One in a series
I now own a PC…
Yes, you heard me right. Your beloved My Mac writer has actually purchased a PC and has it set up in his home, allowing all varieties of “PCism” to invade the area. A copy of Windows 95 and Microsoft Office now lie in my room… beckoning to me in the night. But I do not answer their calls. Instead, I stay here at my faithful, if slightly jealous, Macintosh.
Alas, let me explain. This hunk of pure Windows was practically forced upon us. In order to “keep up with technology,” a member of my family was moved from the office to home. Since the office was Windows-based, they would have nothing to do with Macs. Fortunately, they were fine with the idea of Virtual PC, as long as it was fast and reliable. Unfortunately, our Mac cannot support Virtual PC. Therefore, buying a PC was inevitable. At least we got it for a good price.
Don’t get me wrong, though. For a PC, this is an exceptional unit. It’s a Dell 200Mhz MMX machine complete with groovin’ speakers, a 4GB hard drive, a 56K modem, 32MB RAM, a 4MB 3D video card, and a load of other princely goodies (Dell systems have always impressed me… maybe it’s the 500+ ads they have in “PC World” each month).
It’s hard for me to come to terms with the fact that the PC is faster than my Mac. My loyal Performa 6200 tops out at 75MHz, 1MB VRAM, and a 1GB hard drive. Yes, it’s true, the Windows box is much speedier than my Mac. The hard drive is faster, the memory is faster, the modem is faster, it’s all faster. But note the keyword here is FASTER, not BETTER. I still prefer to do work on my Mac. I still prefer to play games on my Mac. I still prefer to do everything on my Mac. My Mac, while definitely a dinosaur in computer years, is still capable of giving me the power I need to get the job done. My Mac is easier to use, is more stable (much thanks to Mac OS 8), and is much more fun. But we’ve all known that for years. Let’s have a brief run-down of the current advantages and disadvantages of the Windows system.
Some disadvantages of the Windows system:
Hardware configurations are too complex on the Windows platform. With every man and his dog creating a video card for Windows systems, how can you ever expect to get all your software configured correctly? Hardware is a practically a mess. You have your drivers, your switches, your compatibility problems, and your adapters. For instance, after installing “Command & Conquer: RED ALERT,” my audio driver was completely erased. I had to dig through manual after manual to find the correct make and model of my sound card. Then I had to hop on the Internet, download the newest driver, install it, and pray that it works. If the sound card is not compatible with the game, I’m out of luck completely. Plug-and-pray is no understatement. I’m just lucky I’m not the one to install the printer.
Viruses are a major problem with the Windows platform. There are thousands of viruses out there, waiting to bring a premature death to your hard disk. I’ve used Macs for over five years, and have never had one virus scare. Call me crazy, but I disabled my virus protection software months ago. The PC, on the other hand, is a horse of a different color. I’m not joking when I say that the very first floppy we stuck into the machine infected the computer with a virus. Luckily, we had a copy of VirusScan around to wipe out the critter. But with thousands of viruses out there and our PC on a network, I doubt this is the last we have seen of the viruses.
DOS. Need I say more?
Windows is more complicated. Sure, PC users say it’s the easiest operating system to use, but these people are ignorant and should not be listened to. They’ve never used a computer that uses understandable file names and system files. While Macs have such obviously labeled items as “Photoshop Prefs” and “QuickTime Settings,” Windows has “systominTTG.exe” or “susiPOP.sys.” Weeding through a PC’s hard disk for useless files is unbelievably difficult when you have absolutely no idea what each file is for. Plus, various programs install and change files all over the disk, causing need for such utilities as “Uninstaller.” There are even books that teach you how to uninstall programs from Windows. Gimme a break!
Documentation is rarely written in correct English. If you’re lucky enough to actually get a manual for your hardware, be prepared to understand roughly 45% of it. Most of the manuals are prepared for multiple models of hardware, and thus much of what they cover doesn’t apply in your particular case. Almost all of the Macintosh documentation that I have come into contact with has been fairly straightforward and easy to understand. In all fairness, however, I feel inclined to point out one exceptional case of “Pathetic Read Me Syndrome” from the Mac side. This from the “Presto! PageManager” Read Me:”Presto! PageManager handles as many applications as up to 31 applications ‘correctly’ on its Launch menu, but the system is still remained at the limitation. This ‘limitation’ doesn’t mean that PageManager has a restraint on how many applications can be used. The mainly reason is even through all menus until 31st displayed on the Launch menu, which will not be grayouted or enabled moving properly.”
It takes great talent to create a Read Me like that, believe me. It’s inspirational.
Some advantages of the Windows system:
That cute paperclip ToolTip helper… even though he looks rather crazed.So, there’s my current situation as I venture into the PC universe. In the next few issues of My Mac, I’ll be bringing you up to date on my experiences and comparisons. All the while, I’ll be using each system on and off. And while it’s no fair battle to put my aged Performa against the latest PC, he’s ready to stand tall. The PC might crush my Mac in all of the speed tests, but my Mac definitely crushes the PC in all of MY tests.
I’ll keep you posted…
Shay Fulton (firstname.lastname@example.org)