Mac vs. PC - Which laptop should a consultant date?
As a consultant, your relationship to your laptop is comparable to the one between a marine and his gun as described in “Full Metal Jacket”: 100 % professional, 100 % personal, and 100 % vital.
Two years ago, I decided to change something in my life (early mid-life crises?). I made the switch from Windows to Mac. I work at a tolerant company and people are allowed to work on any device they like, provided it is safe and efficient for them. There are Apple aficionados, and Windows users. Following the advice of an Apple devout, I adopted a sleek Macbook Air. To my despair, after 2 years, this beautiful machine is starting to show signs of exhaustion. My choice is now simple: do I purchase the same machine or do I go back to the good old Windows operating system? Some subjects always trigger of passionate discussions – I’m thinking marijuana legalization, gay marriage etc. Debates between Apple and Windows belong to this king of subject. So be careful if you think you may be shocked by reading this article. Disclaimer: this comparison is by no way scientific or comprehensive.
The benefits of dating a Mac:
After a two year relationship with a Mac, I draw the following conclusion:
Macs are elegant and classy. During client presentations, I have to admit feeling a certain pride, next to clients condemned to using old PCs, working on dusty version of Windows.
The machine is pretty robust (or so it’s supposed to be). Our first year together, nothing went wrong… I then began experiencing a multitude of irrational bugs that nobody seemed able to fix or understand. I have to say that the Apple fanatics surrounding me are particularly tolerant. Most of the time, they will maintain that the problem is either normal or come from the user… I can’t use Excel for some reasons, and the screen is doing strange things. Apple customer care is poor compared to what PC providers like Samsung gives. (Again, if you're shocked by what you're reading, you can still escape this page). Once your “Apple care” is gone, good luck getting any help at all from their hotline.
It's self-sufficient. You don't have to install firewalls or antivirus or anything to optimize it.
It's quite easy to use (or it is supposed to be). Some things are very user friendly, for sure. But let’s be honest, it's far from perfect. The internal search engine is absolutely useless compared to what you can have on a Windows. I work with hundreds of documents that all contain the same name of a client, and I find it difficult to apply search filters like document type or date of modification in the Spotlight tool.
Worse, I made the mistake of buying the upgrade of the OS (poetically called Mountain Lion, I should have been more careful of the animal). I later felt sorry for my mistake and some Apple Believers told me I should have never have done that.
Mac gives you the feeling of being an exclusive member of a community of cool people. For some people, that is priceless.
The benefits of dating a PC:
As far as I can remember, I had quite a lot of happy moments with Windows PCs - They are cheaper as a rule, but you have to pay for extra service. This question however may be irrelevant for many consultants since their computer is a strategic asset.
Windows computers are more open and flexible than Macs. Apple fans will tell you that you can run any Windows software on your Mac but in my experience, you will need to install additional software.
You can find decent devices from Dell or Sony PCs.
This last point is true if you pay a moderate attention to design, but honestly nothing can beat a Mac when it comes to esthetic criteria. As a partner in a boutique consulting firm which sells innovation to its clients, I find that the image conveyed by Macs fits me well. As I'm finishing this article, my choice will probably go on buying another Mac. I also remember that the transition time was quite difficult when I switched from operating system to another. I would like to avoid that another time coming back to Windows...