I like Apple computers, but I’m not a zealot. I use Windows (albeit on a Mac), and I can list several things about Apple’s operating system that annoy me. True, I think Apple’s software is better than Windows. Why? I don’t know. One reason is probably because Apple controls the hardware and software, which makes it easier to ensure optimum compatibility. That doesn’t mean that Apple won’t screw things up down the road, but for now things work pretty well.
Before I switched over I had no idea if Apple computers were better or worse, but that didn’t stop me from deriding Macs. Now I know better. I know both systems well enough to compare them, and I know that I can’t live without Windows but I can keep it under control.
So, when I came upon an email yesterday from a Windows user who was trying to give advice to a lawyer who wanted to switch to Macs I had to laugh. Let me explain the situation so you’ll understand.
There is this ’email group’ that I tune into, and it’s inhabited by lawyers who like technology. One of the participants writes in to say he’s tired of Windows XP because it crashes all the time. He says he has no intention of moving to Vista. He hates XP’s vulnerability to malware and viruses. He doesn’t like how long it takes his laptop to wake from hibernation. But he needs to run a Windows program called Casemap as part of his practice. His plan is to get a Macbook Pro and use a virtualization program like Parallels or VM Fusion to run Windows on his computer, but first he wants to know if he’s headed for problems he can’t see.
Of course, since I live in exactly the world he is seeking I could have told him that he’ll probably be fine. It’ll take him awhile to get used to the Mac operating system, but after a few weeks he’ll get the hang of it and after a few months he’ll wonder why he didn’t switch sooner. Of course, it won’t all be perfect (nothing is) and he’ll find some things about the Mac OS that he finds annoying. But he won’t have the major annoyances that he seems to be trying to avoid: i.e. frequent crashes, inability to reliably sleep his laptop, and excessive vulnerability to viruses and spyware. At least not for now. Like I said, who knows what will happen to Apple computers in a few years?
But I didn’t write in because I didn’t see his email. I did, however, see the response from a Windows lover.
The Windows zealot tells him that if he switches to a Mac just to avoid those problems he’s basically ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water.’ Then, after carefully considering the best way to solve all of the guy’s supposed problems, he offers this amazing solution:
“Do a fresh install of Windows XP. This will ultimately be quicker than trying to figure out what is going on exactly. Once installed update Windows until it will update no more.” (emphasis added)
Oh yeah, baby! Don’t waste time troubleshooting (who knows were to begin with that in Windows?) Just reinstall the whole operating system. That’ll take up a good part of your morning and a bit of the afternoon. True, it will probably make the computer run smoother and that will help with some of the reliability issues, but it isn’t likely to make the laptop better at hibernating. Very few Windows machines hibernate well, at least not in the way that Macs do. The malware, if any, will be gone but the inherent vulnerability won’t be.
Yes, it’s true that Macs can get viruses and may face increasing threat as they become more popular. But for now they are less prone to malware than Windows computers. I haven’t run virus protection on any of my Macs and have had no problems on any of them since I started using them in 2003 or so. I have had to reboot my Macs, but only occasionally. For the most part they run great for months at a time.
Oh, say that reminds me: you know what I’ve never had to do on any of my Macs? Re-install the whole freaking operating system. Of course, in the Windows world reinstalling the operating system is considered a routine housekeeping practice. Some people do it at least once a year, and others do it whenever Windows reaches its ‘half-life.’
So, if you are thinking about switching to a Mac just to get more reliability, better sleep mode, and less malware, please don’t. Don’t be rash, and try to keep things in perspective. Just reinstall the operating system.
And quit whining about the goddam viruses.