It's with more than idle curiosity that I've watched the recent Microsoft ads that attack Apple, subtly suggesting that it's too expensive and that it's all glitz with no real computing power. There is so much wrong with these assertions that it's hard to know where to begin. There is after all something to be said for getting what you pay for, and when you buy any old Windows PC based on price and specifications without regard to quality, you have no idea what you're getting. When you buy a Mac, you may pay more, but you know exactly what you're getting because they all come from the same source.
As I wrote recently in Microsoft Gives Apple the Full Court Press, it's a great ploy for Microsoft to be on message about this with Ballmer giving the hard stuff, publicly dissing Apple, while the commercials come in underneath with a more subtle approach for the general public, but the more I've thought about this, the more I wonder, what this strategy is about at its core.
What is Microsoft Afraid of?
Why is Microsoft afraid of Apple? Apple still only accounts for between 10 and 20 percent of market share depending on whose numbers you believe. Yes, it's been growing, at least until recently, but is Apple really such a big threat to Microsoft desktop domination? What's more, it's not an (ahem) apples to apples comparison. Microsoft doesn't make a computer, remember? It makes an OS, while Apple makes both (which makes their 'Get a Mac' campaign much more sensible).
If You Really Want to Have a Pissing Contest...
But I figure if Microsoft wants to compare a Mac and a PC (even if there is no real comparison) who am I to argue? I write this post based on my own individual experience. I realize it's hardly scientific, but it's what I know. I have a Mac Book Pro. I run OSX on it and I run Windows XP in Parallels. My wife has a Dell laptop running Windows Vista.
I will say that the Mac is not perfect. I definitely push it to the limits of its 2 gigs of memory when I run Parallels and several Mac programs at the same time (especially TweetDeck and Firefox, which are incredible memory hogs). I occasionally get the spinning beach ball. I keep the Activity Monitor open, ready to shut down one of the programs hogging my memory, but when I do, all is right the world. I rarely have to reboot. I've never had my Mac lock up completely and I've never had a blue-screen type experience on my Mac. (If I have one in Windows under Parallels, I can simply shut down Parallels.)
Which brings me to wife's Vista laptop. It's a Dell. In my long experience using computers, Dell makes a decent machine, and their customer service has been adequate when called upon (for the most part), but just this morning, and this is one small example mind you, my wife couldn't get any program to run. I gave my standard reboot message, but when she did the computer was still unresponsive. I suggested she reboot again, press F8 to open Windows in Safe Mode and then shut down from there.
This whole reboot/Safe Mode stuff just doesn't happen under OSX. I've never had OSX completely blow up in this fashion. Vista does this constantly. It is simply the nature of running Windows. I've seen her working away and up pops the blue screen (the ones as I recall that weren't ever supposed to appear in Vista).
Apple is so Much More Than a Pretty Face
I've been using computers for more than 20 years. I have Zenith 8088 sitting in my basement. I've used PCs for all but the most recent 2.5 years. I didn't come out of the womb as an Apple fan boy. I used the product and I fell in love with it (as I wrote in I'm in Love with Mac Book Pro). It is a gorgeous piece of engineering and I paid a lot of money for it, a lot more than I would have had I bought a comparable PC, but when you get down to it, in my long experience, there simply is no comparable PC.
The Mac OS is so much more elegant, the way things work so subtle. I don't hate Windows if that's what you think. I just think if Microsoft wants to compare themselves to Apple, they may hire some actors and be able to sell the idea that the PC is a much better value, but when you get right down to it, if you're really honest and look at all the factors, Apple wins hands down. Sorry Microsoft, but there's just no comparison in my view.