A lot of folks ask us why Macintosh computers command such a loyal following. These folks correctly point out that they can type a letter on their non-Macintosh computers at the office or home with little of the trouble that once made Macs the obvious choice for quality. With Windows software, using a mouse or having file folders and windows on the screen does seem similar to how a Mac works -- on the surface. In fact, our customers who buy and use a Mac for the first time, after struggling with Windows on their old machine, are initially surprised at how much of a Mac seems to work "just like Windows". They are even more surprised to learn that Microsoft copied most of their ideas for Windows from features Apple had a over a dozen years ago.
But beyond the hype and hyperbola, there is something more to using a Macintosh -- it's a feeling of confident control over a machine that you can have do your bidding correctly, easily, every time. There is something to be said for fine crafted tools -- and driving a Mac is like a quality car: no slop in the brakes, the steering is tight and true -- and, you don't have to hire a stable of computer engineers to use it. And a Mac is that easy right out of the box -- not something many Windows users can say. Five year olds can figure out a Mac in no time. In fact, because Macs are so well-thought-out and rugged, they are the computer of choice for K-12 in the U.S., and in many places of higher learning, from Virginia Tech to Princeton, Dartmouth to Berkeley. And if a five-year-old or a college student can figure it out, you can, too!
Let's take a look as some of the myths and hype about the Macintosh -- and other computer systems. Much of the following is gleaned from the computer industry trade press.
This was a recent posting from the University of Toledo Department of Art, from Dr. Peter Patchen, Assistant Professor of Art (http://www.cva.utoledo.edu/utmac.html):
Working under the premise that "technology standardization" will save money in support costs, the University of Toledo Administration is attempting to "remove all non-PC platforms from the campus".
However, this decision seems to have been made based on opinion and not fact since numerous studies by well respected independent groups have shown that these savings simply do not exist. (In fact, the reverse is true ... see below.)
Further, no faculty were consulted and we would not have known about this until after the fact if memos describing this policy had not been "leaked".
Apple computers are the only truly Y2K compliant out-of-the-box computers on the market today. They also are essential for many faculty and students -- and the administration needs to hear from us. In the near future, we may find ourselves in the position of justifying our needs. If you use Apple computers and wish to continue to do so, it is going to be important to know the facts. I have provided many sources and facts pertinent to this issue. If you know of others, please let me know. Peter.Patchen@utoledo.edu
The higher percentage of Macintosh computers, the lower the technical support costs.
Gartner Group, The Study
When NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston switched from Mac to Windows, help desk calls grew consistently from 68,000 calls to 142,000 in two years. Ultimately, Congress decided the switchover violated the government's "open procurement" law, but it was too late to switch back.
PC support costs are 8 times as high as Mac support.
(McDonnell Douglas Corp.)
PC support costs are 4 times higher than Mac.
Numerous case studies from The Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based consultancy, have shown that companies migrating to Windows NT suffer greatly increased costs and user dissatisfaction.
(Michael Kucsak, Information Systems Coordinator)
Gartner Group's study on dual platform support.
Gistic Group's study on platforms
Mac OS X Server outperforms both Windows NT and Sun servers at all tested load volumes; for 100 users, the Mac served over 3 times more pages than the Sun (using a Solaris server), and over 7 times the NT (using a Pentium III server).
In a 1999 study by Roher Public Relations, at Least 70% of respondents in each category (print and on-line consumer magazines, trade magazines and daily newspapers) want to receive disks readable on Macintosh. Fewer than 5% of all respondents said Windows PC disks were their first choice.
In a nationwide survey of 22,000 creative firms, 77% of them plan to purchase additional Macintosh computers in 1999, outselling both Windows and Windows NT by an astounding margin of over 3 to 1. The research company stated, "Apple continues to dominate the creative and scientific markets."
TrendWatch 1999 Creative Atlas Guide
Apple's market share in video editing is at least 58%.
(MSNBC, 6/97; the most popular digital film editing system in Hollywood is the Avid, which is a souped-up Mac.)
An estimated 80% of all professional music production involves an Apple computer. (MSNBC, 6/97)
72% of the alumni of Rochester Institute of Technology - arguably the world's oldest (1830s), largest and best school of photography and printing in the world - own Macs.
("Contact Sheet", the RIT alumni news letter)
Among U.S.-based professional website design firms, 64% of all sites are created using the Mac OS, more than any other platform.
63% of all multimedia applications development is done on Macintosh, per Dataquest
A Westinghouse study showed that engineers doing design work are about twice as productive using Macintosh as those using a PC.(Westinghouse, 1992)
Mac users are 50% more accurate and 44% more productive than Wintel users.
A.D. Little, The Report
The Software Publishers Association "Ultimate Mac vs. Windows Challenge" pitted a senior technical editor from Windows Sources magazine and his assistant against a 10-year-old Mac user. In a series of real world tests (assembling the computer, connecting a printer and a Zip drive, connecting to the Internet, etc.) the youngster finished in HALF the time taken by his adult opponents.
"Market acceptance non-withstanding, Windows is far, far behind the Macintosh in technical performance, and in the capability to allow users to perform their jobs."
(Computer Reseller News, 1998)
US News and World Report: "From a software publisher's point of view, releasing a Macintosh version makes good business sense. Production costs for Mac software are lower than those for Windows titles; less testing is required because there is a single standard for Mac hardware and software. And Macintosh owners buy 30 percent more software than their Windows counterparts, probably because they find more time to use it and less time getting it to work right."
Macintosh software comprises over 18% of all software sold, and 32% of all Microsoft software sold, even though their hardware market is half that. Macintosh users actually use more applications than Windows users, citing ease of installation of Mac applications as one of the reasons.
(Software and Information Industry Association, 1999)
79% of all Macintosh computers ever shipped are still in use.
(Apple Computer, 1999)
Higher Education / Universities:
In 2000, Carteret County, North Carolina "decided" that "standardizing" to a PC platform would be cost-effective. John Droz, a local tax-payer, decided to post a website in order to educate the school district. View his findings here
In 1997, Yale University's University Director of Information Technology, Daniel Updegrove, attempted to make the same bad decision U.T.'s administration is currently making. It didn't work. (Business Week : Yale reverses decision, 1997)
University of Michigan -- Fortunately, enlightenment still prevails at most schools. "It is not in the interests of a leading institution to dictate computing platform, we will continue to support the Macintosh platform in a big way," says Jose-Marie Griffiths (Updegrove's equivalent at the University of Michigan). "To limit choice of selection limits opportunity, limits student capacity and, ultimately, limits achievement."
Miami University School of Education and Allied Professions' answer to the multigenerational technology challenges was nearly 100 new Macintosh computers (52 iMac computers and 43 Power Macintosh G3 systems) on faculty and staff desktops. All administrative and support personnel and a majority of the full-time faculty have a new iMac or Power Macintosh G3. All other faculty have received an upgrade to their computing capacity through reallocation of recent generation computers.
Everyone in a faculty or staff position in the School is working from a Power Macintosh platform, a reduction from six platforms (five PC) and eight hardware generations to three on the Macintosh platform.
Cost Effective, Reliable Solution for Administrative System Access:
By combining the WinFrame client with the speed of the Macintosh G3 processor, Dr. Perry states, "a cost-effective and reliable solution was achieved that provides School of Education and Allied Professions faculty and staff with universal access and exceptional performance for accessing the SCT/Banner 2000 systems."
The Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State. Adjunct teacher Marcus Conge says RIT has dumped all of their DOS machines throughout the administrative section of the school, such as the Bursars Office, in favor of switching to the Mac. They run the database for the whole school on Macs. All figured, Conge says the school has over 500 Power Macs. "The Art and Design school just made its biggest purchase last year filling the school with Macs," he adds. "These are all tied together on the campus network and the Internet as well."
UT Austin. Over 70% of the installed computer base here is still Mac. And the school has no plans to abandon them in the future either, in fact they are adding. The University Health Services uses Macs in about 90% of its day to day operations.
East Carolina University. This is an all-Mac school; even all but one of the office staff uses a Mac. There are two computer labs (36 Mac stations total) and almost all of the 65-member music faculty have Mac systems. The main MIDI lab of 18 computers will be upgraded to all G3 systems over the summer. The university has a faculty workstation program that allows upgrades every three years, and faculty have a choice of a Mac or PC system. The School you work in usually determines the platform you choose. The School of Art, Music, Theatre/Dance, Physics, and English all use Power Macs. The School of Education is about half and half Macs and PCs. Even the business school has mostly Mac systems in their labs.
The University of Wisconsin, Madison. The Mac is thriving here, although what had formerly been an all-Mac computer lab two years ago is now about 75% Mac. Macs (6500s) are used in the school's New Media Center along with one Intel machine (running NT server for cross platform purposes), and the University's DoIT (Dept. of Information Tech.) center is very pro-Mac. An average stroll around campus might reveal a 60:40 Mac/Wintel split.
Vassar College. Vassar is still recommending Macs as the computer of choice on campus. Until recently, the school was exclusively Mac, but with Ethernet having been installed, it's now possible for the "Wintel side" to connect to the network. Still, most computers on this campus are Macs, and computer labs are all-Macintosh, with a small amount of PCs (under 20) in the printing room.
NYU School of Medicine. This school is about 80% Mac and has been mostly Mac for several years. Most of the administration has switched to the Mac though there are people who use PCs, SGI systems, and workstations, as well.
Cornell University's Medical School. The medical school is in New York city and is about 90% Mac. The med students have a state of the art teaching facility with 160 Macs. The entire curriculum is Mac-based and the administration uses Macs.
Sales of MacOS computers (including Macintosh clones) grew 61% during 1996. The MacOS took market share away from Intel-based PCs, whose sales dropped by 5%. And this was when the press was shouting that Apple was dead.
(Computer Intelligence, March 1997)
Apple Computer's software subsidiary Claris Corp. reported record sales for Q4 97 ñ up 61%, and 1997 as a whole - up 19%.
Apple Computer has now grown for seven successive quarters at an average rate of 29% at a time when the industry average has been only 11.9% and when Compaq Computer and Gateway have reported serious life-threatening losses, and Dell Computer has reported slight growth.
More than 57% of Web sites that use video use QuickTime [to deliver it].
On average, the cost to develop and support Windows applications is 50% higher per dollar of revenue than the cost to develop for Macintosh.
(Software and Information Industry Association)
Half of the families in Family PC magazine's "95 days with Windows 95" gave up. They were "upset over its hardware requirements, frustrated by its slow operation, or just plain fed up with compatibility problems."
Adobe had a 42% increase in Macintosh application sales in Q3 97.
20% of all the personal computers in use today are Macs.
(Mpls Star Tribune, 5/11/98)
Apple computers account for 15% of CompUSA's CPU sales.
(From the WWDC Keynote Speech by Steve Jobs, 11 May 98)
According to independent research firm PC Data, Apple's marketshare has doubled in the past 12 months and is now up to 11.3%. Quotes in the popular press only cite Apples retail sales which is at 5% up from 2.3% in 1997.
(Retail and mail order sales, fiscal 1999 Q2).
Apple was the best performing computer stock in 1998, just had its seventh profitable quarter in a row, and is currently (7/7/99) at a four-year high.
Apple Computer's market share is greater than that of Sony televisions, Tag Heuer watches, and the COMBINED shares of ALL European passenger cars sold in the U.S., including Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, Jaguar, and Porsche.
(Appliance Manufacturer & Market DataBook of Automotive News, June 1998)
The Apple iMac is the best-selling computer in CompUSA's 13-year history, and it is outselling PCs 4 to 1 worldwide.
Apple Computer's sales volume figures from January 1998 through May 1999 were higher than Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
(Don Crabb, Abbott Systems column)
Apple Computer holds more than twice as many computing patents than does Microsoft.
Apple is the #1 computer company in Australia and in Sweden.
Consumer Reports rated the Macintosh #1 in Performance & Reliability, #1 in Customer Satisfaction, and #1 in Fewest Repairs.
The higher percentage of Macintosh computers, the lower the technical support costs.
Negative feelings towards computers are much higher in PC users, and positive feelings about computers are much higher in Mac users.
(Robert Sharl Consultancy, 1997)
There are just as many Macintosh users as users of Windows 95, and there are twice as many Macintosh users as users of Windows 98.
(Microsoft. In the court appearance arguing against monopoly status, 5/98)
The 300MHz G3 PowerMac delivers better graphics performance than a 400MHz Pentium II, and matches the performance of the latest Pentium III system.
A Westinghouse study showed that engineers doing design work are about twice as productive using Macintosh as those using a PC.
The iMac was the #3 selling desktop worldwide in May 1999.
As of March 1999, Apple Computer is the third largest manufacturer of computers in the world. The fourth is IBM.
Forbes Magazine recently placed Apple Computer fourth on its list of "most dynamic companies".
When you take the Fortune 500 and rank them based on shareholder return in the past 12 months, Apple is number 5.
(News article re: Barron's 500)
Apple is ranked #223 on the Fortune 500 list, ahead of Upjohn, Hilton Hotels, General Mills and Bethlehem Steel.
And finally, an important point to remember when discussing market share:
Just because market share drops doesn't mean that people are leaving the system.
First, the industry's overall growth could have been outpacing Apple's increasing sales. In the past six months the opposite has held true, and Apple share has doubled, while everyone elses share has tanked. Are we to thus assume that Wintel is now on its deathbed?
Secondly, Macs are viable longer than Wintel machines (79% of all of them are still being used), so while Windows users are forced by program sizes and incompatible operating systems, to upgrade their equipment much faster than Mac users, Mac users are reaping the benefits of a smart buy. On a per operating system basis: There are more Win 3.1 users than Mac users. There are the same Win 95 users as Mac users. There are less Win 98 and Win NT users than Mac users. These are quotes directly from Microsoft. If Windows is so great, then why aren't more of its users quickly upgrading to the latest and greatest software? Could it be that these upgrades on Wintel mean an entirely new system (hardware and software)? While on the Mac it has been just a change of operating system ñ that all the applications continue to run smoothly, lessening the overall upgrade costs?
Thirdly, the Apple Computer and the Macintosh operating system and most applications written for the Mac are Y2K compliant out-of-the box. Mac users don't have to waste time and money becoming compliant. If students tap into the schools network with a Macintosh, they aren't going to bring down the whole system due to a single transfer of a non-compliant document. Microsoft actually warns of such things happening.
Legal liability damages resulting from the Y2K fiasco was estimated to potentially reach $1 trillion.
Spending on systems integration, professional services, and outsourcing to address the Year 2000 ("Y2K") problem in computers was projected reach $280 billion between 1997 and 2002.
(Killen & Associates, 1997)
The Macintosh OS has been able to handle 4-digit dates since its inception in 1984 and remained compliant throughout the fiasco (the Mac OS will not see a potential date issue until the year 20300). The costs to make a pure Macintosh network Y2K compliant was $0 (zero)!
Apple Computer had a cash surplus of over $3 billion in 1999 and is even larger today.
In 1999, a Mac-using creative professional produces $26,441 more annual revenue and $14,488 more net profit than a comparable Windows user. Mac-based media-creation studios achieve payback on a new platform in 4.6 months, while Windows NT takes over 12.5 months.
(GISTICS 1997 study of over 10,000 media-producing firms)
A business Mac user gets $24,000 more work done per year, his or her computer is down 14% less, and it costs less to support than any other platform.
An extensive survey of actual dual-platform costs collected from real organizations in the US with a sample size in excess of 312,000 desktop computers concluded that there are NO detectable extra support costs associated with having both Macintosh AND Windows over and above having Windows alone.
Software developers make higher profits with Mac software than Windows software. Average revenues per unit remain higher overall for Macintosh software than for Windows applications.
(Reports from PCData and SIIA)
A private firm, VirTech Communications, set up a Mac server and offered $15,000 to anyone who could gain unauthorized access. No one could ever. The site was running for two years and had over 140,000 attacks.
(NY Times, 12 April 97)
A single NT server service call to Microsoft costs $195. A year of Apple support costs $70.
J.S. Wurzler Underwriting Managers, one of the first companies to offer cracker insurance, charging clients 5 to 15 percent more if they use Microsoft Windows NT in their Internet operations. As insurance companies live and die by their statistics, this is a pretty significant move. The article also has interesting information about tech turn-over in Windows vs. open source shops. -- Interactive Weekly, May 28, 2001
27.6 million Macintosh computers have been shipped worldwide since 1984, with an average of 3.2 users per Mac, meaning there are 60 million Mac users world-wide.
(Apple Computer, 1997)
Apple sold 800,000 Macs in less than half a year, and 2 million in a single year, making it one of the most successful computer launches ever. It is continuing to break all sales records.
Motorola sold 50,000 MacOS computers in its first 7 weeks of existence, the fastest initial sales figures ever for a computer company.
Power Computing sold over 100,000 MacOS computers in its first year, which is more than Compaq, Dell, and Gateway did in their first years COMBINED. It was the largest first-year sales of any computer maker in history. Had the iMac been put on the market by a first-year company, it's sales of 2 million in its first year, would have been twenty times larger than that of Power Computing. The iBook projected sales of 4 million in its first year, should leave the iMac in the dust.
Other than Word macro viruses (which now number 8,000), there are over 20,000 PC viruses, yet only about 40 Mac ones.
Also, there is no Mac virus that can destroy your hardware. Some PC viruses can zero out the flash BIOS and render the computer totally inoperable.
There are over 32,000 Mac compatible products, up from only 12,000 one year earlier.
(Apple Computer, August 1999)
Microsoft admitted on one of their own web pages that Windows NT 4.0 has more than 10,000 bugs, and Windows 2000 has over 32,358 bugs reported so far.
(The page has since been removed.)
There are 1,889 Mac-only software titles.
In the business world, the industry standard for Windows systems is one support technician for every 25 to 60 computers. By contrast, the standard for Macintosh support is one person for every 100 to 200 machines.
Gulfstream, a company that manufactures jets, has 1 administrator for 450 Mac workstations.
The average Wintel home user spends between 50 and 60 hours each year troubleshooting their computer. The average Mac user spends less than 5 hours. (Gartner Group)
The Mac OS is available in over 35 different languages.
A new Mac is sold every 9 seconds.
Strange But True!
The architectural firm that designed Bill Gates' $50 million residence, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson in Seattle, is a Mac shop, and Bill bought his mom a new iMac, because he said it was too hard for her to understand computing and the Mac is so much easier for a novice to use. Gates says his mom doesn't bother him so much with computing questions now.The high-tech electronics inside Gates' mansion are Windows-based. The first evening at home, his drop-from-the-ceiling bigscreen TV would not shut off -- Gates had to throw a blanket over it to get to sleep.
(Barbara Walters 20/20 interview)
Bill Gates uses Macintoshes on his desk at Microsoft headquarters.
Bill Gates couldn't get Windows 95 to boot up at its official launch celebration. He threw a tirade then asked jokingly if anyone had a Mac.
Bill Gates did not "invent" DOS, the operating system that begat Windows. His company bought code called QDOS ("Quick and Dirty Operating System") from the Seattle Television Company for $50,000 and polished it. They did this AFTER they had cut a $2.3 million deal with IBM to deliver an operating system for their personal computer line. Thus in two days with minimal investment and a lot of luck Microsoft took off.
("The Six Serendipities of Microsoft")
Intel's advertising agency is an all-Apple shop with over 600 Macs used to create ad content.
Bill Gates said that Microsoft is reviewing the error messages from the perspective of users and has recently come to realize, "It's pretty shocking how many there are and how cryptic they are."
(InfoWorld, a Windows PC-oriented magazine, 1999)
The Navy missile cruiser USS Yorktown suffered a crippling systems failure when its Windows NT operating system tried to divide by zero. "Even a $3 calculator gives you a 'zero' and doesn't stop executing the next set of instructions", said an engineer with the Atlantic Fleet Technical Support Center. The ship ultimately had to be towed into the Naval base at Norfolk, VA.
The "Shut Down" command in Windows is located in the "Start" menu.
Windows does not even perform such simple checks as verifying that there is enough space on a volume before copying data to it. For example, if you tell it to, Windows will begin copying your 900 MB hard drive onto your 1.4 MB floppy disk.
PC World's "Best of '99" award for Best (PC) Operating System is... "NONE". Microsoft can't even place in a field of one!
The setup routine for Windows 98 deliberately disables files used by competitors' software and installs different versions of those files ("for the use of Win98").
Despite continual complaints about security concerns, Microsoft uses Win98 to keep track of PC owners without their knowledge. Inside every Win98 package is a Wizard that creates a directory of all applications and their serial numbers on the system, and reports these back to Microsoft on a cookie when you connect to the Microsoft network, ask for technical support online, or register your product electronically.
Just 6 weeks before its release, Bill Gates demonstrated Windows 98 at the Comdex98 computer show in Chicago. As soon as his assistant plugged in a scanner, Win98 crashed.
An article in the British magazine ComputerActive reports that 47% of readers say they now regret having upgraded from Windows95 to Windows98. In a similar New York Times poll in July 1999 53% of the readers have indicated similar regret (up 9% from a poll last year).
"Intel chairman Andy Grove, codeveloper of the 'Wintel' PC, has seen the future of computing and it is a Macintosh." Andy Grove now uses an iMac at both work and home for everything.
("Andy Grove Loves His iMac.", TIME Daily, 23 Sept 1998)
"Despite the advances made by Windows 95, a Mac is still easier to set up, easier to learn, easier to use, easier to troubleshoot, easier to upgrade, and easier to connect to the Internet."
(Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/6/97)
"(People ask me) 'There are many PCs that are less expensive than a Mac. Isn't it smarter to buy the cheaper one?' You know, that same argument was used to sell a lot of Yugos and Hyundais in the 1980s, but nobody was calling for the death of Mercedes-Benz."
When technology reporter Don Crabb visited the COMDEX '98 computer show, he noticed that a substantial number of booths were running their Windows product movies and slideshows on PowerMacs. "When I asked some of these vendors why, the answer was always, 'Because we don't have much setup time and little time to fix it if it crashes. So we run on a PowerMac and have done with it.' In a half-dozen Pentium-based presentations I sat through, the crash rate was a spectacularly bad five out of six."
(ZDNet Tech News) -
While we would like to think this alone would be enough to persuade thinking folks to consider a Mac, we know the reality of life is often peer pressure. Let's face it: the vast majority of people buy a certain computer because they are told to buy one. Who has time to go out and perform extensive market analysis on cost performance, features, availability of software, ad nauseum, Right?
Well, if we are talking a new system, we are generally talking over a thousand dollars. If you were to buy a car, you wouldn't let your neighbor down the street or in the next cubicle tell you how to spend your money. What is it about computers that have us capitulate to nothing more than peer pressure when making a computer decision? I think it has to do with our own inner fear of the unknown. Computers are pretty new to us as a society. And if someone can "talk" authoritatively about one system over another -- that is an intimidating thing to those of us who understand we don't "know it all". If your neighbor says "ah, you don't want to buy that -- it's a piece of junk" -- you are less inclined to consider your selection objectively. After all, you have to face your neighbors scorn when you bring home what he said was junk. You might worry about hurting his feelings. Folks, this is money. And there is no one but you and your family (or boss, for business cash) who has any right in telling you how to allocate your budget. Ever.
Why bring this up? Being a Mac consultant in a high-technology town, I find many folks I meet like to talk about technology. It's their work, after all. And one not-so-scientific analysis I've been able to make is that Windows acquaintances I make invariably fall into two camps: the first is the computer user who has been on both Macs and Windows or maybe Unix. These folks never seem to put a computer down. A computer is a tool -- and if it works, great. These same folks don't immediately get on the defensive about their computer when they learn I work on Macs. There is no animosity -- no belligerence. We have a good time, even if we talk computers. No computer is perfect, and we all know that.
Then there is the kind of other user. When they hear Macintosh, the very first thing out of them is something derogatory, such as "Those silly toys are still around? I didn't think you could find software for them. Can you even get on the web with them?" And with this behavior, you can guess the answer to this question, "Have you ever used a Mac?". The answer will be no. This is an extremely predictable pattern: those who know the least are often the most vocal and self-righteous. Ignorance is a never-ending blight upon our kind.
For those who argue that a Windows box is more "professional" -- what does that mean? Is it more professional to have a machine that requires replacement every year or two? Is it more professional to have more operating system headaches, or incomprehensible settings? Is it more professional if a company has to spend more than 5% of it's budget on computer hardware and IT staffing to support the rest of the firm because the choice of computer requires such intense technical help? We think a machine that SAVES you time AND money is more professional. Many "professionals" in our society cannot program their VCR or Microwave -- yet using a Mac to get their work done is how they choose to conserve their time. Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, Insurance agents, Warehouse managers, Hospitals, Brokerage firms, Newspapers, Government agencies, and, yes, Publishers all find the Mac suits their needs.
Folks, if you look at the numbers, a Mac in business use is in service for six to eight years on average -- over twice the service life of a Windows-based PC. The lifespan ratio for home use is similar. Once upon a time in the late 80s, Macs did cost twice what the same amount of power would run you for a DOS-based PC. That was ten years ago. Five years ago, Apple brought their prices more in-line with the rest of the manufacturers. It is a whole new era now: the price/performance curves now favor the Mac -- handedly. And, you wouldn't want to have to buy a new car every two years because it couldn't run on the latest gasoline -- why would you want to buy into a computer which seems purposely manufactured to be out-of-date every two years?
Hardware: Used to be, Macintosh equipment didn't seem to work with the cheaper, more prevalent upgrade parts DOS users had available. We had "high-end = a bit more money" parts. But for years now, Macs have used affordable replacement or upgrade components. We use IDE (ATAPI) CD, internal Zip, tape and hard drives. Macs can use nearly any VGA display (we have normal VGA plugs on our systems) if the display isn't already built into the model, like the iMac or iBook. And, Macintosh was the first to completely adopt USB and FireWire. Scanners, CD writers, external speakers (our high-quality 44MHz sound card is built-in), multiple displays, PCI cards, SCSI devices, EtherNet (built-in), Zip, Jaz, Magneto-Optic, DVD and so much more is readily available for a Mac. And, yes, we still can use floppies -- but for some of the newer models, this is an accessory now.
As for software, what do you use? Nearly everything we use is cross-platform: that means the exact same file we use on our Mac will run on a PC with the equivalent version of the software. We use FileMaker Pro and 4D for database work, shared across a mixed network of Macs and PCs using the same shared files simultaneously (Access has fallen way behind in the ease of use and stability arena). Use one of these databases, and you can have it talk with SQL and Oracle as a "front-end" to your big information systems. We use Microsoft Office 2001 for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This opens up Office 2000 files with no problems. Nearly all older formats of Word and Excel and PowerPoint open just fine, too. And other formats: WordPerfect, MSWorks, LotusNotes & 1-2-3, heck, even WordStar -- for those of you who remember that one. There are hundreds of file type which can be opened by Mac software -- so you aren't "stuck" in the dark ages with your data.
Here's another thing, our friends with Office 97 for Windows rely on our Mac to open their files when they are hit with a nasty virus on their own floppies. Oh, yes, the Mac can read PC/DOS-formatted floppies... been able to do that since the early days (1988). With compatible software, we can use those files (and save them in a format PC users can readily open), too. We do get viruses, but its a minute fraction of the numbers that have shut down complete agencies like NASA, IBM, AT&T and alike. And, except for Microsoft Macro viruses, we're pretty much immune to anything that brings a Windows system to its knees (Peter's article correctly points out there are only about 40 Mac viruses known). For file-friendliness, a Mac can't be beat. Do you use Quicken? Cross-platform. How about PageMaker or Quark or Illustrator? Yes. Photoshop or PageMill or Netscape or Internet Explorer or Outlook or it's little brother, Outlook Express or Novell for networks or CorelDraw or LotusNotes, yep -- files work on both Macs and Windows: cross-platform... you get the picture.
There is another misperception business folks have about the mac we'd like to dispell: the Macintosh is an excellent and very compatible workstation for your business enterprise. Some Information Technology (IT) folks don't admit this to their bosses. Macs can "speak" several networking languages. All Macs have built-in AppleTalk for all-Mac businesses, or communicating with mixed networks that might use NT servers (Microsoft offers a Mac services pack with their professional NT software for file and network sharing). There are other software packages to permit a Windows-based PC to talk AppleTalk with your network, too. What if IT doesn't want to have AppleTalk on their network? Macs don't need to use AppleTalk, as they also speak TCP/IP fluently, which is also widely used on corporate and academic sites. Now, here's a little secret many MIS and IT "professionals" don't want you to know: it generally takes two to 5 times as much time and personnel to manage a given PC Windows-based network than a similarly-configured Macintosh network. That is a MONEY issue -- nothing more. You may have realized that from some of the citations given above in Peter's report. Why bring this up? IT departments are no less susceptable to organizational politics than anyone else: there is a temptation to want to protect their budgets and their job security. Sadly, this may be an underlying reason why some IT departments do not favor the Mac. Teaching someone to use and maintain their Mac is easier with far less callback time, helpdesk support for a Mac requires less IT time than the same number of Windows-based computers, and equipment costs are vastly lower for the service life of the Mac. That means less justification for IT departmental budget growth. Most IT folks are ethical professionals, and try to avoid the "tail wagging the dog" phenomenon, but it is in your best interest to know as much as you can to formulate intelligent business decisions. Remember: IT works for you, not the other way around. Or, that is what good IT professionals say.
One final thought. About virus threats. Here is an independent tracker of viri on the internet, realtime threats to Windows users:
Windows will probably be a good product one day -- Microsoft has the brains to figure that out eventually. But until then, do you want to purchase their software and new hardware every two years until they get it right? Or do you want to save money, and save time, with a Macintosh? It's your bank account, it's your budget, it's your life -- do you want to waste it being told where to go today? We suggest that you think Apple. The Think icon at the bottom of every page on our site is the only way you can get to this page -- obviously you were curious enough to click on it. Clearly, you can think for yourself. How do you want to spend your money and your time today? Where do you want to go tomorrow?
Look into a Mac -- and we think you'll like what you see.
Update: 2005.04 - The flood of Windows spyware and viri This note is being written five years after I composed and compiled the above sections. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It just keeps getting worse for our customers with Windows machines. Fortunately, most of those clients only use Windows for a very limited basis, having moved up to Macintosh tools like Office 2004 (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) and replacing Access with Filemaker 7. I recently read an article by Mossberg that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. The Mossberg Report illustrates why Windows is a disasterous choice for your computing needs. Within it, he outlines just how tough it is to use a Windows machine in the Internet age. Sadly, only the last two paragraphs of his note give a viable alternative -- there is a good deal more he could say to reassure business managers to reassess what their IT staff have pawned upon them. But clearly the press is no longer sceptical of OS X or the viability of the Mac.