts.

See…this is the kind of thing I’m talking about. Why do Mac people deserve “pity”? Why give a damn? I know a lot of Mac users - they are happy with their computers. It does what they want it to. So why pity someone who is happy with the product they chose, are aware of the financial differences between various products, and knowingly chose what they chose, for the reasons that they felt were important? It’s their money.

I have a Mac now, and I have a PC. I like 'em both. In some ways the Mac is much easier. To some of us, that is important - we want to spend some time doing something other than trying to troubleshoot a temprimental and cryptic computer. I think I am full aware of what I’m getting into, and what to expect. I am not a big geek, I won’t be tinkering with the innards of either computer, or writing code, or anything. I’ll be writing email, surfing, making web pages and computer graphics. So far, both machines work fine at this. They are just tools. The same way a hammer is a tool. Who cares which brand of hammer someone uses, as long as it gets the job done?

The history lesson on Macs vs. PCs was interesting, but it doesn’t explain the hostility 12-15 year old computer geeks have against Macs (or PCs) since most computers don’t run on DOS anymore. These kids were barely sentient when all this past history was being created.

Attempted posting the following earlier today but the #@^@@#@!! board was offline:

I’m a Mac person – slightly “ambidextrous” at this point, but exclusively Mac back in the dim dark era when the partisan stuff got started. So I don’t know firsthand why the PC users became hostile. Nevertheless here are some theories:

a) Like certain monolingual English speaking Americans who scowl and snarl and say “Speak English, this is America!” whenever they hear someone speaking other languages, they hated the presence of anything that wasn’t familiar and which they did not know.

b) Too many encounters with the more trollish of Mac partisans, the ones that sound like 13-year-olds. “Macs = KEWL, PCs=DREWWL”. “DOS? You mean POS: PieceOfShit. Oh, you use Winblows? Windoze?” Etc.

c) MIS guru types who were accustomed to reverence for being able to do complicated things like “set up a network” or “configure the BIOS” or “install the device drivers” had a not very nice gut reaction to a little box that ran on pictures that you pointed at, a machine that damn near any idiot could use without their help.

d) Mac partisans – the grownup variety – rubbed them the wrong way by looking at them using amber text-based screens, a command-line interface, 5.25" floppies, and a raft of programs with no standardized interface – they wouldn’t even share a common clipboard to cut and paste between – and explaining that they didn’t have to put up with any of that.

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I should also point out another difference. Macs cost more; when you buy one, you have made a more significant investment than you have if you buy a PC.

There are very few people online right now who are using a 386; DAMN few with a 286; and virtually none with anything more primitive than that (try putting an XT online!). Closer to the other end of the chronological path, a Pentium 133 is starting to look a lot like a doorstop, and a Pentium 60 is something very few people would consider to be a still-useful computer.

In comparison, you can browse the web with a Mac SE (8 MHz processor, circa 1986); a Mac IIci purchased in 1992 with 5 MB RAM and a 33 MHz '030 processor can be upgraded to a PowerPC 100, and MacOS 8.6 installed to make full use of that; you can put 128 MB on the motherboard. With the results you can encode MP3 files, digitize video, come to and particpate in this message board, run the latest Microsoft Office suite, and, in emulation, run Windows software, although at an annoyingly leisurely pace.

So an investment in a Mac is more of a long-term, expensive investment, whereas a PC purchase is more of the moment.

Because of this, many PC users find Mac users ridiculous for being so proud of the specific equipment – “It’s a computer, it’s out of date a month after you buy it and you tweak it twice then replace it (at least the motherboard)” – while Mac users consider PC users to own “impersonal”, disposable equipment – “Those PC users never have a name for their computer. This is Luella. Say hi to Luella.”. Mac owners compare themselves to purchasers of Mercedez-Benz automobiles, or even Rolls-Royces; a PC is a Chevy at best, and more often a Hyundai or a Yugo and is reliable (but soon obsolete) or far less so (and a piece of junk).

PC owners with sophistication are contemptuous of Macs because you can’t just replace an older standard motherboard with a more modern one, quickly swapping out components of yesteryear for components of today at computer swap shows: “Those idiots buy computers they can’t really upgrade. OK, every couple years you can buy an upgrade card for $500 or so to halfway splice you towards a modern Mac, but for $250 I can essentially replace my whole computer with a modern PC by swapping its guts out. No contest”.

Mac users listen to PC users’ tales of woe about trying to update their slightly aging, underequipped boxes to make them capable of some more modern stunt: “Gawd, I just wanted to get the digital images off my newfangled 2 megapixel camera. So I needed a SCSI card. Well the BIOS wouldn’t recognize it. So…” Mac users shake their heads in disbelief. “You live with this? Damn, every time I’ve added anything, I just plug it in and it just works. What in hell is a ‘BIOS’? What, you mean you have to TELL it that you added more RAM? It can’t just tell?”

It’s a different attitude towards computers.

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Burn in hell, you Mac, Unix, Windows, and Amiga users. The only true OS is Penguin’s Linux!!! Burn in hell.

[Close captioned for the cynicism impaired]

AHunter3, my wife works for a local office of a federal agency. Her office uses Macs while the majority of her agency’s offices are equipped with PCs. She has a Power Mac running Office 2000 at work and we have a PC running Office 2000 at home. She often finds it necessary to bring work home with her and using a PC for editing work begun on a Mac is a slow and cumbersome process. Buying a Mac for home use is not an option at this time. It seems to me that for normal office use, Macs are out of the mainstream and that constitutes my lack of enchantment with them.


Really? Why would that be a “slow and cumbersome process”? I don’t use Office myself, but isn’t the file format exactly identical? Shouldn’t even require “Save As” conversion, just save normally and copy to removable media. (Well, OK, she does need to remember to put PC-style three-letter extensions such as .xls or .doc at the end of each file name).

Be that as it may, yes, Macs could be said to be “out of the mainstream”, which is another way of saying “It isn’t exactly like the ones I already know”, or “Speak English, this is America”.

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As an IT consultant, I generally have a certain pitying contempt for the whole environment (“PC” stands for “programmable calculator” in my book).

Nevertheless, the whole debate bears a certain resemble to modes of automotive ownership, to my mind. You don’t care and don’t want to know what’s under the hood? Buy an Apple product. You’re willing to change the oil yourself? Buy a machine with Windows (9x at this point, although I hear that Windows 2000 isn’t bad; I haven’t seen it myself). You can and do pull engines and rebuild them? Buy an Intel box and install *nix (there are a lot of flavors of Unix out there, only some of which are suitable for a computer that you can keep on your desk).

Windows is in the middle of the spectrum, and, as such, gets it from both sides: Mac users look down on it for requiring tinkering, and *nix gurus as not being flexible enough. There’s also a certain amount of hatred for Microsoft as the computer OS and software equivalent of the Evil Empire, as the frequent transformation of its name into “Micro$oft” indicates. (It’s often forgotten that Jobs and Sculley tried the same thing with Apple, and just couldn’t manage it. As for Linux and Open Source, have the enthusiasts finish up Gnu first, and wake me – or call me out of the grave, which seems more likely – when it’s done.)

You have Mercedes tastes and a Chevy budget – or in this case, you can’t afford a Mac? Your choices are: learn Windows or *nix, get a better job, or do without.

“I don’t just want you to feel envy. I want you to suffer, I want you to bleed, I want you to die a little bit each day. And I want you to thank me for it.” – What “Let’s just be friends” really means

My biggest complaint is that the Windows proponents propagate so many myths…

inertia writes:

My Mac is runnig just fine with SDRAM that was aimed at a PC.

I’ve done extensive studies on this because I am involved in the purchase recommendations for a number of PC and Macs. For equivalent software, the price is the same, though the PC software often has hidden extra costs. This application doesn’t play nicely with that application so now I have to pay for an upgrade on that application… Did you realize that many new games for the PC were developed on the Mac platform first. They are merely released on the PC platform first because that’s where the money is. With a modern Macintosh running Virtual PC, Windows applications actually run more reliably on Macs than on Wintel machines. This is not hype - I say this from first hand experience.

My 2 year old 300MHz G3 still smokes my 6 month old 366MHz Pentium II. One of the guys in my group has a new 500MHz G4 and another has 650MHz Athelon machine. The G4 makes the Athelon look like it’s standing still. Plus, after we added a graphics card, sound card, network card, modem, DVD drive, etc. the Athelon computer cost nearly $800 more than the Mac.

I have no idea what you mean here. My PC spends most of it’s time in the shop - the experts can’t figure out what’s wrong with it and have little time to devote to my machine because they have too many other PCs “on the rack”. My Mac, on the other hand, runs seamelessly and is maintained by me because it’s so easy.
AHunter3 writes:

This is only true if you don’t need any extras like network cards, graphics cards, sound cards, modems, USB or FireWire ports, DVD players, etc… I price systems for business use and the Mac is consitently the same or lesser cost, unless I’m willing to buy non name brand PCs with no support or sign up for MSN…
I use and maintain both and I can tell you objectively that I prefer Macs. My company requires me to purchase mostly PCs, but at home I have two Macs. My Macs are more reliable, have higher performance, and cost less than the PC-equivalents at the time. I rarely have trouble finding reasonably priced software for my Macs, but there are some things that I simply can’t get on the PC. I’ve yet to find any PC software that won’t run faster on my Mac under Virtual PC than on my actual PC.

I am slowly becoming a Mac evangelist, but I come by this disposition honestly. The more I have to use my PC, the more I appreciate my Mac.

Personally, I could care less if someone wants to use a PC over a Mac. I do care when PC proponents use misinformation to convince the uninformed that the PC platform is better. There are good reasons for choosing the PC as your platform. The most significant is the fact that since PC is the dominant platform, there are a lot more people you can go to for help when things go wrong… which in my experience, is much more frequent than on the Mac platform.

Yeah, I know, that was a left-handed complement, but there are a few things that I honestly prefer about Windows, but they are fewer than the things that I prefer about the Mac OS.

JoeyBlades: “Did you realize that many new games for the PC were developed on the Mac platform first. They are merely released on the PC platform first because that’s where the money is.

Please back this up (the games and their developers, please). It seems patently absurd to me, given the fact that many games are never released for the Mac.

To give you my background: I’ve used Macs ever since the original 128K model. In 1993 I took a job (started part-time, became full-time) installing, networking, maintaining and repairing Macs at the local Health Sciences Center. I left that job last August to go to law school.

Although I used PCs off and on just about all my life, I always disliked them. At some point, around 1995-96, I became cross-platform: I taught myself to fix PCs because I needed to be more versatile. I believe that it’s easier for Mac users to use PCs than for PC users to switch to Macs, not because Macs are harder to use, but because PC users are used to an awkward way of doing business and it’s a shock to use something that’s intuitive. PC users’ minds have been molded to suit doing work the way Mr. Gates thinks they should do work.

Anyway, the more I worked on PCs, the more I hated them. You wanna talk about pity? I pity users of PCs who don’t realize that there are alternatives. I pity people who think that it’s normal to have to reformat your hard disk and reinstall all your software every six months just because “that’s the way it is.” I pity people who can’t connect to more than one printer at a time because there’s no available IRQ for a second parallel port. I pity those who have to remove their sound cards in order to install a network card because the sound card already grabbed the IRQ that the net card wants to use. Jesus, people, it’s the year 2000! You shouldn’t have to worry about crap like that anymore!

And hey, let’s talk user interface. The differences are subtle yet maddening. Examples: a menu bar in each window requires orienting yourself in two dimensions to position the mouse properly. On a Mac, just slam the mouse upwards, and you’re there. How about closing a window within an application? In Windows, the window close box and the application close box are within millimeters of one another. Great design, Microsoft. And, one of the subtlest things: on the Mac, the mouse control is hard-coded on the ROMs. It’s a part of the machine itself. On the Wintel machines, with their archaic COM-port driven mice (and even the newer bus/PS2 mice), the mouse cursor jumps around like a spastic flea as it moves. Ergh.

Anyway, on to history: there were two main reasons for the bickering of old. One, machines were much more expensive back then, especially in the case of the Macintosh; you really had to pay a premium to own one. Thus, people felt a need to justify the extra money they had spent. Doesn’t mean that they were wrong, it’s just an aggravating factor. Two, Mac users knew they were using the superior product, yet PC users kept calling them ‘toys’. Funny how the macho machines have stolen all their recent design ‘innovations’ from the much-maligned toy…

Yeah, I still got some residual bitterness about the Mac-PC wars from the early years of the 1990s. Guy Kawasaki organized a vehement, vocal bunch that he called the Evangelistas; when he read an article maligning the Mac, he revealed it on the EvangeList mailing list and we, the grass-roots raiders, would email the author with our opinions. Occasionally, their email accounts would have to be shut down because thousands of unique messages clogged their mailboxes. It was kinda fun to feel like part of a movement.

Now, the Mac is on solid footing. The company’s profitable, the product is still better than the competition, and Apple makes the fastest consumer-level computer in the world. But, there are still battles to be won: game developers, though they often develop their product on Macs, only release PC versions of their games. DVD-ROM content included on movie discs often is not Mac-compatible. And, for some reason, some PC people still think that Macs are more expensive, harder to upgrade, and little more than toys.

Screw that. I’d rather give up computers altogether than give up my PowerBook for a Windows laptop.

By the way, the earlier post about Macs having more ‘personality’ is right…people do tend to name their machines. My PowerBook’s name is Greystoke. My previous Mac, a IIvx, was named Jezebel (with two additional drives, Delilah and Bathsheba). I’ve heard that, when the colored iMacs arrived at CompUSA, people liked to just walk up and pat them.

Macs…ya gotta love 'em.

How about we start with DOOM II, by Id? Much of the graphic design was done on the Mac. No, I don’t have a link, because I visited their studio in Dallas before the release of the game and saw their systems.

If you wanna talk about game companies that started out on Macs producing Mac-only and then produced PC versions as well, Bungie is a good example. Bungie produced the Marathon trilogy, as well as Myth and Myth II, plus the upcoming Halo and Oni.