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Debating Mac vs. PC in the Legal Environment

By February 28, 2008Uncategorized

Picture_2The ABA Journal’s online version has an article about Macs versus PCs in the legal work environment. The article is written by Rick Georges (PC fan) and Ben Stevens (Mac lover), and is presented in the form of a debate between the two. I find these debates amusing, and largely pointless.

I used Windows computers exclusively for over ten years, but about 4 years ago I started experimenting with a Mac. I found that the Mac was more reliable, and—frankly—a lot easier to use. So I switched most of my computing over to the Mac side. I still run Windows (on my Macs) and am very familiar with Windows operating system and the software that runs on Windows. I would consider myself a ‘power-user’ of both Windows and Macs. I know many other dual-system power users, and almost none of them assert that Windows is a superior system.

The ABA Journal ‘debate article’ is pointless because Rick Georges admits that he does not use Macs at all. His argument for not using Macs is predictable: I don’t want to have to learn a new system, and I like being with the dominant operating system that 90% of people use. Oh, and he also says “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

With all the respect that is due to someone who has no sound basis to make a valid comparison, I disagree with Mr. Georges. For starters, Windows is broke. And the latest iteration, Vista, is broke real bad. I have several friends who I consider Windows power-users, people whose opinions about technology I greatly admire. And I’m talking about people who don’t use Macs and don’t want to use Macs. I don’t know one of them that likes Vista. Well let me re-phrase that: some of them like the look and feel of Vista and therefore would like it a lot if it worked well and didn’t require 4 GBs of RAM. But it doesn’t work well, and so most of my PC-only geek friends have either stayed with XP or downgraded away from Vista.

The Vista nightmare is so bad that it’s causing people to consider switching to Mac. And in some cases, it’s causing people to stop considering switching and just doing it. For example, Chris Pirillo used to be the host of a show on TechTV and used only Windows computers. Recently he decided that he’d had it with Windows and switched most of his computers over to Macs, and he offers 50 reasons to switch.

Yes, it’s true that close to 90% of the computers out there are Windows computers. But, it’s also true that there isn’t always ‘wisdom in crowds’ (actually, I don’t think that there is ever wisdom in crowds but that’s another argument). If other people want to use computers that crash all the time, have security problems out the wazoo, and are magnets for malware and all kinds of goofy programs that clamor for attention, then I’m happy for them.

But I’m a lot happier for me—that is, not having to play nurse-maid to a bunch of Windows machines. Well, that’s not exactly true either. I run XP on all of my Macs (with an emulation program called Parallels) so that I can use some programs that I need for my law practice. Whenever I start up Windows it acts like a puppy that hasn’t been out of the house for a week, jumping around begging for updates, rebooting all over the place, and slobbering about all the new hardware that it’s found. “Yes,” I say “that’s a nice little Windows. Now get your tongue off of my arm and let me get back to work.”

Yes, Mr. Georges, you know a lot about Windows. No doubt about it. But you don’t know much about Macs other than what you have read or heard, so you really aren’t in a sound position to compare. You understand there’s a cost in switching, and that’s certainly a valid concern. But if your doctor tells you that you have to change your diet or you’ll die soon what are you going to do? Most people don’t have to change their diet, so why should you? I don’t know why should change either. Maybe it’s because in the end you’ll feel better and be able to get more done?

Just a thought from someone who has actually made the change and actually understands the real tradeoffs.

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One Comment

  • John says:


    Your post is insightful because you have a foot in both worlds; your experience is reassuring for those of us who are Mac users in a PC frame. We need to know that as we try to migrate we will still be able to operate effectively in a PC world.

    My immediate problem is that my practice is not in a major metropolitan area. We do not have immediate access to Mac gurus who can guide us even with a modest venture into the Mac world.

    What is needed is a step by step guide on how to begin the process. Once the MacBook Pro arrives in my office what do I do? How do I connect it to my network? Will I have to give up wordperfect or is there a Mac version? These types of question may be elementary for the advanced techno practitioner but this is what confronts most of us who are newbies to all this.


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