Mac's New Slogan: Viruses for the Rest of Us

by Preston Gralla

I can't count the number of times that my Mac-owning friends have told me with absolute smug certainty that the Mac is immune -- absolutely immune! -- to viruses and similar threats. It's time, they would say, that I give up Windows and get a computer that has such absolute rock-solid security that it can't be attacked.

Well, it turns out they're dead wrong.

Symantec has just released a report that found "the Mac OS is increasingly becoming a target for...malicious activity."

The report also notes that this is not a new phenomenon. "Contrary to popular belief," it says, "the Macintosh operating system has not always been a safe haven from malicious code."

The truth is, one major reason that Mac hasn't been subject to widescale attacks is that there are relatively so few of the computers around. Estimates are that 90% of the world's PCs run Windows, and about 5% run the Mac OS. Malware writers want to do the most possible damage, and so it makes sense to go after Windows rather than the Mac.

Gartner Inc. analyst Martin Reynolds put it succinctly when he told the Reuters news service, "The truth of the matter is that Mac is only a couple percentage points of [computer] shipments, so it's not an interesting target."

The Symantec report said that the Mac will become increasingly subject to attack because it will gain market share thanks to its new Mac mini, and many new Mac mini users will be less computer-savvy, and less security-aware, than existing Mac owners.

"The market penetration of Macintosh platforms will be accelerated by the much lower-priced Mac mini, which may be purchased by less security-savvy users," the report said. "As a result, the number of vulnerabilities can be expected to increase, as will malicious activity that targets them."

The number of Mac attacks is still minimal compared to PC attacks, and will likely remain that way forever. So Windows users will remain malware writers' main targets. Knowing the Mac is under attack is cold comfort when your PC gets put out of commission by a nasty bit of spyware.

Still, misery loves company. So to my Mac-owning friends: Welcome to my world. And Mac lovers may also want to suggest a new marketing slogan to Steve Jobs: Finally, Viruses for the Rest of Us!

What do you think about Mac security and the Symantec report? Let me know.


2005-03-22 19:16:19
At least they won't be built-in;-)
2005-03-22 19:21:32
Symantec are one of the least reliable sources
While I wouldn't doubt that the number of attempts to infect Macs will increase as it's market share increases, I wouldn't give too much credit to a report from Symantec as they are the biggest benefactors from Mac users worrying about viruses.

It's kind of like a report commissioned by Microsoft which shows you're more productive with Windows than Mac, it's probably founded in some truths but it's definitely biased.

2005-03-22 19:28:21
Of course...
...Symantec has more than a little incentive to make claims like that. Proclaiming that the sky is falling is central to their business model. Can you name a virus for the Mac? I can't.
2005-03-22 21:09:17
Just go and read this answer
MacMerc has a balanced rebuttal that fits my opinon:
Symantec spreads fear of viral attack on Mac
2005-03-22 22:05:57
re: mac os x security
What Symantec, this author and it seems everyone else seems to ignore is that the foundation for OS X is BSD Unix which is considered by most security experts/firms (Symantec excepted) to be one of the most secure operating systems in the world. OpenBSD is considered even more secure as it has security as it's main design goal. In short, OpenBSD is BSD pre-configured to be as secure as possible. The point of all this is to say that much research has been done on os security and BSD(OpenBSD, NetBSD, Darwin/OS X) has consistently fared well when subjected to a large series of security attacks.
2005-03-22 23:34:20
Hilarious... Good to see how Desperate you are for FUD
Wow you must really be desperate, to have to quote fake news and FUD to make yourself feel better about your virus OS.

By the way Windows isn't the only virus OS,, Linux which has a much smaller user base than the Mac OS has about the same amount of viruses as Windows.

Macs have plenty of attacks it's just they've never had a successful attack. The last virus on any Mac OS was over a decade ago and it didn't do any damage, one before that was couple years with same result. OS-X of course has never had a virus worm or anything else. Name a day in the last decade that there wasn't a new Linux or Windows malware created. Oh sorry I guess there hasn't been a day yet, how embarrassing for you.

Well the first Mac OS-X virus may one day arrive and on that day the score will be Mac 1 vs Windows 792,476 and Linux 664,547. Gosh it looks like you guys will always win this race, which is only fair cause you have always lost the OS race to Apple.

2005-03-23 00:08:22
Without realizing it...
Without realizing it, you've identified the reason behind the smug nature of Mac users. No one cares whether it becomes the target of malicious activity.

You're like the little pig who built his house out of straw. While I'm sure the little pig who built his house out of bricks appreciates your concern, he doesn't care about the big bad wolf. :-)

It's also helpful to have some perspective. Windows is vulnerable to the least sophisticated attacks - those that target PCs. Imagine if Amazon, Google, and Yahoo ran on Windows. They have more worries than bored 12 year olds.

2005-03-23 00:11:21
PC Pundits Incapable of Acknowledging Reality
I find it a frail argument, on the part of many Windows-loving pundits, that the Macintosh platform has not experienced a virus in over ten years just because of its relatively small market share. Symantec has on record, over 100,000 virues/trojans/worms. Apple's marketshare is only 3%. So wouldn't you expect that about 3,000 of those virus/trojans/worms would be written for the Mac? And yet the reality is, there is NOT A SINGLE known piece of malware for the Macintosh OS X platform going into its fifth year of the existence.

True, Apple and other companies should be actively plugging security holes, but the hesitation of many PC pundits to switch to a Macintosh is more a matter of pride and foolishness than good reason. It's like saying "A car from Honda could breakdown so I'll keep buying cars from Ford."

Idiocrity begets Mediocrity.

2005-03-23 01:42:58
Wow, finally...
Finally a post on one of the O'Reilly blogs that managed to provoke a number of replies. It's a bit of an echoing void round here.

Anyway, I distinctly remember (many decades ago when the universe was young and Macs were cool) that the advice was to have anti-virus software installed on them because of the number of virusses around in freeware. I had a couple running System 7 and had anti-virus software on them.

I have no idea what is needed in the brave new world of the NeXTStep / MacOS / Unix cut and shut :-)

2005-03-23 02:27:39
John Gruber's demolition of a similar argument
John Gruber already addressed this very weak argument about viruses and market share:

The money shot:
The reason this argument is so popular with Windows apologists is that it’s a convenient bit of rhetoric. They say it’s so, we say it’s not. You can’t get past this argument, because it can’t be disproven without the Mac OS actually attaining a Windows-like market share.

So, let’s concede the point, just for the sake of argument: OK, fine, if the Mac had the same market share as Windows, the tables would be turned and there’d be just as many Mac security exploits as there are Windows exploits today.

Now what? Given that the Mac is never going to attain a monopoly share of the operating systems market — that merely expanding its share to, say, 10 percent would be universally hailed as an almost-too-good-to-be-true success — isn’t it thus only logical to conclude that the Mac is forever “doomed” to be significantly more secure than Windows?

2005-03-23 02:31:43
John Gruber's demolition of a similar argument
I just noticed that Preston goes further than the articles and their quoted experts and actually concedes that the Mac malware problem will always be magnitudes less than the Windows one. A sobering reflection after quoting all the scaremongering, but one that is missing from almost every other report on this publicity stunt, so well done.
2005-03-23 04:43:56
John Gruber's demolition of a similar argument
so a MacAddict tells us Mac users have nothing to worry about because he says so...

Indeed Mac users will always have less to worry about, but only because Macs will never get any real market share...
2005-03-23 04:46:32
re: mac os x security
BSD is POTENTIALLY secure (with emphasis on potentially).
Out of the box it's in fact worse than Windows out of the box.
And who's to say that Apple did their job when building Mac OS/X out of it? After all they're smug in their knowledge that Macs aren't targeted by virus authors and that BSD is so secure so why bother?
2005-03-23 05:13:24
Who said anything about Viruses?
The malware cited by Symantec was a rootkit - a hacking toolkit that must be installed by a user logged on to the computer. Moreover it seems this toolkit (or at least some vrsions of it) must be installed by a user who already has administrator privileges.

I'm not a Mac user, but if I was this realy isn't something I'd be even remotely woried about. It's also a severe stretch to talk about this script as though it's a virus, it's realy nothing of the sort although I suppose it could be used as a payload in a trojan.

Scripts like this have existed for Unix for decades. Unix largely evolved in accademic institutions, breeding grounds for the most dedicated and imaginative hacker and cracker communities on earth, which is why unix security had to be so robust from day one. Yes such things exist, and yes it's right to point that out, be aware of it and take necessery precautions, but this anouncement is of little interest to anyone but conciensious sysadmins and security accademics, and it's probably not of much interest to most of them either.

Simon Hibbs

2005-03-23 05:45:16
re: mac os x security (picking nits)
"Out of the box it's in fact worse than Windows out of the box.

Which one?

OpenBSD out of the box is more secure then Windows (pre SP 2 for XP, post SP 2 I would say XP is closer but still not quite as good) as everything is turned off by default. In fact O'Reilly network had a nice series of articles on how to use it as a firewall.

The other BSD's are reltivly secure (e.g. I don't know if NetBSD turns everything off by default, I know OS X does.)

So... please be specific

2005-03-23 05:50:25
re: mac os x security
Who's to say? Security-minded Mac owners, perhaps? Last I checked, the best way to secure a machine on the Internet was to reduce the number of potential avenues for attack and minimize potential damage, i.e. by enforcing good security permissions and not opening any unnecessary ports. OS X *does* do this. (And comes will built-in firewall support, to boot, in case you do run any servers.)

If Windows *had* done this from the start, then there would never had been any viruses that can in minutes spread and make "zombies" out of hundreds of thousands of Windows boxes that only need to be connected to the Internet.

This is why a firewall and anti-virus are required software for anyone using Windows. And the inconvenience of Windows' permissions system (which requires you to log out and re-log in every time you want to perform an Admin/Power User action) basically makes it so that people say 'heck with it' and just run as Admin all the time, giving any potential virus or trojan escalated permissions with which to do its damage.

If you've got some real evidence as to how Apple and OS X ignores security, I'd like to hear it, but there's no point in speculating on something you know little about. (And you sound very unfamiliar with OS X's security policies.)

2005-03-23 06:05:28
re: mac os x security (picking nits)
NetBSD turns everything off by default. You can barely hack into it after the install finishes and you know the root password. ;) The only likely security problems installed by a full install (not turned on) are ssh and sendmail/postfix.
2005-03-23 08:23:36
John Gruber's demolition of a similar argument
Why did you dismiss Gruber's argument as partisan and then repeat it almost word for word with a slightly snide tone?

Try answering this question with, as they say in cheesy courtroom dramas, just 'yes' or 'no':

Mac users don't ever have to worry about their platform *ever* suffering as many viruses and attacks as Windows. Do you agree? (remember, one word, yes or no)

2005-03-23 08:47:42
PC Pundits Incapable of Acknowledging Reality
Actually, I don't switch because Macs are overpriced and can't run all of the applications I need. My personal computer is a very powerful machine that I built for the cost of a pretty meager Mac. Also...the number of spyware and virus infections I've had in the two years of operation on two concurrent Windows XP systems? Zero. Before that I was running an XP and a 2000 system at the same time and it was years since I had gotten spyware or viruses on my computer.

I don't hate Macs and love Windows. If Linux did everything I wanted, I'd probably move to that for my desktop computing. But it doesn't and neither does Mac. It has nothing to do with pride. It has to do with power and software capability.

By the way, "idiocrity" isn't, ironically enough, a real word.

2005-03-23 08:49:49
Mr Gralia, I fail to see your reasoned point
Nobody with a brain in their head has claimed that OS X (not Macs, but OS X - there is a difference) was immune to viruses. What they have said is that no known virus attacks have occurred in the wild.

Given the structure of the core OS, they have also asserted that a successful virus attack would be capable of doing less damage to an OS X box than it would to a windows box.

Spyware and adware are, to my mind, more insidious than viruses on Windows. My wife has to clean her computer on a daily basis due to the crap that mere web browsing pulls down to her machine. I have yet to find anything on my OS X boxes that I didn't explicitly put there.

Symantec's assertion that hack attacks against OS X will increase is tantamount to saying that the sky is blue. Of course they will! The significant issue is this: Unix-based systems have had over 20 years of serious beating on to work out the security vulnerabilities inherent in the platform; Windows is playing catch up due to it's relative immaturity and the fact that's its code base is constantly evolving.

On the flip side, the Mac community has not been very smart about this. Constantly exclaiming immunity to hack attacks is simply waving a red flag at a bull. Somebody is going to pull it off just to prove it could be done - and to have the bragging rights of being the first to do so.

But the plain truth is still that the primary vectors for virus infection in Windows (Outlook's handling of attachments, the ability to edit executable files and to execute data files, ActiveX controls in Internet Explorer, etc) are more numerous than in OS X. So while security will never be absolute, would you want a system is slightly secure or reasonably secure?

2005-03-23 09:50:01
Nothing to worry about, 'cause we've never seen it
On the plus side, he does claim existing Mac users are smarter and more technically savvy than Windows users as it stands:

'"The market penetration of Macintosh platforms will be accelerated by the much lower-priced Mac mini, which may be purchased by less security-savvy users," the report said. "As a result, the number of vulnerabilities can be expected to increase, as will malicious activity that targets them."'

Okay, I'm being a little facetious here, but I still gotta wonder. "Less security-savvy users?" Less than the grade-schoolers who use them, for example?

If Symantec is right, and the Mac Mini does eat up the market share of the PC manufacturers, maybe doubling the Mac marketshare, how many viruses do you think should we expect to see? 1? 2? 0.5?

Under OS 9, which was much more likely to be infected, the major anti-virus program, the one EVERYONE ran, was freeware. Maintained by one guy somewhere. Back then, the Mac had so few viruses that a freeware program took care of them all. And there's never even been one for Mac OS X that I've ever heard of.

Don't come to me with tales of future problems. When an actual virus hits, we'll deal with it. Until then, Symantec and all the other FUDdie-duddies can just shut up.

2005-03-23 10:37:54
Re: Mr Gralia, I fail to see your reasoned point
Many Apple users are guilty of a kind of iDolatry.

Brainless or no, a large quantity of Mac enthusiasts I have known swear that very thing: complete, inherent immunity to malware. This attitude has frequently been implied or encouraged by uninformed sales people.

Your wife needs to use Firefox, and she likely won't have spyware problems like that anymore.

The sudden defense of Unix from the Mac crowd amuses me nearly as much as when they tout fantastic new features in OS X that have been in Windows for years, but for which they would never have admitted anything positive at the time.

BTW: FreeBSD (Darwin's core) is only about 10-12 years old.

As for a constantly evolving codebase, nothing could be further from the truth! Windows has had to be far more consistently backward-compatible than the Mac has been, historically.

Editing executable files? What does this even mean? Any platform that can't do this doesn't *have* executable files!

Everything else you cite is an argument to use Firefox and Thunderbird, not change OSes.

2005-03-23 10:44:06
Hilarious... Good to see how Desperate you are for FUD
Ah, to be young again...
2005-03-23 11:13:19
PC Pundits Incapable of Acknowledging Reality
You're right, Idiocrity is not a word. Winston Churchill used the word on purpose to demonstrate the level of mediocrity pervading the masses. It was an artful play on words.

I'd really like to see your Windows PC setup that is cheaper than a Mac. Once you add anti-virus software, FireWire 800, ambient light sensing technology on keyboards, XP Pro to be corporate network savvy, comparable programs to bundled software like iDVD, GarageBand, iMovie, and iPhoto, and then add a fleet of tech support to handle Windows problems I hardly think you'll find it cheaper. Apple has 4 help desk staff members to support their entire company worldwide. I hardly think Virginia Tech considered the Macintosh platform to be more expensive when they created the third fastest cluster computer in the world for less than 10 millions dollars. The fastest and second fastest, cost 300 million and 200 million respectively. Imagine how fast the Xserve cluster would have been if they had invested 300 million into it since the two faster ones were only 2 times faster than Virginia Tech's. Obviously you're a more savvy computer user and have had few security issues on the pc. On the Mac even the most novice user has been safe from all the ills associated with the PC-world. That's just the point, you don't have to be an IT talking-head to have a secure computer that just works. You're free to come to my workplace and offer up free support to PC-users since you seem so convinced that the experience is cheaper and just a secure.

2005-03-23 11:15:04
Let's look at the stats
Preston, I'm afraid you have been misled by Symantec's marketing material. Let's look at the statistics:

Microsoft Windows:
Viruses and Worms = 70,000+ (
Spyware programs = 78,000 (
Burrowers = 40 (
80% of PCs infected with spyware (
Last year alone (
500 new Trojans
500 new keyloggers
1,287 new adware apps
40 burrowers

Mac OS X:
Viruses and Worms = 0
Spyware programs = 0
Adware = 0
Keyloggers = 0
Burrowers = 0
Trojans = 3
Rootkit = 1

Looks like it's actually a case of "Viruses for the rest of you".

Note that Trojans can't spread by themselves - they are bits of code that pretend they are something else and need to be downloaded and opened by a user.

Note also the Rootkit discovered on a couple of OS X machines is a set of scripts that requires root access to be turned on (turned off by default on all Macs). The hacker also needs to know the root password and the malware has no mechanism of spreading and infecting other computers by itself.

Your espousal of the theory of "Security through Obscurity" fails to explain the fact that the number 1 web server, open source Apache with around 69% marketshare has far fewer attacks (including viruses and worms) than Microsoft's IIS which comes in at only 21% marketshare ( It also does not explain why the many flavours of Linux suffer from so many instances of malware despite having a small marketshare (similar to OS X I fact).

31 vulnerabilities (mostly in open source components of Mac OS X) which were promptly patched by Apple does not constitute "increased attacks on OS X" as no attacks using any of these now closed vulnerabilities have been recorded.

John Gruber has a useful article on why Windows suffers so much malware:

However, no software can be perfect and it would be foolish to say there won't eventually appear some malware targeting the 10 million+ OS X users out there - however, today is not that day. Mac OS X has been sitting untouched for 4 years now without blemish which speaks to a very impressive security story which would be a much more constructive issue for you to be writing about.

Martin Hill
Information Management Services
Curtin University of Technology
Western Australia

2005-03-23 11:48:46
Troll Alert.....
That I am privileged to run into a troll alert in an O'Reilly-Site.....

In short words what he is saying:

Symantec tells us we are going to run into trouble.
Because we are so naive.
Caught absolutely unaware.

Because our OS is not as immune as we naive Mac-worshippers think.

And there weren't any reallly threatening viruses (viriiiiusi) up to now because Apple is the absolute niche product (that could never even cause software developers like Microsoft or Adobe or Maya tech. or the other hundreds to even port software to the OS X platform. Which soooo small a company with negligible market share could....). And who would like to develop a virus for OS X or for Un*x or Solaris or so. (WHISPER:He just would be the hero. Finally a virus for those "safe" systems! Unix exists since approx.1969-1972.)

It sounds so incredibly mature and grown-up (I'm fourty, btw...) and wise to say things like "this influenza epidemy will finally strike us really hard" or "Apple will die next year" or "We will have a second legislative period under this one".....
But it is not.

I prefer the facts. We HAVE a nice system. Quite honest to its user. Quite virus safe. If this changes, let's see.

What is far more interesting than the OS is the gros of the users.
How bug tolerant are Mac users? How tired of all the futile attempts to keep the system clean (virus, dialers, dll's, undeletable windows always popping up during boot) are we? Where could viri find a nest? Do we just double click every mail?
In other words: How strong is the effect of pre-selection to become a Mac user?
Let's not compare the OSes but the collective of users such an OS gerenates.....

Only one issue I need an answer urgently:

Why do I keep feeding them, even in this posting......

2005-03-23 12:41:38
PC Pundits Incapable of Acknowledging Reality
I never said that PCs are inherently more secure. I said that mine is as secure as any Mac because I am a responsible user. I agree that people who are less tech savvy (and in many, though certainly not all, cases, people who are downright lazy and irresponsible) are more secure on Macs. You could make the case Also, notice that I said things that I need it to do, not the things that YOU need it to do. As I am not a musician, I don't understand how GarageBand is going to change my life. If I wanted to make crappy home movies with iMovie, I could easily accomplish that with Windows Movie whatever it's called (Most digital video I've worked with was in Final Cut Pro on a Mac and I thought that it was a very good piece of software). iDVD? My DVD burner came bundled with very good sotware, thank you very much. What does iPhoto do for you that free software like Picasa and Gimp won't do for you?

I've priced out Macs as I have been in an IT purchasing position at the educational instution I work at. I know how expensive they can be. Sure, they might not be as expensive as PCs if you're buying from AlienWare, but I built my own computer from quality parts that haven't exploded yet and it was quite a bit cheaper than an equivalent G5. I run WinXP Pro and that is the only piece of softare (aside from the odd game) that I have paid for. Everything else is done with freeware. I even run AVG for my anti-virus protection. Also, as I have no firewire components, I don't exactly need to spend money on FireWire 800 (though my computer does support the standard FireWire).

I don't particularly dislike Macs. The fact of the matter is that they are probably more secure. Certainly more secure than PCs running Internet Explorer. Microsoft has been pretty lousy about fixing those problems. They've been doing a much better job as of late of patching their vulnerabilities in Windows. The main problem, however, is that people ignore the little thing telling them that they need to update their computer. This comes back to computer users being lazy and irresponsible.

Again, I'm not condemning Macs. When I read the news story about the cluster, I thought it was pretty cool. Macs have a place in this world. If you're a musician, I can certainly see the uses. I'm not, though. And just because I can see past the hype and millions of dollars put into marketing by Apple, that doesn't make me a "PC-pundit". If they always "just worked" then I wouldn't have seen all of the problems from our Mac users that I have. Buying into the "it just works" idea is as bad as buying into any of Microsoft's cheesy marketing.

By the way, could you include a reference on the Winston Churchill quote? I did a couple quick googles on "Idiocracy begets Mediocrity" and "Idiocracy" and "begets Mediocrity" + churchill and even Idiocracy Mediocrity churchill (without quotes) and I simply couldn't find anything on it.

2005-03-23 14:15:12
PC Pundits Incapable of Acknowledging Reality
I just realized that I copied in the last search I did, the original ones did indeed include the word "idiocrity". Don't I feel foolish?
2005-03-23 16:36:11
PC Pundits Incapable of Acknowledging Reality
Don't I feel foolish?

No, you're feeling Idiocritical. :-)

2005-03-24 02:42:38
Out of curiosity
I just happen to wonder what you are trying to imply? So you are telling that mac increasingly becoming popular will be subject to more attacks. So what? For only that FUD should I give up the most advanced UNIX desktop with affinity to open source to go get a couple of books of yours to feel safer using crappy software? No mister, I won't. I already paid more to have an apple hardware for liesure and fun that my Linux workstations (and indeed my older windows installations lacked). That is what I have and I believe many mac owners have done.

No offense but you I suppose you make your living out of telling how to make workaround of crappy software and I don't think you'll be able to find opportunity in the Mac OS X = UNIX world.
2005-03-24 05:28:23
Re: Mr Gralia, I fail to see your reasoned point
Any person who claims any platform is immune to malware is brainless. Period. It is not true, it has never been true, and it never will be true. It's like the car that never breaks down, or the cloth that never stains.

Unix as a whole has decades of development behind it. In the 1980's it was a popular and common hacker target; the security issues that plagued it were addressed, slowly and over time, but have been addressed.

Windows is in that position today. It will probably be a much more secure OS in about 5-10 years, but it is not there now. And now is the problem.

Before OS X I wouldn't touch a Mac with a 10 foot pole. The OS was mired in late 80's design and lacked the things that really, truly mattered - proper memory protection and multitasking just to name two. NT 4 was far ahead of the Mac in nearly every way that mattered to the IT shop.

I stand by my statement about Window's evolving code base, which has nothing to do with backwards compatibility. The amount of cruft that has accumulated from 3.1 to 98 to 98 to ME is enormous; Only once hitting 2000 and the unified driver model did some of the crap finally go. But there's still plenty there, and it just continues to grow. Only now, in the last two years, did Micosoft sit up and say "we gotta deal with this security thing".

"Any platform that can't do this doesn't *have* executable files". OS/400.

You seem convinced that the browser is the problem. The browser is only one part of the total security issue.

2005-03-24 10:48:41
PC Pundits Incapable of Acknowledging Reality
One would just think that such a catchy quote by one of the most influential world leaders of the 20th century would turn up somewhere on Google. Or maybe not. I don't have a Bartletts handy.
2005-03-24 12:58:24
Hilarious... Good to see how Desperate you are for FUD
Wov!!! You must feel really insecure, when you are able to talk in one sentence about FUD and in the following say that the number of virii on Linux is same as in Windows. You know what, I have been using Linux for some six years almost exclusively, I have never met any anti-virus program for Linux (I think, there are none) and yet I have never met any virus. And by looking through Google Groups! it seems that I was not the only one. Can you point me please to some report listing all these thousand virus reports for Linux?

It must be hard to acknowledge that your beloved Mac OS X is nothing else than just another Unix-based operating system. Yes, it has nicer user interface, there is more commercial software for it, and it more simple to buy computer with the system preinstalled, but that's where the substantial differences end.



2005-03-24 16:54:50
Know what, Mr. Gralla?
Remember how a while ago, you used to harp on Firefox? Then you started using it, and shortly thereafter you were singing praises almost as delusional as those of the worst Slashdot kiddies.

Wanna bet what would happen if you bought a Mac and started using it on a regular basis?

Sometimes it gets tiring to read your rambles. Maybe I should envy you; it must be a nice and easy life having such a simplistic world view.

To be fair, though, the admission half-way through this piece was a nice change of pace from all the usual Windows pundits.

2005-03-26 13:08:17
PC Pundits Incapable of Acknowledging Reality
Correction on the quote: Mediocrity begets Idiocrity from The Crucible of Democracy - Sir Winston Churchill.

You have a free program that authors DVDs like iDVD? With animated backgrounds and button creation and chapters? I didn't realize Movie Maker and iMovie were even considered in the same league. Movie Maker is not nearly as elegant or intuitive. It lacks many transitions and fine editing tools that ship with Apple's free iMovie tool.

Another price factor not often considered is energy consumption. You mentioned pricing out computers for an educational institution. eMacs, a common education Macintosh consume less electricity than a similarly configured PC as does a Mac Mini with a monitor. Add the energy costs up over a year and you immediately see savings.

We've lived in a Microsoft/IBM world for 20+ years now and indeed we have survived and even thrived. But I believe if the masses would use Macintosh technology things would be even better.

We'd have a work force focused on creation more than support. Apple employs only 4 in-house help desk staff for their entire worldwide operations. I question whether that is the case at Microsoft or the Linux-Land that is emerging. Linux users hoot and holler, like Mac users, in praise of their operating system. But in the ~13 years that the Linux community has been around, the community has not been able to form a cohesive set of standards to emerge as a contender in the desktop arena for the masses. Sure this is slowly happening but here we have today a modern operating system from Apple with technical support. Until Novell or Red Hat can hammer out some basic UI guidelines Linux will continue to be a server-side curiosity or an operating system for techies-only.

The intent of the Macintosh is to allow people to be creative in whatever field they work in. Certainly it has its foibles but security is not one of them that most end-users even need to worry about. While you're busy compiling RPMs others would like to just get to work with great software. I've not mentioned the thousands of niceties and nuances of the Mac interface that make it enjoyable and more efficient to use. I could argue the point 'til the cows come home but there's a lot to be said about this highly desirable and oft overlooked platform.

2005-03-29 11:08:05
PC Pundits Incapable of Acknowledging Reality
The only reason that I would classify iMovie with Movie Maker is because they are both basic pieces of video software used by people who aren't serious about actually doing video editing. I've never actually used either. On Windows I've used Premiere and on Mac I've used Final Cut Pro. Final Cut is the better of these two. Neither are free, though.

The software (free in that it was included in the price of my burner) that I have to burn DVDs does do all that stuff. I don't use animated menus, though. I think they're distracting and unnecessary. I haven't tried any of the truly free DVD authoring packages, but I know that they are available on SourceForge (whether any are available for Windows, I don't know).

I'm curious how they define "world-wide helpdesk". Are there support teams on-site? Who does the hardware support? That's something that is almost always included in a PC helpdesk environment. Do the employees ship their computer to a hardware support team? It'd doubtful. My point is that While the support teams may be smaller, I think the number you gave is probably deceiving. Also, you specified "in-house". Do they outsource this to some degree?

eMacs and the Mac Mini may have lower power consumption, but bear in mind that I was comparing computational power. An eMac still isn't as fast as the two year old laptop that I use at work. That's another problem... most of our faculty use laptops. Commercial grade Mac laptops are far more expensive (especially when you take support into account) than our high-end Dell laptops. Through Dell, we have in-house certified technicians who can support hardware (as well as being skilled at supporting the software used on campus). We approached Apple about doing this sort of thing and found that they also offer a similar program...if you own 300 Macintosh computers. That is simply impossible for an institution of our size, even if we bought the cheap, slower eMacs. Apparently owning fewer than 300 puts you into "treat you like crap" category because every experience we've had with their sales and support has been very negative and more costly than most of our experiences with Dell. I know that this sort of treatment isn't isolated to us.

You say that the intent of Macs is "to allow people to be creative." If you're talking about artistically creative, I think you'll find that most people are incapable or uninterested in this. I do a very small amount of graphical design for my job (which I do very easily in Macromedia Fireworks). Most of my creativity comes in web application development. This coding is done entirely in text editors. No computer system in the world has a monopoly on that. In the end, I've started using WinSCP and Notepad2, two extremely user friendly open source projects, to do all of my development. Like I've said, for some people, Macs are very useful, but they aren't the end-all, be-all of computers.

I have found that no matter what OS someone is running, they'll find ways to screw their computer up. If they can't do it easily by installing tons of spyware then they'll push it off a piano before setting a chair on it. (Actual conversation: "How did it get somewhere someone could put a chair on it?" "I put it on the floor so it wouldn't fall off the piano"). Most of the Mac users I've known are just as incapable of being responsible computer users as Windows users.

By the way, thank you for the reference. I always like to keep things scholarly ;)