Mac vs Pc, or really OSx vs Windows

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Windows Vs OSx

This covers all the topics and discussions I’ve had with people over the mac vs pc argument. This article was originally written in 2010, so it may be a little outdated, but it still holds true.

Problems with Windows.

  • Problem #1 – Windows registry– Unfortunately this feels like it’s always going to be a part of windows and is the core of my problem with the os. For those of you who might read this and don’t know what registry is, imagine your computer is a file cabinet and registry is a file in that cabinet that logs EVERY program, setting, and configuration of the computer in one place. It is massive and grows every day! At the core function, this is the main reason why windows is so vulnerable to viruses/malware/spyware and potential slowdowns. It’s easy to modify and therefore make it easy for hackers to write code and change this file even from viewing the wrong sort of web page. This registry file grows larger as the computer ages and is the number one reason for slowdown and long boot times. Many people have to format their computer to get it to get their initial speed back. Would you like it if you car went 80 MPH the first day and went 1 MPH less every week you used it? It is possible to remove items from this registry to try and make it go faster, but it is thick and difficult to find all the strings connected with a certain program, and simple uninstalls don’t remove everything. Software designers DO like registry because it does prevent piracy, but at what cost? 30 Day demo keys, install codes, everything is in this registry.  The code and design may have changed for windows 7, but the inherent architecture flaws remain. It’s at the core of how windows was designed and is very difficult to program around while maintaining program compatibility.Where is this File you ask? Go to Run, and type in “Regedit”. That will let you see how massive that file is. Just don’t change anything.How can this be improved, and why is OSx Better in handling it? Well, OSX doesn’t have a registry. The individual preferences and settings handled by the programs are saved into individual files in organized library preferences and setting and saved into the programs themselves. These files can be removed and copied if need be, making it painless to move from one system to another. Windows computer registries CANNOT be copied- while preference files in osx can. Windows could improve their methods by including these registry settings into “bottles” that could be removed or copied from station to station. The bottle contains only the registry information for that one program instead of everything. Windows 8 is designing a system where you can “copy over” the old operating system, inherently flushing out the registry, but even this design is quite horrible. Why require the operating system to be re-done every few months?
  • Problem #2 – Backing up your system.Stemming from the registry problem, there is a very big issue with moving your system from one computer to another, or just upgrading a new hard drive. I’ll go into using Windows 7 as an example, since it’s the most recent version of windows. There are 3rd party programs that can help backup the operating system across, but I want to focus on only with what is included with the install. Windows 7 contains an “Easy Transfer” program that is made for transferring your information for another install of the operating system. Case in point- I recently wanted to upgrade the hard drive of my windows 7 system, I was running out of space. I ran the easy transfer program to back up my system onto a 3rd hard drive so I could install a fresh version. Some of the programs transferred over, while many didn’t go over. Re-installing a program isn’t a problem for me, but when it comes to individual settings and files from, say, Microsoft Outlook, they DON’T transfer over. There is no mass export function that covers everything in Outlook. For a business, Outlook is like the backbone of how you function and created by the same company who creates the operating system, and yet can not be easily transferred to another computer without manually copying files or buying 3rd party software. Even if you do copy over the files manually, small preferences inside of Outlook that you have set up over time are lost. They are contained in Windows Registry and will be lost when transferring to another system.This is a flaw in both the OS and the program, but mostly the OS.Counter to this, we have OSX. The Migration Assistant program, copies over EVERY little setting and preference in the computer. I just upgraded someone’s computer recently to Snow Leopard and aside from the transfer time of copying over the 350 gigs of files, the system was up and running without having to re-install any program. All of the custom printer profiles came over, browser history, everything copied over and they had no down time at all.
  • Problem #3 – Search Indexing and Processes/services. Windows 7 goes through a horrendous amount of background processes and services. It allows any program to inject itself into the services and background running program of the operating system. OSX has these features too, but a majority of everything installed doesn’t remain present in the background taking up memory spots. I encourage any user to use CTRL Alt Delete and check your “windows task manager” and select the Processes tab. You will see how just about every program installed loves and is sometimes required to install a background process that takes up processor and memory resources. The OSX equivalent of this is Activity monitor. If you take a look at them side by side you will see the massive difference. Programs in OSX aren’t pending in the background. Once the program is run and shut down, remnants of the program don’t remain nearly as often as windows…

Aside from this background resource gobbling, the search indexing in windows 7 is awful, and continues to get worse from XP. Have you ever tried to find a file in windows 7 with a computer with a lot of files and find it takes forever? I challenge a user to try the same thing in OSX. The indexing and file search system is 9000 times faster. Here’s the setup and the challenge. I have thousands of sound fx files and have to search constantly when I’m doing sound design. Windows 7 takes forever to index, find, and refind files when you try and refine a search. Osx is instantaneous. When our episodes contains the amount of FX that they do, we’re talking hours saved.

 

  • Problem #4 – Hardware compatibility and profiling… When dealing with very high profile software and hardware it is exceedingly difficult to qualify the systems. To put it simply, the lower amount of options for the hardware a computer system allow the developers to match the hardware more exactly and hence, less buggy, and faster as well. For instance, Digidesign makes Pro Tools. It took them 2 Months to make a version to work with Snow Leopard. Windows 7 took them over a year, and still have problems with the drivers. The problem is the wide variance of hardware to qualify on the PC. Yes, it’s a downside that you can’t build your own mac, but the toss up is worth it. Along with compatibility come more advancements in computer hardware technology. EFI and other hardware configurations advance much quicker on the mac side, whereas the road map for PCs is much slower. Pc’s still have that ps2 port…
  • Problem #5 – Windows versions, codes and activation/cost. Everyone hates activation codes, installation issues, not to mention costs and versions. There are like 5 versions of Windows, all containing different features. What version do you have? And do you know the differences?  I understand a server and user version, but 5! That’s just a bit much. The cost is high as well. When you get it bundled, it’s not bad, but when you just want to upgrade your father’s computer, you’re going to have to fork over anywhere from $119 (Home Upgrade) to $319.  Hop over to Mac side, it’s $30 for Snow Leopard. A server version and a user version. No activation code, no activation required. The $30 is both an upgrade or a standalone install. That’s a huge difference if you have to deal with those things all the time.
  •  Problem #6 – Change for the sake of change. There’s no need to change the function of a program for the sake of design. If you take a look at how the Windows 7 control panel is labeled, you will see that there is a clear change in how things are labeled and organized, and the naming conventions change drastically from version to version. Want to go to Printers? Sorry, it’s now DEVICES and Printers. These changes might seem minute, but this type of thing is scattered all over the redesign of the operating system, and yet hold similar if not the same function. It’s change for the sake of change. Similarly, Microsoft Office does the same thing. From Version 2004 to 2010, they have moved everything around and shoved different functions into different areas in a way to try and “help” the user. The FILE command at the top is even missing by default. The core functions that people have been used to when operating a computer have been relocated and changed for the sake of design.

If I were to have someone use word 2004, and then update it to the most recent version, and tell them to do the same thing as before, they would pull their hair out. Text box functions no longer work the same, and many other features that people have relied on, have slight variations hindering someone’s productivity. That’s what it boils down to. If a program takes longer to accomplish a task just because you updated it, that’s a problem. Room for adjustment is fine, but to cause someone to stop dead in their tracks and go through the help file over and over, is not productive.

 

I use Office as an example, but this applies universally with the OS as well. On the flip side, Snow Leopard was an upgrade from Leopard, and most people didn’t notice much of a change, yet there were massive changes to the architecture of how the program runs. The user noticed positive changes, and their productivity was not slowed. What we have been used to using, didn’t change just because a new designer was added to the project. OSx has been consistant with their functions over the past decade of updates since the large transition from version Os 9.

 

  • Windows Positive/Mac Negative:I use windows for a lot of my graphic work and I enjoy the opportunities to explore different hardware options such as graphics cards and such. Windows computers are very big on games and work much better for it. Macs are playing catch up here. I also don’t like the costs of the hardware on the mac side. The monitors are very expensive, and every upgrade is more expensive than it should be (On the mac store at least). A radeon gfx card with a slightly different bios is like 2 to 3 times more expensive than the pc counterpart. The only difference is the firmware, which can be flashed, but who wants to have to do that. This upgrade overcost applies to all of the areas. The hard drive upgrade prices are super high, same with memory, etc. It’s much easier and cheaper to do it yourself.Another negative is the access to the hardware. The access to the hard drives or memory is sometimes buried, and made difficult for an end user to upgrade. It’s not complicated, but sometimes they make it difficult. Another plus for the PC side is some of the applications I use are not available on the mac side, but more and more are starting to transition over.
  • Mac Positives – Speaking of cost, most end users see the cost of a mac as being WAY overpriced. This isn’t always true. If you were to compare component to component across the board you will see that it is fact quite comparable. There are exceptions of course, but I give you a few examples. Take a look at the mac pro line and then a comparable line at HP, the z800 line. Match the components across the board and take a look at the base unit costs. They come close to matching price and component, if not the mac pro being cheaper.

For laptops, it’s much more difficult to match the components in the same way. Mobile processor configurations are very different and are hard to match the exact cores from one machine to another. Manufacturers deliberately make it difficult to compare. They use labels for processors, and yet refuse to give actual specifications. I was at the Toshiba site, and the actual speeds are buried or non-existent. Many things go into the manufacturing of costs of a laptop, such as structure and design (layout of hardware that is). For Argument sake, if the mac is $150 more expensive, consider the software included for a mac vs a pc. The pc side contains more demo versions of everything rather than full versions like the ilife suite. Neither laptop contains microsoft office, or at least more than a trial version. Then on the PC side, expect to pay for antivirus and spyware software for the life of that computer. $50 a year for antivirus over the life of the computer can get costly.

 

  • Mac postive 2:If you have a problem with a mac you can go into any mac store and get support. If you buy the waranty, you get 3 years of support and hardware guarantee, which is worth it if you have problems. The technicians are specific to mac hardware and only have to specify in those types of hardware. Fan going bad? They know what the replacement is and can order it for you, or they might even have one there. I challenge you to find a Toshiba or Acer store that could do the same. You are forced to go into a store that works on every type of computer and don’t specialize in the hardware you have. Under the car analogy, you get people who know you car better at the dealership than at the individual shops you might find elsewhere.
  • Conclusion —-Windows vs Mac, everyone has an opinion. Many of them not based on fact, but merely opinion. My mother and father resisted the change to mac based on that pretense. A lot of the negativity stems from people’s mentality of what they are using. If someone uses a mac and thinks they are superior because of it, and don’t know why, well that’s just ignorance. I have been known to be very pro mac to my friends and family for just the plain reason of my experiences. No computer is without problems, they all can fall prone to hardware fail, or some sort of unavoidable catastrophe. But, whether it’s the viruses or malware that have to be fixed, or a program that just won’t run, I’ve experienced more complaints and problems from everyday PC users.The people that switch over, don’t seem to have those experiences any more, and they are now more productive. They might not know why the mac does what it does, or even what a unix is, but they know it works and are proud to say it. It all falls back to that idea of productivity. The more time you spend reformatting your computer, or trying to get that damn program to install, the less time to have to actually work on something. I don’t spend nearly as much time working on these sorts of things as I did on my old PC, and like many users share that experience, and that’s why I like Osx.
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Kc Wayland

Creator of "We're Alive: A Story of Survival" and "We're Alive: Lockdown". Writer and director, with a current focus on audio drama production.
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