Fortune columnist: ‘get a Mac’ to thwart viruses; right answer for the wrong reasons

“Your computer suddenly seems constipated. Then, at midnight, it turns into a zombie and attacks the Pentagon. Men in black come and take away your family. You may have a worm, or a virus, or a Trojan horse,” posits Peter Lewis for Fortune.

Lewis writes, “Solution: Get a Macintosh. (The big reason Macs don’t get targeted by virus writers is that Windows-based computers offer a more target-rich environment: There are at least 20 PCs out there for every Mac.) If you do depend on Windows, use protection. Do two things: First, click on the start tab and get familiar with ‘Windows Update.’ It’s part of Microsoft’s Trusted Computing initiative. You can trust that each week there’ll be a new software patch to download so that you can fix a newly discovered hole in Windows.” Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Even though he arrives at the correct solution, “Get a Macintosh,” Lewis perpetuates two myths along the way. See the related MacDailyNews articles, Shattering the Mac OS X ‘security through obscurity’ myth and 3 percent is a false stat; Mac holds ’10 to 12 percent of the market for personal computers’ for more information.

27 Comments

  1. Whatever happened to getting facts and doing research when writing an article? How does he know Macs are not targeted by virus writers? Why does he assume there are more viruses for Windows because there are more people using Windows? It couldn’t POSSIBLY have anything to do with the fact that Microsoft has security holes out the yin-yang and they won’t be fixed anytime soon, could it? Could I possibly ask any more questions? Where is my hat?

  2. In reverse order:

    2) The press needs to be educated about the security of OS X, and I haven’t seen Apple do much of that. In fact, most of the material about OS X security is over the developer section of their site. It is unreasonable to expect reports to assume–as most macdailynews posters do–that OS X must be locked tight because it is based on BSD UNIX–for one thing, the first major internet worm that got major press coverage was a worm that took advantage of security failures in BSD flavored UNIXes. Second, UNIX derived systems are not flaw proof–hell, debian’s site lists more than a dozen security updates just in August 2003. Come to think of it, when I installed OS X I immediately downloaded three security updates. What were they updating–OS X vulnerability to strong language? OS X has very strong security–particularly when the machine is being used as a home/office computer with the root account disabled–but that isn’t exactly the most publicized thing in the world even by Apple. Has anyone seen ANY comments from Apple about OS X security in the wake of the recent worms, or any corrections by Apple to any of these reporters?

    More importantly:

    1) Three percent isn’t a false stat. 10 to 12 percent is a false stat. When you doctor statistics by arbitrarily setting conditions, that is creating false statistics. Note that the article referenced gives no idea where the math comes from–or what the article writer considers to be “business” vs. “personal” computers. Were Macs sold to the educational market counted? Were they not counted? Were some–those sold directly to students–counted, while others–sold to institutions–not? What about ones sold to faculty, but used at home? Huh? Huh? And if I use my iBook at work and at home, is it personal or business? What would have made it business? If my boss paid for it, would it have been a business computer instead of a personal one? Or are computers purchased by small businesses “personal” rather than “business” computers. The 10 to 12 stat is completely manufactured horseshit–only a former Enron accountant would be impressed. Every time I see that 10 to 12 percent figure given the post loses all credibility as far as I’m concerned, and undercuts any other arguments the person makes with Enron math.

  3. The user by the moniker of “Opinionated Jerk” fails to consider the distinction between (1) market share and (2) installed base. These are not the same thing; and while I don’t claim to know what the figures are for each, I’m confident they are not the same value. And there is another figure as well — which is the percentage of computers which are purchased directly by consumers. Many people inherit the choices of their IT deparments in corporations, and this goes down in the numbers as 50 or 100 or 500 or 1000 Windows workstations. But in many cases this is in fact a SINGLE purchase made by a single officer in a corporation.

    Just something to keep in mind when throwing percentage figures around.

  4. “The 10 to 12 stat is completely manufactured horseshit–only a former Enron accountant would be impressed. Every time I see that 10 to 12 percent figure given the post loses all credibility as far as I’m concerned, and undercuts any other arguments the person makes with Enron math.”

    LOL!

    Sorry Pal but your credibility = ZERO!

    The 10-12 percent is related to INSTALLED BASE and is complete FACT!

    A fact that you poor Wintel drones always fail to account for.

    Apple machines outlast their Wintel counterparts by a factor of more than 2 to 1. Mac users don’t have the need to upgrade their machines every 2 years like most Wintel sheep do. The 5-6 year old Apple machines are capable of running the latest versions of the Mac OS far better than older Windows PCs can run the latest version of Windows.

    For this reason, Mac users keep their computers longer, also destroying another long held MYTH of the clueless Wintelites that Macs are more expensive.

    All the 3% sales figure proves is what I have said above.

    Nice try with the FUD, but as usual, you have failed miserably to make any points with people who KNOW the facts.

  5. “Apple machines outlast their Wintel counterparts by a factor of more than 2 to 1.” — My PowerMac 8500/120 certainly has (with a G3/400 CPU upgrade).

    “Mac users don’t have the need to upgrade their machines every 2 years like most Wintel sheep do.” — For me it was more a matter of cost than need. I didn’t want to pour a lot of money into a new graphics card and additional RAM, but I would have certainly appreciated the additional performance. However, I can now justify a G5 with a clear conscience because of my frugality!

    “The 5-6 year old Apple machines are capable of running the latest versions of the Mac OS far better than older Windows PCs can run the latest version of Windows.” — That may very well be true, although you can perform a P4/2GHz motherboard upgrade for a couple of hundred bills (plus new RAM) if the rest of your hardware is worth it. Theoretically I can run MacOS X on my upgraded PowerMac although I doubt that it would be very responsive.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love my Mac and I am really looking forward to leapfrogging to a G5. But I am practical enough to admit that I paid more for my Mac and I kept it longer as a result. I also admit that I envy the cheaper upgrades available for Wintel machines. With my CPU upgrade, for example, I waited until the release of the G4 drove down the G3 cards to $299 before taking the plunge.

  6. PC upgrades cost more than you think. That is if you want the same kind of lepa you made going from a 604 to a G3.

    I bought a P4 1.6a 18 months ago. I recently upgraded to the new P4 2.4c with Hyperthreading. CPU was cheap and pin compatible – but the FSB speed of the 2.4C (800MHz) was unsupported by my old mobo so I needed to get a new mobo. The one to get was using the 875P core logic chipset from Intel. It supports Dual channel RAM running at up to 400MHz. In order to see a real improvement in performance you need new RAM. I got a good deal on two big sticks of RAM. It turns out that the dual channel 875P boards are fussy about memory so the resultin PC is kind of flakey under load.

    After all this, I went out and bought a used G4. Easy peasy without fuss. I ran the thing under load for the entire weekend w/o incident. And it encodes Mpeg2 faster than my P4 while being usable for other things at the same time (dual CPU).

    I feel stupid for investing almost $800 CDN on the PC after playing with the Mac for a while.

  7. “Nice try with the FUD, but as usual, you have failed miserably to make any points with people who KNOW the facts.”

    More like I failed to make any points with people who make up their own facts. People who make up their own facts are delusional. There aren’t may people who make points with the deluded.

    Yes, you can pump up Apple’s alleged share by excluding from your calculations the markets Apple does poorly in, then further redefining what you are counting to machines owned instead of machines bought, etc.

    Counting as part of Apple’s share the Classic Macintosh in my den is a nice try, but it’s still Enron, and made no less impressive by stating “you wintel drones.” Hey numbnuts, I’ve got four Macs and one PC–that’s a wintel drone? How much kool aid does a brutha have to drink????

  8. Mark: explain away what? 7% is great. Put down the kool aid.

    Funny, I was going to remark how funny it is that macdailynews carries on about how installed base is what matters, not market share–and then suddenly there’s a good market share story and it’s a big deal. Where’s the qualifying comment from editor stating, “It’s nice to see the press recognizing stronger market share performance by Apple, but we all know that market share doesn’t really matter.” Macdailynews bragging about market share–it’s almost like Intel saying clock speed doesn’t matter. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  9. MDN is not “bragging about market share.” You are foisting your own delusional feelings on it. MDN are simply reporting the fact. Nowhere do they “brag” about market share. And they certainly do not use the figure incorrectly to support a bogus argument. The point is that there are more Mac users out there than 3% and this is the important fact to know if you are deciding to write Mac software or viruses or address the Mac market in some way. “3 out of 100 computers online are Macs” is incorrect. The reality of the situation in closer to 10%. This is a vast market, millions strong and the “3% Lie” is designed to make Apple’s Mac platform look tiny, when in fact, it simply is not a tiny platform.

  10. Hey, Opinionated Jerk, you just proved everyone else’s point. Your installed base is 80% Mac and if you have only bought a Windows machine (and no Macs) in the past three years then your market base for the past three years would be 100% Windows. Clearly the two are not the same.

    Macs do typically last longer in the installed base than Wintel machines. From personnal experience ranging from technical lead up through VP of Engineeing over the last 17 years at companies ranging from a few dozen people up through several thousand, the installed Macs were replaced much less often than the installed Windows (or DOS way back when) machines. I’ve even seen Mac Plus machines still being operationally utilized 12+ years after purchase.

    There are two separate numbers: Current Market Share and Current Installed Base. They are very different numbers. Anyone who says they are not is just not facing facts.

  11. Frank: Actually, my market share is 100% Mac for the last year, 0% PC. The breakdown is one PC bought 2 years ago, 1 iBook bought new in March, one orthocep iBook bought off ebay in May, a Rev. D iMac bought off eBay in June, and a Classic Macintosh given to me over the weekend. There’s a reason why market share matters more than “installed base,” however–market share can (within reason) be quantified, measured and compared while “installed base” is almost entirely anecdotal. Only one of my Macs was bought in a manner which is reportable or measurable. The Classic Macintosh wasn’t even a sale and its use (or nonuse) will never register anywhere. Does a 1MB RAM Classic running System 6 count as part of the installed base? Does installed base mean anything if you’re going to count a machine with less computing power than a palm pilot?

    The question isn’t whether market share or installed base are two different numbers–of course they are. The question is, what are you actually defining as installed base, how relevant or reliable is your estimation of installed base, and, more importantly, would “installed base” even be an issue discussed if not for the low market share? Again, I note that Toyotas are better made than Fords, last longer than Fords, don’t have to be replaced as often as Fords, and yet what does Toyota talk about–MARKET SHARE, not the number of 10 year old pickups out on the road.

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