“A computer is like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy”

Sunday, December 6

7. Picking the Right One: Picking the OS

That brings us to the next big player:


Apple is not a software company. Comparing them to Microsoft is something lots of people like to do, but it's not really possible. First off, while Apple's OS is first rate, it's not their business. Oh, and you'll hear “Mac” and “Apple” used interchangeably by everyone. The computers used to be called “Macintosh” computers (a play on macintosh apples). Many of them were even named Mac (ie.--Mac II, etc.), and even though Apple hasn't used “mac” in years, it still sticks. Just remember, when you hear “mac”, they mean Apple. You can't go out and buy just any piece of equipment and install the Apple OS on it. You have only one option to buy the hardware their OS runs on, and that's via Apple.

This is not such a bad thing. Apple generally uses first-rate hardware on all their systems. I can think of only a couple of instances of hardware problems plaguing Apple systems, and those were years ago. You will pay a premium for those computers, though. It's like buying a Mercedes. You get an absolutely first-class experience at the dealership and a fantastic piece of engineering excellence, but boy, you're going to pay through the nose to get it.

Apples are very expensive compared to comparable PC's. About the least expensive Apple new laptop will run you some bucks. You can purchase brand new PC's with comparable features for less than half that figure.

What you get for that money is an OS that is almost airtight. Since Apple doesn't have to worry about making their OS work with just about every piece of hardware on the market, they can create all the drivers themselves. That's right, they make the hardware and the drivers for it. This makes things much more seemless. What this means for you is that it works beautifully. Apple's OS is poetry in motion. It's exceptionally user-friendly, easy to learn, and forgiving of mistakes. Installing new programs is about the simplest thing ever. It's also extremely virus/malware resistant. These factors make it a fantastic first computer for anyone, if you can stand the price tag.

Apple's downside, besides the cost, is the lack of options. You can't go out and shop around to get a better deal. If you don't buy it from Apple, you're not getting it. And you have to buy it on their terms. There's not a lot of customization compared to the PC world.

Extra software, like games, is another weakness. Since Apple has something like 10% of the personal computer market, there is a similar status on the amounts of software produced for their computers. And since the software makers lack the volume you would see in the PC world, the prices for the software is higher, too.

You can get the Mercedes of the computing world with an Apple, but keep in mind it comes with the Mercedes price tag, and you really can't go to Autozone to get spare parts.