Do Claims for Macs Hold Up?

May 23, 2009

Written by wukovits

I’m sure you’ve all seen the ubiquitous “Mac versus PC” commercials on television, and you might wonder whether the claims Apple makes are true.  The answer is a resounding yes.

One commercial claims that the Mac is not susceptible to virus attacks, which is almost a completely true statement.  There is one recent account of a virus attacking the Mac OS (operating system).  The only way to get the virus in was to install an illegal (hacked) copy of iWork 09.  Aside from that, the Mac OS, the most current version code-named Leopard, doesn’t have any viruses running rampant, as do some Windows PCs.

This can be attributed to two factors, the first of which is that the Mac OS requires the user to authorize any program installation by entering the password.  It doesn’t matter whether the program is a small web browser plug-in or a full scale program purchased at a store.  Without that password, no insidious malware can install itself silently, as it does so often on the Windows platform.  The second factor is that there are a lot fewer machines running OS X; thus there are far fewer virus programmers running the Mac OS.  This will change as the Mac OS gains ground in the battle for computer dominance.  But for now, a computer running the Mac OS is a much safer alternative.

Another huge advantage of the Mac OS is the simplicity in the way it works.  It provides an ideal way for a newcomer to become acclimated to the world of computing, including email, web browsing, and much more.  There is more functionality in iLife, which provides the ability to make webpages, movies, music and more.  Bundled with most new Macs, this suite of utilities produces incredible results with ease.  My wife, who has used Windows PCs for email and web browsing for her entire computing existence, was able to adapt to her new Mac in less than a week.  In no time, she was creating webpages using photos captured from her camera just minutes before.

Now it wouldn’t be fair to leave out some of the drawbacks of purchasing a Mac; one of these comes in the form of sticker shock.  Most folks see PCs in the weekend sale ads for less than $500, and that includes a monitor and sometimes even a printer.  You won’t find a new Mac for that, I can assure you.  However, this bargain price gets you a bargain PC, and having a bargain PC can create issues down the line.  Cheap components and lackluster warranties will yield a short PC life span.  A Windows PC that features good components, great support and the features you need can often run over $1,000, putting the PC in the same price range as an iMac, the all-in-one solution from Apple that makes a computer look sexy, if that’s possible.  One of my consulting clients was engaging in a debate on the matter of which was the best buy.  After researching all-in-one offerings from Dell and HP, he discovered that the iMac’s price was actually lower.

One other thing: did you know a Mac can run Windows?  The Mac OS actually gives you the ability to run a Windows OS; so if you have a program that only runs on Windows, you can still run the program on your Mac.  While there’s a way to run the Mac OS on a PC, otherwise known as a Hackintosh, it isn’t supported by Microsoft, much less Apple.  Unless you enjoy troubleshooting computer problems and glitches, I don’t recommend it.

I love my Macs, and I’m writing this column on one now.  But don’t get me wrong, I still work on my PCs too.  It just took me longer to get good at working on them.

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