Can't we all just get along? Not bloody likely, say readers responding to the latest round of Mac-Windows wars.

Published February 3, 2005 8:30PM (EST)

[Read "Hallelujah, the Mac Is Back," by Farhad Manjoo, and the letters written in response.]

Good grief. Is there any particular reason you printed a bunch of letters from people who were eager to prove beyond all doubt that their choice of hardware and software was the correct choice and therefore blessed by God? Comparing PCs and Macs is an absolutely fruitless exercise and ranks up there with the other great subjective comparisons of history: Pepsi vs. Coke, Porsche vs. BMW, McDonald's vs. Burger King, apples and oranges.

I am the IT administrator for the largest environmental mitigation company west of the Mississippi and I oversee a business that uses both types of computers, although the majority of them are Winboxes. Thirty years of experience has shown me that some things are better on one computing platform than another, and that objectively preferring one to the other for subjective reasons is a waste of time and serves only to allow people a space to vent their opinion. Or is that what you had in mind when you printed the letters?

-- Ed Bernard

Would the Windows and Mac people please take a pill? The only thing more tiresome than listening to them bicker about operating systems is to listen to film and digital photographers go at it. Computers are tools. Can't you just use them and shut up? Are all of you really that insecure in your OS choice? I use both systems, and so far my head has not exploded.

-- Paul Boe

Every time I think that enough time has passed to heal the wounds, someone has to go and write an unnecessary diatribe for or against an operating system and fan the flames of fandom (sorry for the alliteration -- I couldn't resist).

At some idyllic time in the (hopefully) not too distant future, perhaps we can move on to something else to get passionate about? This ridiculous argument has gone on long enough.

I use both a Mac and Windows XP machine (actually a Tablet PC) daily. I've owned just about every Mac that's ever been made (including a couple of real stinkers like the FX and original Power Mac 8100) and a representative of every PC generation since the old XT running everything from DOS to Redmond's latest. Oh yeah, and a number of Sun and Linux systems too.

You know what? They're computers, folks. They have no personalities, they deserve no affection, and they need no emotional defending. They're silicon and plastic and they're no smarter than your toaster. Get over it.

If you enjoy using a Mac -- mazel tov! If you prefer to use a PC, bless you. If you like to tinker and use Linux, go for it. But don't get emotional about it and certainly don't resort to the sort of name-calling that I left behind on the grade-school playground.

-- Marc Orchant

Reading any pro-Macintosh article like this is always a treat, because it will immediately flush out the defenders of the Windows-Intel clan faster than a great new groundbreaking release of the Windows OS. (Wait! There really hasn't been one of those in a while has there?) The previous letters here will serve witness to this phenomenon.

Of course, the opposite is true as well, and the Cult of Mac can be onerous in its own indignant righteousness.

The choice of what computer one uses is a personal statement and it pretty much has been since back in the days of the Radio Shack TRS-80 and the Apple II. Even today's Linux faithful would probably be the direct descendants of early Altair users, who programmed their computers by throwing a endless series of switches for each step -- as only real computer programmers would!

Owning and using both Windows and Macintosh computers for over two decades has admittedly left me more of a Mac fan than a Windows one these days, but not to the point of feeling that either platform is all that superior to the other. Certainly not because Windows is inherently evil or more complex (though it can be frustratingly both from time to time), but because in all my experience, I have never lost a piece of work or had a traumatic "blue screen of death" moment on a Mac.

The debate will rage on, but Windows users who rail here against the Mac for all of its foibles (and let's be clear, there definitely are some) should at least swallow their venom long enough to realize that many of the things they take for granted on their computers today are the direct result of the Mac's existence: graphical interface and a mouse? plug and play? DVD-burning drives? Wi-Fi? FireWire to your videocam? any sense of industrial design for a desktop or laptop? and, of course, seamless integration to a stylish portable music player and a way to buy your tunes for 99 cents a pop? Like them or not, none of those or many other things became standard on your personal computers before Steve Jobs and company made them standard fare on a Mac.

That is the real reason that all personal computer users ought to be thankful that Apple is around and healthier than ever these days. Many of the innovations that we all enjoy today are thanks to it.

-- Kirk Varner

What's most interesting about the letters you printed in regards to your Apple article is that every single letter from the pro-Windows camp featured people defending their PC boxes as fiercely as your article (and much of popular culture) would lead you to believe would be the attitude of most Mac lovers.

Of course I don't know the distribution of letters you received, but one might conclude this is another attempt to laud the Mac platform over the lowly Windows.

I use a Macintosh and have my whole life (I'm 26), so I'm not going to argue when you imply the Mac is a better machine. However, both sides make good points and the Mac is certainly not the perfect computer. I think the people who love their PC have good reason to; however, Apple is not going after those people.

Apple is targeting those PC users who have a dislike for their computer but are scared that it's too expensive to switch. And no matter your platform preference, you cannot deny there are millions more of "that kind" of people using Windows than OS X.

Apple will never take market share away from the die-hard PC users, just as Microsoft has no chance of prying our Macs from our cold, dead hands. It just so happens that the Mac zealots make up a (significant) majority of the Mac user base while the PC zealots are a relative minority of their user base.

-- Josh Schoenwald

I could not help but feel compelled to reply to a number of your readers' letters regarding Mr. Manjoo's article...

As a 25-year computer enthusiast of many stripes and OSes (I started on a Commodore PET if that's any indication), but predominantly a Mac-head, I never cease to be amazed at the defensive, misinformed tirades and barbs thrown by non-Mac users. As a die-hard Apple user, I have never seen my choice as elitist, character-defining, proselytizing, arrogant or brainwashed.

No doubt, Apple's products have generally been more expensive than comparable PCs over the years -- less so now than 10 years ago -- but for many people, price is not the end-all, be-all concern. If you are making money using a Mac, you generally aren't concerned with the fact that your tool costs 50 percent more than "what you could have spent."

As to specific readers' comments:

Mr. Parker's claim that Windows has more viruses because it is more widespread, while being arguably factual, overlooks the honest, ugly fact that Windows' architecture is inherently insecure -- one of the culprits being VB Script. One might wonder as well, why UNIXes, having been around far longer than Windows, are not stricken by more crippling attacks... I would have to say that only the intellectually dishonest would say Windows is more secure than UNIX.

As for his love of Linux, "patching ol' Dante every day" sounds more like a time-sapping, Sisyphean task. I know... I ran Linux for years.

Mr. Knowlton represents the epitome of the "PC gamer evangelist." For everyone who uses the computer as a toy -- which is a noble pursuit, mind you -- I have yet to meet this mythical gamer who uses a $500 PC. More often they are those who spend nearly $2,000 on a "gaming rig" to play endless first-person shooters and role-playing games ... how they can complain about the cost of anyone else's computer is beyond me, not to mention why they don't just get an Xbox or a PS2 and keep to getting real work done on a PC? Last time I checked, there were at least a dozen cutting-edge games for the Mac, and if you can't wait the extra month for "Doom 3," you have bigger problems than can be covered here...

Never mind the inane "silly one-button mouse" jab... For anyone left who still believes this drivel, the Mac has supported multibutton mice for nearly a decade -- just because it doesn't ship one doesn't mean you can't get the exact one you want.

Now, Mr. Bathory-Kitsz is the "50,000 title vs. 20,000 title" type. There are really only 50 pieces of software that 98 percent of the population needs, and they are all available in one form or another on both platforms. For the other 2 percent, you are right, Windows is more appropriate.

Incremental updates are free, and your software does not cease to operate when Apple jumps a "+.1." Your hardware and peripherals do work. I cannot begin to think what doesn't work "like the computers everybody else uses so we could work together." And as to Apple's "mini-monopoly," I'd like to see where I could get an alternate copy of Windows other than P2P...

And Joe Smith -- if that is your real name ;) -- you are the snob. Your insecurity in the face of salespeople and service technicians belies your social ineptitude. Unless you type 1,000 words per minute, I don't quite understand what would be slowing you down... I might guess your limited mastery of the language is the real holdup. That you would wish death upon your fellow man because of their choice of consumer product is moronic.

-- Sasha Gelbart

Editor's note: There were numerous letters addressing each criticism of the Mac point by point. The previous was the best.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have been using PCs since the days of the XT and been a self-employed consultant and programmer for it since 1988. When asked what Macs were good for, my reply was, "To be replaced by a PC!"

First, I and many Windows users that I know love our computers, tweak them to no end, and spend a lot of money on their looks. I built a black Shuttle XPC system with stealthed drives because I wanted a small system that looked cool on my desk. It's an AMD64 3500+, 1 GB RAM, 200 GB SATA HDD, DVD-DL burner and a 21.3" LCD panel. I do a lot of video editing with it, and Windows Movie Maker 2 has features that iMovie doesn't have as well as not having to wait for every effect and transition to be rendered when it is applied.

Second, Bill Gate and Microsoft have no corner on treating people badly. Look at what Apple has done over the years to their dealers. First, they allow clones, then after companies spend millions on R&D and advertising and start selling them, Steve Jobs yanks the rug out from under them. They treat their dealers like dirt and retaliate when they complain and then open Apple stores nearby to take the business away that the dealers spent years, dollars, blood, sweat and tears to develop. Now, tell me that Apple is more munificent than Microsoft. They each have their own, separate evil. It has always amused me that Apple advertises itself as this free-wheeling '60s computer company for the rest of us when they are actually as litigious and draconian as Microsoft, or more so. Apple is a true monopoly for its platform.

Now, the twist: I love the iMac and I am looking seriously at the Mac Mini. Why? For my second PC. I have to replace my fiancée's PC, and she uses it for mainly Web, e-mail, word processing and digital photos. Perfect applications for the Mac. She isn't real computer savvy, and I'm always having to deal with keeping it cleaned out, and she doesn't seem to be visiting the outer fringes of the Web, unless you count the college and educational sites she has to go to. It would be a great system, and I've always been intrigued by the Mac OS X, but haven't been able to justify the high cost of an iMac. My AMD64 system cost me less than $800 to build -- far less than an iMac.

So, I think this may be the result of the Mac Mini -- many people like me will consider it and purchase it because we can explore the Mac without putting out a lot of money to do so. We can use the monitor, keyboard and mouse we already have, or use a KVM switch to use one set for both computers. Then, when it comes time to buy another computer, we may have the software and comfort level to buy an iMac the next time.

Maybe Apple should have a campaign telling us PC users to "enhance" rather than to "switch."

-- Matthew Brock

I have been using computers since CPM, if you remember that OS. I too looked at PCs and the Mac in 1984 when they were both for sale. I could buy either one for about $1,400 used. The difference then was vast, to say the least. I could type on a PC or create on the Mac. I designed television studios, electronic circuits and PCBs on the Mac. Over time I have owned five Macs, from the original with 128K of memory to my current Dual 2.5 GHz. I have had no formal training on either machine but I am a tech geek. The PCs do work and they are cheaper. Right now I have one Web server, a file server, a PSIP generator, television automation system, remote control logging system -- all running on PCs. Sometimes they crash, but for the most part they work.

Here's the rub: To work on a PC I must bend my mind, to mold it into a shape that will work with the PC. It forces me to do things that make no sense. I believe a lot of this comes from being so backward compatible. Things are the way they are because they were before; to change them would cut off the past. I guess you can't wake up one day and tell hundreds of millions of people that we made a new OS and none of your old stuff will work anymore. So you carry the baggage of decades of programming errors and dead ends with you. This is the problem with being the biggest and most popular.

Now Apple, being small and free from all those users, has made those types of changes. Just up and change the OS and tell you that the old stuff you have will not work with the new. Innovation comes at a price, but where would we be without it? Would we still be at C:\? The Mac pushed the industry forward. If Windows had not evolved, the Mac would now be the dominant computer.

The PC is great for people who want to tinker under the hood, just like older cars. But for most of us we want a machine that takes us from point A to point B and looks good doing it.

All those cheap programs available for the PC are a result of its vast popularity, just like the way it attracts viruses and their ilk. They go hand in hand.

I had just hooked up a PC to the Internet at work for about 30 minutes and went to Yahoo and CNN. Afterward I took me most of a week to clear out the worms, viruses and whatnot that had gotten in during those 30 minutes. I have had my Mac on a continuous DSL for over a year with no infections at all.

Right now the Mac is better because it is not popular and is not attacked like the PC world. I feel it is better because it lets me think and work as I want to. I don't have to bend to its quirks, and maybe most importantly, I get to support the one true computer innovator. If all you wanted was cheap computers, then we could have stayed at DOS and done all the word processing, spreadsheets and databases anyone could want with far less storage requirements. But as humans do, we wanted more.

-- Russell Brown

Whoever put the rumor about that Mac fans are more human, less the tech nerds than Windows users clearly needs to think more about what constitutes a nerd. I use a PC because it's cheap and performs its function reasonably well. It's piece of machinery, nothing more. I'm a user, not a fan, and would die rather than utter any words of affection toward an appliance. Mac fans, on the other hand, are the ones who get overheated. Your correspondence includes a letter from someone who said:

"The iMac is my therapy, my platonic wife, my go-to universe for countless things creative, fun and communicative."

Me, I reserve those feelings for human beings. Which one of is the nerd?

-- Fergal Crehan

Thanks for calling it like you see it, Salon. Macs are just better. Windows people, get over it, or get a Mac.

-- Laura Haywood-Cory

Dear sir:

Macs suck. Period.

-- Michael Carmody

By Salon Staff

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