PC Pro Schizophrenic Over Apple?

I’ve commented before over the changing attitude of PCPro to the Mac. Since then, the MacBook has even turned up, and done relatively well in a comparison of budget laptops in the magazine. However in the November issue, that turned up in the post this morning, they are getting increasingly schizophrenic. Of course this is quite obviously because they give their columnists a large degree of editorial freedom, but it still makes interesting reading.

Leafing through the new magazine, the first indication was a big two page advert for the MacBook, with the black version on one page, and the white version on the other. It is a typical Apple minimalist creation compared to most PC adverts, in that it doesn’t have masses of machine specs, nor does it even have a prominent Apple logo. In the past you’d occasionally find adverts for Apple products like the iPod, but I have rarely seen adverts for the computers in PC magazines, perhaps it is an indication that Apple is looking more seriously at going after PC owners as a potential market.

The next thing I came across was an opinion piece by Ross Burridge, the magazines reviews editor. Now if bits of this had turned up in a Mac magazine, I would have regarded it as sarcasm, but as it is in a PC magazine, I’m sure he is quite serious. The point of the article was to counter the complaint that Microsoft hasn’t really done much with Windows XP. It is a familiar practice to look at the Windows platform, highlighting that the last major OS release was Windows XP back in 2001, and then compare this with the multiple OS releases that Apple have released over the same period. Not surprisingly he turns this argument around, pointing out that there have other versions of Windows XP released in the intervening period, for example the various tablet and media centre editions. He compares this with the ‘nominally improved’ versions of MacOS X that have been released over the same period. Whilst you could argue that only nominal improvements were needed because the original was pretty good anyway, his statement is incorrect. The version of MacOS X that was around when Windows XP was first released was version 10.1, Puma which was regarded by many as not being stable enough to use as a main operating system, and missing a number of key features. Indeed at that time, Apple were still shipping Macs with MacOS 9 as boot up default. Certainly I’d challenge anybody to compare Puma with a current version of MacOS X and only find nominal improvements. Finally he caps it off by quoting £400 as the amount that a Mac user will have spent on upgrades over the same period which is also somewhat of an exaggeration. True the more frequent big number upgrades will cost more in the long run, but £400 certainly seems like he’s including iLife upgrades too, something which the same magazine said wasn’t part of the OS for the purposes of their comparison article. Oh and he also uses the classic argument that Windows is safer because it has lots of anti-virus software, making it safer if some mythical really bad MacOS X virus comes along.

However the schizophrenia really kicks in when you get to the Jon Honeyball Advanced Windows column. He quite frequently mentions his Apple machines in the column anyway, but this month he starts off talking about his visit to the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, where he was asking questions about the upcoming version of MacOS X, Leopard. The two features he particularly picks on are Time Machine and the updated Spotlight. With Time Machine he raises concerns over the frequency of full backups as opposed to incremental backups, something that is controllable through the backup software included with Vista, however he concludes that because Time Machine is so well integrated into the OS, whilst the Vista backup solution is hidden away (backup software is not even installed as part of an XP Home install, you have to manually install it from the CD) and so is unlikely to be used by an average home user. Moving on to Spotlight he focuses in on the new network search functionality, and concludes that it will be unlikely to scale well, however for the home market with a small network of machines it is fine. He then uses this as a starting point to compare the attitudes of Apple and Microsoft to the home/SoHo user. Interesting points he makes are that Apple have a straightforward policy whereby everybody gets the same version, whilst Microsoft have an array of options, with some features missing from the cheaper versions. Indeed he quotes one of his friends as saying that the Microsoft attitude is to “make it so complicated that hopefully they’ll all buy the most expensive version out of fearâ€?. Ultimately he concludes that the battle for the home market is about to heat up again, and that in his opinion the wining product is not the one from Microsoft, indeed he even goes so far as to highlight that he is advising home users to upgrade to Apple machines – something that is quite a surprise from an Advanced Windows column!

So can we expect PC Pro to become a Mac magazine any time soon? I doubt it – PC Pro has a primary focus on business computing. However, if Jon Honeyball’s predictions about who will win the home market come true, it will certainly be interesting to see how the magazine changes…

2 thoughts on “PC Pro Schizophrenic Over Apple?”

  1. I’m just not sure anymore.

    There’s me happy with my Mac Mini which I was raving about and the sexy OSX until I installed the latest build of Vista on my new work Tosh laptop.

    Features like ReadyBoost & ReadyDrive, SuperFetch, Aero are real killers! The UI is very smooth and it looks good and works well, XP looks very very old against it and so does OSX I’m sad to say!

    To add insult I also installed Office 2007 beta and it’s a killer one – two punch, this is far and away the best version of office yet, the toolbars and the death of the menus is darn cool.

    I think Apple should stop messing around with iPods and concentrate on giving the Mac the edge again because it all changes with Vista, the PC would have caught up and taken over.

    … the saving grace for the Mac is that Vista versions are confusing and expensive.

  2. It’s interesting, but there is regular comment in the Mac community about the similarity between Aero and Aqua, the MacOS X UI. Certainly it will be interesting to see how Apple comes back with the Leopard UI. I’m not expecting anything quite as revolutionary as Vista compared to XP – maybe a bit more evolutionary.

    As to Apple concentrating on iPod’s too much, there are many who say that too. The common belief is that they are aiming for a halo effect from the iPod to boost Mac sales. Whilst between January and June Mac Notebook sales apparently doubled their market share from 6% to 12% of the market that could equally be down to Apple fans holding off upgrading their machines waiting for the new Intel rigs to come out.

    Certainly there are interesting times ahead.

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