Should I get a Mac or a Windows PC?

Bill Husted answers readers’ tech questions for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A MacDailyNews reader spotted a Q&A of interest in Sunday’s edition:

Question: I am purchasing a home computer for my family (two children, spouse and myself). Macs have been recommended to me because of ease of use, lack of vulnerability to viruses and spyware and, now, no problems with exchange of documents between Mac and PC software. I’m looking at the G5, which is about $1,300. Comparable PC-based systems are several hundred dollars less. Do you have a recommendation?

Husted: I’m assuming, from reading your e-mail, that this is a first computer for your family instead of a replacement. If that’s the case, the Macintosh makes a lot of sense for all the reasons you mentioned. For someone new to computers, there’s enough to worry about without adding the burden of viruses and worms to the list. Go for it. Buy the Mac. But also keep in mind that it’s still smart — even with a Macintosh — to install anti-virus software. That said, there’s nothing at all wrong about buying a PC. You’ll pay less for more power. And modern PCs are just as easy to use as a Mac. So it’s really a question of whether you are willing to pay a little more for fewer hassles with viruses.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Just a couple of points about what is overall a very positive answer for the Mac by Husted. Husted isn’t bad guy; he just seems to really want to come across as platform agnostic. Husted’s right to say that upfront “You’ll pay less for more power” with a Windows PC vs. a Mac. But, how much will you pay in lost time, spyware removal, virus protection, etc.?

Husted writes, “Modern PCs are just as easy to use as a Mac?” This is the worst part of his answer. Which modern PCs, exactly, the one’s running pirated copies of Mac OS X for Intel? Do modern PCs, by which we think Husted means Windows XP PCs, come with Spotlight, Safari RSS, run iLife, feature Exposé, etc.? In review after review, Mac OS X Tiger is favored when compared to Windows XP for ease-of-use. It’s just goofy to state otherwise.

And, “fewer hassles with viruses?” If by “fewer,” Husted means “zero,” okay. It’s right there in the Q&A: the questioner states “lack of vulnerability to viruses and spyware” for Mac OS X and Husted himself writes, “there’s enough to worry about without adding the burden of viruses and worms,” so why does he recap with “fewer hassles with viruses” when he could’ve more clearly written “no hassles with viruses?”

We think Husted’s just trying to answer in a neutral fashion, and he’s overwhelmingly positive about the reader’s idea of getting a Mac, but to give his readers the impression that “modern PCs are just as easy to use as a Mac” seems to be just a bit too much of a stretch to appear neutral and ends up doing his readers a disservice at worst, confusing them at best.

Does Husted really think that the Mac is a great choice and offer fewer hassles with viruses, but that Windows PCs are as easy to use as a Mac and cost less initially? Which one is the better choice? Does it really matter whether you choose a Mac or a Windows PC? After reading Husted’s answer, we’re not sure, which pretty much obviates the purpose of a Q&A.

Walt Mossberg is know for his impartiality when it comes to tech advice and he doesn’t need to come up with “modern PCs are just as easy to use as a Mac” drivel. The related articles below show how Mossberg successfully tackles questions like Husted received above. The Joy of Tech link about Mossberg’s answer is particularly funny.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Mossberg: most people ‘are good candidates for switching’ to Mac from Windows – February 28, 2005
The Joy of Tech: Walter Mossberg on reasons not to switch to the Mac – February 18, 2005
Mossberg: switching to Mac from Windows isn’t for everybody, just most people – February 17, 2005

49 Comments

  1. Define ‘power’ – Is it CPU ghz and such? Then yes you can get a PC for less. But if you define ‘power’ to be the ability to get things done, be productive and to accomplish meaningful tasks with less hassle – then No – you cannot get a PC with more power for less money.

  2. Actually, M.X.N.T.4.1, I find my iMac G5’s power button is easier to use than the one stuck at the back of my work’s Dell.

    Also, the last time I used my iMac’s power button was about 3 weeks ago (went on vactaion) – I use the Dell’s multiple times per day for hard reboots.

  3. Hi, I need to buy a new car and my friend says that I should consider a Lexus because they are very reliable and the sales staff treats you like a customer, not an adversary. But I was looking at prices, and I discovered that I can save several thousand dollars by buying a used Fiat. Do you have a recommendation for me?

  4. The Thompson,

    Read the MDN Take, will you, before you overreact? And turn off your caps lock. Geez. MDN is pointing out legitimate issues with Husted’s answer. What do you want them to do, ignore it? I agree with them and this sort of thing is one reason why I visit MDN. I like that they keep an eye on the mainstream media and what they’re saying about Apple, Mac, iPod, etc..

  5. Question: I am purchasing a home computer for my family (two children, spouse and myself). Macs have been recommended to me because of ease of use, lack of vulnerability to viruses and spyware and, now, no problems with exchange of documents between Mac and PC software. I’m looking at the G5, which is about $1,300. Comparable PC-based systems are several hundred dollars less. Do you have a recommendation?

    Husted: Macs are great and all, but I don’t LIKE them. So, get a WinPC, they’re for winners.

  6. “Mmmm, me smells a flaming like Andrew Kantor got coming….

    *Lights torch* Let Go Men!”

    Eric you should work for MDN, only idiots of that caliber could suggest flaming a guy for recommending a Mac. If you were trying to prove Kantor’s comments to be correct then you succeeded. Congrats!

    MDN, does it again. Push the Mac and they still nitpick. Ridiculous.

  7. I think we should send this guy nothing but positive email. The few mistakes he made were minor enough that they should be overlooked. Not everybody can be a Mac expert and you DO have to take into account that he is writing for a predominantly windoze audience and probably felt he had to try and find flipsides so as to not be labeled a Mac Zealot.

    These are the type of articles and feedback that we want to see more and more of and he should be encouraged as much as possible.

  8. ” I use the Dell’s multiple times per day for hard reboots.”

    Judge Bork, I can’t stand PC’s or Dell’s either, and Windows clearly leaves much to be desired but multiple times a day? Either you have a lemon, a piss poor IT staff, or a porn habit combined with admin rights, because that just ain’t normal.

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