“Two choices, two computer platforms: One that has multiple choices of every type of software you can ever possibly need, and one that doesn't. Which is best? Well it's obvious, isn't it? Windows will serve all your computing needs, conceivable and inconceivable, present and future. A Mac will not...
A Macintosh is just a PC. And just like any PC, it can do anything its software allows it to do. The big difference being, unlike most other brands of PC, its standard operating system is not Windows. But unfortunately, Windows is where most of the software is at.
While the Mac market is big enough to attract developers to provide software that covers most areas that most of us need covering, there are some gaps...
So what's missing?
- Specialist and bespoke applications for use in business. Apple's focus is more towards the home consumer, creative, and educational markets. The business market however, is the overwhelming domain of Microsoft and Windows. That is their focus. Therefore, with Macs not as extensively deployed into the corporate world, many specialist business applications are not developed, or less developed for Mac OS X.
- Games. Despite Apple's focus of the Mac into the home market, games is one area of common home usage that the Mac platform is lagging behind in. Native Mac OS X games are much less numerous than for Windows, and new releases that are ported to the Mac, tend to be much delayed and not well optimised.
See reason 9 for a closer look at this.
- Niche applications. Ones whose use is so specialised, it simply isn't worth the development costs to support anything beyond the most widely used platform.
- Drivers or custom interfaces for consumer devices or peripherals that are not interfaced in a standard way, e.g. some mobile phones or MP3/media players. There may be some manufacturers who consider software development across multiple platforms, not cost effective for all their products. Particularly if those products are not big sellers.
- Applications that rely of proprietary technologies; usually pertaining to web based applications. Anything whose development relied on proprietary Microsoft standards to run, rather than platform agnostic and/or industry standards, will usually be limited to Microsoft's own Windows platform. Thankfully, this is quite uncommon nowadays.
All potential deal killers to Mac ownership for some people. Like, say what if just one pesky application you can't do without is not available for Macs? Or what if a Mac fulfils your needs fully right now, but you later find you need or want a piece of software that's only available for Windows? It's just too risky buying a Mac... right?
As usual, there's a few things to consider:
- Are you sure the application you want is not available for Macs? Many common, mainstream applications are, such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. Plus Macs do come bundled with many software titles that home users commonly need, like the applications within the iLife software suite.
- Is the application you want the only one of its type? Don't assume the purpose of a Windows only application you're familiar with, cannot be equally or better accomplished by an alternative application available for Macs.
- Do you actually need to run a piece of software that only Windows has, or do you just want the ability to, just in case you might one day? Consider how likely that is. For instance, Windows may have a plethora of accounting and payroll management software you could run, but can you really envisage a time when you'd actually want to on your home computer?
- If all else fails, Macs can run Windows too; natively or virtually. Therefore, in fact, there's no Windows application that you can't potentially run on a Macintosh. That's handy, innit?
Seefor more on this.
So in summary...
...the installed userbase of the Macintosh may be smaller than that of Windows, but it's not exactly small. It's still more than big enough to be a viable enough platform for the vast majority of genres of software that the vast majority of people will ever need, to be adequately covered. Exceptions are largely contained in niche areas where most ordinary people won't ever need to stray. And most of these exceptions are solved simply by running Windows too anyway.
Page content last updated 11 September 2010