Apple Archive

Everything Is Not Easier on a Mac

- 2002.04.05

I'm sure you're aware that Apple has a new slogan. The new ad campaign is known as "Everything is easier on the Mac," and if you walk into a well kept Apple section of your nearest computer store, you will notice a new sign stating something like "We make tools for the creative professionals." Such a change from "Think Different."

It seems as if the Mac being different is "out." For many years, the Macintosh has been the "punk rock" of the computer world, the "computer for the rest of us," or, put simply, the "computer for those who don't want to subject themselves to Microsoft's authoritative tactics." Now the Mac has to be "easier."

How exciting.

But is the Mac really easier? Now I know this is Low End Mac, and I will probably get tons of angry emails for saying this, but no, the Mac is not necessarily easier.

Why not?

There are a number of reasons. First of all, locating and opening an application has for some time been rather difficult on a Mac. When System 4.2 was around, most applications had one file, the application itself. This would reside directly on the hard drive or a floppy disk so that the user could easily locate and double-click on it to open it. Nowadays applications come with hundreds of files, maybe thousands. The user has to navigate through several levels of folders to locate the application. If he or she knows what they are doing, they might make an alias on the desktop, in the Apple menu, or in the Dock for easy access to that application.

Some may disagree, but for me it has always been much easier to locate and open an application in Windows. In Windows 3.0, you had a "Program Manager" that held "Program Groups" that contained a link to your application. Better still, each application's installer would almost always place a new group in your Program Manager.

In Windows 95 it got easier. Everything was located in the "Start" menu, again in "program groups" for easy sorting of applications. The Start menu makes it very easy to locate and open your applications.

The best the Mac could offer was the Launcher, which you had to manually add applications to.

Connecting to the Internet is a pain on a Mac running OS X unless you have a broadband connection. Internet Connect in Mac OS X is a poor excuse for an Internet dialer, and rarely does it work properly. It will often tell you that you are connected even though you are disconnected - or simply refuse to dial until you log out and log back in again.

I have yet to see any problem with "Dial Up Networking" under Windows.

Apple Mail is also a poorly written application that frequently crashes or displays errors for no reason. While it has a nice feature set, looks very nice in OS X, and has a nice layout, the unexpected quits, unexpected errors, and just plain "weirdness" makes it a pain to use.

Of course the alternative in Windows, Outlook Express, is no better when it comes to its ability to accept and spread viruses.

Lastly, I don't understand how things can be easy on a Mac if your Mac comes with barely enough memory to run the operating system, never mind applications! 128 MB of RAM is simply not enough to run Mac OS X and several applications at the same time. Yes, you can upgrade it easily enough, but it gives the first time user the impression that the Mac is slow and frustrating to use.

And if you got this far without emailing me telling me how wrong I am and how great the Mac is compared to the PC, you might want to hear some of the good things I have to say about the Mac.

The Mac is easy to set up. In fact, the iMac, iBook, and PowerBook have to be the easiest computers to set up that are available today. They are made so that a non-expert or even a child can easily figure out what to do and how to do it. I have yet to see a PC like that.

The setup assistant on a Mac is also very well done, with a clean interface that welcomes the user to their new computer and invites them, non-intrusively, to join the ever-growing Internet community. If the user declines, the setup assistant won't try to force them; it simply instructs them how to set up the Internet if they want at a later date.

The Macintosh setup assistant doesn't try to force the user to register with Apple right away, either. Yes, it asks you for that information, but it doesn't require the OS or computer to be registered in order for the user to use it. More experienced users can exit the whole thing by simply pressing "command-Q."

Applications for the Macintosh also tend to be made with more quality and run better than comparable PC applications. The Adobe applications, as well as QuarkXpress, run much better on a Macintosh than on a PC with Windows. About the only thing that runs better on the PC are Microsoft applications, and with Office 2001 and Office X for Mac, you really can't even say that anymore, since the latter two are very nice on a decent Mac.

Some things are easier on a Mac, but not everything. This is one of the reasons I do not like the new slogan. It is an overstatement. Saying that everything is easier makes the Mac sound like it is the perfect computing solution, the one where everything works perfectly. That is not true, and Apple should not be making such statements.

Who really cares if Apple says that the Mac is easier? Obviously they are going to tell you that. Now, I am a person who does not believe everything I hear, and when I hear a statement like this, it makes me suspicious. I'm sure Apple doesn't want that.

"Everything is easier on the Mac" is also boring. "Think Different" was kind of interesting. It left you wondering just what it meant, what you would have to do to "think different," and what thinking different is all about.

"Everything is easier on the Mac" is pretty much just Apple trying to tell you that PC's suck, which is not true, and as I said in my last article, I enjoy using my PC.

Believe whom you want, but I will continue to think different, thank you very much.

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