Computer folk can be quite opinionated at times, to say the least, and there are few topics that cause as much discussion and controversy as the age old Mac vs. PC debate. No matter who you speak to, it seems like everyone has an opinion on one side or other of the argument, and discussion often gets quite heated, with several “old favourites” trotted out by participants about why Macs are, or aren’t, superior to their competitors. Even here in the TekSavvy Insider offices, opinions are polarized, but we’ve put our preferences aside to try to cut through some of the myths surrounding Macs and separate fact from fiction...
MACS DON’T CRASH This is right up there with the most common lines trotted out about Macs, but it’s also one of the least accurate. The truth of the matter is that Macs, like just about anything else with an operating system of any flavour, can and do crash. It’s not a sleight on Apple to put this particular claim to the sword by any stretch, but given how widespread the idea is, it’s something that definitely needs to be addressed. The truth is that a Mac will, on average, crash about as often as a well maintained PC - which is to say not all that frequently. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that Apple so stringently controls the components that are used within their systems, compared with the free- for- all that exists in the PC market. Driver issues are relatively rare, things tend to function how they should, and the OSX platform doesn’t face the wealth of compatibility issues that Windows or Linux do. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t familiarize yourself with the “save” shortcut on your most used software, however, as issues can still arise, and the last thing anyone wants is to lose hours of work because a rare glitch managed to raise its head at just the wrong time. MACS DON’T REPRESENT VALUE FOR MONEY When you compare the prices of a top of the range iMac or MacBook Pro with a similarly specced PC, the chances are you’ll feel a little queasy. Apple certainly does charge a premium for its products on paper, but when you delve a little deeper you’ll see that things aren’t quite as straightforward as they might seem initially. In terms of raw numbers, you can get a lot more bang for your buck by custom building your own PC - however unless you really know what you’re doing ( and it’s a lot more complicated than just finding the fastest components for the best price), that dream machine can quickly become a nightmare due to driver or hardware issues. There are no such issues with a Mac, and that’s essentially what you’re paying the premium for. Each component has been rigourously tested by Apple, ensuring maximum compatibility with its operating system and minimizing the risk of potential problems down the line, and while there are definitely cheaper options available, not
everyone has the time or technical expertise to build their own computer - and high- end off- theshelf PCs or laptops are just as expensive, if not more so, than Apple’s offerings.
MACS CAN’T GET VIRUSES This is a much trickier statement to tackle than either of the previous ones, mainly because of the word gymnastics that some partake in when the subject arises. At the most base level, Macs absolutely, 100% can get viruses. This has been proven on several occasions by developers and coders who wanted to test the claim in controlled situations, and who wrote Mac specific viral code, which worked. However, as of right now, there are no Mac viruses in the wild that are of any major concern to anyone. Things like macro viruses for Word or Excel are very real, and affect Mac users as well as PC users, but they’re not exactly
system destroyers - more minor inconveniences than anything else - and they’re becoming rare enough these days. The confusion, on both sides, comes from the definition of the word virus in computer terms. By the book, a virus is a piece of malicious code that can install itself without user interaction and infect other machines over networks. Viruses are not the same thing as malware, trojans or malicious browser plug- ins, but in recent times the word has become a catchall for anything on your computer that affects performance, hijacks your resources or fiddles with settings without your knowledge. Going by the “modern” definition of viruses, there are plenty of them out there that can affect Mac users, but if we go by the traditional definition, there’s nothing to worry about… at the moment. It’s very possible that we’ll see some major Mac viruses in the future, but since the bulk of the world’s computing is done on Windows- based machines, there’s not necessarily the same draw for malicious coders to put time and effort into Mac viruses - think of it as perverse twist on supply and demand that, so far, has kept Mac users relatively safe. MACS ARE “INDUSTRY STANDARD” FOR A REASON You’ll regularly hear graphic designers or audio/ video professionals trotting out the line that Macs are industry standard in their fields, and therefore must be learned by anyone planning on working in certain industries. This is most definitely true, with Macs taking pride of place in design studios across the world, but the reasons for this aren’t quite what some might think. When industry standards were being established, following the computer revolution, PCs were in a dark place. They were fiddly, unreliable and anything but user friendly - certainly not the kind of platform you wanted to use for important projects that needed stability above all else. Macs offered that stability, and as those industries became increasingly reliant on computerbased work, Macs were established as the go- to devices. Things have changed considerably these days, though, and although an off- the- shelf PC might still face issues, a custom- built device should have no problem performing just as well as any Mac, and with the most common software suites available on both platforms, there should be little fear for experienced users to opt for PC over Mac. There’s definitely a lot to be said for the ability to buy a Mac off the shelf and know that it’ll do exactly what you need it to, though, and that suits a LOT of people. The truth is that there’s not all that much difference ( price aside) between a high- end Mac and a PC built by someone who knows what they’re doing. Windows is far more vulnerable to viruses and requires a lot more maintenance to keep things running smoothly, but in the right hands significant savings can be made over the price of a similarly performing Mac. Those who like to unbox a device, turn it on and get right to work are always going to prefer the simplicity of Apple’s hardware however, and it’s hard to argue with the results.