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. Hey Dave,

    I’m pretty sure the Bush/Cheney/Volvo quip was a joke. A Volvo would typically be a car a liberal would drive. Having a Bush/Cheney sticker on the car would be strange, or odd and different from the norm. You know, they’d Think Different. That’s my take anyway, I could be wrong.

    Regarding “Word Image Sucks” problem with the secret code image in the post area and the possibility of losing all your text if it doesn’t work… A trick I used back in the day when I would often lose my text in crappy forums that didn’t work right was to type my ramblings in TextEdit, then copy and paste it into the webpage. If the webpage forum eats and loses your post, then you can just copy and paste it again from TextEdit.

    Or, after you’ve typed up your post in the webpage, select all then copy and paste your message into TextEdit right before you submit, that way you’ll have a backup in case the post doesn’t take.

  2. I build my own computers. I only run XP Pro. Never a problem if you know what you are doing.

    I built and drive a 1968 Camaro RS/SS 502 Crate 775HP street legal. Bring me that BMW dweeb…

  3. Muddy Mudskipper, you dirty boy. It’s obvious that you like tinkering with hardware while Mac users use their hardware to complete a task.

    Example, while you’re busy building your XP Pro dream machine, I’m using my Mac to make money. Example #2, while you’re trying to fix the idle problem on your Camaro, I’m cruising down the expressway.

    You have illustrated the points of the article perfectly. Thank you.

  4. I value my time more and more. When I get a PC virus at 5:30pm when I’m trying to get home from work, I don’t leave until an hour or so later trying expunge the freaking virus from my machine. My employer loses productivity from me, and my family gets pissed because I’m not around.

    When I use my Mac, I don’t have that problem. I get my work done faster, better, and without the unpredicatable delays of getting some peice of malware on my computer at the most inopportune times.

  5. Don’t need to make money with my PC, other than checking my stocks, and I never have to “fix” the idle on my RS/SS, it’s perfect the first time. Everytime.

    See you in my rear view mirror “me”.

  6. “- You have a Bush-Cheney sticker on your Volvo.”


    a) You have an Apple sticker.
    b) You certainly don’t drive anything as ugly as a Volvo.

    Then there’s those of us old-timers who have the “I’d rather be driving a Macintosh” bumper sticker…

    (Reference: Back in 1984, Apple had a “test drive a Macintosh” promotion where you could ‘rent’ a Mac for a month to try it out.)

  7. Well, as a staunch Republican, I guess I should stop using the Mac since I’m apparently not “open-minded.” I guess I’ll go buy my PC later today… Windows here I come.

  8. What I’ve found is that the difference between Mac users and PC users is simple and straightforward:

    Software versus hardware.

    Fun example, from a PC using friend: Years ago, when CD-ROM drives were a new thing, my friend spent a weekend installing a CD-ROM drive into his PC. He had to figure out all the PC things that you had to do, install the drivers, etc. etc. He had a good time doing it and by Sunday night, he had a working CD-ROM drive in his PC. On Monday, he told me all about his adventure installing the CD-ROM drive.

    This guy also had a Mac that he played around with (the company he worked for had both, so he had snagged a Mac from work) and he decided to see what installing a CD-ROM drive was like. So, next weekend, he took the Apple SCSI CD-ROM drive home, plugged it into the Mac, and it worked. So he threw in a bunch of CDs and played around. On Monday, he old me about some of the cool CDs he’d checked out over the weekend.

    This was actually his epiphany, “Because the hardware is so easy, Mac users like cool software. PC users like cool hardware, even if they never get a chance to do anything with it.”

    I remember a statistic someplace–I wish I could find it–that Mac users buy more software than PC users. There was another old, but similar, statistic from years ago that Mac users use more software than PC users.

    But, generally speaking, Mac users don’t care as much about hardware. Mac users want to do cool things and that means software.

  9. Muddy, while I’m sure your Camaro is “street legal”, I’m sure it isn’t environmentally ethical, given all the combustion compromises necessary to burn that much fossil fuel to generate that much horsepower. Wow, I’m soooooo impressed.

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