Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Microsoft's PC vs Mac comparison

Microsoft is obviously getting scared of Apple's market share. Their Windows 7 site now has a page devoted to comparing Macs against PCs. Some of its points are valid, some are half-truths, and some are complete BS.

Here's my point-by-point analysis, for anyone who cares.

Microsoft's point (quoted from their web site) True? My comments
You can't get a Mac that ships with a Blu-Ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless. You can with PCs running Windows 7. Half-truth This isn't surprising. Apple only sells a small number of models. Microsoft is comparing it against all PCs made by all PC manufacturers - thousands of different models. But every one of these features can be purchased for Macs (often the identical hardware!) and none of the expensive options are given away for free with PCs.
Additionally, none of these are Windows 7 features. You can get all of these with PCs running Linux or older versions of Windows as well.
Most of the world's most popular computer games aren't available for Macs. And Macs can't connect to an Xbox 360. PCs are ready to play. True Gaming is one of the places where Macs are at a definite disadvantage. There are a lot of popular and good games for Macs, but there's a lot more for Windows.
Most Macs can't hook up to your TV unless you buy a converter dongle. Many PCs running Windows 7 are designed to connect directly to TVs, so you can watch movies and see photos on the big screen. Marketing BS Note that they say most Macs can't hook up to a TV without a dongle, and many PC's can. Well, that's because most PC's can't either. Even PCs with TV-out interfaces often require proprietary cables, just like Macs do. And like Macs, the cables are usually not expensive, and like Macs, they are bundled with some models and not with others.
It's worth noting that all current-model Macs use mini DisplayPort for their external interfaces. This can connect to DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI and VGA with simple (and inexpensive) cables.
Finally, all Macs include Front Row - software for easy browsing of movies, music and photos. And they all have built-in IR sensors, for use with an optional remote control, to control Front Row from your couch.
Things don't work the same way on Macs if you're used to a PC. For example, the mouse works differently, and many of the shortcuts you're familiar with don't work the same way on a Mac. Well, duh! Of course, not everything is identical. If it was, then it would be a Windows clone, not a Mac. But there's a lot more similarity than differences. And after getting used to the Mac way (which often doesn't take more than a few days), the differences cease to be a problem.
Windows 7 was designed to make it simpler to do the tasks you do every day, with features that the Mac doesn't have. For example, the new Snap feature makes it easy to view two documents side by side. Marketing BS And Mac OS X was also designed to make it simple to perform everyday tasks with features Windows doesn't have. For instance, built-in support for virtual desktops. And a Location manager to let you store multiple network configurations as you travel.
If Windows 7's most significant feature is the ability to auto-arrange document windows (a feature that both PCs and Macs have had for 20 years) then that's just sad.
Unlike Macs, many PCs running Windows 7 support Touch, so you can browse online newspapers, flick through photo albums, and shuffle files and folders—using nothing but your fingers. PCs with a fingerprint reader even let you log in with just a swipe of your finger. Who cares? There's that "many PC's" phrase again. Almost no PCs have touch screens. Of those that do, almost all are "tablet" PCs, which the marketplace has overwhelmingly rejected. I'm sure Microsoft may someday develop a touch interface that people actually want to use, but it's not there yet.
If you use Apple's productivity suite, sharing files with PC users can be tricky. Your documents might not look right and your spreadsheets might not calculate correctly. Half-truth If you use anything other than MS Office, even on PCs, your documents will be mangled and broken when exchanging them with MS Office. It even happens when exchanging documents with some older versions of MS Office!
And, BTW, Microsoft sells MS Office for Macs - and it has no problem exchanging documents with its PC counterpart.
You'll have to buy a separate hardware dongle to plug your Mac into a standard VGA projector. Most PCs with Windows 7 hook up easily. Half-truth Yes, most PCs have VGA connectors, so the physical connection is slightly easier, but what about after you actually attach the cable? Now you've got to go through control panels and "presentation" settings in order to get that external display/projector to show what you want, at the display's native resolution. With a Mac, you just select "Detect display" from the system menu bar, and you're set to go. And sometimes, you don't even need to do that.
On a Mac, out of the box, you can only encrypt your home folder. With Windows 7 Ultimate, you can encrypt your entire hard drive and even USB drives. So your stuff can be safer wherever you go. True But note that BitLocker is only in the Ultimate edition, which costs $100-120 more than the "home premium" edition most people get. And it's a $140 upgrade if you have Home Premium pre-loaded on a new PC. For that money, you can buy several different whole-disk encryption packages for Mac OS X. Or you can use File Vault to encrypt your home directory (where you are keeping your sensitive documents anyway) without paying anything extra.
Mac OS X also includes a utility for making encrypted disk image files, which you can transport or transmit anywhere, without worrying about others getting a copy.
With a Mac, it's harder to set up secure sharing for your photos, music & movies, documents, and even printers with other computers on your home network. With HomeGroup, it's easy to connect all the computers in your house running Windows 7. Opinion Mac OS includes facilities for all of this. Which one you consider "harder" to setup really depends on your personal preferences.
On a Mac, you have to manually set up photo sharing, manually set up music and movie sharing, manually set up file sharing, and manually set up printer sharing. It's easy to automatically and securely network with all the computers in your house when they're running Windows 7. True But note that this ease of automatically sharing everything means it's also really easy to accidentally share stuff you don't want shared, and easy for strangers to access stuff you thought you were keeping private.
Apple's productivity suite file formats won't open in Microsoft Office on PCs. This can be a real hassle for Mac users sharing work documents with PC users. Half-truth Microsoft Office has a hard time opening anything other than its own documents. And Microsoft sells Office for Mac OS. I find it amusing that they're trying to claim that Office's interoperability bugs are actually good things.
If there's a Mac version of a program you need, you'll have to buy it again and relearn how to use it on a Mac. Half-truth And when you do what Microsoft asks and upgrade to the latest version (like from Windows XP to 7, or from Office 2003 to 2007), you'll also have to buy it again and relearn how to use it. There's such a huge learning curve in migrating away from what Microsoft shipped 5 years ago that switching to a Mac is no big deal, and is often much simpler.
Oh yes, and lots of your legacy Windows apps also won't run correctly on 7 without upgrades.
You can't get a Mac with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless. PCs running Windows 7 often come with features that aren't available on even the highest end Macs, including Blu-ray, eSATA, multi-format card readers, Touch, and mobile broadband. Half-truth This is a repeat of their first point. As I wrote there, most PCs don't include this stuff either, unless you pay a lot of money for upgrades and add-ons. You can buy the same add-ons for Macs. In many cases, it's even the same hardware.
Macs only come in white or silver. PCs are available in a full spectrum of colors across a range of price points. Seriously??? It's a selling point that PCs can be purchased in different colors? And this is somehow a reason to use Windows 7?
And if you want a Mac with a colored case, there are vendors who sell them.
With PCs running Windows 7, you can play the videos and music stored on your home PC while you're on the go, for free. Apple charges $99/year for its online service Half-truth Apple's Mobile Me service offers a lot more than just file sharing. It offers network sync services for all your Macs, PCs, iPhones and iPads - including mail, calendar and contacts. It also provides web hosting and iPhone services (locate a lost/stolen iPhone, remote-lock and remote-wipe.) In addition to file sharing, network backup services and seamless no-configuration integration with Apple's bundled home productivity software.
But if you really want free file sharing, there are plenty of Mac-compatible services all over the internet.

It seems, from Microsoft's ad, that the biggest advantage to having a Windows PC is simply that the system software comes from Microsoft. Every feature they consider an advantage is either a PC hardware advantage (which would apply even if the PC isn't running Windows 7) or it's a matter of personal preference. And in many cases, the advantage is fictitious because the feature doesn't come for free in the PC world, and can be purchased for Macs.

1 comment:

Nachoha said...

>>Some of its points are valid, some are half-truths, and some are complete BS.

You mean like the I'm a Mac, I'm a PC Campaign?

I believe the word you are looking for is advertising :)