On Nov. 5, we ran an
article, telling how International Herald Tribune columnist Lee Dembart was soliciting e-mails on why people used the Mac. MacCentral invited all those responding to that request to “cc” their e-mails our way.
And you did. Oh, boy, you did. We’ve waded through hundreds of e-mails. This week we’re running excerpts from a small sampling of your letters. If we ran them all in their entirety, it would make “War and Peace” look like a novella. So read on and enjoy. And please, no more e-mails on the subject for now.
Let’s start with responses from Mac users outside North America.
Assoc. Prof. Julian White MD, head of toxinology, Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Australia: “I have to use both Windows and Mac computers, on a daily work basis, with reasonably new varieties of each, well set up, plenty of RAM, and in that situation I find the Macs work better for my department. They are more reliable, more capable, more connectable, more networkable, and cheaper. They are cheaper because of total cost of ownership, not the initial cost of the computer.”
Peter Lindberg, a computer consultant in Göteborg, Sweden: “Up until now Windows has had an edge when it comes to scalability, stability (NT and 2000), development and flexibility but with Mac OS X that is all gone. Mac OS X is super solid when it comes to stability. Objective C, Java and Cocoa are excellent environments for developing applications. Scalability is, as always with Unix, without competition. Flexibility is brilliant with support for both AppleScript and different Unix scripting environment and a true modular architecture. Top that with awesome 3D-graphics performance, file sharing that simply takes every ounce of performance of hardware and disk performance leaving nothing left to wish for.”
Jan Morren, network administrator, Molecular and Cardiovascular Biology Lab, University of Leuven, Belgium: “I had the luck to work for the two biggest laboratories at our university, both Mac-based. The first was a yeast laboratory with 60 colleagues, the second (current) lab is a thrombosis and cardiovascular lab (150 colleagues). I can manage by myself the whole computer park, with 110 Macs and about 15 Wintels. I have to deal with viruses all the time on the Wintels, and none of the time on the Macs. I install a new Mac OS in minutes (7-10) while I spend hours to do the same on a Wintel.”
Edmund Jacobsen of Esbjerg, Denmark: “I’ve been working at a local newspaper here in Esbjerg, Denmark for almost four years now. It’s a Mac-based company, and the servers are based on Apple Share IP. Here’s the lowdown: The server, a 5-year-old 100MHz Mac has, with the six year old Apple Share IP 4.0 installed, been serving some 20 clients for many years. In the time I’ve been at the company, there has been zero breakdowns. How many companies can say that?”
Jan Moennaert of Berchem, Belgium: “I switched to Mac because I got tired of telling my fellow PC users how to change autoexec.bat and config.sys files in order to make their system work. In other words, I needed to get away from my friends, family and colleagues who thought it easier to call on me than to try and solve it themselves … I still work with Windows 2000 at work, but it can’t possibly match the clarity (of knowing where to find things), the lack of viruses, the positive user community support and just simply the general pleasure of working with a Mac.”
Franco Tommasi of Lecce, Italy: “… each time Microsoft releases a new version of Windows, they invariably, solemnly declare it does things the Mac has already done for a year or two. An example? In these days Microsoft enthusiastically announces Windows XP does wireless connections (AirPort software and part of the hardware are in every Mac from two years) and easy movie acquisition and processing (iMovie and FireWire are bundled with every Macs from almost two years).”
Cesar Aviles, MD, Santiago, Chile: “Since  I have had no less than 10 Macs at home and my personal office for the very same reasons: attractive design, ease of use, friendly interface, no need for external support, no problems installing or using peripherals, easy upgradeability, extended useful life.”
Jerome Olivier, Ota-ku, Tokyo, Japan: “The reason I started using a Mac is simple: on the Mac, I can work in a 100 percent English environment [1byte characters] while still create documents in Japanese [2byte characters] thanks to what were called language kits in the classic Mac OS.”
Matt Dinkel, IT Manager, Rönnberg McCann, Stockholm, Sweden: “Being a cross platform consultant I’ve lived in several OS worlds and it all comes down to one question. ‘Can you get it done faster, easier, with greater integration and with less support from professionals?’ Mac OS is faster due to it’s underpinnings of FreeBSD and multiprocessor friendly OS. The Mac OS is in the same class as IRIX on Silicon Graphics machines.”
Dr. Drew McCormack, Department of Theoretical Chemistry, Science Faculty, Free University Amsterdam, The Netherlands: “Windows has just too many options, most of which none of us will ever use. This clutters the interface. You can click your way though numerous dialog boxes to get to the one you want. The Mac is much more focused, less cluttered, and this makes things easier to find and change. This is a case of ‘less is more’ for the average user.”
Donald J. Sheehan: “Formerly, I had a Gateway computer for my genealogy work. There are 3,200 names in my own family tree, 2800 of which are connected. I found that with Virtual PC, I can still access on my iMac, all the genealogy sites on the Internet and use genealogy CDs in PC format … I come from a family of 8 children and my wife and I have 14 children. Between me and the children and grandchildren, we have 22 computers, eight of which are iMacs.”
Simone Manganelli: “I, for one, think that a computer should not just be a bunch of hardware slapped into a box and sold. I want to ENJOY using a computer, and the beauty of one is part of that. Apple puts a lot of thought into its design, and one of the aspects of the design is the beauty. There is no doubt that all of Apple’s products complement each other with the translucency as well as the physical shape of the computer … Along with the design of the hardware is the beauty of the operating system. Mac OS X, though departing from the traditional look of platinum as well as from many of the functions, looks great, and you can’t deny that. Apple has put a lot of thought into the beauty of OS X, using large icons even while retaining their customizability.”
Russell Towle: “For years two of my favorite programs, Mathematica and POV-Ray, have, in their Macintosh versions, allowed direct encoding of animations in the QuickTime movie format (with all of its various codecs to choose from). I have noticed that, when using these same programs under Windows, there seems to be no such equivalent capability. So, this one thing, all by itself, would keep me using a Mac and away from Wintel machines.”
Ken Watters: “Let me count the ways I’d rather have a Mac…
Macs are far more stable — always have been.
Macs are easier to use; they have a common user interface among all applications which are almost always more intuitive.
Everyday tasks are just less frustrating to do on a Mac. One only needs to look at AppleWorks vs. Microsoft Works to see this.
Because all Macs are built by Apple, the quality of the machines are generally better and more reliable.
The file structure on Macs is far simpler; programs can be copied from one machine to another or backed up without having to be “reinstalled.”
Macs interface well with Windows machines. All Mac peripherals will read Windows format files, and there are many major programs that work on both platforms. The reverse is not true; Windows will not read Mac formats in many cases.
Apple doesn’t tend to be nearly as aggressive as Microsoft about “capturing” clientele. Apple really doesn’t care what browser you use, or what Internet Service provider you use.
Fred Emigh: “Windows XP seemed to take a step backwards from NT, and now looks more cluttered. The new Mac OS X, on the other hand has a Finder to die for (not that I would intentionally die for anything other than my family). I’m curious that Microsoft opted for a more Web-style folder interface, the result being that it’s hard to find things amidst the clutter. OS X’s finder, on the other hand achieves one-click navigation through folders, with reasonably large and organized click targets, and with one-click access to any of three views in any window.”
Leland Jory: “Although I have been a Mac user for many years, I use Mac OS X 10.1 exclusively … Mac OS X is (arguably) the most compatible OS on the market. It is able to connect to almost any kind of network (Mac OS, Windows, and Unix. It will also connect to Netware 6.0, but I digress). The Mac OS has also been able to read DOS formatted disks for many years, and Office for Windows documents are readable by Office for Mac. The Mac is also the only platform I know of that can run apps for: Classic Mac OS, Windows (using Virtual PC), and Unix (hundreds of Unix apps are being ported to OS X daily) as well as its own native applications (the list of which is growing every day).
Derrick Peavy: “Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is less than with a Windows based system. While I have typically paid a couple hundred dollars more for my Apple computers, their life span has always justified this. Example: My second Apple was a 68040 at 80MHz. I used this productively in generating over $100K in business revenue for five years (1993 to 1998). My next Apple, a PowerBook G3 266MHz is entering year four. For both of these machines, I was able to upgrade through several versions of the operating system (like going from Win 95 to Win 2K on a single machine; find someone who can do that!) without a loss in performance, productivity or useable programs. Hardware upgrades are very affordable (drives, RAM, etc., on par with PCs) and very easy. I never have to worry about device drivers. When upgrading from one machine to another, it has never taken more than a couple of hours to move data and programs and be up and running. Time is money.”
Jon Capuchino: “Setting up and troubleshooting a Mac on the Internet is much easier on a Mac than on Windows. At least for your average home user or small office, the number of tabbed windows and multiple dialog boxes is ominous in Windows. Doing the same thing on a Mac is a one-stop process. For example, if you have a cable or DSL connection and are using a DHCP server, the only thing to configure is the TCP/IP control panel. You choose, connect via Ethernet, Connect using DHCP server, click OK, and make sure your Cat 5 cable is connected. End of story. In Windows, you have to be careful of all the settings you are turning on and off. Setting up a simple (or sophisticated) file sharing system is also easier on a Mac.”