With the update to Windows 10 rolling out all over the place, leaving some folks delighted and others feeling as if they got hit by a steamroller, a common theme on the forums and Facebook pages is the revival of the operating system wars. The Appleholics (thanks, Kathy, for that term) are out in force, gleefully chanting “Get a Mac!” every time a friend or stranger reports a problem with a Windows 10 upgrade.
I’ve spent way too much time over the last couple of days, responding to the nay-sayers, so I’m going to summarize my position and advice as a recognized “expert” in the tech field (do a web search on my name if you want to see my creds) and just point people here.
If you like the Mac interface better, don’t mind being stuck in the walled garden and want to pay the high price, sure, buy a Mac. I’m not being facitious; many people do fit that category and Mac is their best choice.
But if you think it’s inherently more reliable or more stable or more secure, you’ve been sold a false line. I know Windows and Android inside out and I work with people who have just as much in-depth knowledge and experience with Apple products, which I also have to test and work with for various projects. Here’s the real story from a pretty objective standpoint: all three of today’s major operating systems are great when they work and frustrating and infuriating when they don’t, and all of them are likely to have problems when updated from a previous version.
In terms of security, OS X and iOS have been the top easiest to crack at the recent Pwn2Own hacking contests. Apple regularly discovers and patches multiple vulnerabilities, just like Microsoft. Microsoft has invested millions into security, including a “security by default” software development model, Security Response Center, Digital Crimes Unit, bug bounty program, participation in BlackHat and other large security communities/conferences and hosts its own BlueHat Security conference, and provides highly detailed security bulletins detailing the workarounds and fixes and under-the-hood information about discovered vulnerabilities. Apple is notoriously closed-mouth about their security efforts and takes a “just trust us” approach.
On the stability and reliability front, upgrades of OS X bring similar issues to what we’re seeing with Windows 10. The recent upgrade to Yosemite had many users complaining of issues with wi-fi, startup problems and more. Here’s one article of many about the “rampant” wi-fi woes: http://www.cultofmac.com/302605/next-os-x-update-fix-yosemites-rampant-wifi-dropping-problems/
The upgrade to Mountain Lion also brought many problems, as did Lion. This isn’t Apple-bashing. This is NORMAL when you upgrade over an old operating system. Some computers will have problems.
Why do you hear a lot less about that than you hear about Windows problems? Because only about 7% of users are using OS X, whereas around 90% are using Windows. So sure, there are WAY more Windows people having problems (those are current figures according to netmarketshare.com, which tracks this).
Some have misinterpreted recent news stories and think that Macs are now outselling Windows PCs. This is a fallacy. U.S. PC shipments for Q2 of 2015 were about 13 million. Apple’s U.S. shipments were under 2 million. So no, Mac is not “outselling” the PC. Mac sales have been growing faster – that’s not the same thing. When you’re selling far fewer, an increase of X units makes for a larger percentage of growth than when you’re selling more. But Apple also saw a 2.5 percent decline in sales for Q2. Here it is from a Mac site, so can’t be considered Windows-biased:
And there’s another reason you hear of more Windows woes. Apple controls all Mac hardware. You can’t buy a computer from another vendor and install OS X on it (well, you could, but it’s a license violation and they make it difficult). That means they can test almost every possible scenario before they release an OS and catch potential problems. Windows runs on thousands of different models of machines from hundreds of vendors, including home built systems. People with ancient computers (in computer years) upgrade their systems, whereas Apple just plain won’t let you upgrade if your system is too old.
The Apple hardware is also premium hardware. That’s why the cheapest Macs cost way more than the cheapest PCs. Premium hardware has fewer problems. When you install Windows on expensive, high end components, you have fewer problems, too. I had zero problems upgrading my Surface Pro 3, which is made by Microsoft and, like Apple machines, is a good bit more expensive than the average PC laptop sold by third party vendors.
Additionally, backward compatibility is tricky and can cause software conflicts. Apple doesn’t even try to offer backward compatibility. And they don’t offer support for their previous operating systems. While Microsoft was still supporting XP for twelve years, Apple dropped support for five-year-old Snow Leopard. They support the current version and the one just before it and that’s all, so the time and energy that goes into patching and supporting ancient operating systems can be focused on the current one.
All that said, I firmly believe that people who aren’t techies really shouldn’t upgrade in the first cycle. In fact, the best thing for “regular people” to do is wait until they buy a new computer that has the OS already installed. That way they can be assured that all of the hardware is compatible with the new OS.
I think Microsoft made a mistake to push the upgrade on everybody (it’s not mandatory, of course, but they did a huge marketing push and the offering of a free upgrade if you do it within the first year caused many consumers to go for it when they never would have before). I understand the reason for this; they knew that a lot of people, especially non-techies, really dislike Windows 8.1 because of a couple of stupid design decisions (e.g., the removal of the Start menu), and wanted to get this to them as the solution, thinking when they got to use the cool features of Windows 10 (and these new features are great), everyone would love them again. That’s a form of corporate naivety.
They should have anticipated these problems but in many ways, in big tech companies the devs and even the decision-makers live in a bubble, where everybody is very technology savvy and they can’t relate to those who aren’t, or who don’t always have the latest and greatest hardware.
For those who are having real problems with Win 10 (not just the usual learning curve for getting used to a new interface) there is a rollback option within the first thirty days after you upgrade. They’ve made it easy to do. Here’s an article that tells you how: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/windows/how-downgrade-windows-10-to-windows-7-8-easy-3615606/
Bottom line takeaway: Whether you’re running Windows, Mac or Linux, whenever you upgrade over an old OS, where you have installed and uninstalled programs and have messed with settings, especially on hardware that the OS vendor doesn’t control, some people will have problems. It’s inevitable. Those who claim otherwise are either living in their own bubbles and not looking outside their own personal experiences, or they’re like the teenager in the throes of infatuation and can’t see the flaws in their beloved.
For many today, operating system loyalty seems to have been elevated almost to the level of a religion. We all have our preferences and there’s nothing wrong with voicing them, and the reasons behind them. There’s no problem with different people having differing viewpoints. That’s what makes the world go ’round. It’s great that we live in a world where we have choices because what works best for me isn’t necessarily what works best for you.
Choose your OS based on whether you like the interface, whether it will do what you want to do (OS X is way behind Windows in many features, and Windows is in some ways playing catchup with Linux; the pattern you might notice is that the more technical you need to be to run an OS, the more powerful and capable that OS will be). Make your choice based on whether the applications that you need will run on it the OS. Some musicians and artists choose Mac because it’s the only one that runs their particular programs and many others choose Windows for compatiblity and interactivity with software that runs only on Windows.
Just don’t choose any OS thinking it will be more secure or more trouble-free under the same circumstances than any other. And don’t compare oranges (a PC that costs $399) to Apples (that cost three times as much).