Apple Archive

Reasons Not to Switch

- 2002.10.11

By now we all know how much Apple is depending on it's Switch campaign to get Windows users to start using a Mac. However (and the Mac advocates gonna hate me for this), there are a few reasons why switching may not be best for some PC users.

You know that Mac users enjoy promoting the Mac, telling you why you should buy one, what the advantages are, and what the disadvantages of a PC are. What they won't tell you is why you may not want to switch to a Mac just yet.

Applications are available on both platforms. There is Microsoft Office for Mac. But some specialized applications are made only for PCs running Windows, and buying Virtual PC with Windows makes your already somewhat expensive Mac even more expensive.

Then there are applications like Kazaa for file exchange - even though it contains spyware, many people still use it - and it doesn't run on the Mac. If you're into games at all, your best bet for gaming is either a PC or a game console.

Operating systems also work differently. Some people have no problem using both Windows and the Mac OS, but others can't figure out one after they've used the other for a long time. If you want to switch to a Mac, make completely sure that you've used the Mac OS and feel comfortable with it.

I don't mean just turning on a Mac and opening an application. Actually sit down and use it for an hour or so. Open applications, browse the Internet, and try using some of the features of the OS.

Some people find that the dock and the Mac Finder work much better for them than the Windows taskbar and Explorer. Others find the opposite. In order to switch to a Mac, you have to be willing to change your work habits completely. Apple has made this change less drastic over the years, but there is still a big difference, and you have to be ready to face it.

Make sure that your peripherals are compatible with the Mac OS if you plan to keep them. If they don't work, you'll have to add the cost of replacements to the cost of the Mac itself.

Also remember that Macs never do, never have, and probably never will come with enough RAM. Buying more memory is another added expense, although it doesn't have to be expensive. Probably the best place to check RAM prices is on ramseeker, where you can compare prices from several different vendors.

One of the big advantages of buying a Mac is that it stays useable and up to date for quite a while. You can keep a Mac and use it well for four years or more, but PCs start really showing their age after just a couple years.

I had bought a used (maybe two years old) 550 MHz PIII PC to replace my 200 MHz one when the top of the line models at the time were around 1.4 GHz. Now, about 6 months later, you can buy a 2.2 GHz PC, Windows XP is becoming widely used, and my 550 MHz PC is starting to look a little old. Try running brand new applications on it, and I bet it would feel a little old, too.

This makes a really good case for the Mac - my 9600/233 still does a decent job for most things, and current applications run on it without too much trouble.

But let me also remind you that you pay more for the luxury of being able to keep your computer longer. You can pay $699 for a low end Dell that might last you two or three years - or $1,299 for a low-end iMac that might last you four or five.

Is the Mac worth the extra cost? It's really a personal decision that is governed by how much you are willing to spend now and how long you plan to keep the computer.

I'm not trying to convince anyone not to switch, but you should consider the pros and cons of switching very carefully before you run out and buy a Mac.

Then again, some people do really well with impulse purchases - the 1976 Pioneer SX-1050 receiver I'm listening to now was bought on a whim, and it was one of the best purchases I've made yet.

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