Don't buy a Mac

by Volker Weber

Funny I should say that, but no, don't buy a Mac. I have been very satisfied with Macs for more than 5 years now. But I have seen quite a few people who are not. If you fall into any of those categories, you may also be disappointed:

  1. Your vendor seems to support the Mac, but they really don't. The most obvious one is Microsoft. Yes, there is Office 2008, but it sucks. It's not on feature parity with Office 2007, and not even files translate nicely. Outlook 2007 is nice, but Entourage (the Mac Exchange client) is terrible. There is no Visual Studio for the Mac, nor Visio, or Project, or OneNote. Other vendors who don't really support the Mac although they seem to are IBM and RIM.
  2. You like fiddling with your computer. Macs are best used as they are. They can be incredibly wasteful in an effort to not make you a sysadmin. They carry brazillions of drivers for printers, cameras and other peripherals so you never have to touch any of them.
  3. You like installing and twiddling with the latest and greatest software. The Mac basically comes with everything you need. Install OpenOffice, remove the Microsoft Office Trial, and be done with it. Yes, there is excellent software out there, and you can start looking for it after a month or so, but if you want to bring in all the junk you used on Windows you better stay on Windows.
  4. You want to be cool. That won't work. You can't be cool if you try to be cool.

There you have it. Four reasons not to buy a Mac. One more thing:

If you buy a Mac to run Windows, you have been had. Yes, you can run Windows in Fusion or Parallels. But then you get to maintain two computers. Your old Windows, and your new Mac. Ok, that may satisfy category 2 users, but it defies the purpose of having a Mac in the first place.

The best machine to run Windows is the Lenovo ThinkPad X300. I know it's a bit expensive, but you want the very best.


5. You expect everything to work just like it did in Windows. Double clicking a window title won't maximise the window, clicking an already open app again in the dock won't minimise it, ALT-Q does not create an @, pushing ENTER when highlighting a file in the finder won't open it.

I find it quite annoying when people just expect every OS to work like Windows. And I've come to met quite a few who do that. Maybe understandable when you've worked for years with Windows but that still doesn't make things wrong when they work like they do in Mac OS.

Michael Sedlaczek, 2008-08-04

Thanks for this statement, but maybe you can add one more.

People should not buy a mac if they want to know what they are doing when the solve a problem. I had a Powerbook some years ago and i really hate it that for every problem the first solution i have got in forums or from so called mac gurus was "clear the PRAM", or "clear some obscure operating system caches" "repair file permissions".

And the best hint of all was "simple reinstall the Operating system"!


Ralf M Petter, 2008-08-04

I've come a long way from category 2 - and I now enjoy that there's no need to think about how it works.
There was just one silly problem that annoyed me: I used to play games like Warcraft and Diablo once in a while. When I found out that these games should work the same on MacOS I was exited. But DiabloII wasn't working at all - it crashed continously. Luckily there are some communities on the net where you can find the reason why - and a patch to downgrade the display drivers again.
I thought such probs were gone with Windows... So gamers with elderly games should be careful or at least willing to look for solutions on the net, too.

Steffen Pelz, 2008-08-04

-The best machine to run Windows is the Lenovo ThinkPad X300. I know it's a bit expensive, but you want the very best.

Exept the dock is a joke , and for some odd reason they still use Active Protection Manager in the base image so uninstall that.

X200 is out soon that looks more promishing at least from my point of view.

Flemming Riis, 2008-08-04

i also tended for the x300, but found this Vaio. it perfectly fits my needs.

Samuel Orsenne, 2008-08-04

Could not agree more with you. I have 3 Macs at home, one for me, one for the wife, and one for the kiddo. The dog has yet to grasp the touch pad so we have not gotten her one yet....yet!

I started with Macs again when MacOSX came out. MacOS9 was tired. X on the other hand was not. It was Mac+UNIX=GOOD. There are some odd things, but then again are there not some odd things in Windows? F8 to get to safe mode, so what mode have I been running in, unsafe?

The reason I give everyone is this, when I go home I don't need to be an IT guy there too. I just want to use my computer. Any it's true. I come home, use my email, surf, I love my iLife and for many years have done al my "side" work and presentations for COMMON and other places on it with no issues.

I don't use MS Office, I use OpenOffice, and it's plenty good. I am also now a fan of Apples, Numbers, Pages, & Keynote. All great apps which are cheaper than MS Office.

IBM has just started to see the light when it comes to anything but Windows and that is a good thing. I only hope it continues to grow. Sadly they did not see the light when they were making the Power chip for it? Let's see, we make the chip, and if we would have made our apps run on it we may still be making the chip and increasing sales? No no no, that won't work.


David Vasta, 2008-08-04

@David - I hope you're not suggesting that IBM should adopt joined-up thinking? What planet are you on?! ;-)

Julian Woodward, 2008-08-04

just in case you have to work with a exchange-server in your company - what to do if you just really do not want to use not a mac? i see no solution but to life with entourage?

Lukas Praml, 2008-08-04

do not want to use not a mac

Not sure what you are asking. not/not. If you want to use a Mac, what are your options for Exchange access? Entourage and Outlook Web Access I guess. OWA 2007 is actually pretty good. OWA 2003 was not.

Volker Weber, 2008-08-04

yes, that's my question. but i think even entourage is better than owa 2007 - esp. if you have to use the "light-version" which is the only one working with non-internet-explorers.
anyway i am locked up to these two choices - so i stick to entourage, also because it syncs the exchange content to my ical and adressbook. sad.

Lukas Praml, 2008-08-04

For #1 - Half baked Mac versions of Windows software - I would think Intuit would get the nod for most lame effort.

I have not tried Office 2008 for Mac, but 2004 is just fine by me.

But I'll still take a Mac over Windows any day.

Waiting for the new Mac Books and Mac Book Pros personally.

Henry Ferlauto, 2008-08-04

Your #1 is my #1 reason for not using a Mac: none of the software I make my living with is available on a Mac. Whenever I mention this people suggest I get a Mac and install Fusion or Parallels and run XP in that, but then I'm back to your corollary: if you buy a Mac to install Windows you've been had.

The X300 is the best hardware for Windows? Really? The last time I checked the screen was too small for me, but maybe you know something about my preferences that I don't. :-)

Charles Robinson, 2008-08-04

I agree on the x300 recommendation. I am using this tool for 3 months now and it is the best notebook I ever had (besides maybe t42 some years ago). But this is incerdible notebook. My wife's x61 feels even heavier than x300.

About apple - you will always be disappointing if you expect to work the same way as you used to. And apple is not going to improve the user experience for many reasons - here are some:

1. They are not prepared for this growth of sales. Their customers service will be converted from boutique to supermarket.

2. Moving to Intel platform maybe seems as a good choice but will drive to Mac platform the very same problems we have with MS Windows for many years - security, OS halting, blue screens or green screens :-)

Anyway, I will take the risk if they have a trackpoint in their future models!

goran angelov, 2008-08-04

Thanks for the post; good thoughts. I'm on the fence about a Mac laptop right now, and I'm at least going to wait until the next hardware release (September?) to decide. I'm just not sure I want to relearn an OS and re-purchase my software. On the other hand, Vista holds no appeal for me.

To be honest, I'd probably go to Mac more to move away from Vista than anything else.

Julian Robichaux, 2008-08-05

well I have basically moved away from Windows.
I am a category 1 user, but I solved this problem by basically giving up my Domino addiction (I am still wearing the patches though).
I am also a category 2 and 3 user, but I am not all that bothered about category 4. So now I use Ubuntu pretty much full time.

Alan Bell, 2008-08-05

@Julian - What is "joined-up thinking"?

I was pointing out that IBM had a chance to help themselves to more sales when they made the G5 chip for Apple by making all the current Windows applications they support for the Apple so that around the bend they would sell more chips, sell more development to Apple and in the end make more money. I am only thinking about my stock and that fact that Apple and IBM have never mixed, yet at every turn you hear IBM complaining about Windows is all.


P.S. I live right down the street from Normal and Crazy so I am just trying to stay here on planet earth.

David Vasta, 2008-08-06

Irony Detection Fail!

Kerr Rainey, 2008-08-07

As a recent (just over a year ago) convert to a MacBook I also recently converted my family over to an iMac from XP. I agree with you on point 2 if 'fiddling' includes hardware. You'd have to move to a Mac Pro to do that. You can 'fiddle' with the OS as much as you could with Windows. The truth is, once you've made the shift you realize you don't have to fiddle anymore. You discover the joys of using a machine that just works. It makes using it to accomplish things more fun and makes you want to use it more. This leaves you less time to fiddle which you find you don't need to do anyway since nothing's broken. In fact it's running really smoothly! Would you 'fiddle' with a Ferrari? Should 'fiddlers' stick to pre-1980s cars that didn't make heavy use of electronics so you could still tinker and not 'break' them.

I'd take a Ferrari over an '84 Mustang any day. OK - I can't afford it and that's where the analogy breaks down - a lot more people can afford Macs.

Asad Quraishi, 2008-08-08

"The best machine to run Windows is the Lenovo ThinkPad X300."
I came to the same conclusion after reading the c't article and other reviews but am regretting my purchase. I find the constant and very loud fan noise absolutely inacceptable. Just got it returned from the repair center - essentially with the response: "Works as designed."
See To Lenovo: Still unfixed common and reproducable X300 problems and X300: Annoying fan (loud and almost constanly running)

Michael Friess, 2008-08-22

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