I have been running PCs ever since I first started working with computers. Pretty much everything I know about computers centers around the PC running Windows. As I write this, I personally own 4 laptop computers and 4 working desktop computers. And, while I sit here writing this on one of my laptops, I am actually thinking about buying a Mac.

PC Versus Mac

The war between PC and Mac has been a funny thing to behold. It is like watching the war between Windows users and Linux users. Both sides (especially Linux users) are extremely dedicated to their “side”. The recent article I wrote on Can Linux Replace Windows garnered such a response from Linux users that it boosted that article as the most popular article on the entire site. It really does seem like a team sport and Linux users are playing for blood.

The Mac crowd is very similar to the Linux crowd. The number of Mac users compared to PC users is much smaller, however they are really dedicated. Most Mac users really love their Macs. In my opinion, some Mac users are downright cocky about their choice of hardware. The famous Mac versus PC commercials are case in point, portraying the PC guy as a stuck-up nerd and the Mac guy as a cool guy.

I don’t much get into such debates. I have only used a Mac a few times in my life. Being so used to PCs, I actually found some of it confusing. After all, MacOS is pretty different to use. So, why am I contemplating switching teams?

Switching to the Dark Side?

I have my eye on a MacBook. I was recently in Seattle attending Gnomedex 2007. I noticed that a larger percentage of the geeks at the conference were using MacBooks. The guy right in front of me was using a gorgeous MacBook Pro with a 17-inch screen, nice screen resolution, and just a slick package. And what really got my eyebrow up was watching him use Windows on his Mac inside of Parallels.

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Parallels is, to me, the saving grace for the Mac. I realize that some die-hard Mac users will think that’s stupid. Why would I want to use Windows at all? Well, I’ve been using Windows forever. I own a lot of Windows software. And, let’s face it, there are some things with I really think Windows is just better at. With Parallels, I can get the best of both worlds. I can run MacOS when I want to use it, and run Parallels inside of MacOS to run Windows applications just like I usually do. If buying a Mac meant a complete switch to MacOS, I would never consider buying one. It is because I can still run Windows that I am considering it.

Apple’s switch to Intel processors, and the availability of Parallels, make Apple something worth looking at.

Where Apple Gets It Right

Apple is an impressive company. They are evolving from a computer company into more of a gadget company. Their release of the Iphone, along with the Ipods that are already out there, has jumped Apple lightyears ahead into the gadget market. Because of these devices, Apple is known for powerful simplicity coupled with some superb marketing. Their hardware is very capable, yet Apple has given their stuff some absolutely gorgeous interfaces which are just easy to use. They really seem to think of design of their equipment more so than PC manufacturers. For example, their MacBook Pro has backlit keys on the keyboard. That is such an innovative feature and is hard to find in PC notebooks.

Mac software, in some cases, also seems to be slicker and better designed than their Windows counterparts. For instance, in some recent work we were doing with webcams, we found a free program called CamTwist that would be incredible. However, it is a Mac-only program. The best alternative we could find for Windows was WebCamMax which is just clunky as hell.

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Where They Get it Wrong

Apple is a little bit too exclusive with their stuff, and they have pricing to back it up. For this reason, I do not plan on buying one right away. I understand that this is part of Apple’s marketing plan. They want their products to be perceived as being used by the “it” crowd. So, they price them higher and they put out commercials making fun of PCs. There are certainly PCs that beat the hell out of a Macbook Pro, though.

Subjective, I Know

I fully realize this is a subjective look at the Apple. Perhaps later after I get one I can do a more thorough comparison of the two platforms. For now, though, I am planning on making my next computer purchase a MacBook Pro, then immediately installing Parallels so that I can run Windows. Sure, I’ll use Apple software when appropriate, but I am certainly not ready to throw in the towel and say goodbye to the PC world.

But, I am ready to dabble.