“Hearing the hype about Apple’s new $499 Macintosh gave me pause. Could Apple, which is known as the BMW of computer companies, really come out with a machine cheap enough to tempt Windows users yet still ‘Mac’ enough to satisfy Macintosh aficionados? After unpacking and setting up the new machine, the answer is a qualified yes,” Larry Magid writes for CBS News.

“I cannibalized some of my old Windows PCs to come up with a Gateway monitor, a Dell mouse and a Compaq keyboard, all of which worked perfectly with the new Mac. That’s no accident. Apple hopes to win over frustrated Windows users who already have these peripherals connected to an old PC,” Magid writes.

“In keeping with the theme of encouraging Windows users to switch, I configured the Mac Mini to access files on my Windows network and copied over hundreds of digital photos, Excel spreadsheets, Microsoft Word documents and music files. The Word files worked fine with the version of Mac Word while iPhoto did a fine job handling my PC’s pictures. iTunes, as advertised, works on the Mac, just as it does on the PC,” Magid writes. “While the Mac Mini won’t suddenly make Macs a more popular platform than Windows, I think it may tempt many Windows users who are curious about the Mac and/or frustrated with Windows which is far more prone to spyware, viruses and security problems. Some Windows users might wind up liking the Mini so much that they wind up becoming life-long Mac users while others may use it as their second computer — perhaps to surf the web, check email and edit digital photos. Now my home office — with its Widows machine and Mac Mini — is a little like my friend Peter’s garage that houses a Mercedes and a Ford. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which computer most resembles which vehicle.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Magid asks if Apple could “really come out with a machine cheap enough to tempt Windows users yet still ‘Mac’ enough to satisfy Macintosh aficionados?” Here’s another example of a writer fixated on exterior case design instead of realizing that “it’s the software, stupid.” Apple is partly to blame for this, with their advertising and focus on design; some people who’ve never used a Mac or the software that comes with a Mac think that the look of the computer’s case is what makes it a Mac. They think Mac users like to “spend too much for pretty cases” or some such tripe. Yes, Mac users would rather their computers didn’t look like some pile of parts that just rolled off some Wintel box assembler’s assembly line, but as long as it runs Mac OS X and Mac software, it’s “Mac enough” for us. Think back to Power Computing, DayStar or Umax Mac clones – we bought Macs in some damn ugly cases, uglier than even some Wintel assembler’s boxes.

Magid also throws in the good old “it won’t make Macs a more popular platform than Windows” statement, which we always see as a self-comforting defense mechanism. Really, what is the purpose of this sentence other than to comfort Windows users who feel threatened for some reason? After all, most Joe and Jane six packs use their computers to surf the web, trade email, do a little word processing, maybe play with some digital photos, and run iTunes, all of which the Mac does better than Windows. Still, any article that reaches a large number of “average” computer users that says good things about the Mac mini is a Good Thing™.