“Simply put, there are things a PC can do that Macs can't, but there's nothing a Mac can do that a PC can't. So why bother with a computer with limits and inflexibility, when you can have one with none?...
Every day, somewhere, someone will try to rationalise the decision of whether to switch from a PC to a Macintosh.
They'll look at hardware specs. They'll look at prices. They'll weigh up various pros and cons. They'll go to computer stores and prod away at one. They'll absorb anecdotes and opinions from others, switchers and non-switchers alike. But one question they'll always run up against is, "You can do anything with a PC that you can do with a Mac, so why bother with a Mac?"
Yeah, yeah, but is it true?
What you can do with any computer hardware is dictated by what software you can run on it. Without software, hardware is just a very inefficient room heater. And the fact is, there is more software that runs under Windows than under OS X. And more importantly, more types of software. For some, that's a deal killer. For others, not so much so. Particularly when you consider Windows is just a piece of software in itself, and Mac hardware is perfectly (and legally) capable of running it too. So from that perspective, it could be argued a Mac is a more versatile PC than a PC.
See reason 1 and reason 20
For those of us who haven't fallen at this hurdle, there are much more important reasons for choosing one platform over another. The most important being, which do you prefer?...
To switch or not to switch, that is the question
All this rationalisation, agonising about software, weighing specs against prices etc, only provides a small part of the answer. And as for the opinions of others even mine that means even less. Because the question of whether a Mac would be of benefit to you, is largely unquantifiable and subjective.
Why do Mac users remain as Mac users? It's clearly not so much what you can do with a Mac. Out of the box, a Windows PC can indeed do all that and probably more. So it must be how it does it. Nuances and conventions of the user interface; the attention to detail of the hardware; the benefits of an integrated end-to-end system. All factors whose level of importance to an individual, are a matter of opinion.
On one extreme, for some folk, the whole Mac ethos is their computing nirvana where Apple can do no wrong. But then on the opposite extreme, there are those whose Windows ways run so deep, nothing but that which is exactly like Windows will suffice, right down to the Microsoft logo.
So in that respect, the opinions and anecdotes of others don't mean much at all, because they don't tell you anything about where you would fit into that scale. The fact is, you'll only really know for sure if you'll benefit from one, by living with one.
The big fat downside
That's all very easy to say of course, but there is a big fat downside. This kind of 'experiment' does not come for free. Macs are not cheap. There are no 'budget' models in the range. It's a lot of money to spend if at the end of the day, you find its a white elephant you simply can't get along with. So, what are your options?
- Buy a used model to 'play' with. It'll be cheaper.
- Buy a new model, live with it a while, and then sell it if you really don't like it. Used Macs do hold their values rather well, so you might not lose as much of your initial outlay as you may assume.
- Buy a new model, live with it a while, and if you can't get along with OS X, install Windows on it instead (or as well as).
- Or forget about it... ya chicken!
So in summary...
...there's more to going from point A to point B than just getting to the destination. The journey is what's important. And when it comes to getting stuff done on a computer, some people prefer the Mac 'journey'. Whether that includes you, only you can say.
Or there is the easy option of course. Do what most folk do, play it safe, stick with what you know, get another Windows PC, and accept that you'll never know whether you're missing out on something the bullet point specs and price lists didn't tell you.
Page content last updated 14 July 2012