Tech columnist loves Mac OS X, but perpetuates ‘Mac upgradability’ myth

“An old e-mail friend and antagonist, with whom I have held many genial debates over the years, writes with another provocation. ‘I see that Apple has run out of iMacs, and the new model won’t be out until September. Smooth move! I can’t believe you like this company,'” Paul Glister writes for The News & Observer.

“But I do. So let’s talk a minute about Apple’s fortunes in a Microsoft-dominated world… Consider the superb Mac OS X operating system, whose latest version was just previewed at a developer’s conference in San Francisco. Already rock-solid, the new version, code-named Tiger, offers the kind of search features that should have been in desktop computers from the beginning but are only now emerging,” Glister writes.

“Apple can surge ahead on technology like this precisely because its market share is low and because it retains tight control over Macintosh hardware. Every OS X upgrade can focus on breakthroughs, while Microsoft has to spend countless programmer hours worrying about compatibility issues with different kinds of equipment and add-on devices. A nimble company can sometimes get the drop on Bill Gates,” Glister writes.

“So yes, I like Apple, even though I don’t use a Mac. I stick with Windows and Linux precisely because of the above issue: I want to be able to open up a computer, swap hard disks or add wireless functions or upgrade my own video card. And I want to be able to do those things with a wide range of choice, instead of having to buy solely from a single dealer,” Glister writes. “Thanks, but no closed hardware for me.”

Still, in the end, Paul gets this correct, writing, “OS X remains the best operating system on the market.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We emailed Paul to tell him that we have opened our Power Mac G4 and Power Mac G5s and added hard drives from many of the major hard drive makers. We didn’t need to add “wireless functions” because the computers shipped with them, and how much can you save off US$79, which is what Apple charges for an AirPort Extreme Card, anyway? Oh yeah, we also upgraded our video cards at will, purchased from different dealers even. And, horrors, we even upgraded several processors in some of these Macs! We sent Paul a nice link to the Power Mac G5 Expansion web page at Apple here.

Perhaps Paul thinks a Mac is an iMac or an eMac and doesn’t know you can open a Mac and “swap hard disks or add wireless functions or upgrade [his] own video card?” Feel free to let Paul know what you’ve done after opening up your Power Macs and swapping out hard drives, etc. here: and copy your email to: Be nice, Paul seems to understand Mac is better, he just needs to know that there are Pro desktop hardware lines available from Apple, too. A few emails should help him out and perhaps even prompt a correction in his next article.

Now, when Paul writes his next Mac article, perhaps he’ll get everything right and stop subjecting his many readers to myths like “the Mac is not upgradeable, so stick with Windows and Linux.” He may even realize that he can now do what he so obviously wants to do: switch to a Mac full time.


  1. Sent him a nice email explaining my upgrading of Macs past. This is what MDN does so well, pointing out and, in the process, fixing “Mac myth propagation” in the media. Bravo!

  2. well on the video card front, macs could do with a few more options, but the options we do have are always good quality ones. and the mac processor upgrade industry is a healthy one

  3. tom,

    The News & Observer has a circulation of 163,769. If you were considering buying a Mac, but didn’t know much about them and read Glister’s “Macs are not upgradable” mistake, you might not buy one. You might heed Glister’s mistaken advice to “stick with Windows,” instead. MDN is doing a service. You are the one not getting it.

  4. Which of Apple’s consumer models will accept PCI cards, or opens up easily to allow its owner to add internal disks? eMac? iMac? These machines are not upgradeable in that sense by the owner. Are consumers not supposed to want or need to upgrade their computers? So we have to buy a PowerMac–way more machine than we need and $$$ that we want to spend–to get an upgradeable Mac? I think this IS a weak point for Apple that they should fix.

  5. As a writer for a publication with a significantly larger circulation, I can tell you that this does work. I was on the receiving end of one of these fact-checking articles from MacDailyNews and it caused me and my editor to correct the article. I also wrote a followup piece on the topic a week or so later.

  6. If you wish to “upgrade” your Mac, buy a Power Mac. That is its purpose as the “Pro” desktop line. An iMac or eMac is for a different buyer than Glister. Glister should’ve pointed this out in the article. He does not. Time for a correction.

  7. I don’t know why this is an issue anyway. 90% of computer buyers whether they get a PC or a Mac will never crack open the case even once the entire time they own it. And the most common upgrade anyone ever performs is a memory upgrade and this can be done on any Mac, whether it be a consumer or pro model.

  8. It’s kind of true though…

    Mac users are pretty limited in upgrade options. G5s have a few more options, but you really can’t touch anything on lower model Macs other than the memory (You can swap hard disks and add wireless capabilities all you want…) The processor upgrade options are limited and nonexistant on most Macs… Same with video card options…

    I just upgraded a PC for a friend, he just bought a new motherboard and processor for a few hundred bucks, and we used the old RAM, drives, case, etc. because that was all decent, and it was a pretty good upgrade for the cost… You can’t build a Mac like you can a PC.

    I choose to buy Macs anyways because of the user experience. I’m way more productive on a Mac. I don’t really need to mess with upgrades, I just need to get things done, which I can do much better on a Mac. I’m willing to pay the extra price for a computer that gets out of my way.

    I’ve never owned a PC, but I’ve built them for others and envied their upgradeability. I wish Macs could be had as cheaply as PCs, but you get what you pay for, you can tell what I think is a better value in the long run, Mac only since System 6.

  9. I guess Glister has never heard of FireWire or USB either. Last I checked you can get hard drives, optical drives, printers, scanners, cameras, etc, that plug right in to those little ports on the side of every Mac sold for the last several years. Not to mention you can upgrade the memory or add Wi-Fi cards to any Mac sold in the last several years as well…

  10. beryllium,
    “So we have to buy a PowerMac–way more machine than we need and $$$ that we want to spend–to get an upgradeable Mac?”
    ….so buy the consumer mac…whats the problem?
    You want to be able to upgrade a consumer model….but the pro model is too much computer? What would you upgrade the imac to if the powermac is too much computer?

  11. beryllium makes a fair point. iMacs and eMacs are not upgradeable, and those are the two machines most targeted toward the average consumer.

    Apple really SHOULD consider making a cheaper model for those of us on a budget. A G5 Processor in an old G4 case for $700 sans monitor, keyboard, etc…I would be looking for a way to buy one of those instead of wondering whether I should drop a few hundred on a used 400Mhz G4.

  12. Well, folks, I really *would* like to soup up the video card and cpu in my CRT iMac, but I can’t. The simple fact is that Glister gets it right for most of Apple’s line-up. It sucks. Steve should allow for some upgradability. This is naturally self-limiting – one can’t take a G3 iMac to a G5, nor would one want to. This upgradability will not affect sales adversely. I am waiting for the G5 laptop, and until then I will do nothing. If Steve had offered a video or CPU ugrade, I would have taken him up on it. Result: more income, not less.

    I know, I know. Get a Pro system, you say. I do not have the room, nor did I care to listen to the fan noise of the contemporary crop of devices.

    Come on, Steve. Get a competively priced, mildly upgradeable system out on the market. Why, people might even buy it!


    PS Please excuse spelling errors. No system wide spell check on this Dell at work.

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