Yes, You Can Have Your Mac and PC, too

I bought my first iMac ten years ago, just after graduating from high school. He was Strawberry and his name was Bob. Sadly he met his demise when he was dropped by the USPS on the way to my college dorm and was never the same again. I did manage to collect insurance, however, and used that to fund the purchase of my first iBook, Rupert I.

Yes, I’m sure if you’re a die-hard PC owner you may think the above statement is utter gibberish, and I should probably have myself committed. It’s no secret that Mac users sometimes foster curious relationships with our computers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But though I spend most of my time on a Mac, I’m not opposed to PCs. I don’t hate them. I don’t threaten them. I don’t secretly want to rid the world of PCs and give everyone MacBooks when they’re not looking. I just like my Mac better; I grew up using one and, given the chance, I’ll continue to do so. My husband has a PC he built himself, even; when something goes wrong he doesn’t have to go crying to the Genius Bar like me. He can just fix it.

As it turns out, my approach to the Mac/PC debate is pretty common. A recent NPD survey indicated that 85% of American Mac users own a PC, as well. (On a side-note, Macs are also in 12% of US homes now, up 4% from last year)

What underlies that statistic? Well, money for one. Macs are far more expensive than their PC counterparts, driving many hipsters to credit cards in order to purchase the much-loved glowy apple logo (not that I… ahem… would know anything about that…). For a lot of households it’s just more cost-effective to have a PC. But the study also indicates that Apple users don’t just spend more money, they have more to begin with and purchase more gadgets in general.

I particularly like Ars Technica’s conclusion on the study:

The takeaway here is that the number of Mac users in the US is growing, Mac users tend to prefer MacBooks to desktops, and they generally have more money to spend on Apple and other CE gear. But it’s worth noting that rabid Apple fanboys are probably more rare than typically imagined; going by NPD’s data, only about 1.8 percent of US households are Mac-only.

So. Come on guys. Mac? PC? Let’s kiss and make up, shall we?

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35 Responses to Yes, You Can Have Your Mac and PC, too

  1. I too live in a multi-OS household. Actually, to be precise, we have three active computers (that are larger than palm size): one is a rarely-used desktop PC that boots into either Win XP or Kubuntu, my husband has a Vaio laptop with Vista on it, and I have an aluminum MacBook that also runs Parallels Desktop so I can have my XP and Kubuntu when I need them.

    Of course, we have a variety of desktops and laptops in the basement with anything from Win 98 to Slackware on them. But no Macs down there.

    I came to the Mac game late. Besides a job I had in 1992 editing newsletters on one of those boxy b/w Macs, I staunchly refused to use a Mac. My main complaint was the lack of control (as I perceived it) over the operating system. And, hand-in-hand, the closed architecture of the hardware.

    For many years, I used only PCs in every job and at home — from 386s on up to Pentium 4s. When Vista was released, though, and I was starting to feel the need to buy a new laptop, I got scared. Vista promised to be exactly what I hated about Macs — "easy" configuration at the price of personal freedom. Well, we all know how well that promise paid off, so I'm glad that I had my one-year affair with Linux. I learned a lot about free and open source and learned that I need not suck off the Microsoft teat all the time. Unless I needed Quicken.

    So, last year, when I started a new job as Web Services Manager of a major US library, I had to learn to love a Mac. It came with the job. And you know… it was easy. And not the kind of easy you see on the TV commercials. It was an easy transition for me after the Linux period. In fact, I'd say it's probably the best kept secret (from non-geeks) that the current Mac OS is sooooo F/OSS-friendly. And of course the architecture is closed! Besides locking down stuff so you buy just from Steve, the stuff *works*. Fewer choices mean no conflicting standards. Just avoid the iTunes and you're good.

    So, the lessons I've learned:

    * All proprietary vendors are evil

    * Buy all your hardware from the same manufacturer

    * Use the right tool for the job, which means, run every OS you need to

  2. I too live in a multi-OS household. Actually, to be precise, we have three active computers (that are larger than palm size): one is a rarely-used desktop PC that boots into either Win XP or Kubuntu, my husband has a Vaio laptop with Vista on it, and I have an aluminum MacBook that also runs Parallels Desktop so I can have my XP and Kubuntu when I need them.

    Of course, we have a variety of desktops and laptops in the basement with anything from Win 98 to Slackware on them. But no Macs down there.

    I came to the Mac game late. Besides a job I had in 1992 editing newsletters on one of those boxy b/w Macs, I staunchly refused to use a Mac. My main complaint was the lack of control (as I perceived it) over the operating system. And, hand-in-hand, the closed architecture of the hardware.

    For many years, I used only PCs in every job and at home — from 386s on up to Pentium 4s. When Vista was released, though, and I was starting to feel the need to buy a new laptop, I got scared. Vista promised to be exactly what I hated about Macs — “easy” configuration at the price of personal freedom. Well, we all know how well that promise paid off, so I’m glad that I had my one-year affair with Linux. I learned a lot about free and open source and learned that I need not suck off the Microsoft teat all the time. Unless I needed Quicken.

    So, last year, when I started a new job as Web Services Manager of a major US library, I had to learn to love a Mac. It came with the job. And you know… it was easy. And not the kind of easy you see on the TV commercials. It was an easy transition for me after the Linux period. In fact, I’d say it’s probably the best kept secret (from non-geeks) that the current Mac OS is sooooo F/OSS-friendly. And of course the architecture is closed! Besides locking down stuff so you buy just from Steve, the stuff *works*. Fewer choices mean no conflicting standards. Just avoid the iTunes and you’re good.

    So, the lessons I’ve learned:
    * All proprietary vendors are evil
    * Buy all your hardware from the same manufacturer
    * Use the right tool for the job, which means, run every OS you need to

  3. @Scot First: yes! An excellent overview of the various ways we can approach computers in our lives. I've had my head bitten off a few times just for saying I like Macs, like I should revoke my geek card or something. Not so fast! And secondly: thank you! I am definitely enjoying writing, and glad to hear that you like my particular take on geekery.

  4. @Scot First: yes! An excellent overview of the various ways we can approach computers in our lives. I’ve had my head bitten off a few times just for saying I like Macs, like I should revoke my geek card or something. Not so fast! And secondly: thank you! I am definitely enjoying writing, and glad to hear that you like my particular take on geekery.

  5. Haha :) my story is the other way around:

    My first Mac was a Macintosh Color Classic, the best I could have asked for (I only used for very basic things, spreadsheets, etc), just before Windows 3.1 went out. But I'm very glad I bought it, i loved it, the OS was very smooth, the programs were great and stable, although little hard to find (I'm from Mexico).

    But years later, my Mac became obsolete when I wanted to get into the "new" Internet-surfing-thing and needed to run Windows because my classes asked me to run specific software, so I switched to Windows 98.

    And the BSOD came also, errors and bugs. And I loved my Mac every day more.

    Now I'm stuck with Vista (although I now know it inside out), desperately wanting a Mac Book Pro :)

    Cheers everyone

    PS: I just noticed GaS has finally put a favicon for the site! Yeeeeey :D Congrats!

  6. Haha :) my story is the other way around:
    My first Mac was a Macintosh Color Classic, the best I could have asked for (I only used for very basic things, spreadsheets, etc), just before Windows 3.1 went out. But I’m very glad I bought it, i loved it, the OS was very smooth, the programs were great and stable, although little hard to find (I’m from Mexico).

    But years later, my Mac became obsolete when I wanted to get into the “new” Internet-surfing-thing and needed to run Windows because my classes asked me to run specific software, so I switched to Windows 98.
    And the BSOD came also, errors and bugs. And I loved my Mac every day more.

    Now I’m stuck with Vista (although I now know it inside out), desperately wanting a Mac Book Pro :)

    Cheers everyone

    PS: I just noticed GaS has finally put a favicon for the site! Yeeeeey :D Congrats!

  7. FWIW, that 4% figure was probably the retail sales, not installed user base – a VERY different number. The installed userbase has always been much higher than most people believe. Last I heard, about 4 years ago or so, it was closer to 9%.

    • It'd help with my reading comprehension if I took the time to read sentences for meaning. Oops. "Up 4%" doesn't mean "up from 4%", but my installed user base point still stands.

  8. FWIW, that 4% figure was probably the retail sales, not installed user base – a VERY different number. The installed userbase has always been much higher than most people believe. Last I heard, about 4 years ago or so, it was closer to 9%.

    • It’d help with my reading comprehension if I took the time to read sentences for meaning. Oops. “Up 4%” doesn’t mean “up from 4%”, but my installed user base point still stands.

  9. I love my Macbook Air and my hackintosh. They're great machines. I also have absolutely nothing against PCs. Both machines have their uses. I just have a preference for the Mac operating system (hence the reason I built a hackintosh), but I always keep all of the computer I own dual-bootable.

    The one and only gripe I've ever had about PCs is Windows Vista. Not Windows in general. XP and 7 are great operating systems, but I've just never liked Vista and it wasn't for lack of trying. It is just awful.

  10. I love my Macbook Air and my hackintosh. They’re great machines. I also have absolutely nothing against PCs. Both machines have their uses. I just have a preference for the Mac operating system (hence the reason I built a hackintosh), but I always keep all of the computer I own dual-bootable.

    The one and only gripe I’ve ever had about PCs is Windows Vista. Not Windows in general. XP and 7 are great operating systems, but I’ve just never liked Vista and it wasn’t for lack of trying. It is just awful.

  11. As usual, I'll give you the South American (Argentina) intake on this.

    A MacBook Pro 15.4" 2.8 GHz goes for $14.335 (equivalent to 3800 USD)

    A Laptop PC with the same specs goes for around $8000 (equivalent to 2100 USD)

    With these number in mind, trust me, most people here are PC people. Having a Mac only gives you a certain status quo…

    I'm pretty sure 98% of the population here is PC only.

  12. As usual, I’ll give you the South American (Argentina) intake on this.

    A MacBook Pro 15.4″ 2.8 GHz goes for $14.335 (equivalent to 3800 USD)

    A Laptop PC with the same specs goes for around $8000 (equivalent to 2100 USD)

    With these number in mind, trust me, most people here are PC people. Having a Mac only gives you a certain status quo…
    I’m pretty sure 98% of the population here is PC only.

  13. I have never ever owned a Mac, but have to say: they look smooth! My first computer actually was a Commodore 64 and an Amiga after that. The Amiga has been the machine I was impressed by the most (talking late 80's here). Nowadays I use pc's running Linux.

    Despite I really like the way the Mac looks, I hate the vendor lock in stuff. And the price… If I head to a Mac store and assemble a machine I want, the price is ridiculous. For the same amount of money I can get me a pc which will fly me to the moon and back.

    So, no Mac for me, despite the looks are totally sexy!

  14. I have never ever owned a Mac, but have to say: they look smooth! My first computer actually was a Commodore 64 and an Amiga after that. The Amiga has been the machine I was impressed by the most (talking late 80’s here). Nowadays I use pc’s running Linux.

    Despite I really like the way the Mac looks, I hate the vendor lock in stuff. And the price… If I head to a Mac store and assemble a machine I want, the price is ridiculous. For the same amount of money I can get me a pc which will fly me to the moon and back.

    So, no Mac for me, despite the looks are totally sexy!

  15. My old computer (PC) died last week, so I need a new one.

    I am now undecided, Mac or PC? I never had a Mac, but I thought,.. well, why not? Made a 5 page list of pros and cons, read about 200 user opinions.

    It's clear to me that either PC or Mac have their own advantages, but it's surprising that, of the many opinions I read, I never saw any Mac user to go back to a PC, they might have both or only a Mac.

    So still don't know what I'll do but this article totally helps, so thank you!

    • I was brought up as a mac user from an early age, our family bought a Mac Plus and many more after that for fifteen years or so. I changed to PC, and I'll never go back. And I have a friend from elementary school who made the same switch.

      The rest of my family are still mac users, and they've gone through about five dead macs with various problems that needed replacing. The two PCs I've had over the same period are still going strong. Just avoid big brands, get a trusted boutique computer store to build you a PC (or build it yourself for extra pride!) and it will last you a long time.

      I don't hate macs, I think they'll work well for some people, but I the "amazing hardware" and "once you go mac you never go back" are two myths I strongly disagree with.

      • Thank you very much for your reply!

        Never heard of Mac users going back to PCs, but it's good to know!

        The thing is that I might get a better PC for the same amount of money though Macs are very attractive too…

        I still didn't decide which one I'm getting, but every comment I read helps.

        Thanks!!

        • With all due respect, I have heard from mac users convert back to PC. To quote him directly, his life was 'easier'. He didn't do only one device, he sold his macbook, ipod, apple tv, airport express.

          I cautioned one before buying his macbook but he decided to because he could run XP anyway. He later complained to me; 'never again'

          On the other hand, a lot of people seem to like their mac machines. I guess it depends how much you like OSX.

          The three reasons I dislike macs

          * Smug fans who try to convert the world. There are some like the author who are level headed and I respect their decision. However, when fans start to preach to me, I lose interest.

          * Advertising. Apple constantly bash windows which damages my respect for them. Often their ads do not talk about technical qualities, rather they focus on style.

          * Repairs/parts. Having to book to see someone at the genius bar is arrogant.

          The fourth is an advantage and disadvantage. Macs are a very closed environment. This allows for serious optimisation of programs for the mac platform. PCs need to deal with CPUs made by Intel, AMD, Via … while macs can avoid this restriction.

          It comes down to personal taste in the end, I guess. The same way some people like coke, some like pepsi. A little teasing banter between the two is fine but an aggressive war is not.

  16. My old computer (PC) died last week, so I need a new one.
    I am now undecided, Mac or PC? I never had a Mac, but I thought,.. well, why not? Made a 5 page list of pros and cons, read about 200 user opinions.

    It’s clear to me that either PC or Mac have their own advantages, but it’s surprising that, of the many opinions I read, I never saw any Mac user to go back to a PC, they might have both or only a Mac.

    So still don’t know what I’ll do but this article totally helps, so thank you!

    • I was brought up as a mac user from an early age, our family bought a Mac Plus and many more after that for fifteen years or so. I changed to PC, and I’ll never go back. And I have a friend from elementary school who made the same switch.

      The rest of my family are still mac users, and they’ve gone through about five dead macs with various problems that needed replacing. The two PCs I’ve had over the same period are still going strong. Just avoid big brands, get a trusted boutique computer store to build you a PC (or build it yourself for extra pride!) and it will last you a long time.

      I don’t hate macs, I think they’ll work well for some people, but I the “amazing hardware” and “once you go mac you never go back” are two myths I strongly disagree with.

      • Thank you very much for your reply!
        Never heard of Mac users going back to PCs, but it’s good to know!

        The thing is that I might get a better PC for the same amount of money though Macs are very attractive too…
        I still didn’t decide which one I’m getting, but every comment I read helps.
        Thanks!!

        • With all due respect, I have heard from mac users convert back to PC. To quote him directly, his life was ‘easier’. He didn’t do only one device, he sold his macbook, ipod, apple tv, airport express.

          I cautioned one before buying his macbook but he decided to because he could run XP anyway. He later complained to me; ‘never again’

          On the other hand, a lot of people seem to like their mac machines. I guess it depends how much you like OSX.

          The three reasons I dislike macs
          * Smug fans who try to convert the world. There are some like the author who are level headed and I respect their decision. However, when fans start to preach to me, I lose interest.
          * Advertising. Apple constantly bash windows which damages my respect for them. Often their ads do not talk about technical qualities, rather they focus on style.
          * Repairs/parts. Having to book to see someone at the genius bar is arrogant.

          The fourth is an advantage and disadvantage. Macs are a very closed environment. This allows for serious optimisation of programs for the mac platform. PCs need to deal with CPUs made by Intel, AMD, Via … while macs can avoid this restriction.

          It comes down to personal taste in the end, I guess. The same way some people like coke, some like pepsi. A little teasing banter between the two is fine but an aggressive war is not.

  17. Macs ?

    too much expensive.

    very few games.

    can't mod them.

    less software.

    less people use them.

    backward compatibility issues.

  18. Macs ?

    too much expensive.
    very few games.
    can’t mod them.
    less software.
    less people use them.
    backward compatibility issues.

  19. I use Linux and Windows for all my needs. I am not now, nor have I ever been, totally against Macs per se. (I also think tech "holy wars" are stupid and pointless.) I'm a big believer that tools are tools, and you use the right tool for the right job. Since I've never been a graphic designer, I've never had much incentive to use a Mac (since this is the area where Mac really shines, as everyone acknowledges).

    I think what turns me off about Macs is the self-righteousness of those who use them. If you're going to try to make me feel badly because I don't use a Mac, get away from me…I will never take you seriously. (It doesn't help that, with their clever marketing, Apple actually encourages this behavior.) Along with this are some of the crazy-a$$ claims like "Macs are totally secure". I have worked in information security for 11 years. I know that EVERY system is insecure, because EVERY system is written by humans, and humans are flawed, lazy creatures. So don't give me any garbage about how secure Mac is compared to everything else; even OpenBSD, with layers and layers of intelligent, secure design and rounds and rounds of code review for every piece, still has vulnerabilities discovered from time to time.

    Since I can do everything I need to do on my two current platforms, and since learning a new platform is something I just really don't have time for, and since I do not now nor do I plan to work anywhere that has Macs for me to directly support, I have no incentive to go drop a bunch of precious dough-re-mi for one. Ditto iPods and iPhones. I have a Palm Pre, which does great for what I need. I use either the Pre or my Archos PMP for my mobile media needs. I have never owned an Apple device of any kind, and have no current plans to do so.

  20. I use Linux and Windows for all my needs. I am not now, nor have I ever been, totally against Macs per se. (I also think tech “holy wars” are stupid and pointless.) I’m a big believer that tools are tools, and you use the right tool for the right job. Since I’ve never been a graphic designer, I’ve never had much incentive to use a Mac (since this is the area where Mac really shines, as everyone acknowledges).

    I think what turns me off about Macs is the self-righteousness of those who use them. If you’re going to try to make me feel badly because I don’t use a Mac, get away from me…I will never take you seriously. (It doesn’t help that, with their clever marketing, Apple actually encourages this behavior.) Along with this are some of the crazy-a$$ claims like “Macs are totally secure”. I have worked in information security for 11 years. I know that EVERY system is insecure, because EVERY system is written by humans, and humans are flawed, lazy creatures. So don’t give me any garbage about how secure Mac is compared to everything else; even OpenBSD, with layers and layers of intelligent, secure design and rounds and rounds of code review for every piece, still has vulnerabilities discovered from time to time.

    Since I can do everything I need to do on my two current platforms, and since learning a new platform is something I just really don’t have time for, and since I do not now nor do I plan to work anywhere that has Macs for me to directly support, I have no incentive to go drop a bunch of precious dough-re-mi for one. Ditto iPods and iPhones. I have a Palm Pre, which does great for what I need. I use either the Pre or my Archos PMP for my mobile media needs. I have never owned an Apple device of any kind, and have no current plans to do so.

  21. Well, I've got a curious little relationship with my PC…Seriously, I love this thing. I'm not opposed to Macs (and I love my iPod), but I don't think I can learn to trust them after the multiple crashes I've witnessed.

  22. Well, I’ve got a curious little relationship with my PC…Seriously, I love this thing. I’m not opposed to Macs (and I love my iPod), but I don’t think I can learn to trust them after the multiple crashes I’ve witnessed.

  23. I have a friend that was in prison for 12 years and had never owned any computer.

    I fixed up a decent used computer for him. I dual boots XP and Ubuntu. After a month or so I checked up on him and he’s using Ubuntu full time. He say’s XP just “looks wrong” and is confusing. He’s installed WINE on the ubuntu machine and is successfully running Windows programs using WINE that I personally wouldn’t have even attempted to install.

    I’d say he’s a pretty fair test of Ubuntu’s useability.

  24. I have a friend that was in prison for 12 years and had never owned any computer.

    I fixed up a decent used computer for him. I dual boots XP and Ubuntu. After a month or so I checked up on him and he's using Ubuntu full time. He say's XP just "looks wrong" and is confusing. He's installed WINE on the ubuntu machine and is successfully running Windows programs using WINE that I personally wouldn't have even attempted to install.

    I'd say he's a pretty fair test of Ubuntu's useability.

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