- Topics Mentioned
- Operating System(s):
- Widows Vista
The title of this article seems to be the underlying theme in every “Mac vs. PC” commercial.
The ones that have drawn my attention recently are the commercials targeting Vista. You’ve seen those commercials haven’t you?
Most of them go something like this:
Mac: “Hello I’m a super hip, fun, exciting Mac for young people that want to improve their lives.”
PC: “And I’m a stuffy, suit and tie wearing, dinosaur PC that can only do calculations and spreadsheets. I suck the fun out of your everyday life.”
Mac: “Hey PC, what are you doing over there?”
PC: “I’m just wondering why Vista has so many bugs.”
Mac: “Yeah Vista is pretty bad and nobody likes it. It doesn’t work for a variety of reasons that I won’t list here. Don’t you wish you were a Mac so you wouldn’t have to wear a suit and tie and be so boring?”
PC: “Hey, Vista may not ever work and Macs may be better than PCs and I may dream about being a Mac but … wait a minute! Oh, you outsmarted me again Mac!”
Mac: “That’s why PC users are so dumb, because PCs are dumb. Come to an Apple store … bring money.”
I may be paraphrasing a bit (are you picking up my sarcasm here?) but I’m a little disturbed at the way Apple looks at the consumer.
Apple assumes that the average consumer will look at these commercials or any publications from the mainstream media and come to the conclusion that Vista is a hassle. Vista has a negative stigma, mostly among consumers that don’t know anything about it.
For those of you that are against Vista, I want you to take a look at the reason why. Is it because of specific problems you’ve had with Vista? Or, is it because Apple and the mainstream media have talked you into a false sense of loathing for Vista because of the problems of a few?
I’m inviting you to pour out your “Steve Jobs Kool-Aid” and take a look at the truth: Vista gets a bad rap for no good reason.
Vista is Bad … Because I Said So … That’s Why
The Mac commercials that trash Vista focus on just that, trashing Vista, but they don’t tell you anything about why you should buy a Mac.
They tell you that Vista isn’t compatible with any peripherals, that Vista has so much security you can’t do any work without a popup, that Vista has over 14,000 virus types constantly attacking it and Mac is never attacked, and that Vista is so complicated that choosing the version that’s right for you is nearly impossible.
All of this Vista rhetoric does two things: It makes Vista look bad and overtly shames you for owning a PC.
If you watch the “Mac vs. PC” commercials you will hear a lot of blanket statements and exaggeration with nothing to back it up. Why does Vista have so much security? Why does Vista have compatibility issues? Why is Vista attacked by so many viruses?
Too many people, like Apple, use this verbiage to their advantage, but they don’t take the time to explain their claims.
Don’t believe me? Check out the latest Get a Mac ads.
Consider the Source …
The truth is that Vista is an excellent operating system.
It’s not meant to be a life changing experience or a one way ticket to fun and excitement. It’s meant to be the interface that allows you to use your computer without contending with a plethora of code. It’s an operating system, just like Leopard (Mac’s newest operating system) is an operating system.
So why do a lot of people think that Vista will ruin their computing experience?
The answer can be found in mass media hyperbole and sweeping generalizations made by competitors. Apple and Linux are trying to sell a product in a market place that Microsoft has dominated for years.
It makes sense to take shots at the market leader in order to make yourself a contender, but the way in which you do reflects on how your company is viewed.
I don’t know about you but when I see those “Mac vs. PC” commercials I feel like Apple is looking down its nose at me and all PC users letting us know that Mac users are better than us just because they use a Mac.
I don’t have the problems with Vista that these commercials claim everyone has and I definitely don’t feel stupid for using Vista like these commercials claim I should.
Do Blanket Statements Keep You Warm at Night?
Claim #1: Installing Vista is not straightforward. You will need to update your graphics card, memory, CPU, etc.
Let’s take a look at the minimum requirements to run Vista Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate editions:
- CPU – Modern Processor (800 MHz or greater)
- Memory – 512MB
- Hard Drive – 15GB free space
- Graphics – DirectX 9 capable graphics processor
- DVD Drive – Yes
I want to point something out here. I helped build my parents an average PC more than three years ago and even it has way more than the minimum requirements to run Vista. Upgrading their PC to Vista was a breeze and there were no compatibility issues.
In fact, if you have an older PC and you are concerned that it may not have the system requirements to run Vista or even if you want to make sure your newer PC devices are compatible with Vista, you can check out Microsoft’s Assessment and Planning Solution Accelerator.
Additionally, if you are worried whether some of your older programs will work in Vista, you can run Microsoft’s Program Compatibility Wizard within the Operating System.
This simply simulates the environment that the old program would normally run in, such as Windows XP, so that it can run without problems in Vista. Check out how to do this easy procedure at Windows Vista Help and How-to.
It takes just a few minutes to find out if Vista is right for you.
If you are running an old PC that doesn’t meet the above system requirements then I can save you the trouble of attempting a Vista upgrade. Just go get a new system because it has been many years since a PC has been built that wouldn’t meet the minimum system requirements for Vista.
I think one of the biggest problems consumers have with Vista is that they jump in head first and upgrade to Vista before they think about whether their machine is able to run it. Then when they realize that Vista isn’t exactly like XP they are upset and want to go back to XP.
Nothing works perfectly, not even a Mac, so do a little research and make sure an upgrade to Vista will work for you. Don’t go into it expecting everything to work perfectly, because that’s impossible.
One final thing I want to point out concerning system requirements is that you cannot purchase a new PC today that doesn’t greatly exceed the minimum system requirements to run Vista.
First of all, the minimum system requirements to run Vista would run the OS, but not allow you to access some of Vista’s higher graphic features. With that in mind, I built the most barebones (basic) PC you could buy from Dell just to show you that the cheapest PC has quite a bit more than you would ever need to run Vista.
Compare the specs on the Dell PC with the minimum system requirements; there is nothing on this PC that would need to be upgraded to run Vista.
Note that Vista Ultimate is chosen as the operating system. Dell checks your configuration of hardware and software before you checkout to make sure what you have chosen is compatible.
But I want it Now!
Claim #2: PCs have security problems and Vista’s User Account Control is more annoying than helpful.
The first thing I want to talk about is the idea that PCs have more security problems than Macs. The fact is that PCs do have
more security problems than Macs because there are just so many more PCs out there. According to Greg Keizer, a leading writer for Computer World, Mac topped out in December of 2007, with an 8% market share. PCs ended the year with a 91.8% market share. Read the full article about Mac market share.
So if you were a hacker and you were creating malware to affect the greatest amounts of people possible, would you create it to go after Macs or create it to go after PCs? With at most 8% of the market share it just doesn’t make much sense to go after Macs.
PCs on the other hand, own over 90% of the market so when Vista or any other OS is developed for PCs, the developers have to take into account that there are millions of hackers out there trying to hack an overwhelming majority of the world’s systems.
So, is it true that PCs have more security issues than Macs? Absolutely, but this is mostly because there are so many more PCs than there are Macs in the world, hence the added security in Vista.
The second thing I want to discuss is how scared people are of User Account Control.
When you take a look at the “Mac vs. PC” commercial above, the PC is asked for permission by his “Security Officer” to perform any task. The PC then goes on to say that he could turn off UAC but then he wouldn’t get any warnings at all, which would defeat the purpose of the security feature in the first place.
This commercial suggests that you cannot do anything in Vista without first being asked for permission to do the task.
This made me want to take a look at the tasks that UAC applies to. Here is a list of tasks that will generate a UAC prompt if UAC is enabled:
- Changes to files or folders in %SystemRoot% or %ProgramFiles%
- Installing and uninstalling applications
- Installing device drivers
- Installing ActiveX controls
- Changing settings for Windows Firewall
- Changing UAC settings
- Configuring Windows Update
- Adding or removing user accounts
- Changing a user’s account type
- Configuring Parental Controls
- Running Task Scheduler
- Restoring backed-up system files
- Viewing or changing another user’s folders and files
- Repairing a network connection (requesting a new IP address)
Take a look at that list. You won’t see accessing the Internet, creating a document or spreadsheet, playing a video game, using email, instant messaging, watching movies, video or picture editing, or any of the other things the basic user will do on a daily basis.
Writer Bob Rankin on his website Ask Bob Rankin suggests that users are so impatient when it comes to clicking “Continue” on a UAC popup that disabling this feature or at least hiding the popups are the answer.
To me, it is not a big deal to click my mouse one more time to make sure that my computer is as secure as possible. The example that he gives is that inexperienced users see the UAC popup and don’t know if it’s from Vista or if it’s from some sort of malware, such as if the user is trying to execute something from the command line.
How many users are trying to run commands from the command line and at the same time don’t know what UAC is trying to do? That’s like entering a marathon and not knowing how far you have to run; it just doesn’t happen. This is just another example of “Microsoft Hating” at its best.
Rankin goes on to comment on elevating the program. You can elevate any program that needs UAC permission by right-clicking the icon and selecting “Run as Administrator”. This will allow the program to open when a normal user would not be able to open it.
Rankin’s article makes this process sound like climbing a mountain. One extra click and we’ve lost our patience? With all due respect, it’s like a child waiting for something to be cooked in the microwave for 30 seconds and whining, “But I want it now.”
My “favorite” Bob Rankin article is Ubuntu Hardy Heron where he actually suggests using a Linux operating system as an alternative to Vista.
Are we in the Twilight Zone? I consider myself an above average user and I wouldn’t feel comfortable using a Linux OS. How would the average user or better yet the inexperienced user feel about using a Linux OS?
Let everyone at your office know that your Vista systems will now be running the Ubuntu 8.04 (the newest Linux operating system) OS, and let me know what you hear from your employees.
I Can’t Decide … Can I Spin a Wheel?
Claim# 3: Having 6 different versions of Vista to choose from is a bad thing.
I had to say something about this ad because the way it’s presented is so ridiculous. The ad implies that choosing one of the Vista operating systems is difficult because you may end up with one that doesn’t have what you want on it or you may pay too much for one that has features you don’t need on it.
The character playing “PC” is so flummoxed by the decision that he couldn’t possibly make it on his own. Since when was buying an operating system so serious that the only way to figure out which one you want is to spin a wheel?
If you order a salad in a restaurant and you are given six different salad dressings to choose from, are you going to “short circuit” and say, “No thanks; I just can’t choose the one that’s right for me.”
Is it just me or does Apple have a pretty low opinion of 91.8% of the market?
Also, According to the commercial, Mac comes with one operating system that has everything you need. How does Apple know exactly what I need (wow I’m suddenly channeling Andy Rooney)?
But seriously, I would rather have the choice to purchase what best suits my home or business needs rather than just get what’s given to me.
Elitist Marketing vs. Vista … Yeah I Went There …
Because of elitist marketing and erroneous exposure, Vista has become the “problem OS”.
The reason this article has focused so much on the ads generated by Apple is because of the high profile commercials that describe vague problems with Vista and sometimes contain disreputable content.
One “Mac vs. PC” commercial claims that Mac is “the finest desktop PC on the market, at any price”, as stated by the Wall Street Journal. You can see this ad as a part of a collection of “Mac vs. PC” commercials below — it’s the very first ad:
The fact is the article in the Wall Street Journal that they are referring to was written in 2005, by a respected technology expert and self proclaimed Mac lover Walter Mossberg, and nearly the entire context that quote appeared in was left out.
The actual quote is:
For mainstream consumers doing typical tasks — Web surfing, email, office productivity, photos, music, home videos, etc. — it’s the finest desktop PC on the market, at any price. Hard-core game players, stock-market day traders, serious video producers and some other niche users should look for other computers.
This snippet basically says that the writer likes the iMac G5 but if you’re a gamer, use your computer for work, or edit movies you need a different type of computer.
Plus, Walt Mossberg is a well respected technology expert as the commercial suggests, but it doesn’t tell you that he’s not an impartial judge. The biggest thing that’s missing from this ad is why the Mac could be called the finest desktop PC on the market.
This is a common theme when these commercials attack Vista. They have no problem throwing out one-liners but don’t have the information to back it up, and thus the consumer is led to believe Vista is a bad OS but they’re not quite sure how that got down that path.
Even though this particular ad didn’t target Vista, it’s these types of ads that Apple has been using to mislead the consumer about PCs and Vista.
No More Snap Judgments … Give Vista a Chance
Vista is a good operating system that has garnered a bad reputation that has trickled down from Microsoft competitors, through the media, and into the mainstream psyche.
Maybe the biggest reason that Vista has received so much criticism is because Microsoft is such a big target.
It’s pretty easy to hit the side of a barn with a baseball, just like it’s pretty easy to go after the industry leader. Microsoft has obviously reached the top of the software world, and they know as well as anybody that once you reach the top you become an easier target.
If you still have doubts about Vista, give it a try or “test drive” it for free.
It’s fine if you don’t like it, but at least you’ll have the facts to backup your opinion because you tried it out.
Also, if you are an Apple fan and a Mac lover can you do something for me?
The next time someone asks you, “How come you have a Mac?” don’t answer with, “Because I hate PCs.”
Don’t be like the “Mac vs. PC” commercials, give me an actual reason why you like Macs more than PCs or Mac OS X and Leopard more than Vista … and maybe I can understand better why Vista has garnered so much criticism.
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