Why I'm Switching from Mac to Windows

By Xah Lee. Date: ,

I bought a PC with Windows today, and am switching to Windows from my 19 years of Mac experience with 10 years of professional unix computing. This page tells the story.

Mac vs PC
Mac vs PC

Why I Switched

I have a aging Mac. It is a iMac G5 (iSight model; 2005 October; MA063L/A). It is the last iMac using the PowerPC chip.

The machine is great, but is 3.5 years old. I needed a new machine. I went to local shop Fry's Electronics and was just gonna get the new Mac Mini that Apple just released this month. The cheapest Mac Mini is $600. Looking in the store, you find that a PC for the same price has about 3 times the hardware power. Or, for the same hardware muscle, the PC is about half the price.

Mac vs PC
Mac mini (MB463LL/A)
Buy at amazon
PC (Campaq Persario SR5710F)
Buy at amazon
PC (HP Pavilion A6750F)
Buy at amazon
CPU2.0 GHz
Intel Core 2 Duo
(64 bits, dual-core)
2.3 GHz
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4450e+
(64 bits, dual-core)
2.3 GHz
AMD Phenom X4 9650
(64 bits, quad-core)
Hard Disk120 GB250 GB750 GB

By the above comparison, you can see that the Mac is shit, and they've been in that state in the past about 6 years. The Mac OS X was beginning to save Mac since 2002, together with the pretty and robust and inexpensive first iMac (“Bondi Blue”) that debuted in 1999. The Mac had a good time from about 1999 to 2003. But since the PowerPC slowness fiasco and hence the Intel "SWITCH", the gap of price/raw-power between Mac and PCs is getting wider and wider. Apple is too busy becoming a fashion and multimedia company with its iPod and iTune successes.

Software quality have always been a major part of Mac's selling point, especially in the early 1990s. The whole desktop publishing revolution. The classic Mac OS with its revolutionary graphical user interface, Photoshop, Freehand and Illustrator, PageMaker, laser printer, Hypercard, Mathematica, etc. However, these days Microsoft's software tech, in scale and quality, is quite ahead of Apple, witness the .NET, F# language, PowerShell, Direct3D, Silverlight, etc, and the operating system itself is no worse than Mac's, starting with Windows NT in the late 1990s and its descendants 2000, XP, Vista. And, almost all of the best so-called Desktop Publishing software that started life on the Mac in the early 1990s have moved to Windows as their main platform in the past decade (For example, Mathematica, Photoshop, Macromedia stuff, several 3D modelers (Strata 3D, Bryce) , DenebaDraw, Fractal Design's Painter, FrameMaker, QuarkXpress …). In fact, many no longer even produce Mac versions.

I'm tired of Mac being the second rate citizen for everything. Latest Java version comes 0.5 or 1 year later than Windows, similar for Google Chrome, Google Earth, Adobe Flash, Second Life … often come in crippled version and late. All Instant Messaging chat clients on Windows such as MSN, AOL, Yahoo, support voice or video chat, while most of these company's Mac versions still don't. This applies to just about any software. You are lucky if there is a Mac version. (For example, when i need to research virtual world technologies such as Entropia Universe, IMVU, There (virtual world), Active Worlds, none have Mac versions. When i want to try some software synths, juggling simulation software, go board game networks… Mac user's options are severely limited.)

In general, not only Mac buys you less hardware muscle, but the Mac version of software is usually slower than Windows version running on similarly powered hardware, because the software gets less development time and less optimization. (For example, JavaScript, Java, Flash, etc.) Commercial websites often have problems when accessed with Mac browsers, since many of them only test it with Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. (not Apple's fault, but fact of life.)

I own a Mac since 1991, and i own at least 2 Macs since 1999. I was a DEDICATED Mac fan thru-out the 1990s.

I started to use Windows at work 1999 to 2002, and also own a fancy Windows laptop from about 2003 to 2005. But Since ≈2006, i haven't touched Windows. I'm a unix sys admin and programer in web app and scientific computing fields. I'm pretty familiar with Windows as power user, but never did sys admin nor done any programing with Windows's technologies, because i never cared to learn any Microsoft techs. 〔➤see On Microsoft Hatred

With this switch today, i'm committed to dig into Microsoft Windows's technologies. 〔➤see Xah Microsoft Windows Tips

Graphics Card

Also bought: “BFG Tech NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT 512 MB”, for about $120. Buy at amazon.

This is for playing Second Life, and my geometry 3D visualization needs. On the Mac, adding a graphics card is practically impossible unless you buy a Mac Pro, which starts at $2500. For the same hardware power and quality, a PC costs about $1000 less.


For display, i got “LG L227WTG 22-Inch Widescreen LCD Monitor”. Buy at amazonIt has pixel dimension of 1680×1050. Actually bought it in .

Manufacturer home page: 〔http://www.lge.com/us/computer-products/monitors/LG-lcd-monitor-L227WTG.jsp〕 Spec: L227WTG_spec_sheet.pdf.

My PC Specs

Update. Sometimes people ask me how it went. Here's my experience.

On the whole, about the question of Mac or Windows, i'd say they are same overall. Yes, Mac still prettier, more quality UI design, things just work. But Windows much cheaper, more software, but more virus to worry about, etc. Same old story. I didn't feel i lost something important by the switch, nor landing on something better.

in , i switched to Linux as my main desktop.