Tag Archives: Windows XP

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…

The Predictable Windows V MacOS X Comparison Article?

Every so often, editors of PC and Mac magazines seem to feel the need to do a comparison article, where they compare Windows XP with MacOS X. To some extent this tends to be a fairly pointless exercise, and entirely predictable – the PC magazines always put Windows on top, the Mac magazines always ensure that MacOS X wins.

The article in the July 2006 issue of PC Pro is no exception. The cover splashes with ‘Vista vs Apple – The essential guide to choosing your next operating system’, before spending ten pages going through all the aspects of the two systems proving that Windows is the best choice, indeed they put Vista ahead in every category.

However some interesting observations about the comparison. Firstly, the playing field is not exactly level as they compare Windows Vista – the next generation Windows that is still in beta – with the current generation of MacOS X. Now to be a fair comparison, either they need to compare Vista with Leopard, the version of MacOS X that is expected to come out about the same time as Vista, or compare current Windows XP with Tiger. They also are slightly odd over iLife. They heavily down-mark the Mac for not including iLife – which is true if you are buying a boxed copy of Tiger for an existing Mac – however all new Macs include iLife for free. If you are a PC owner, the only way you’re going to get MacOS X, is to buy a Mac. Indeed the article even concedes later on that a lot of PC owners will need to buy a new PC to run Vista anyway.

What is more interesting though is some of the comments in the text. Firstly, they highlight at one point in the article that, as with most magazines, the whole article has been written and put together on a Mac. In the conclusion, despite the scores at the bottom, there is a fairly startling admission for a PC magazine, that there is little to separate the next generation Windows from the current MacOS X, and more than that that 80% of users will find that Tiger meets all of their needs. The article even dares to suggest that with the current prices of Macs, and the industry standard software that is available on the platform that a Mac would make a good choice for a business machine, and it is largely down to the fact that Windows is the de-facto standard that most business purchasers would go for a Windows machine. Indeed even the editor seems to be falling for the Mac somewhat by highlighting that they have yet to find a PC manufacturer who can compete with the Mac Mini. Strange times indeed…

Stephen Fry – Mac Fan

Reading through the December issue of Mac Format that turned up in the post this week, I was interested to read an interview with Stephen Fry (who describes his occupation as a writer, actor and flower arranger to the stars in the article) about his Apple Mac addiction.

According to the article he got his first Mac twenty-one years ago, and now owns loads of Macs with at least eight being specifically mentioned. However the most interesting, and very “Stephen Fry” type answer is reserved for the question of why he has a Mac instead of a PC:

You may as well ask someone who has the choice why they live in a Georgian house and not a 1960s towerblock. It drives me mad that people who spend their working lives in front of a screen do so in a Windows environment, the equivalent of a “sick building syndrome” office, with strip lighting, ugly furniture and no freshness, sexiness or imagination in design. People are dragging out their lives in the computer equivalent of a sink estate and no one questions it. God rot Windows and all its ugly, clunky, badly-designed horror.

Mmm, I think maybe he doesn’t much like windows then… From my point of view, whilst I prefer the environment of MacOS X I don’t think I’d describe Windows XP in quite such damning terms as Fry does here. Having said that it still an amusing interview, and worth picking up.