PC or Mac, Windows or Linux?
edited: Thursday, October 16, 2003
By J. M. Taylor
Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2003
Become a Fan
Computer tools for the author. So many to pick from, even a few for free!
Any comment that bashes Microsoft and Windows seems appropriate nowadays - with some justification.
But let me add a partial defense....
In the late '80s I worked on a job where we were doing engineering drawings and lots of documentation on the original Mac's - and I liked the mouse/graphical interface, but didn't like the need to stick in a separate floppy for each application and file set, or the tiny screen that drove me to tri-focals. So I was thrilled when I bought my first AT&T AT-286 PC with a huge 20mg hard drive. But I was less than happy with the DOS operating system and clunky applications. Remember - this from a guy who wrote his Master's paper using a FORTRAN word processing compiler batch-processed on a remote IBM 360 mainframe.
The local computer shop suggested a new application (those were his words - a graphical interface that ran on DOS, not an operating system), Windows 1.0 with and a serial mouse, and voilà, I had the beginnings of a workable system. Then I discovered Microsoft Word 3.0 with spell check, and I knew I was on to something - but I had regressed back to DOS with a mouse again and lost the "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" look we take for granted today. Then came Office 95 with an integrated Windows-based suite that really worked, especially with the inclusion of an address book and other personal information management functions in Outlook.
Windows (my latest versions are Win 98 and ME) and the applications running under Windows still crash all too often, but a price I am willing to pay for integrated functionality. I only wish the occasional rumors of a Windows 98 update that is more of a debugging that an upgrade come true . I would rather have a faultless Windows 98 system than a buggy new-fangled operating system. But if I finally reach the point where I must replace my Microsoft Office 97, I will shift over to the OpenOffice.org suite and Mozilla or Netscape. Together they offer everything Microsoft does - free! Another free suite is available from Gnome.org. They have been around a good while, but I have no personal knowledge of the project. They do say they have a PIM that syncs with PDAs using the Palm OS.
Linux? I just don't have the time and inclination to toy with a new operating system, but if you do, it's a great deal, especially if you use the excellent free application packages that operate on it. Unfortunately, some of my applications do not, one reason I tough it out with Windows, albeit the older versions.
Now back to the Mac.... Yeah, the system is pretty good, but just too darn expensive - hardware and software. I'm obviously a PC person, even though I have used Macs a lot. They are just too expensive and inflexible for a small business - in my opinion - but always good for an extended argument with a Mac aficionado! By the way, some of the free software is also available for the Mac, which softens the blow a bit, but I have no feel for the reliability of "fourth"-party software on the Mac.