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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mac Vs. Windows: 6 Months Into The Experiment

By Terry L. Brock

“In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer:

I embarked on a noble experiment about six months ago. Okay, it was more like seizing the swinging ladder from a rescue helicopter while standing on a sinking ship…. But that’s another story! I made the switch from Windows over to Mac. Vista was a big motivator. As I got into it (read on) Leopard on Mac was an even bigger motivator.

I say “switch” because I am doing most of my activities now on a Mac. Yes, I still use my Dell, a Windows machine for many tasks. I guess you could say I’m a “hybrid” taking the best of both.

In the six months I’ve had a chance to test my MacBook Pro (the 15 inch model) in many situations. There have been some frustrations. There have also been some really good experiences. Bottom line: Well, you have to wait (and don’t skip to the end of the column yet!).

So, just between us (don’t tell any grown-ups, okay?) I’ll share some of my experiences thus far so if you are considering the shift you can determine what you should do.

Overriding goal: Building profitable business relationships is most important in business. Relationship Marketing is the key and I believe all decisions --- technological as well as others --- need to be filtered through the prism of relationship marketing. I’ve found that with my Mac I am able to build more relationships with the Mac community. This is initially a “Duh!” thought but on closer observation it is more profound.

Apple has a delightful network of retail stores around the world. As a Mac owner you can go to this “safe haven” and get assistance, help, gawk at new gizmos for the Mac (I like to do that!) and learn. Every time I go there I learn something new about my Mac and how to make me more productive. This is a big part of Relationship Marketing. I didn’t get this from even the best discount computer store --- which is the closest you’ll come to that level of community and Relationship Marketing on the Windows side.

Having said that here are some of the pros and cons I’ve encountered in the past six months with my Mac:

Pros On Mac Side

The support issue is huge. I’ve already mentioned the retail stores. Even better is the level of telephone support. Never have I had to wait more than 15 minutes (in my personal experience). In contrast I was often shuttled to some far-reaching sectors of the galaxy for support with Microsoft, Dell, Toshiba and others. I swear --- the people on the other end had to be Klingons barely speaking English. Ugh! Apple wins the support issue hands-down.

Apple supports the software which comes with the Mac very well. With my Dell, I got some support from Dell (I had purchased the high-end package of support for my Dell XPS). However, with Dell, I often got the “we don’t support that software” argument. I understand since Dell can’t be expected to know everything about everything. Even with their customized software support, they often relied on Google searches to support programs I had. This was most frustrating and time-consuming (hence money-losing for my small business!). With Apple, I get support for all their software that comes with my MacBook Pro. Yes, I’ll need extra support for additional software but I can do most everything I need with the installed software in my MacBook Pro. Advantage Mac.

Lack of viruses. This is really nice. I don’t have to worry as much about viruses on the Mac and that saves not only on money for the protection software, but it is peace of mind. I can pursue more sales, marketing and development areas. Again, this is very important for my small business and Relationship Marketing.

QuickLook. This is outstanding! It is a new feature in Leopard and gives the ability to quickly see what is in a document (Word, PDF, JPG, Video, etc.) without opening the application. This feature alone must save me 30 minutes minimum every day. Nothing like this is available (yet) on Windows. This feature alone is worth upgrading to Mac from Windows.

There are several other advantages, but space doesn’t permit it here. Suffice it to say that Mac has serious business advantages.

Cons On Mac

It is not always a bed of roses. I had to learn some new ways of doing things on the Mac. This was initially frustrating but quickly faded with the help of Apple support. It wasn’t terrible, as I quickly got up to speed through their help, the copious videos Apple has online and some good training books. Now that I know more about the Mac OS, I can maneuver around much easier and faster.

No memory card slots. I wish Apple included these like most Windows PC manufacturers do. I had to pay $30 for an Express Card slot to handle my SD card. Not a big deal but annoying.

Lack of USB slots. This is most annoying. Apple only has 2 USB slots on this computer. Sure I can, and do, have a USB hub but some peripherals don’t work unless they are directly connected to the computer. My Dell had 6 USB slots. Nice. Advantage Dell on this one. Suggestion: Apple, drop the FireWire 400 and 800 since hardly anyone uses them. Go with Extra USB slots and we can march into the Garden of Eden!

Also, some really good software programs are not available on Mac. Yes, I could use Parallels to run Windows but that chews up vital disk space. For now, I’m using Mac 95% of the time and Windows 5%. I see that 5% dwindling.

Bottom Line (At Least For Me)

I’m in this for business. This is not a religion, as some seem to think. I like my Mac for the productivity, the light weight, the capabilities, and the ease of use. I am longing for products like Camtasia and Snag-It to come over to Mac. I really want CardScan to come up with something for Mac (please, folks---hurry!). And I’d love to see some good sheet-fed scanners for the Mac (Iris is a joke and Visioneer, Ambir and Neat Receipts aren’t there yet).

However, Mac is a definite winner for business use. Before you purchase your next computer, give the Mac some serious consideration. Look at the support side most of all.

As Eric Hoffer told us, learners inherit the Earth. Learn more about what is available and your productivity and profits can soar.

I just hope that my competition doesn’t discover the advantages of the Mac!

Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at