[The Mac Pro] is, by far, the most amazingly fast, spacious, capable, and well-designed computer I’ve ever used.
I have no doubt that’s a nice machine, and I am certainly glad his all-too-familiar, all-too-painful wait is over. That said, can one of the Fanbois explain to me what makes Apple computers any better than a PC set up by an intelligent user?
I think I’m qualified to answer this because, as you know, I was a great Windows user. I maximized Windows’ potential for many years, having only switched to Macs in 2004. I was such a good user that I didn’t even run antivirus software because I hated the performance penalties. I was just smart about how I used it.
Let’s start with hardware. Sure, it’s cheap, but PC hardware is crappy. It’s badly designed, it looks tacky, quality control sucks, and it flakes out too often. I can’t even begin to count the hours I spent in high school and college screwing around with my (or my friends’) PC hardware, trying to get custom hardware combinations to work properly together. And just try to find a PC case that looks decent and is comfortable to work in.
The software world is much more divided. The quality of OS X, and its third-party software, absolutely blows away anything on Windows. The difference is huge.
Mac software follows design principles that you rarely see in Windows:
- Incredible attention to detail
- Simple, clean interfaces
- Justified, focused feature design (no “kitchen sink” apps)
- Respect for the user’s time (no stealing focus, no unnecessary prompting)
- Respect for the user’s intelligence (no “we’re protecting you from this choice”)
- High quality (if it says it will do this and work this way, it will)
These principles are everywhere: from OS X itself and Apple’s other applications to the third-party shareware and freeware communities.
The attention to detail is particularly amazing. I recently tried a Windows Smartphone, and it was clear that nobody at Microsoft had ever actually used one of these. Apple hardware and software engineers will take great pains to ensure that a screw is centered or a form field positions the cursor to require the least user effort.
Admittedly, I haven’t used a Mac for more than about 10 minutes in as many years, but I’m failing to see what a Mac can bring me that I can’t accomplish for half the cost with an equivalent PC, and Ubuntu or the Linux distribution of your choice?
Cost isn’t as ridiculous as many people assume. Most Apple machines are very competitively priced with similarly specced PCs. But Apple’s specs only match the high end of most manufacturers’ lineups.
The Mac Pro ($2800) is very reasonably priced for an 8-core Xeon workstation. The MacBook ($1100) is very reasonably priced for a midrange consumer notebook.
It’s not that Apple machines are expensive — they just don’t have a low end.
I get (from what I can tell) just as bulletproof a machine, on great hardware (I use a ThinkPad), without the Apple tax, and with 90% of the eye candy thanks to Compiz Fusion. What makes a Mac so much better?
You can put visual effect layers on top of Windows or Linux, but it’s just painting a turd. Instead of ordinary frustration and time-wasting, you get pretty frustration and time-wasting. (And that’s subjective — personally, I find Vista’s Aero and the Linux “eye candy” add-ons to be garish, ugly, tacky, and completely missing the point.)
We don’t use Macs and Mac software because of the eye candy. We use them because of the design. Design and eye candy are very different — design is a combination of how it looks, what it does (and doesn’t do), and how it works.
Use a Mac for 6 months, and you’ll wonder why you ever used anything else.