What differentiates Apple Mac users from Microsoft Windows PC users?

Paul Murphy writes for LinuxInsider, “What differentiates a Mac user from a PC user, assuming the usage decision is uncoerced by an employer? My wife, a reformed PC user (always the most merciless of evangelists), answered that question with a list straight from Jeff Foxworthy:

– You think virus protection is what you get a flu shot for.
– You actually make a conscious choice in selecting your Web browser and presentation software.
– You have suppressed a smile at the sound of another user rebooting their computer for the fifth time that day.
– You dress up in a black turtleneck and jeans to go out at Halloween.
– You’ve never sworn about a service pack.
– You have a Bush-Cheney sticker on your Volvo.

“OK, one of those is a ringer — but the question itself is interesting: what individual characteristics differentiate the two communities? Listen to the people who made the PC versus Macintosh decision for themselves and it’s pretty clear that the PC people get heavily vested in their knowledge of the machine and whatever Windows variant they have or aspire to, while the Mac people tend to assume the machine and talk about what they do with it,” Murphy writes. “That’s a very big difference, but what’s behind it?”

“One idea is that the Mac user’s focus on the applications is reasonable, and that the PC people whose focus is on the machine or the OS are really suffering Stockholm Syndrome — investing in the machine and emotionally bonding with the PC community rather than the professional one defined by the application as a survival strategy for the persona,” Murphy writes.

MacDailyNews Note: See SteveJack’s seminal article “Defending Windows over Mac a sign of mental illness” for more on how Windows users suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and the related Cognitive Dissonance.

Murphy continues, “Another idea comes from A. H. Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation (Psychology Review, 1943). His idea was that people act to satisfy the highest unmet need in a hierarchy of needs with the basic physiological needs at the bottom and self-actualization at the top. Thus, his way of looking at the difference in behavior would be to say that the Mac user’s basic physiological needs have been met — after all they can assume that the thing works — and so their focus can move to meeting self-actualization and other higher level needs more closely tied to the person’s professional interests.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Mac OS X stays out of your way, unobtrusively allowing users to get work done, while Windows XP is constantly in your face demanding things, impeding productivity. Users who use both know this is so. Mac-only users surmise it. Windows-only users will scream bloody hell, but that doesn’t alter the truth. And Windows-to-Mac switchers will swear to this as fact in a court of law.


  1. The primary difference is that Mac users spend their time using application software while PC users spend their time maintaining/cursing/repairing their OS. The OS is a tool and as such should stay out of the way.

  2. Is there a genetic component perhaps? Tolerance for pain? An e-virus plague affecting millions? Or are Mac users slowly evolving into large-brained, martian-like waifs who will ultimately be able to iSync telepathically?


    Stayed tuned…

  3. The secret code has never failed for me.

    It’s necessary because there’s no moderation here. We can post whatever we like.

    This means that automatic spam posting could affect this forum. It add to the size of pages and add to the bandwidth requiremens of our generous hosts. This would increase their costs and maybe they’d end up shutting down the site if it got too expensive.

    So on a free site like this, the secret word is a small price to pay in the war against spammers.

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