Making the PC / Mac swap

Marketplace Staff Feb 9, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: Microsoft’s new operating system is out. It’s called Vista. Boosters say it brings a bunch of spiffy new features to your standard PC. But that’s hasn’t been enough to keep Window user Cash Peters from considering a switch to the PC’s arch-enemy: Macintosh.

We sent Cash to the Apple-centric gadget fest called MacWorld. To weigh the pros and cons of Windows versus Mac.

CASH PETERS: MacWorld is a geek’s paradise. It is! Nerdvana. And you know what? I want to be a part of it. I’m so sick of my old Windows laptop that’s the size of three house-bricks and crashes all the time.

John Deal of Sorrenson Media has the same problem.

DEAL: My PC crashes all the time, and it takes forever to start up and shut down.

CASH: So basically, we’re losers, right? And we just won’t admit it.

DEAL: I have no choice.

CASH: But you would get rid of it if you could.

DEAL: Yes, I would get rid of it.

Oh, me too. In fact, you know what? Decision made: I’m going to switch to an Apple.

CASH: What would I do on a Mac that I wouldn’t do on a PC?

GIRL: Anything graphic related. Anything that has to do with editing, or…

CASH: Oh, look at my face. Is this a guy who –?

GIRL: — Then stick with your PC.

GUY: The reason why you would want to switch from a PC to a Mac, essentially, is the ease of use. Almost a point and click environment.

CASH: Once you use the Mac you’ll never go back.

GUY: Exactly.

CASH: My God, they should use that as their slogan.

GUY: They certainly should.

They should. So there we are: a Mac it is. But . . . well, I spoke to Len Richmond. He’s a filmmaker and a PC user. Not long ago, he tried to convert to a Mac, and it nearly put him in a psychiatric clinic.

LEN RICHMOND: I would get so frustrated with my Mac that I would literally be in tears. I would be working all day on trying to edit a little piece of film, then the whole thing would crash and I’d lose it. And I couldn’t call up Mac to say what happened. I would have to try go online and figure it out myself, which would never work. I finally just put it in the closet. It caused me so much pain and stress I don’t want to bring it out any more.

Oh dear, that’s not good, right? And you know the worst thing? He says he pays over a hundred bucks a year for the Apple Care Protection Plan, but is getting almost nothing in return for it. Apparently, these techie types are highly intelligent. Take a Mac user into a darkened room and his head glows. Whereas Len’s, sadly, doesn’t.

RICHMOND: I have the feeling it’s just, like, I had such stupid questions that it tried their patience, and they really couldn’t be bothered to deal with someone as dumb as me.

CASH: D’you think it’s true that Mac users look down on PC users?

MAN: No comment.

CASH: I’ll take that as a yes. (LAUGH.)

CASH: Don’t you think that Mac people look down on PC people?

WOMAN: Oh, I suppose. (LAUGHS)

RICHMOND: They treat you like you are really not worthy of owning a Mac, because you’re not computer literate and you’re really not on their level and stuff.

Jeepers. In that case, decision made, I think I’ll stick with my PC. PC users may not be as cool as Mac users, but at least they’re not smug.

Chris Breene is a big cheese at MacWorld magazine.

CHRIS BREENE: You’re right, Mac users are smug.

See? But, he says, with good reason. Apples are vastly superior to Windows PCs. Now would everyone quit arguing, please, and just accept it.

BREENE: The miracle of Windows is that it works at all. And I don’t say that as a smug Mac user, but really, look at all the hardware they have to deal with. That they have no control over! The graphics cards and the hard drives and the this and the that. But Apple, they control the hardware and they control the software.

Oh, well, in that case, decision made: forget PCs, I’m going with a Mac. Then again . . . I do like my laptop, even though it does keep crashing and I had to show it to Brian Mercado. Oh, you don’t know him; he works for my local Geek Squad, those lovely people who come to your home to fix your computer. He’s smartasstic.

CASH: This is the computer that I have used for five years.

MERCADO: Where’s your travel stickers? You didn’t personalize it. You could put a nice pin-stripe design…

CASH: It’s got stains on it — that’s kind of personalized. I actually spilled coffee on it.

MERCADO: Well, you do know coffee and laptops are incompatible, right?

They are? I told you he was smart. But Brian had some good news for people like me: thanks to recent advances in technology, soon there’s gonna be very little difference between Macs and ordinary PCs.

MERCADO: With the new operating systems that are coming out — with OS 10 Tiger on the Mac and Windows Vista for the PC — there’s really no benefit to either operating system, one over the other. They’re about the same.

CASH: Oh, so when they sell enough Macs, they’re gonna jam too.

MERCADO: It’s possible.

Great. In that case, decision made: I . . . well, I can’t decide. On the one hand, PCs tend to be well-priced, efficient, and Windows Vista cuts the risk of viruses and will help prevent your computer from crashing, even when it’s a rubbish one like mine. Chris Breene.

BREENE: PCs are not necessarily rubbish. There are some fine PCs. Sony makes a really nice PC, for example. HP makes some really nice PCs . . .

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Although of course, on some PCs, what they call “tech support” basically involves you waiting on the phone for hours while a nice man in India flicks frantically through a computer manual, pretending he’s not as confused as you are.

On the other hand, Mac laptops, well, they look super-cool in Starbucks, don’t they? Plus, they’re ready to use straight out of the box, have protected memories, and don’t crash as much. Though on the downside, they cost more — I figure to replace my $1500 PC laptop I’d need a $3000 Mac.

[Amazed whistle]

That’s right! Plus, the technology is a world unto itself. And according to Len Richmond, Mac tech support gets a five -“thpfft” rating. Hm, I wonder if he ever did warm to them in the end?

RICHMOND: I now have a Toshiba.

Yeah, apparently not. In San Francisco, I’m Cash Peters for Marketplace Money.

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