The Computer Blog

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Consider Switching to a Mac if...

Microsoft's Vista, their PC operating system replacement for Windows XP, will hit the stores this week. In response, articles have been hitting the web about stepping up to the new OS. As you might expect, several of them arose at PC World. One of them presented the opposing point of view and was entitled “Wait! Don’t Buy Vista!”. Interestingly enough, one of the reasons listed by the writer (Mike Elgan of Computerworld) was because a user might want to switch to a Mac. If he or she had to learn a new operating system, it would be no harder to learn OS X than Vista.

How true!

But then Mr. Elgan made some rather obvious strategic errors, ones that shout out he is not a Mac user and doesn’t understand where Macs are these days. I am referring to the following statements from the article:

“Consider switching to a Mac if: You're not into PC gaming. You don't have any Windows-only applications you'd still like to run without emulation. You don't have a major PC hardware investment--such as expensive flat-screen LCD displays--to take advantage of. You don't have non-Mac applications that are required by your employer for working at home.”

These statements would have been good advice before Apple switched the Mac line to Intel CPU’s; but now that it has, none of these make any sense. Let me take these on one at a time.

"Consider switching to a Mac if: You’re not into PC gaming." If you stay at the forefront of PC gaming and upgrade your machine to the hottest CPU as soon as it is released, then that probably still holds true. If you’re not, then you can buy a Mac that will run Windows at almost any level you like. If a seventeen, twenty, or twenty-four inch iMac isn’t powerful enough, then plunge into the world of the Mac Pro. More than likely, its 3.0 GHz or 2.66 GHz Xenon dual core CPU’s will do; and you will be able to obtain a video card to match up with what you need, whether through Apple or a third party. Quad-core CPU’s have already hit the market and several folks have successfully run some of these in current Mac Pros’, though upgrading a machine in such a way will destroy the warranty.

"Consider switching to a Mac if: You don't have any Windows-only applications you'd still like to run without emulation." Using Boot Camp, you can boot into Windows XP (and maybe Vista) and run any Windows application you need natively. You can also use Parallels to run Windows within OS X and you are still NOT running in emulation, but running the application under Windows XP with only a slight hit in speed. A single or even a couple of Windows-only applications is not reason to suspend a move to a Mac anymore. Admittedly, though, you will have to supply a copy of Windows XP SP2 to load onto the Mac if you don’t have one you can use.

“Consider switching to a Mac if: You don't have a major PC hardware investment--such as expensive flat-screen LCD displays--to take advantage of.” Most PC hardware will work with a Mac and OS X. If you really have a large, expensive flat-screen LCD, matching it up with a new Mac will probably be no more difficult than with a new PC. Mac mini’s and Mac Pro’s need an external display to run, and the others can run an external display in addition to their internal display. My MacBook Pro can run up to a 30 inch Apple Cinema Display (which requires dual-link DVI), and we have used my wife’s MacBook and my MacBook Pro to run a 32 inch HDTV using a DVI to HDMI cable. Even if it won’t run under OS X, since the Macs can now run Windows, there’s a very good chance your peripheral would still work on a Mac.

“Consider switching to a Mac if: You don't have non-Mac applications that are required by your employer for working at home.” I run Windows XP using my MacBook and access my workplace network using Windows (as well as OS X). If your “non-Mac application” runs on Windows XP, you’ll be able to run it on a new Mac using XP (or maybe even without XP using CrossOver for Mac, but that's a whole different blog).

Of course, I am making one big assumption in all my arguments, and that is the term “Mac” means an Intel-powered Mac, which all the new Macs are. If you buy a refurbished or used PPC Mac, then the arguments above made by Mr. Elgan will hold true. I’m going to assume, though, that if you’re going to spend the money on a Mac, you’re going to buy a new one, one Apple is manufacturing today.

You deserve the best. Go get it! (HINT: It won’t involve buying a PC!)

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