Why do people switch to Mac?

by Robert Daeley

Related link: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/8231



Last month, Tom Adelstein over on sister site LinuxDevCenter asked the question Why do people switch to Linux? The results of a survey of readers on lxer.com were presented responding to that question, and the results were rather surprising, particularly how little anti-Microsoft feelings had to do with the decision, relative to other factors.

The Mac platform from its inception has been the alternative computing experience -- its very first commercial, quite famous nowadays, set it against the then-omnipotent IBM. Since then, its struggles with Microsoft have been legendary. And despite it being a corporation itself, some of its users are rather notorious for being, shall we say, passionate about their computers, a fact that leaves others at the least nonplussed, if not fully turned off.

Things have a way of changing, naturally, and nowadays we have reports of over a million new Macintosh users, hooked in by the so-called iPod Halo Effect. Even before that, however, with the advent of Mac OS X, many technical users who had been pining for a friendly face on Unix found one, finally getting the best of both worlds.

I think setting up Mac versus Linux is missing the point, despite the competitive hooting and chest-pounding that both sets of fanboys like to do at each other. They have a common enemy, as it were, and while competition is a good thing, it shouldn't obscure the greater picture. In fact, I'd venture to say that it is the belief in competition that prevents one from buying into more, shall we say, monopolistic entities.

Speaking only for myself, I choose a Mac, Linux, or BSD for their stability, security, and power, as well as their ultimate suitability for the kind of work that I do...but also because of how I answer the inverted question: how could I not?

What about you?

How about it? Why do you think different(ly)?


17 Comments

creative,eh?
2005-11-13 21:04:59
might be the wrong place to ask
I notice not many people have replied to this thread, I suspect it is because if you are new to mac you are probably not coming to the macdevcenter. unless you are a special kinda configuration junkie like me.


i switched to mac because the 12" powerbook was the slickest piece of equipment around. I was concerned about software, but except for games (doh!) i haven't missed a thing from my pc days; except ads, spyware, viruses, blue-screens of death, and perhaps, from time to time, Outlook and the Heirarchical FileManager.


I think that as computers have become more standardized, in that they all basically work, things that make macs attractive are good design, and good marketing. For a while there, Sony understood this too; but they still are stuck with Windows, which always feels like trying to type with mittens on.


Okay, i'm done.

mattyarbrough
2005-11-14 06:39:57
It Just Works
I am a web developer, working on J2EE apps for a large federal agency. I spent 5 years on Windows full time, and as soon as I discovered Linux I was thrilled to escape Windows. The one thing lacking was multimedia production tools, which kept me from being entirely happy with Linux. I've always built my own computers, and spent inordinate amounts of time tweaking hardware, swapping parts, etc etc.


During the dot com era I was fortunate enough to work with a trio of top quality artists who were also Mac users. I bought a snow iMac and was pleased with having Photoshop, Illustrator, and a whole slew of really good audio apps. My wife used it as her full time computer. She does voice work for a living, and the studios said the quality of sound we were getting on her Windows machine was unacceptable, even with a $400 sound card and $200 microphone. The iMac sound was just fine with the stock sound card and the good mic.


When OS X came out, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be a serious Mac user. My wife upgraded to the eMac, I inherited the iMac. Eventually I wanted more power and speed, and also wanted a laptop, so I got an iBook. 6 months later the Mac mini came out and I replaced my 2Ghz Athlon SuSE 9.3 box with the mini.


I don't have time to build my own computers anymore. I have a family, a house, a life. OS X just works.


jbellew
2005-11-14 08:51:01
Why I switched...
About 10 years ago I just got tired of my machine not running windows fast. I don't like to buy a computer every two years it should work a lot longer. So I switched to Linux and what I found was manna from heaven. Not only did I get a quick OS (at least for a Pentium) but I got to actually code again. (I didn't like having to pay for VB so I didn't.) I had as much fun as when I got my first computer, an Apple ][e. The only thing I didn't like was the GUI. Most of the WM tried to mimic Windows - which I still never liked.


Eventually, I switched to MacOSX for 1. the stability of it's OS. 2. The GUI is perfect, & 3. It just always work without tweaking it at all.


That's how I came back to Apple.

DarrellLSU
2005-11-14 08:55:07
i hate to admit it, but i converted
i've been in IT for about 12 years now, i've always been an avid PC/windows guy. In my business i have to support 4 Macs in the graphic design and web design department and about 800 Pc's. After the initial setup i never touch the macs other than to upgrade software.


i recently bought a used mac mini from a friend. Doing him a favor more than anything. He was strapped for cash and i thought it'd be a fun little computer to play around with.. within 3 weeks i'm a convert.


For my home, where all i really need to do is check e-mail, browse the web, and other basic functions it works incredibly well. Automator is an amazing scripting tool. Makes automatic custom backups incredibly easy and smooth. Remote Desktop lets me connect to my PC at work.


Its simple, it just works. i can put it to sleep and it wake up almost instantaniously with no problems. something i've NEVER gotten a pc to do.
The mini's are definately underpowered. i cant wait until the Intel versions come out. but for basic computer needs its great. not having to worry about spyware and virus's is a HUGE benefit.


Only reason i'd say to stick with a PC at home is for games.


Darrell

jonbaer17
2005-11-14 09:14:31
Switch to Mac
I have only one word for switching to a Mac ... Quicksilver .. after getting my 12" powerbook I think I was quite simply amazed by the creative apps there are out there .. I had been sitting on RedHat/Fluxbox for a while for productivity but there is just something about dragging an an app to the Application folder that I just find so non confussing :-)


Giusp
2005-11-14 09:32:33
Actually yes, anti-microsoft sentiment
I switched this year after 10 years on the PC, not just because I love my iPod (which I do), but because I simply could not take the Microsoft ineptitude any longer.


Mac people now ask me, now that I know both sides, how or why people put up with it...and I tell them it's just something you get used to. It's sort of like having a crappy car, you do get where you're going, it's just that the ride stinks, the windows don't roll down and the stereo is on the blink. But you got there.


People would switch en-masse if Windows didn't work AT ALL. The same way you wouldn't keep a car that has completely stopped running.


enloop
2005-11-14 10:20:12
I've Switched Twice...From Linux
I've switched twice, both times from Linux. (I switched to Linux from Windows in 1995.)


My first switch was to the original 15-inch iMac flat panel. I eventually got the hardware bug and built myself a big honkin' Intel box, installed Linux, and was happy. For a while. I grew weary of the noise and heat generated by the Intel box. My use of the machine changed (no more coding, no more home network); I wasn't doing much more than the proverbial browsing, Googling and emailing trio, Why put up with annoying hardware to do that? Plus, I was disappointed in the slow pace of desktop interface work in Linuxland, the sanctimonious attitude of a portion of its fanbase, and, frankly, the implicit choice between alleged freedom and quality. (Display quality is critical for me. I know how to make X and Gnome and KDE look good; but I don't want to do it anymore. I want my display to look as good as it can when I boot up the OS for the first time, not after I've downloaded and installed new fonts, and hand edited some config files. The primary thing people do with an OS is stare at the screen, and Linux still falls sort there.)


So, I bought a Mac Mini. It does what I do as fast as the big honkin' noisemaking space heater it replaced. It does that silently and cooly.


Apple sells hardware because it knows there's more to marketing hardware than the specs.

cindywong
2005-11-14 11:33:15
Impulse Buying

I bought a Mac Mini out of a recurring impulse (and a corporate discount), and, in order to dampen my SO's cry of "money waster", gave away my computer (Centrino laptop / WinXP) to my brother (a starving grad student).


I anticipated the switch to be smooth, but it was even better than I thought. Everything I need are either free or already installed. (Need I say iLife is cool?) Cisco VPN + Mail.app allow me to do the occasional work from home. Had I need to edit Word and Excel documents frequently, I would spend the dough on MS Office.


The lack of solitaire/minesweeper was a little baffling though; a few free minutes often pops up and the lack of such games make killing time a little more challenging.


As for real games, Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft both run on OSX without needing different CDs, and that's all I care. :)

jstmyop
2005-11-14 13:46:02
I did it for sanity
It is better in every way. Even MS Office is better on MAC.


Parental control selectable per user login.


No more...
spyware, viruses, PC hanging, lost time fixing things that shouldn't have been broken...


I now look at the ads from Fry's and see all of the things I no longer need to buy.

webraider
2005-11-14 14:14:44
Impulse Buying
There are MANY Minesweeper AND Soliataire games availiable even as Freeware. I have several and I play them and enjoy them regularly
RTFMplease
2005-11-14 14:21:45
dipping into other possibilities
My old job at Berkeley ran mostly Linux machines with KDE/fvwm2 and some other window managers. It forced me to rethink general computing use.


It was there that I was also able to play with some OSX machines and realized I could do most in OSX that I could in windows (except gaming).


Spyware, the registry, and failing hardware pushed me over the edge and I sprung for a powerbook (which I actually did use for WoW for a while).


I do wish I could have played HL2 on my powerbook, but I don't really even have time for much gaming anymore.

tbuskey
2005-11-15 06:34:13
Switching in general

I'll admit it. I'm not a MacOSX user. But I have switch platforms a number of times.


I started with Dartmouth Time Sharing on a teletype. The birthplace of BASIC. Later I had an Apple ][+. High school had Commodore PETs. College had Zenith Z100s running MS-DOS (not PC compatible). And VMS, Gould Unix. I also got a 286 running DOS before I graduated. I really liked my Unix account and Usenet news.


After college I had the 286 at home and taught myself C, vi, emacs and awk all on DOS. I played with Desqview to for task switching/multitasking but the 286 just wasn't enough. I encounterd my 1st Macintoshes at work with System 6/Multifinder. I could connect to a nearby college to read usenet news, ftp, telnet to unix systems. The web wasn't out yet. Windows 3.0 wasn't out yet. 386s were expensive. I also had Minix on the PC. It wasn't enough to replace DOS. Many of the DOS ported unix utilities were beter then the Minix ones.


My next job was spreadsheet/graphing on an SE/30. I also had a 386 running windows 3.1. I found programming in dos w/ C, awk, gnuplot to produce graphs automatically from data was easier then importing into Excel, exporting to Kaleidagraph and graphing (Excel isn't good for data vs time graphs). It's hard to automate a GUI. Most of the time I worked on the SE/30 for spreadsheets instead of the PC w/ a 14" screen. All Excel and I made them run on both platforms.


I also bought a 486 w/ windows 3.1 and OS/2 2.0. I was still trying to do Unix at home & had lots of ported stuff on DOS and OS/2.


At this time, Dr Dobbs was running the 386BSD articles. I downloaded it & tried it. It didn't boot. I downloaded SLS Linux (kernel 0.98pl5?) and it did. I converted.


I've had Windows, OSX, Digital Unix, HP-UX and Solaris on my desktop at various jobs (I'm a Unix Admin). I've delt with various unixen (including OSX) as servers and windows too. So I've had a chance to use many different operating systems.


I find I really prefer an X11 desktop with fvwm2, gnome or KDE. I'm tired of porting everything to a Solaris desktop. Linux just works. OSX has a very nice desktop, but I don't like its workspaces and X11. Same with Windows XP. With Unix/X11, I can change that. X11 with workspaces is good for managing 50-80 windows (xterms, browser, editor, email, etc). I find OSX and Windows to be great for having 10-20 windows.


So why did I switch? My work profile and applications. I don't need to buy applications at the local mega mart. I don't need the latest & greatest features of photoshop/office/etc.


If I was starting out today with Windows, OSX, and Linux I'm not sure what I'd choose. Probably OSX. It is the most elegant. But now, I prefer my hand whittled custom fit grip of linux :-)

paulrothrock
2005-11-15 09:34:53
Impulse Buying
Macs don't include meaningless games like solitaire and minesweeper. They have a real game: Chess


(And Nanosaur. And Marble Madness.)

nitewing98
2005-11-21 19:37:29
I've switched BACK to Mac
I have a long history with computers, starting with my Coleco ADAM and my Apple //e. The //e was followed by a IIgs and then a Mac LC.


But I've also owned 2 PC's. Both ran Win98, but I swapped to Linux on the second one after a while since Win98 didn't use both of it's processors.


I've also had an iBook and iMac and currently have an iMac DV. After working in the computer field for almost 20 years, it's not uncommon for me to use Windows at work and come home to the safety and comfort of my Mac.


Why? It works. It doesn't blue screen. It does what I want without making me restart constantly. It's almost impervious to virus/spy/ad-ware. And with the advent of OS X, it supports X windows and runs unix programs effortlessly. (anyone who says it's not effortless doesn't have Fink).


I choose Mac because I hate doing user support, even for myself.


NW'98

blafusel
2005-11-22 21:20:58
Atari - Commodore - IBM - SGI - Apple - Linux
It started back in 1986 with an Atari ST, then a Commodore C64, and Amiga.Then the first IBM PC clones - then windows. i skipped apple alltogether. It never seemed to offer anything Commodore or Microsoft didn't offer at the time. I jumped into linux/unix with silicon graphics. continued with windows until os x was released. that's when i finally felt the time was right to switch to Apple. So far, a couple of G4 PowerBooks and G5's later I don't regret it. SGI is over with. Linux took over. Windows is no longer needed for me at all. It has all been replaced by Linux for my business and Mac for my home. I Couldn't be happier.
JMaxsoln
2006-01-02 01:16:01
2 things
1) unix
2) this thing actually works, well, 99% of the time is good enough for me.
Bob
2006-04-28 12:34:36
I would switch to mac if I had some money but since the windows sector is so big there is a much variety of software.


Die-hard Mac fans say its not the quantity but the quality i.e. it does not matter if there is a big variety, as long as the limited set of choices are quality software.


However, in the real world a big variety DOES breed quality - it opens up competition and comparisons, which helps improve software efficiently at lower costs (for example the amount of quality freeware available to windows compared to mac).


This brings to another point, no matter which way you look at it, there IS a premium that you have to pay for a mac. I reckon for macs to really get more converts they will have to change their business model and allow MUCH more freedom of licences for their software. That's my 2 cents.