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The great debate: Mac or Windows?

It's the tech version of the Hatfield-McCoys, Democrats-Republicans, Gators-Seminoles.

It's Macintosh vs. PC, and it's especially timely now because people shopping for a computer for the holidays want to know which one to buy.

Personal computers with Microsoft's Windows operating system dominate the market, but Apple Computer's "Switch" advertising campaign, which features people who left Windows for Macintosh, has focused more attention on the issue.

So we asked Solutions columnist John Torro and Site Seeing columnist Jules Allen to take up the debate.

I've never been one to get involved in the computer "religious wars" of Mac vs. PC, considering that the epitome of geekdom, even beyond having a Dilbert desk calendar. (Please accept my apologies if you have a Dilbert desk calendar).

But now I've been drafted as a PC soldier in the Mac vs. PC war. So first, an acknowledgement:

Yes, every week my Solutions column helps bail out Windows users from some of its well-known glitches, such as the infamous Blue Screen of Death. Most of the questions we get are for Windows, and for a simple reason: Its users make up more than 95 percent of the market.

But if Mac users are going to tell you that their operating system never has problems, I have some land to sell you about 20 miles out in the gulf. I've heard many stories about Macs getting "the bomb" (the Mac version of a Windows general protection fault-fatal application error).

A wipe and reload, reinstalling the operating system, is often Apple's recommended fix. That's not very user-friendly.

I have many reasons you shouldn't buy a Mac, but here's the biggest: choice. It's simple supply and demand. As long as PCs make up more than 90 percent of the market, they will always be catered to first by hardware- and softwaremakers. It means more choices for you. And isn't that what's it's all about?

Walk into any computer store. You'll immediately notice how many devices and software packages are available for PC users. If the store has a Mac section, it's likely tucked away in a corner with far, far fewer choices.

Windows XP supports about 12,000 device and software drivers. The Mac? Probably a fraction of that. What that means is you have more flexibility if you want to upgrade or change your computer. The PC world is wide open; Apple dictates the Mac world.

While hardware compatibility has improved because of universal connections such as USB and FireWire, Mac lovers would have you believe that there are just as many software applications for Mac as there are for PCs. Don't believe it. Applications for Macs will always be fewer and released later than their counterparts for PCs.

Why settle for a subset of devices and applications? These undisputed facts should be enough to convince anyone of the superiority of PCs over Macs. But there's more.

The Mac's claim to fame had always been ease of use, a better interface. That stopped being true a long time ago _ seven years to be exact _ when Windows 95 was introduced.

Apple is now circling the wagons in a desperate attempt to salvage its shrinking market share. This is evident in its latest TV ad campaign featuring "real" people such as "Andy the cop" talking about their "horrible" experiences on PCs and how easy it became when they switched to a Mac.

Poor Andy couldn't transfer video to his PC. What were you using, Andy _ a 6-year-old 486 PC running Windows 3.1 that you found in some closet down at the station?

Making or recording video with today's PCs is as simple as plugging your camera into the available USB or FireWire port, sending the video to the PC and editing with the built-in Microsoft Movie Maker. It's just as simple as it was for Andy when he did this on his Mac.

Macs sure are pretty. Great curb appeal, I'll give them that. But does that make up for including a mouse that has no right-click function? I mean, right-clicking is as innate as a right turn on red. Could you imagine life without it? Apple makes you either buy a new mouse or use a keyboard combination to accomplish what should be a simple task.

No, my friend, you don't want any part of those Macs and their rogue ways. In the end, you shouldn't care what name or brand or even which operating system is on your PC. You just want it to do what you want it to do, quickly and easily. And nothing does this better than a Windows PC.

_ John Torro writes the weekly Solutions column for Tech Times.

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