Why do more people buy Windows PCs than Apple Macs?

John Dvorak examines the Mac vs. Windows vs. Linux debate and “the never-ending moaning about the superiority of the Mac versus the Windows platform versus Linux. According to each camp, their solution – their choice – is superior. By what criteria? If you were to rate the platforms by the total amount of software that can run on them, then Windows is clearly superior. What other criteria would you suggest? If you were to choose the cheapest, highest-performing platform, then Linux is clearly superior. It runs faster than Windows and runs on the cheapest hardware. If you make coolness and usability the main criteria, then the Mac easily wins.”

MacDailyNews Take: Criteria we would suggest is how integrated and seamless do you want your personal computing to be? The Mac wins here. Or how much time are you willing to waste on viruses, adware, spyware, and security issues? The Mac wins here, again. How many word processors do users need? Most people use one. If the Mac has the top five word processor options and Windows has those options plus 30 more junky word processor choices, how does the amount of software available make Windows superior? The “more software available” argument is the only place Windows can really claim “superiority.” Too bad it’s a canard, it’s a meaningless “advantage” in most cases. Except for gamers, in which case Dvorak is right. Yes, there are custom Windows applications for specific work situations, but there is also a large group of best-in-class applications that are Mac-only: iMovie, iPhoto, iSync, iDVD, Final Cut Pro, etc.

Dvorak writes, “You must ask yourself exactly what you want the device for. Reverse-engineer market-share numbers and decide what aspect of the leader makes it so popular. With computers, you have to conclude that the most desired features among consumers are the number of software options and the price. The Mac was much more competitive and had a larger market share when Apple was throwing systems at developers and subsidizing code.”

“I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing Macs again, because I’m not. I’m trying to make the point that the criteria that define the Mac as a superior machine are not the ones typical PC owners use. For some niche users, they are: If you’re an art director working almost anywhere, your criteria lead you directly to the Mac,” Dvorak writes. “Most buyers are not art directors, however. The factors of versatility (lots of available software) and price (the cost of a machine) seem to be what the public cares about when buying a computer. Those are the only two points on which the PC beats the Mac. It also tells me that Linux boxes, which are actually cheaper, could surpass Windows machines if only there were more software for them. It’s not because Linux doesn’t have the perfect GUI, or that it’s too hard to use, or anything else. It’s just about the software.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is a good article by John Dvorak. If the criteria that average personal computer customers are using to determine their purchases don’t lead them to the Mac, what can Apple do to change perceptions and circumstances so that the Mac becomes the logical choice for more people? What can Apple do to add to the short list of reasons people buy a PC, currently topped by “sticker price” and “lots of software,” so that “ease-of-use,” “security,” and “fun instead of frustration” become important reasons for choosing a personal computer? And does Apple need to challenge the “Macs are incompatible with Windows” myth in a more public manner than they are currently?


  1. The simple one-word answer to Dvorak’s question would be: sheep. People are sheep. They buy what everyone else buys. They drive what everyone else drives. They get in line and mindlessly follow.

    People don’t want to make up their own minds. That’s why we have 2 bad candidates for president. That’s why we have bad TV shows on. That’s why a lot of things happen.

    I think that polls and surveys are two of the things that make it that way. People would rather find out what is the most popular choice and follow that rather than doing their own research to find out what is best for them.

  2. Let’s face it, the reason more people buy Windows PCs is because they are the predominant platform that people encounter–at work, at school, at stores. Too many people don’t even consider that there are other options.

    Apple can’t change that now, and I’m not even sure they should make that their focus.

    We keep hearing of the inevitable demise of Apple and the Mac platform, but year after year the platform keeps getting better and more compelling.

    And there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that significant numbers of people are switching.

    Apple should keep focusing on making great products, and let the rest take care of itself.

  3. Glick7,
    You must have forgotten about the people who lost data on firewire drives when 10.3 came out before the updates that fixed the oxford bridge. I know some people who lost data. It was like………… a bummer.

    But I would never trade my Mac for a PeeCee. My G5 1.6 with dual displays kicks butt! I play games, build data bases, make iMovies, have over 6,000 iPhotos, a TV Tuner card that lets me record TV, the card works with iCal too so I an program a date and channel to record when I am not at my Mac. I am sure you could do all of this on a PeeCee…. but how much time would I spend fighting viruses, removing adware, spyware, and downloading patches that broke the last patch and so on.

    The Dude abides.

  4. Glick7..

    Well thats not exactly accurate..we did have that iTunes “proof of concept” thingy, and also the one disguised as a M$ Word installer… but neither was all that damaging….

    We have been fairly safe from viruses since the SevenDust 666… and how long ago was that one ??

    Point being…. how many viruses, trojans, and worms have hit our PeeCee counterparts since then ?? . Way too many to count…

    And lets not mention the latest annoyances the Micro$oft lemmings must contend with…. pop-ups.. and spyware….

    Yeah… for stability, ease of use, and a better computing experience… I’ll stick with my Mac

  5. I think where this is all wrong is that John is using the old (and only slightly current) criteria. People are coming to realize that there is a price to pay on Windows (viruses/worms/spybots/crashes/costs). They are finally getting sick of it.
    It will take the masses a little while, but their criteria is becoming, ease and stability. And especially as they watch their Mac and Linux enjoying a hassle-free experience.

  6. I think the criteria are changing. But in discussing the amount and quality of software, Dvorak has himself stated the MS should kill office; that he will be upgrading to a new system because of Window’s tendancy to degrade over time implying that it is easier to upgrade the hardware than deal with the OS issues. What baffles me is, if Dvorak believes what he writes, why the hell is he still messing with WinPC’s.

    My experience with the Mac and OSX is not only hassle free, but it supersedes this into the pure joy realm. I figure that the world must be full of technological masochists.

  7. I just got off the phone with a systems engineer from the local Time Warner Cable company, and he just related a story to me about the Computers techs at the Time Warner office not even realizing that the Macs they used for the Advertisement logos and graphics were completely network compatible. They never even hooked them up to the network for 2 years thinking they’d never work. He’s been a Mac user since 1985 and laughed when he told me about finally plugging the ethernet cable (which had been run to his office a few years before) into the back of his Powermac G4 and it was instantly on the net work. There was nothing he had to do. The Computer tech was agast, his reaction, as described to me was “one of confusion, contempt, amazement, and embarassment”.

    It could have been avoided a long time ago if people would get over their anti-Mac biases.

  8. people are obsessed with MHz and ‘speed,’ and initial cost. They don’t put a dollar value on how much they will save in agrivation and setups etc. Why should they buy a Mac for a grand when they can have PC for $500.00?

    Those I know, who WORK with Macs and Windows prefer OS X… Linux/Mac users seem to be very happy in the middle. Linux only users and windows only users (and Mac only users too) seem to be stuck in a vacuum quoting old retoric.

    I don’t use Linux but I do use Win & OS X extensively and OS X is my preferred choice of working environments…



  9. Since I have moved the the States with my MAC, I made 95% of my friends switch to MACs. It is funny, because even the more reluctant ones who though that APPLE was all about design praise APPLE much more than I do now. They read MacDailyNews, and come up to me with studies and stats in favor for the MACs. I am sorry… I am starting to think that the whole “chose-your-computer-depending-on-what-you-do” thing is another crack invented by PC users too frustrated to see their lame computers break down every 5 nano-seconds.
    A friend of mine who used to work for ORACLE switched to MAC and praise it like new messiah! My boyfriend is a senior programer for a Labor Union, and he happily switched to MAC, enjoying the freedom and non=worriness of his new computer.

    If people can’t see the evolution of computers, let them stay into the dark age of PC owning (which includes a pack of Prozac for long nights trying to figure out: “what da F*** is wrong with that damn PC?”

    P.S: I don’t hate PCs, I just Hate them…

  10. Good job, Dvorak. Seems like you’re taking your job seriously again. Still wish we could get you to try a Windows-free existence for a month on an iMac G5 with 1 GB of RAM, though.

  11. It’s an age-old issue that never seems to get past the same old stupid arguments. A friend of my wife’s needs to replace her ’97-era Win95 laptop. She thinks that there is no software for the Mac that she needs – like a compatible word processor, instant messaging, e-mail. She doesn’t want the “fluff” and thinks Macs are too expensive.

    It’s funny-sad, really. She spent $1800 on a laptop seven years ago. Has spent even more on AOL in that time. And spent ungodly amounts of time fighting viruses. She even used the argument that since the Mac has so little market share nobody would bother to write a virus for it, so why would she want a product with so little market share?

    One can’t argue with such illogic. Any defense I put up is countered with a claim that I’m a Mac bigot (regardless that I’m engineer that works with PCs, UNIX and Linux boxes on a daily basis and make my choice as an informed person).

    My reply was to not bother asking me for computer help if she keep getting PC viruses. It costs me too much time and money.

    Meanwhile, I’ll continue to use all my incompatible software to complete my high-quality work that I submit to my PC-using friends and co-workers with “how’d you do that?” comments.

    “Oh, it’s a Mac….” with the tone of voice that indicates immediate acceptance and discounting of the result. What an oxymoron!

  12. I still have a PC tower I built a few years ago and upgraded last year. It runs Windows 98 and I just recently added Linux Mandrake 9.2 to the mix. I’m sure Windows XP would work nicer, but when attempting to setup network printing for the HP Deskjet 610CL, I couldn’t get it to work in Win 98, but it was instantly recognized and shared in Linux. I’m no Linux expert, in fact, I’ve barely used it, but it was just so easy to setup, I was shocked. My PC is now networked with my OS X machines and they can all print to the Printer with ease. The PC tower is going to stick around for awhile because of all the PC games I purchased over the years, but once those grow old, the PC tower will find a new home on the street curb.

    BTW, has anyone played around with Linux Mandrake 10? How is it? Should I update or wait?

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