Five Reasons to Run Windows But Still Love the Mac

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The war between Mac and PC fans at times makes the country's political and cultural wars look like kindergarten spats. As a long-time PC user, I've been in the middle of it. But after living with a Mac for two weeks and writing my article, Living on Air: A Windows guru spends two weeks with a Mac, I've come up with the five top reason a Windows fan can love the Mac as well.

1) Mac OS X

As I detail in my article, the Mac OS X is a more elegant, finely finished operating system than XP, Vista, or previous versions of Windows. It beats the betas I've seen of Windows 7 as well. It's a pleasure to use, and much of its "eye candy" is more than just entertainment --- it can help productivity as well.

2) Hardware design

Put simply, Macs are beautifully designed machines, especially the MacBook Air that I'm about to buy. They're consistently better engineered than PCs. This isn't Microsoft's fault, of course, because Microsoft only makes the operating system, not the hardware on which it runs. But Macs show an exquisite attention to detail that you don't find in most PCs.

As for the MacBook Air that I'm about to buy (used, to save some money), what can I say that hasn't already been said about it? This thing is flat-out beautiful.

3) Two-way compatibility

In my article, I was quite surprised about how easily I was able to have Macs and PCs coexist and connect. The Mac immediately recognized all the PCs on my network, including those running XP, Vista, and Windows 7. With a bit of configuration, I was able to get the PCs to recognize the Mac as well.

In addition, the free Mac-compatible suites and NeoOffice can read and write Office files. Windows Live Sync lets me synchronize files between a Mac and my PCs. And using the free VirtualBox software, I can run Windows inside Mac OS X. I was even able to remotely control PCs from my Mac in this way.

4) No need for security software

As a long-time Windows fan, I'm used to having to essentially armor my PC against many threats, which means anti-virus software, several pieces of anti-spyware, and a firewall in addition to the one built into Windows. Macs include a good built-in firewall, and other security software appears to be unnecessary. I'm not going to get into the debate here over whether that's because the Mac is inherently safer than PCs, or because malware writers don't bother to target it. But the fact is, you don't appear to need extra security software.

5) All the little extras

There are quite of few excellent applications that ship with Mac OS X. It comes with a very nifty suite of iLife applications, including iPhoto, iMovie, Garage Band and iWeb, and they're much better than anything that ships for free with Windows. Time Machine is a great built-in backup program, particularly compared to the brain-dead backup program built into Windows Vista. (Thankfully, it appears that the backup program for Windows 7 will be quite good.)

Does all this mean I'm giving up Windows? Not at all. I'll be using my MacBook Air for mobile computing, when I'm away from my office. Other than that, I'll still be living in Windows, and happy for it.

This story, "Five Reasons to Run Windows But Still Love the Mac" was originally published by Computerworld.

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