Apple vs. PC – Does it Matter?

When I first started teaching, back in the dark ages before the dinosaurs, 13 years ago – we in the publishing business were the weirdos.  Why?  Because most of us used Macs and shunned Wintel (Windows/Intel) boxes.

There were a lot of good reasons for this too.  This was the days of Windows 95 and Aldus Pagemaker (not Adobe).  Aldus did make Pagemaker for Windows, but it was buggy – as was Windows 95.   Computers were also hugely expensive back then.  We bought a $3000 machine that is less powerful than the cheapest iPod today.  But basically Apple had a better platform for publishing and was ahead of the game with graphics and user interface.  Their fonts were smoother too and 95% of the time – it just worked.

But there were problems too.  Macs were more expensive and they didn’t work with industry standard connectors that most scanners, printers, etc. had.  And software was harder to find.

And then Apple hit a rough patch in the late ’90s.  Their machines were overpriced and buggy.  In fact, they were junk.  Tons of schools began to switch to PCs – mainly for price.  PCs were junk too, but they were cheap.  And Windows 98 was actually fairly stable.

Adobe bought out Aldus and they had Pagemaker and Photoshop for both Mac and PCs.  Things were looking bad for Macs.  And at my school, if it had not been for the fact that the IT department didn’t want to replace all 10 of my computers in the lab at once – we would have switched to PC too.  But back then, Mac and PC didn’t work together well.  And I told the IT dept. that we wouldn’t use a mixed lab.

So, we stuck with Macs.

I’m glad we did.  Because the iMac, iMovie and iPod have made all the difference.

The iMac saved Apple.  It was cool again.  It had OSX – a rock solid Unix based operating system.  And each new version (through 10.4.11) has been more solid than the last.  iMovie allowed us to build a broadcast program on the cheap, which is the only way most schools can do anything.  And the iPod has made Apple cool yet again.  We are the only Mac lab in the building – so that makes us the cool kids.

A lot of people wonder if Apple is in trouble because it is no longer the “underdog,” but only people over 30 think that way.  The under 30 crowd think of Apple as a cool company that built the iPod.  They listen to music and watch video on their iPods.  Go to almost anywhere kids 16-25 hang out with their laptops and you will see nearly as many or more white apple logos as you will HP or Dell logos put together.

Today Apple computers can use almost any standard add on hardware such as cameras, scanners, printers, etc. if they use a USB or Firewire connector – and usually without having to download any drivers or software.   Plug in digital camera or thumb drive and It Just Works!   Just stay away from Sony’s stuff – because they hate Macs.  They don’t work too well with PCs either.

“It Just Works” should be on every Apple box right next to the logo.  And now with Intel chips, there are at least three different ways to run Windows on a Mac too.   At full speed, natively, without emulation.

When someone can’t get something to work at my school, they almost always end up in my classroom.  I can’t always get it to work, but usually it is just a matter of plug and play.

I’ll stick with Macs.

Mr. C