Why people are switching from Microsoft’s Windows to Apple’s Mac OS X

Charles Wolf, a financial analyst at Needham & Co. has noticed “a measurable surge in purchases of Macs by people who had previously been Windows users,” Arik Hesseldahl reports for BusinessWeek. “Wolf has created an interesting forecast model in which he assumes that 11% of Windows users who buy iPods also purchase Macs at the same time or soon afterward. The model also assumes that of these new Mac buyers most stick to the Mac platform and buy a second one when it comes time to upgrade. The conversions resulted in about a half million Macs purchased by Windows users in fiscal 2005. In all, Apple sold 4.5 million Macs in the period, vs. 3.3 million in 2004.”

“But Wolf built the model a year ago, and now thinks he’s underestimated the switching phenomenon. No doubt Apple is experiencing an iPod ‘halo effect,’ whereby rising popularity of the digital-music player is reviving interest in Apple’s other products,” Hesseldahl reports. “But Windows users are also moving to the Mac in increasing numbers for other reasons. Among them: the perception that Mac users suffer less from the daily irritants of viruses, spyware, and worms.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yeah, the “perception that Mac users suffer less.” It’s also a fact that there are zero viruses or worms for Apple’s Mac OS X and no documented cases of spyware, either. Mac OS X users technically do “suffer less,” but the fact is that Mac users simply do not suffer viruses, spyware, and worms at all. For over five years and counting now. Why do some feel the need to soft peddle the situation? It should be written more accurately and clearly, for example: “But Windows users are also moving to the Mac in increasing numbers for other reasons. Among them: the fact that Mac users do not suffer from the daily irritants of viruses, spyware, and worms.”

Hesseldahl continues, “Sure, the iPod has its halo effect. But there are other reasons — disparate and difficult to track — that are encouraging a small-but-measurable migration away from Windows to the Mac. It may be too soon to declare the platform-supremacy wars between Apple and Microsoft reopened. But the opening skirmishes may be well underway.”

Full article, in which Hesseldahl looks at the impact of Apple retail stores among other factors in the Mac’s resurgence, here here.

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
Windows PC retailers face tough holiday season, meanwhile Apple stores are packed as Mac sales surge – November 09, 2005
Analyst estimates over a million Windows to Mac switchers during 2005’s first three quarters – November 07, 2005
Windows sufferers: It’s not your fault, but it is your problem – switch to Mac – November 07, 2005
Tech writer: Windows PCs highly vulnerable to zombie hijacking; get an Apple Mac instead – November 06, 2005
Windows switchers, now’s your chance: Apple Mac mini with Mac OS X Tiger for $379 – November 03, 2005
Computer columnist: anti-virus software purely optional for Apple Macs, not so for Windows – November 01, 2005
Microsoft apologists and why Apple’s Mac OS X has zero viruses – October 24, 2005
$500 bounty offered for proof of first Apple Mac OS X virus – September 27, 2005
Symantec: 10,866 new Microsoft Windows virus and worm variants in first half 2005 – September 19, 2005
Hackers already targeting viruses for Microsoft’s Windows Vista – August 04, 2005
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 2005
ZDNet: How many Mac OS X users affected by the last 100 viruses? None, zero, not one, not ever – August 18, 2005
Intel CEO Otellini: If you want security now, buy a Macintosh instead of a Wintel PC – May 25, 2005
97,467 Microsoft Windows viruses vs. zero for Apple Mac’s OS X – April 05, 2005
Millions of Windows PC’s hijacked by hackers, turned into zombies; Macintosh unaffected – September 08, 2004
Defending Windows over Mac a sign of mental illness – December 21, 2003


  1. Three switchers I know didn’t own iPods before they bought Macs. After the umpteenth time I helped them with cleaning their PCs, they finally gave in and got the Macs that I’ve been telling them to get every time their PCs crapped out. Now they’ve become evangelizers in their own right.

    One was so impressed with his Mac, he decided to buy the new iPod and is having a ball. He was actually complaining that the weekend was too short; he was just having a joyous time doing stuff on his Mac (digitizing slides and photos, etc) and loading movies on his iPod. Another switcher I know is getting the nano for herself for Christmas.

    Seems like a reverse iPod effect to me.

  2. Okay, now I’ll say it: I’m getting tired of this arrogant MDN Takes. Almost any posting that involves an analyst or a competing product produces a Take that is degrading and negative to someone. That’s not what we want. We want something mature and objective. At the very least, if you’re going to put someone down, make it humorous and light-hearted.

  3. Yah, I’ve sold three Macs and three iPods all to one family here in town. My parents started out as Mac users 15 years ago, but switched to Windows in the 90s when Macs were suffering. Now they are skeptical of the platform because of their outdated perception. I guess the only way to show them is to buy them Macs for Christmas. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  4. I was suffering tonight. I was performing the occaisional delousing (removal of viruses and spyware) from the Win XP at the non-profit I volunteer at.

    Every time I have to do it, I’m reminded how much I really, really hate Windows.

  5. What we are really talking about is Branding.

    The Microsoft/Intel/Dell brand names once stood for industry leading quality (come on MDN, even you can admit that Windows 95 and MS Office certainly had their day int eh sun).

    But times have changed and just like “Honda” originally was looked at quite skeptically, It became synonymous with “Quality”, while other long trusted brands..well..didn’t.

    So turns this tide as well. Apple’s brand used to stand for “The Others” or perhaps “The Creative Types” but today it is standing for “Cool” “Quality” and “Fashionable” and that is something Nearly impossible for Microsoft or Dell to do (and dare I say Intel’s last shot at “Cool” left the building with the dancing space suit people and Blue Man Group).

    So it matters less and less the technical merit – hell look at Cars or Clothing or even chain restaurants and you will find it is far less about the product or the service as it is the associative Brand Image.

    Apple got it.

    PC’s don’t.

    MDN word: mind

  6. I tried maintaining the computers for a non-profit after school program running Windows. It was a nightmare. They couldn’t go more than a week without loading them with so much garbage that opening their browser took about 3 minutes. I gave up, spent some time figuring out Linux and other than the occasional hardware failure, they have been working great with OpenOffice and Firefox for about 10 months. I really wanted to get them Mac Mini’s, but they just didn’t have the money for it. They barely scrape by as it is. And, I’m not sure where the Windows licenses were, so they might not have been legal – didn’t matter for Linux. If you are interested, here is a link explaining why I switched them:

  7. Reading the BW article, you realize Wolf’s model has Apple tripling its sales in 10 years, which would mean Apple might sell about $45 to $50 million worth of stuff. That’s Dell’s current size of sales. However, it appears that Wolf’s model also predicts the market is doubling in size in that same period.

  8. Why is it so hard to say, “No viruses, spyware or worms”?

    Come on, BW, for once show some hoden, cuilles, ballar, gao-wan, palle, or in English: cojones, bolas, pelotas, huevos, ayotes, albondigas….

    Stercorem pro cerebro habent.

  9. Yeah, well Wolf is playing both sides of the street. On the one hand, he says that Apple is doing really well, is gaining marketshare, has innovative products and is an innovative company, even owns Apple stock himself, yet he downgrades AAPL from buy to hold. The guy’s schizo (or just looking to move the stock downward to buy more for himself).

    MW: Decided, as in decidedly crazy.

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