Windows is much better than it used to be -- but only if you mean Windows 7.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 31 years


Why I no longer recommend Macs

September 7, 2014

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, The Post-Standard

A reader asked me to elaborate on why I've stopped recommending Macs over Windows PCs.

Is Windows so much better now than it used to be that a security gap no longer applies? Are Windows PCs just as stable now as Macs? Or would you save so much money buying Windows computers that you can simply accept the extra cost of protection software and lost time due to bugs and viruses?

Windows is indeed much better, but only if we are referring to Windows 7. Versions that came before Windows 7, particularly Windows Vista and XP, are bad choices; I'd stick with a Mac over either of those two. And let's not talk about Windows 8, except to point out that Microsoft laid an egg the size of Manhattan when it let Win 8 out of the barn.

It's Windows 7 that shines. With good antivirus and anti-intrusion software, it's every bit as good as the latest Mac operating systems. In a couple of significant ways, Win 7 is even better; the Mac is still hobbled by its slow file-management system, called The Finder, whereas Windows 7 is speedy and reliable in that area. Apple's odd keyboard operations are a big minus, too, leaving out the Backspace key entirely and giving the Enter (or Return) key nothing to do except rename a selected file.

Windows 7 laptops are so much cheaper than Mac laptops that I'd have to be nuts to recommend the Macs. I have no doubt you could buy two excellent Win 7 laptops for less than the cost of one Apple laptop.

As for the old penalties of Windows -- lost files, lost time, lost patience and lost confidence -- Windows 7 makes this a non-issue. There's nothing in the way Macs work that make them less prone to hardware problems, either. Regular backups for both systems are absolutely necessary. And antivirus software is now a must for Macs as well as Windows PCs.

I need only look in the mirror to be reminded that Mac users can be unbearably smug. In the years between Windows 95 and Vista, they had a reason to. Microsoft was asleep at the keyboard while Apple was soaring high. But Microsoft woke up with Windows 7 while Apple headed back to earth.

Apple's desktop computers are gorgeous. Its laptops are beautiful. But those attributes don't matter at all to most of us. And they hardly make up for Apple's unconscionable price markups. Apple could sell its $999 laptop for $499 and still make money, and no doubt its most expensive models could sell for less than half the going price.

Oddly, this won't matter much a few years from now. Desktop computers are all but dead in the consumer market, and now laptops seem to be faltering, too. They're being replaced by a device that is vastly easier to use and almost as powerful -- the tablet. It seems ironic that as Microsoft finally catches up with the Mac, all that effort might soon go to waste.