Windows Vista vs. Mac OSX, the two-hour definitive word

I remember having great discussions about Microsoft vs. Apple back in the 1980s and 1990s. We all survived those years without too many hurt feelings.

So, I thought it’d be fun to do it again in 2007 now that Microsoft is shipping Windows Vista. Yeah, fresh meat for the whole debate! (Or was that just the burritos we were eating?) This presented an interesting opportunity to invite four interesting people over to the house last night who would give me insights from both sides of the aisle. Of course Maryam and I gave them some social lubricant and Tres Amigos’ burritos, and recorded it. We burned through two tapes (almost two hours). One thing that’s a given in our industry: we’ll never tire of talking about Apple vs. Microsoft. Even, when, as Fred Davis points out below, there’s not all that much to talk about (the discussions were a lot more fun back in 1989 when there was a truly huge difference between the two OS’s).

Oh, yeah, my Media Center disconnected six times in two hours (I was playing pictures). Something is wrong with my wifi and I gotta figure it out. Sam enjoyed that a lot. It’s always fun when the other guy’s stuff isn’t working right.

So, who were the players?

Fred Davis. Co-founder of Wired Magazine. Here’s his report of the evening.
Sam Levin. Co-founder of the Stanford Mac user’s group, and the guy who does Cool Mac Picks.
Harry McCracken, Editor in Chief of PC World. Also does PC World’s Techlog. Don’t tell anyone, but he admitted to being a Mac user.
Jeremy Toeman. He used to work at SlingMedia and is very knowledgeable about all sorts of HD video stuff. Here’s his report of the evening.

I’ll get the two hours of video up on January 31st, which is when Vista launches.

Oh, and Loren, if you say my videos are long and boring, I’ll just make them longer and more boring, OK? :-)

Actually, you can skip right to the end for Maryam’s definitive word. I’ll remind you of that again when we get the videos up.

220 thoughts on “Windows Vista vs. Mac OSX, the two-hour definitive word

  1. We’ve been dorking around with Vista for a while. It is fun to use but unfortunately repeatedly crashed us when using Vegas 7.0. Had to use a “previous version of windows”. Anyway, I am going to a lunch and learn on Vista in a couple of weeks and will be posting a podcast on it. Anyone who wants me to send them an email when I have it posted I invite to drop me a comment. http://www.pugettown.com Or you could just subscribe to my RSS feed. ;)

    Oh, and I am considering getting a Mac for the first time since 1985ish when we had a 512K Mac. I can’t even imagine trying to use such a machine as a calculator, now. I am wondering if there is a reason all the vloggers use Mac? Does Mac have a better editing program than Vegas? Or is it just trendy and cool? Tell me!

  2. Reply to 46.

    You’re right. I went to Dell and customized a mid-level computer in terms of performance. I was surprised to see such a high price.

    I don’t know what led me to Apple.com, as I had little knowledge of Macs. But I’m glad I went. I found a Mac with better specs for less than the Dell.

    I’m a Mac user now “and I’m loving every minute of it!”

  3. Reply to 46.

    You’re right. I went to Dell and customized a mid-level computer in terms of performance. I was surprised to see such a high price.

    I don’t know what led me to Apple.com, as I had little knowledge of Macs. But I’m glad I went. I found a Mac with better specs for less than the Dell.

    I’m a Mac user now “and I’m loving every minute of it!”

  4. @75,

    You have a point with the mosaic thing, and I like the idea, but you are dead wrong with one thing, and it’s most important…

    You said: “but despite its drawbacks it has actually won the confidence of the most users and is very much the devil we know.”

    Windows has NOT won the confidence of anyone. It is the defacto business OS. MS pressures OEMs like you would not believe. MS refuses to play nice with OEMs that want to ship Linux. MS is scared of Linux and is slowly realizing they are going to lose the war. Why? You cannot compete with free. Period. I’m, not talking just about money, here, but freedom. More and more and more people are going over to Linux. No virus woes, not spyware, since the OS is not condusive what with root or sudo required to do anything.

    Overall, Linux is a better system, friendly choice mosaic or not. Forget eye candy, forget stupid widgets that make an OS look cool. Let’s talk brass tacks and workings. Linux is far better designed. Actually, FreeBSD is probably the best engineering in an OS out there. Full stop. After all, MS took their networking stack for their own under the BSD license.

  5. @75,

    You have a point with the mosaic thing, and I like the idea, but you are dead wrong with one thing, and it’s most important…

    You said: “but despite its drawbacks it has actually won the confidence of the most users and is very much the devil we know.”

    Windows has NOT won the confidence of anyone. It is the defacto business OS. MS pressures OEMs like you would not believe. MS refuses to play nice with OEMs that want to ship Linux. MS is scared of Linux and is slowly realizing they are going to lose the war. Why? You cannot compete with free. Period. I’m, not talking just about money, here, but freedom. More and more and more people are going over to Linux. No virus woes, not spyware, since the OS is not condusive what with root or sudo required to do anything.

    Overall, Linux is a better system, friendly choice mosaic or not. Forget eye candy, forget stupid widgets that make an OS look cool. Let’s talk brass tacks and workings. Linux is far better designed. Actually, FreeBSD is probably the best engineering in an OS out there. Full stop. After all, MS took their networking stack for their own under the BSD license.

  6. It seems to me that all major operating systems offer something to different users. The fact that we have a choice is good isn’t it? I and many others would not like to see the dominance of Windows as the most widely used operating system but despite its drawbacks it has actually won the confidence of the most users and is very much the devil we know. If it borrows from the strengths of other operating systems then it is learning to give customers what they want. What I would like Microsoft to do is to improve Vista by looking carefully at competitors without seeking to stamp them out by trying to be all things to all people. There is room for OS diversity as long as interoperability issues are addressed. I run two operating systems on my laptop and enjoy them both as the mood takes me. I just read a Wiliam Gibson interview where he talks about the US being a cultural ‘mixing pot’ where you come out of the pot as an American contrasting this with the Canadian idea of a ‘cultural mosaic’ where your culture remains intact and distinctive but you are part of the mosaic and therefore Canadian whatever that has become as a product of a constantly altering mosaic. I rather like the idea of an operating system mosaic.

  7. It seems to me that all major operating systems offer something to different users. The fact that we have a choice is good isn’t it? I and many others would not like to see the dominance of Windows as the most widely used operating system but despite its drawbacks it has actually won the confidence of the most users and is very much the devil we know. If it borrows from the strengths of other operating systems then it is learning to give customers what they want. What I would like Microsoft to do is to improve Vista by looking carefully at competitors without seeking to stamp them out by trying to be all things to all people. There is room for OS diversity as long as interoperability issues are addressed. I run two operating systems on my laptop and enjoy them both as the mood takes me. I just read a Wiliam Gibson interview where he talks about the US being a cultural ‘mixing pot’ where you come out of the pot as an American contrasting this with the Canadian idea of a ‘cultural mosaic’ where your culture remains intact and distinctive but you are part of the mosaic and therefore Canadian whatever that has become as a product of a constantly altering mosaic. I rather like the idea of an operating system mosaic.

  8. @73,

    Nail on the head, bro.

    Outside of MS Office, the vast majority of offices could be moved wholesale to Mac OS X, or better yet, Linux. OpenOffice does what the majority of office users need. Those few people that need special software could use Windows.

    I work for a company that is slowly but surely moving over the Linux. I couldn’t be happier. I’m going to love being in the room when the MS software people are told to “go away, we want to keep our money for us, not for your extortionist license costs and per seat madness.” Software should be free, full stop. Sell it if you wish, but not with draconian licenses. The more I stay in IT, the more I hate capitalism and the constant drive for more money, more money, more money. Can’t people just be happy with the basics? Everytime I see someone buy Windows at the store, I think of another MS exec getting his overpriced German POS car.

  9. @73,

    Nail on the head, bro.

    Outside of MS Office, the vast majority of offices could be moved wholesale to Mac OS X, or better yet, Linux. OpenOffice does what the majority of office users need. Those few people that need special software could use Windows.

    I work for a company that is slowly but surely moving over the Linux. I couldn’t be happier. I’m going to love being in the room when the MS software people are told to “go away, we want to keep our money for us, not for your extortionist license costs and per seat madness.” Software should be free, full stop. Sell it if you wish, but not with draconian licenses. The more I stay in IT, the more I hate capitalism and the constant drive for more money, more money, more money. Can’t people just be happy with the basics? Everytime I see someone buy Windows at the store, I think of another MS exec getting his overpriced German POS car.

  10. I hear business uses MS for compatibility? The only thing I see keeping everone on MS OS is Office. I don’t see how Mac machines are more expensive than PCs, once the pain in the ass of struggling with MS system screwups, constant updates and online intrusion into every PC operating system using MS is considered. Most people just use computers for email, internet and document. No one needs MS or the constant upgrades to do that.

    I guess no one talks about Linux anymore, as an alternative to MS?

  11. I hear business uses MS for compatibility? The only thing I see keeping everone on MS OS is Office. I don’t see how Mac machines are more expensive than PCs, once the pain in the ass of struggling with MS system screwups, constant updates and online intrusion into every PC operating system using MS is considered. Most people just use computers for email, internet and document. No one needs MS or the constant upgrades to do that.

    I guess no one talks about Linux anymore, as an alternative to MS?

  12. You really should’ve included a developer’s perspective. The functionality provided by the APIs and the ease of use of those APIs is what interests me, not whether I like the colors better on one or the other. Without a real technical discussion, all you’re getting is subjective pissing contests that generate 10 times more heat than light.

  13. You really should’ve included a developer’s perspective. The functionality provided by the APIs and the ease of use of those APIs is what interests me, not whether I like the colors better on one or the other. Without a real technical discussion, all you’re getting is subjective pissing contests that generate 10 times more heat than light.

  14. Horribly: heheh, you expect “meat” in a discussion of Mac OSX vs. Vista? Come back next week when we get the video up. Although I don’t know I’d call it “meat.”

  15. Horribly: heheh, you expect “meat” in a discussion of Mac OSX vs. Vista? Come back next week when we get the video up. Although I don’t know I’d call it “meat.”

  16. There’s way too much FUD coming from the usual suspects:

    •Met claims to have found a Wintel laptop comparable to a MacBook Pro for under $1000. He carries on endlessly about it. Yet, he offers no proof of the computer’s existence. Just blathering.

    •Jack is apparently incapable of grasping that there are different markets globally. So, he makes the mistake of comparing what is affordable in Kabul or Nairobi to what is affordable in the U.S. In addition, he can’t comprehend that developing world computer users are actually often using either Linux or pirated Microsoft software. Intelligent people know that the $100 laptop project will have more effect in those countries than the yet still largely unaffordable computers of developed countries, Mactel or Wintel.

    •Meanwhile, Chief Sycophant Guy Pellitier brings up the rear with his vacuous remarks. I’m wondering if Guy has sexual designs on Robert.

    But for the insightful remarks by people such as Loganson, Steve P., and Mikey D., reading the comments would be unbearable.

  17. There’s way too much FUD coming from the usual suspects:

    •Met claims to have found a Wintel laptop comparable to a MacBook Pro for under $1000. He carries on endlessly about it. Yet, he offers no proof of the computer’s existence. Just blathering.

    •Jack is apparently incapable of grasping that there are different markets globally. So, he makes the mistake of comparing what is affordable in Kabul or Nairobi to what is affordable in the U.S. In addition, he can’t comprehend that developing world computer users are actually often using either Linux or pirated Microsoft software. Intelligent people know that the $100 laptop project will have more effect in those countries than the yet still largely unaffordable computers of developed countries, Mactel or Wintel.

    •Meanwhile, Chief Sycophant Guy Pellitier brings up the rear with his vacuous remarks. I’m wondering if Guy has sexual designs on Robert.

    But for the insightful remarks by people such as Loganson, Steve P., and Mikey D., reading the comments would be unbearable.

  18. Robert,

    Let’s see some Linux commentary in here…

    With very few exceptions, anything you can with Windows or Mac, I can do with Linux AND keep my freedom, no DRM, no money out of my pocket.

    Robert, since you no longer work for MS, how about some objective computing stories. Vista is NOT interesting other than for the shock value people get when they realize they probably have to buy a new computer to even run Vista.

    One would think that with all the money that MS makes, they could actually develop an OS that doesn’t need a hardware upgrade every iteration. Linux doesn’t. I can comfortably run Ubuntu on 256 MB RAM. You cannot run OS X or XP well at all with 256 MB RAM. I don’t run under 256, but I could with little to no trouble.

    They can’t and won’t because there is no money in doing so. Writing tight code has gone out the window largely in the non-unix world. Even OS X has lost the unix tenet of keep it simple. Since MS has deals with the OEMs, making hardware upgrades a requirement makes them additional money.

    Look at Linux, folks. Unless you NEED Windows or OS X, which 90+% of yyou don’t, save your money, your freedom, and your hardware. Switch to an OS that actually is socially responsible.

  19. Robert,

    Let’s see some Linux commentary in here…

    With very few exceptions, anything you can with Windows or Mac, I can do with Linux AND keep my freedom, no DRM, no money out of my pocket.

    Robert, since you no longer work for MS, how about some objective computing stories. Vista is NOT interesting other than for the shock value people get when they realize they probably have to buy a new computer to even run Vista.

    One would think that with all the money that MS makes, they could actually develop an OS that doesn’t need a hardware upgrade every iteration. Linux doesn’t. I can comfortably run Ubuntu on 256 MB RAM. You cannot run OS X or XP well at all with 256 MB RAM. I don’t run under 256, but I could with little to no trouble.

    They can’t and won’t because there is no money in doing so. Writing tight code has gone out the window largely in the non-unix world. Even OS X has lost the unix tenet of keep it simple. Since MS has deals with the OEMs, making hardware upgrades a requirement makes them additional money.

    Look at Linux, folks. Unless you NEED Windows or OS X, which 90+% of yyou don’t, save your money, your freedom, and your hardware. Switch to an OS that actually is socially responsible.

  20. For all those arguing price and good hardware:

    MacBookPro
    2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    1680 x 1050 pixels
    2GB memory
    160GB hard drive
    8x double-layer SuperDrive
    ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics with 256MB SDRAM
    $2,799.00

    Dell XPS Mobile Powerhouse
    Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T7400 (2.16GHz, 4MB L2 Cache, 667 MHz FSB)
    Video Card
    512MB NVIDIA® GeForce™ Go 7950 GTX
    Memory
    1GB DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHZ, 2 DIMM
    Hard Drive
    80GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
    Combo or DVD+RW Drive
    24X CD Burner/DVD Combo Drive
    $2,873

    It seems there isn’t much of a big difference between cost and features as some people seem to make. Plus and minuses on both sides…

  21. For all those arguing price and good hardware:

    MacBookPro
    2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    1680 x 1050 pixels
    2GB memory
    160GB hard drive
    8x double-layer SuperDrive
    ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics with 256MB SDRAM
    $2,799.00

    Dell XPS Mobile Powerhouse
    Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T7400 (2.16GHz, 4MB L2 Cache, 667 MHz FSB)
    Video Card
    512MB NVIDIA® GeForce™ Go 7950 GTX
    Memory
    1GB DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHZ, 2 DIMM
    Hard Drive
    80GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
    Combo or DVD+RW Drive
    24X CD Burner/DVD Combo Drive
    $2,873

    It seems there isn’t much of a big difference between cost and features as some people seem to make. Plus and minuses on both sides…

  22. Robert, Still off topic
    I saw that page, You must spend 1/2 your day with e-mails, 1/2 your day with posts and comments, and then your regular job.

    I’m impressed

    Guy

  23. Robert, Still off topic
    I saw that page, You must spend 1/2 your day with e-mails, 1/2 your day with posts and comments, and then your regular job.

    I’m impressed

    Guy

  24. Steve P – You are saying that Apple will change, Dell will change and the world will change. Who cares?

    If I buy a product today its the condition of the company NOW that matters and maybe the immediate future.
    As of today – I am not too fond of Apple and am more satisfied with Dell. Reason being that the powerbook has been back 3 times for the same reason. Dell gave me a replacement by the third time.

    I want Apple to do something about me because I paid a premium for it. I expect Dell service to be bad – because they have a bad reputation and also because I paid less for it.

    When the Apple CSR says on the 9th day that its only been just over a week and there are a lot of people in the queue ahead of you – there has to be something wrong – RIGHT NOW.
    I don’t care if they change 2 years from now.

    You are claiming companies adapt or not. So what was your point?
    That this argument is moot? :D Quite true. I usually don’t get involved until I feel like I’m screwed.

  25. Steve P – You are saying that Apple will change, Dell will change and the world will change. Who cares?

    If I buy a product today its the condition of the company NOW that matters and maybe the immediate future.
    As of today – I am not too fond of Apple and am more satisfied with Dell. Reason being that the powerbook has been back 3 times for the same reason. Dell gave me a replacement by the third time.

    I want Apple to do something about me because I paid a premium for it. I expect Dell service to be bad – because they have a bad reputation and also because I paid less for it.

    When the Apple CSR says on the 9th day that its only been just over a week and there are a lot of people in the queue ahead of you – there has to be something wrong – RIGHT NOW.
    I don’t care if they change 2 years from now.

    You are claiming companies adapt or not. So what was your point?
    That this argument is moot? :D Quite true. I usually don’t get involved until I feel like I’m screwed.

  26. OK, I’m a Mac user. (Who lives near Redmond!)

    In spte of a responders early comment, this “debate” has again seemed to deteriorate into pointless pointing.

    Apple, Dell, MS etc. are businesses, not shrines! They make business decisions.
    That Apple doesn’t make “cheap PC’s” due to low margins is correct as a business decision. Dell does and made it’s fortunes on that business model. It seemed to be what people wanted. Apple had a niche.
    Now, Apple is on a roll in spite of price. They compete well in price when compared to similar specs AND build quality from other companies. (Yes they’ve screwed up a bit on QC recently. Not the norm. Will hopefully be corrected. Problem if not.)
    This is partly because some of the “myths” about Mac’s are being dispelled and people are finding an OS that works for them without some ot the things they didn’t like about MS. Some of the attraction is also image. Style did wonders for Apple. It’s not the only thing. It opened a lot of closed minds and helped word spread.

    Dell lately has found it’s business model floundering. They will be reorganizing and trying to sell more upscale. Can they shift? Who knows.

    All through the 60′s – 10 years – the VW was immensely popular. People wanted functional solid CHEAP transportation. That was it’s cachet. Same with Dell. Then VW almost went belly up as noone wanted to have people think they were “poor” or “unsophisticated” or “earthhugger/hippies” but that they were “successful”. So they bought upscale. Until VW came out with Hot cars. A new business model.

    Part of my point is that in spite of Apple having a reason for not building a cheap PC to compete with HP at Costco, some people WANT cheap PC’s at Costco. It might give them what they need. It does give them what they want. Wil Apple succeed as a business ignoring this? Will they at some point need to compete there as well? Wait and see.
    If you want to compare Apples and PC’s based on price, then see what you get at the same approximate price point in both specs and build quality – and style, sure – and functionality and supplied software. Is there anything that MUST be added? Add in that cost. Now see waht you get. Compare to your needs. Make your choice. YOUR choice. NOT what you think everyone else should choose.
    Business models can change. The iPod and iPhone reflect that. Good change? Bad change? Balance?
    We’ll see.
    If either package works for you based on actual knowledge and choice of options, then it’s right.
    If you choose based on biases, fine. That’s the case with most people. If it works, great. But it might not be “right”. Just don’t treat bias as thought in your discussions of the merit of either system.

    Oh, I’m rambling again. My 4th cup of coffee? :)

    Hi, Robert. Doubt I made sense but I’m too lazy to go back and check/edit.

    2 hours? I haven’t even watched the 2 hour MacWorld Keynote! :)

    We’ll see.

  27. OK, I’m a Mac user. (Who lives near Redmond!)

    In spte of a responders early comment, this “debate” has again seemed to deteriorate into pointless pointing.

    Apple, Dell, MS etc. are businesses, not shrines! They make business decisions.
    That Apple doesn’t make “cheap PC’s” due to low margins is correct as a business decision. Dell does and made it’s fortunes on that business model. It seemed to be what people wanted. Apple had a niche.
    Now, Apple is on a roll in spite of price. They compete well in price when compared to similar specs AND build quality from other companies. (Yes they’ve screwed up a bit on QC recently. Not the norm. Will hopefully be corrected. Problem if not.)
    This is partly because some of the “myths” about Mac’s are being dispelled and people are finding an OS that works for them without some ot the things they didn’t like about MS. Some of the attraction is also image. Style did wonders for Apple. It’s not the only thing. It opened a lot of closed minds and helped word spread.

    Dell lately has found it’s business model floundering. They will be reorganizing and trying to sell more upscale. Can they shift? Who knows.

    All through the 60′s – 10 years – the VW was immensely popular. People wanted functional solid CHEAP transportation. That was it’s cachet. Same with Dell. Then VW almost went belly up as noone wanted to have people think they were “poor” or “unsophisticated” or “earthhugger/hippies” but that they were “successful”. So they bought upscale. Until VW came out with Hot cars. A new business model.

    Part of my point is that in spite of Apple having a reason for not building a cheap PC to compete with HP at Costco, some people WANT cheap PC’s at Costco. It might give them what they need. It does give them what they want. Wil Apple succeed as a business ignoring this? Will they at some point need to compete there as well? Wait and see.
    If you want to compare Apples and PC’s based on price, then see what you get at the same approximate price point in both specs and build quality – and style, sure – and functionality and supplied software. Is there anything that MUST be added? Add in that cost. Now see waht you get. Compare to your needs. Make your choice. YOUR choice. NOT what you think everyone else should choose.
    Business models can change. The iPod and iPhone reflect that. Good change? Bad change? Balance?
    We’ll see.
    If either package works for you based on actual knowledge and choice of options, then it’s right.
    If you choose based on biases, fine. That’s the case with most people. If it works, great. But it might not be “right”. Just don’t treat bias as thought in your discussions of the merit of either system.

    Oh, I’m rambling again. My 4th cup of coffee? :)

    Hi, Robert. Doubt I made sense but I’m too lazy to go back and check/edit.

    2 hours? I haven’t even watched the 2 hour MacWorld Keynote! :)

    We’ll see.

  28. Robert Off topic:
    How do you track the comments on your blog? Do you use the e-mail response or do you read all of your comments? I have subscribed to your comment feed and you get around 80 to 100 comments per day.

    Guy

  29. Robert Off topic:
    How do you track the comments on your blog? Do you use the e-mail response or do you read all of your comments? I have subscribed to your comment feed and you get around 80 to 100 comments per day.

    Guy

  30. Pete @ 38
    As far as Software read #50. The point of my comment is that Businesses use Windows a lot more than Mac. This would indicate a higher stability in that product, you can’t run a company if you software is failing all of the time.

    Bill Gates is not the richest man in the world because he sold a lot of girl scout cookies, it is because he sold something that was in high demand.

    Guy

  31. Pete @ 38
    As far as Software read #50. The point of my comment is that Businesses use Windows a lot more than Mac. This would indicate a higher stability in that product, you can’t run a company if you software is failing all of the time.

    Bill Gates is not the richest man in the world because he sold a lot of girl scout cookies, it is because he sold something that was in high demand.

    Guy

  32. Louis Wheeler says:
    > All these computers are built in the same
    > Chinese factories that build Dells or HP’s.

    Yes, that’s certainly true of Dell’s Chinese factory in Austin, Texas!

    Next time, pick on IBM ;-)

    > Most Macintosh users have pay grades above $20
    > an hour, so it’s not worth it to us to build one.

    That may also be true in Kabul, too….

  33. Louis Wheeler says:
    > All these computers are built in the same
    > Chinese factories that build Dells or HP’s.

    Yes, that’s certainly true of Dell’s Chinese factory in Austin, Texas!

    Next time, pick on IBM ;-)

    > Most Macintosh users have pay grades above $20
    > an hour, so it’s not worth it to us to build one.

    That may also be true in Kabul, too….

  34. Nowadays the Windows laptops come with inbuilt webcams and smaller remote controls with 4 to 6 buttons. Their implementation come no where close to Apples.

    But I could buy two of those laptops for an Apple’s price. That way I’ll have a backup laptop each time it goes for repair.

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