Is the mac as it has evolved the best combination of hardware and software that has ever existed? Let’s all get over the religious stuff (especially the Linux guys). I’ve touched or used a lot of operating systems in my career: VM/CMS, VMS, RSTS, RT-11, RSX, CPM, MS-DOS, Pro-dos, about 5 variants of Unix, a couple of flavors of Linux, AIX, macOS 8 9 and Windows 3.1, NT, XP, Vista…and OSX. I’ve created displays in xView, decwindows, Motif, yadayadayada. I’ve used hardware made by IBM, Dell, HP, Apple, DEC, Mercury, Compaq, Lenovo…I guess I can even count my old HP calculator (a 15C) and I’ve written 2 or 3 Palm OS apps (of course everyone has written an RPN calculator for some platform). I’ve used runoff, nroff, decwrite, blah blah blah…I even ran projects on autoplan (truly scary).
So, even though I’m not singularly qualified to answer my question, I think I do have a unique point of view as a user and developer who has done all these things. I submit to you that Mac OS X in combination with Apple Hardware is the best combination of software and hardware that allows the range of users from non-technical to technical business users to get things done “out of the box”.
Let me qualify that statement. I do not believe that the mac in its current incarnation is the best thing ever created for every purpose. Excel is still the standard for spreadsheets. Window features for handling photos without a photo app blows OS X away (iphoto is better, but out of the box the fact that windows handles organized directories of photos is better).
These examples (and several others) and the fact that online services can provide this kind of functionality regardless of operating system, mean that the distinction has to come at a deeper level. Out of the box, on a mac, a person can get up and running in a matter of minutes. A new PC in about an hour. I just went through this, so I can claim 1 piece of evidence. I’m talking drop in replace for a previous model of course.
The place where the mac blows windows out of the water however (and Linux guys, face it, you don’t compete) is that in a few minutes after getting up, a person can be editing movies, looking at pictures, and not have to leave their workspace to go find out how to do it. It’s right there in front of you…it’s not trial software by some vendor. It’s not hidden behind the start button. By the time you run out of serious options with the built in iLife suite and need to upgrade to prologic or shake or something else, you have to be a sophisticated user with domain expertise (and at that point you really do have choices on the Windows side).
I’ve also been using the iwork suite. Keynote blows powerpoint out of the water. It just simplifies the common tasks and dropping in videos and sound much better than powerpoint. Pages 08, now that it has real word processing capability not just page layout functionality, is a very good editor (I’m actually using it for my book). It doesn’t have all the features of Word yet, and the Inspector thing seems a little weird (why is it a pop-up instead of a button bar or a drawer) but I can easily create docs and letters and notes…I’m playing with Numbers and it’s kinda cool, but it isn’t solving a problem for me so I’m not sure why I’d use it.
Truth be told NeoOffice is pretty good if not better than iWork, but SLOW on my PPC G4.
iCal and Mail on the mac are easier to configure than Outlook but Mail doesn’t simplify attaching to pop servers for the faint of heart…it still requires you know what you are doing.
Creating a cool looking website on iWeb is really sweet. and if you pay for the imac service, you’re published in a few minutes.
The real challenge for Apple now is that ok you won, OS X is better than XP/Vista out of the box. So what. With online services like Snapfish and Google Docs and other things…what’s the next big thing on the mac platform?
I’ve got one small wish…allow my apple TV to present me my email and calendar(s) via the .mac service I’m paying for without me hacking into the apple TV software…I really don’t have the time…