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Mac versus PC: which is better?

Date

Christopher Niesche

Choosing between the two is one of the first decisions every business must make.

Justin Palasty says PCs offer more flexibility.

Justin Palasty says PCs offer more flexibility.

When Amber Ware started working at her husband's electrical business three years ago, she quickly introduced Macintosh computers into the office.

“It totally changed our business: the way we work, the way we invoice and the way we communicate with staff,” Ware says.

Electrix all Blew, on Sydney's northern beaches, transformed from a paper-based office to an electronic one. The electricians stay in touch and send invoices via iPads as soon as they leave a job, helping to improve cash flow and slashing paperwork.

All this could have been done on Windows computers, but Ware says it was much easier with Macs. They have an intuitive operating system that is easy to learn, she says, and the software is much easier to install.

“It takes out all the confusing steps that a PC has,” Ware says. “It holds your hand through every single step of the way.”

She also chose Apples because she'd used them at her previous job in marketing and had been impressed with the iPod.

Apple products attract a loyal following among small business owners and other users, but they lag far behind Windows computers in popularity.

Among the 4.2 million personal computers (desktops and laptops) sold in Australia last year, Apple was the second most popular brand, with a 16 per cent market share, data from IT research company Gartner shows. That means the remaining 84 per cent were Windows-based.

These figures are for all personal computers sold, but IT consultants say Windows computers are far more popular among small businesses than Macs.

Dexter Eugenio, who works as an IT consultant to SMEs and does regular podcasts on The Small Business IT Show, advises small businesses to use the Windows operating system.

“Windows is still the way to go,” he says. “The software that is getting written now is still almost always for Windows first, before it gets ported off to another operating system.”

And a lot of the Windows software, such as Microsoft Office, is the business standard, making it much easier to share documents with other businesses and lowering the chance of files not formatting correctly on different computers.

Finally, Windows computers are a lot cheaper than Macs. A MacBook Air – the Apple equivalent of the laptop – starts at about $1000, whereas a Windows laptop can be bought for about half that price.

Andrew Egan, of Melbourne's Adept IT, says that because PCs and laptops are so much more prevalent they are also cheaper to maintain. Parts for these computers have become commoditised, so there's a wide choice, and the prices are lower than for Mac parts, he says. “It's much more locked down with the Macs and there's much less choice,” he says.

For SME owners who like to take care of their own IT problems and needs, there's also a lot more information and support available than for Apple computers.

Justin Palasty used PCs through school and university and saw no reason to switch when he started his Sydney design and construction company Formacon Building in 2011.

Along with familiarity and ease of use is the fact that a lot of building industry software isn't available for Apple computers.

“PCs allowed us more flexibility in the decisions that we made around our software,” Palasty says.

“PCs are more of an open platform as compared to a Mac. You can change the programs more easily than Apple, which has more restrictive guidelines and rules about what you can and can't do.”

Finally, PCs are cheaper, he says.

That doesn't mean that Apple products don't have advantages.

First, while they cost more, they retain much more of their value at resale than Windows computers.

Apple products are also much more resistant to viruses than PCs, says Eugenio, due to their unique operating system – many users say they've never had the sort of problems that can plague Windows computers.

So, while a Mac technician might be more expensive than an expert in Windows, small business owners who choose Apple computers may need less support.

They are also considered to be better for anyone working in detail with images, such as graphic designers or web designers, because they have a much higher screen resolution and often run graphics programs better.

As for what's next, the rise of cloud computing means there will be less of a difference between Apple and Windows PCs, Eugenio says. As computers increasingly use internet-based software, it will matter less and less which operating system they run on.

89 comments

  • I have a dental surgery and last month revamped the entire office with Macs......to run Windows-based dental software!

    After getting all manner of quotes to supply 5 PCs, I ran into the usual Windows problems; "use windows 7, 8's got too many bugs, you need to buy Windows Server for proper networking, a and don't forget to add Office to each PC ...."

    The costs started adding up, confusion reigned between different opinions (what do you call a dozen PC experts at the bottom of the ocean?......) and all with the knowledge my dental software suppliers suggest I budget for PC upgrades every 2-3years...?!

    For similar cost I could get 4 iMacs, and a souped- up iMac Mini server with 32TB storage for my digital files and X-ray images, and here's why I did:
    - macs carry all the office software already included, there's nothing else to spend
    - macs are arguably one of the best designed and best engineered products on the market. After owning a half dozen of them at home since the mid 90s, I'm convinced of their simplicity, build quality and resistance to fail.
    - I can run windows, easily, as a programme within the Mac, and the parallel technology is easier than ever
    - I don't have to deal with all that crapware and junk programs that are always preloaded into a PC
    - Macs are unitary. A screen, keyboard and mouse. no massive boxes or endless cabling that waste surgery space.

    Two weeks in and I couldn't be happier........even the dental software suppliers are impressed at how fast and easily their Windows management system runs on my shiny and sexy new Macs!!

    Commenter
    dW
    Date and time
    June 18, 2014, 6:38AM
    • "two weeks in"
      Yeah right, tell us how you are going after two years.
      Macs do not support all programs, how do you go with networking?
      Is all your gear wireless eg xray machines, data loggers...because sounds like it would have to be.
      What about remote operation?

      Commenter
      Mr Smith
      Location
      Matrix
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 9:31AM
    • Wow .. talk about opening a can of worms .. I am sure the comments section will melt down.
      I have been using computers for business and home for over 20 years .. during this time I have learnt alot about how Mac and PC's work .. and how they work in business. I know build my own PC's (rather than buying off the shelf) .. you end up with a much better machine that does what you want it to do. This is just not possible with a Mac.
      A number of fallacies permeate the market.
      1. Macs don't get viruses. Don't be fooled, there are as many viruses, spyware, malware out there for Macs as there are for PC's. If your not running a quality security software on your Mac... then you'll have numerous viruses etc, you just don't know about them. I'll almost guarantee that your machine is compromised.
      2. Macs are easier to use. Macs are definitely a simple machine (we call them "Fisher Price My First Computers"). Whilst this may be OK if you just want to Plug n Play ... but is a nightmare if you actually want to change how things work. PC's are very flexible and can be set up to operate how you want it to operate ... not how Steve Jobs wants it to operate.
      3. Macs are cheaper to run. Totally wrong. They are much more expensive to buy(for the same spec machines) and because they have a monopoly on components ... repairs, upgrades and service costs are double or triple.
      In the end, you buy what you want .. sure, Macs may look better, but as a business oriented tool, PC's are just that much cheaper, more efficient. Flash anyone?

      Commenter
      User
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 10:17AM
    • You make some 'valid' arguments as to the aesthetics of Macs. No argument, though that is a personal choice. But this is basically all your argument boils down too (and I do like the aesthetics personally). Note that Macs do not come with 'Office' software preloaded at all. That is separate software from Microsoft and is the standard. Macs come with their own version of productivity software like Pages, Numbers and Keynote. They are no where near as good as the Office versions particularly in a high volume work office especially in an academic one. For basic users they are just ok. I also don't mind key note too much but Powerpoint is superior in every way.

      The argument you make at the beginning "use windows 7, 8's got too many bugs, you need to buy Windows Server for proper networking, a and don't forget to add Office to each PC ...." is exactly the same for Mac - you still need to buy the networking server software and you still need to get Office (unless you really want to use the preloaded version with Mac which is not recommended for a business). Similarly many Mac techs were initially recommending against getting Mavericks over Mountain Lion.

      Again considering that you are running a Windows based management system on your Macs then the only argument you have is that you like the look of the Macs. That's it. So your basically paying for hardware . . .

      Commenter
      Neat.au
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 10:41AM
    • Here we go, more of the usual PC claptrap that permeates. I've owned and worked on PC's and Macs in my life and Macs are hands down a better, more reliable and cheaper machine to run for what I do.

      Networking on a Mac is simple and there are powerful built-in tools for Macs that you need to buy for a PC (or find a bug-free opensource version, Macs also have Opensource software).

      Macs generally speaking don't get viruses, I've never had one (though I do use virus scan software), that doesn't mean they're not out there but there definitely are not as many viruses for Macs as there are for PC's. There's only a handful of known viruses for Macs, there are hundreds of thousands for PC's.

      Macs are not a nightmare to reconfigure however you want. If you want to get under the hood then you can access the UNIX operating system via Terminal, there's just so much you get extra in terms of software and flexibility and it's simple to use. No nightmare there at all. As for the Fisher Price comment, that's because you don't know how to use a Mac or to leverage it's substantial resources. Ignorance doesn't make you right.

      Macs are cheaper to run. In the entire PC world (meaning all computers), you get what you pay for. Cheaper is not aligned to parts scaling, it's aligned to the quality of the parts. Cheap computers use cheap components. Macs use high quality components which result in longer life spans. All of my Macs have lasted at least five years, I have one that's ten years old and still running well.

      If you build your own PC, that's great. But the vast majority of people don't.

      Commenter
      JoBlo
      Location
      Here
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 11:16AM
    • JoBlow
      So why is it that the Apple store couldn't guarantee that the macs could run all the programs currently operation on windows?
      Oh...I get it, you are smarter LOL!

      Commenter
      Mr Smith
      Location
      Matrix
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 11:34AM
    • @Mr Smith ... what?

      Commenter
      Greenscreener
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 11:46AM
    • @ Mr Smith:

      All the Macs are wired into the network using ethernet cables and hubs (no big deal there), yes there is remote access (i need to be able to get into patient files fro home), and being Mac, and running Windows, which programmes aren't I supposed to be able to run...?????

      Commenter
      dWW
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 11:52AM
    • @user:

      1) My first Mac: 1994. Number of Macs since: 11. Virus issues: Nil, zip...none...... Guess that makes me special...

      2) Macs ARE easier to use; that's what I'm paying them for!! If you enjoy using 13 mouse clicks, umpteen function keys and incoherent navigation to achieve a single action then that's your hobby.....I have better things to do with my time. As to being locked into some "Steve Jobsian dystopia"....I've yet to find anything that I can't do on a Mac that requires me to go back to a PC.

      3)Macs are WAY better value in the long term: For my business purposes I could not see any financial benefit (I had 4 separate quotes) to spending on PCs: factor in all the requisite add-on programmes, MS license fees, anti-virus costs, the in-built obsolescence of the hardware, and not counting the inevitable downtime through business lost when Windows decides to not work.....the maths doesn't lie (though I'm sure it keeps IT guys employed!)

      Commenter
      dW
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 12:06PM
    • The unqualified (no degree in IT, just a certificate they buy from Bill G) Micro$oft zealots are out in force, doing all they can to prevent the world waking up and changing to Chromebooks, Macs and iPads which require next to no IT support in small businesses. Sorry guys but the party will soon be over, people won't pay for endless updates and virus removal for much longer and you can move on to cooking burgers etc

      Commenter
      FrankM
      Date and time
      June 18, 2014, 12:13PM

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