Security expert sums up first month with Mac: ‘much safer, more secure, more productive than Wintel’

Winn Schwartau, one of the country’s leading experts on information security, infrastructure protection and electronic privacy, sums up his first month’s experiences in his conversion from Windows to Mac.

It’s May 31 and I’ve had my Mac for one month. This is my report.

I have:
1. Upgraded OS X from 10.3 to 10.4. I slept thru it.
Done no OS X configuration other than screen saver and wallpaper. Moved the ‘Dock’ or task bar.
No security add ons.
Upgraded to 10.4.1. Seamless. Painless. But, yes, it does require a reboot.
2. Installed a “legal copy” of MS Office for Mac.
Macros in Office apps. From everything I have seen and heard from my new 108,745 close personal friends, OS X viruses in the wild are simply not a concern. But MS Word macro viruses are real, although there is some debate about how much damage they can do in the OS X environment. The MS app default is to advise me on opening docs with macros. I guess I have opened and received more than a thousand docs this month. No alerts. I double checked my settings and gave myself an infected Word doc just to check it was working. All is good.
3. Even though I don’t need to, my stomach wouldn’t rest until I added antivirus for Mac. http://www.ClamXAV.Com. Paranoid habit.
4. I prefer Firefox to Mac’s Safari, but that’s religion. Camino is the Mozilla.Org OS X specific browser. IMHO, it’s not ready for Prime Time. My Intranet displays like crap. Cool features I will watch.
5. I use the native mail client.
6. That’s it.
7. Application-wise I have:
• Edited client movies.
• Made our company switch to free online audio conferencing. [One button. No install. No new software.]
• Switched our company to free video teleconferencing. [One button. No install. No new software.]
• Published PDF. It’s integrated.
• Edited and worked on photos. It’s integrated.
• Screen shot clips and cropping, etc. It’s integrated.
• Imported 40GB of real Office XP data files.
• Moved Favorites and Address Books [yada yada] in minutes.

I have not:
Gotten over my security paranoia. I openly admit I am still nervous. Being a paranoid security type, I tend to STOP and think through many actions I might take or Clicks to Click. I still am, and I notice it on the Mac. “Should I do this?” Oh, that’s OK. “What about the security on this?” No worries. It’s a very strange feeling: growing confidence in the security of your platform [equals less fear, less tension, less Xanax].

Schwartau give his first month with Mac OS X a letter grade of A-, “For managing to create a much safer and more secure computing environment that is more productive than any WinTel solution I have seen since DOS 5.0… In the WinTel world, could you do this? Or maybe you should ask, ‘Do I really want all of that paranoia to go away? Do I really want to spend more time enjoying whatever the hell I do on my ‘puter, or maybe I should continue wasting hours every week on security crap that shouldn’t be a problem in the first place? Hey. It’s just a question.”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Windows PC security company’s switch to Apple Mac causes overwhelming reaction – May 28, 2005
Mad as hell Windows PC security company finally just gives up, switches to Apple Mac OS X – May 25, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times: Mac OS X Tiger shows ‘there’s never been a more compelling time to switch to Mac’ – May 05, 2005
Dan Gillmor: ‘With Mac OS X Tiger, Apple is plainly in the lead today’ – May 05, 2005
Jupiter Research VP: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger ‘runs rings around Microsoft Windows’ – May 04, 2005
The Independent: Apple’s ‘faster, smarter, simpler’ Mac OS X Tiger ‘a must-have’ – May 04, 2005
Mac OS X Tiger review for a Windows PC audience finds Tiger’s ‘far, far better than Windows XP’ – May 03, 2005
Longhorn mentioned in nearly every Apple Mac OS X Tiger review to assuage Windows masses – May 02, 2005
Boston Herald: Mac OS X Tiger should compel Windows PC users to think about switching to Apple Mac – May 02, 2005
Mac OS X Tiger will likely improve performance of your Macintosh – April 30, 2005
PC World review gives Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger 4.5 stars out of 5 – April 30, 2005
Forrester analysts: Apple should advertise Mac OS X Tiger on television and in movie theaters – April 29, 2005
Ars Technica: Mac OS X Tiger ‘at least twice as significant as any single past update’ – April 28, 2005
BusinessWeek: ‘Tiger bolsters Mac OS X’s edge as the best personal-computer operating system around’ – April 28, 2005
Associated Press: Mac OS X Tiger ‘provides another excellent incentive to switch from Windows’ – April 28, 2005
Mossberg: Apple’s Tiger ‘the best, most advanced personal computer operating system on the market’ – April 28, 2005
InformationWeek columnist: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger ‘a compelling upgrade’ – April 28, 2005
NY Times: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger is the most secure, stable and satisfying OS on earth – April 28, 2005
CNET: ‘If you’re tired of Microsoft’s promises, Mac OS X Tiger may be your best incentive to switch’ – April 28, 2005
Wired News: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger ‘full of welcome surprises’ – April 27, 2005
You can switch from Windows to superior Apple Mac and still be compatible with the world – April 23, 2005
Apple posts QuickTime movies of Mac OS X Tiger features in action – April 13, 2005
Switching from Windows to Mac? Save money by asking to ‘crossgrade’ your software – April 12, 2005


  1. I read through his blog yesterday. Good points all around. He’s been bantering back & forth with some guy that, until yesterday, was anonymous. This guy was basically saying stuff like “Windows XP runs just fine if you reinstall Windows about every 6 months.” Funny how Windroids get used to doing that kind of stuff like it is the norm and it’s OK.

  2. So did OS X get the A- (instead of an A) due to the reboot? Would XPee get an F (or Incomplete)?

    I feel for the poor bastards who have to deal with Winders everyday.

  3. Sounds like an A+ to me. He’s probably nervous that all his windows buddies will slam him if he gives it that. (somehow giving the minus gives him journalistic integrity?)

  4. This guy is HUGE-HUGE-HUGE in the more techy circles. He’s the one who wrote the first “Mad as Hell” article that got so much press on the internet.

  5. Ron, this guy is a security guy for windows! so alot of windows people read his blog, he’s gotten awards for his blogs also. He is no mac zealot! this is why he created such an uproar a couple of weeks ago. I hope this will be a forward moving trend, where we have more IT techs owning up to being tired of windows even though it pays their bills. Maybe instead of fixing computers we can move forward as a race and actually make things from these computers instead of fixing them all the damn time( these includes macs too!, Lord knows I’ve had problems with my hardware before), lol.

  6. My catch line when I’m switching windows users is that I will be their personal “tech support”. I’ve switched about 5 and I think I’ve recieved two calls that were both really simple things that took 5 seconds to explain. It’s hilarious.

  7. i got my bf to switch last year, he got an emac. the way he describes the difference between mac users and pc users: pc user goes into computer store and asks “how do i fix this problem” mac user goes into apple store “how do i do this on a mac?” there are still some bumps in the road and he often has to get over his pc centric thinking. sometimes he get’s stuck because of this, and i have to remind him that on a mac there are multiple ways to do the same thing (i.e launching an app from dock or finder, or recent item in apple menu), and in reality macs are so easy that it seems hard. he’s learning.

  8. A real user’s experience first hand. It doesn’t get any better than this to attest to the fact that OSX and a Mac are more productive and safer then any Windows box period. I’m not sure why he says the internet looks like crap though.

  9. Reminds me of the story of how the Apostle Paul (Saul) was blinded by the light on the road to Damascus. He fell down and was converted!

    To us all the stuff he rants about is boringly obvious. But I guess you haven’t been experienced, it’s a real revelation!

    Great press. Hope it helps to get the “good news” out about Mac and the better way.

    Ah, I love being a Mac Zealot.

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  10. Where’s sputnick and our other resident trolls? They needs a good spankin’

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  11. I actually thnk his OTHER comments are better than the security comments.

    From speaking to my WINTEL friends they KNOW Macs are more secure, they are just worried about incompatibility and not being able to do “STUFF” they can do on their PC’s.

    He stated he is more productive, and highlighted that he has imported Office XP files etc with no issues!!!

    This is before he gets into the added (i.e. included) extras you don’t get in windows.

    MDN, I relaly think you should expand your coverage to ALSO included his comments beyond security.

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