Is Windows Rubbish? Is Mac the Solution?

[This is a lightly edited comment I made in response to Greg Ferro’s blog post, Windows Tools Aren’t Worth Selling. In a nutshell, Greg argued that Windows and Microsoft software are known to be defective and you should switch to Mac for security, stability, and cost savings.]

On by Guillermо via flickr

I will not argue that the Mac is not fant­astic, but I will argue with this gen­eral sen­ti­ment that everything Microsoft/​Windows is rub­bish. I won’t bother arguing the qual­ity of pre­vi­ous ver­sions of the soft­ware, but Windows 7 is stable and fast. While Windows may lack some of the eleg­ance of MacOS X, the secur­ity and sta­bil­ity of these two mod­ern oper­at­ing sys­tems is com­par­able. In 2 years I have had 2 crashes across 4 Win7 machines. None have had the need to be rein­stalled (such as seemed neces­sary every 6 months with XP). Both crashes were related to bad drivers, which is the source of most prob­lems on Windows boxes.

Windows 7 does not crash every day. It very rarely crashes. This seems sim­ilar to MacOS.

Windows 7 also has a quite good backup mech­an­ism built in. Totally dif­fer­ent than the garbage in earlier versions.

Win7 certainly does have the limit of not having the full suite of extremely use­ful UNIX tools and a POSIX envir­on­ment. I spend a lot of time in a ter­minal win­dow con­nec­ted to a Linux box or on a Linux VM. I find this preferable to having to run most of my tools in a VM (since most of my tools are written for Windows) as I would have to on a Mac. This, of course, depends on per­sonal taste and how your apps run in a VM as well as how many apps you would need in a VM. Having to run Windows in a VM is going to cost you a lot more RAM than running a Linux box in a VM.

The hard­ware to run Windows is cheaper than equi­val­ent Mac hard­ware. On the other hand, the quality of the Windows hard­ware is not as good and you will occa­sion­ally run into issues with drivers. MacOS should not have that problem.

Use the tool that works best for your needs. Weigh your options and needs, and choose the tool that works best for you. Fear of chan­ging to the unknown is a lousy reason to stick with Windows. If the tool isn’t work­ing for you, try a dif­fer­ent tool. Anti-​​Microsoft/​Windows FUD is an equally lousy reason to switch to Mac. Curiosity is a per­fectly good reason and I’d encour­age that, but expect a learn­ing curve and frus­tra­tion with the Mac Way.

That state­ment regard­ing com­pan­ies stick­ing with known defect­ive products for fear of the unknown and fear of cost when things could be improved by switch­ing to Mac is FUD. That will totally depend on the organ­iz­a­tion and is hardly a valid gen­er­al­iz­a­tion. I’ve seen admins try­ing to man­age thou­sands of Macs. It’s no easier or cheaper than man­aging Windows boxes. You often end up hav­ing to deploy VMs to sup­port Windows applic­a­tions. You have a train­ing night­mare because at this point most people know Windows, but a small (but growing) minor­ity knows the Mac. I can see the poten­tial for a small or highly tech­nical organ­iz­a­tion to save money in the long run with Apple, but I think that’s the exception right now.

I’m not a con­sult­ant or field engin­eer, so I can’t speak to policies regard­ing con­nect­ing the prohibition of connecting Windows laptops to other net­works, but I would say this requirement falls under use the right tool for the job.