Which is Better For Your Business? A Mac or a PC?

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To start, I need to tell you that up until 2006 I was an avid PC user. Starting with my first computer when I was five, an IBM PS2 Model 30 (without a hard drive), I've been loyal. I started with DOS, then Windows 3, 3.1, 95, and then XP. Then came Vista. Before Vista, I spent a lot of time rebooting but it was more or less bearable. After Vista, which is by far the worst operating system ever made, I had to find another solution.

In the summer of 2006, I upgraded about 80% of my company's computers to Macs; we're a design agency, and so most people wanted Macs anyway. I kept hearing about their strengths - how the OS never crashed, how it just worked, how you don't need to reboot every day - and dismissed them as blind lust from googly-eyed Apple enthusiasts.

But something changed. People started doing things quicker. Work started flowing faster (I estimate by about a third). After seeing how I could still use Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Excel on a Mac using Parallels, I decided to take the plunge myself.

I upgraded the company's remaining PCs to top of the line Macs -- to the tune of about $4,000 each. Gave them each 8GB of RAM (probably overkill), top video cards, and two Samsung 24-inch screens.

Words can't describe how much productivity rose, including my own. The same machine, two years later, sits on my desk and operates flawlessly every day. On the left, I have my Mac desktop, where I browse the web, listen to music, search for files using Spotlight (far better than Windows search), prepare presentations (in Keynote -- far superior to Powerpoint) and look for files on our public file server (still a PC).

On the right screen I run Parallels with Windows XP SP3. I use Microsoft Office 2007, which works flawlessly with our Exchange server. I can drag and drop between the Mac and PC, even copy and paste. The Mac truly runs Windows better than PCs do. And Windows XP is far superior to Vista.

If you did the same thing today, you would need the following:

Mac Pro: Get at least 4GB of RAM, 500GB or larger hard drive, and an upgraded video card, all available for less than $3000.

Parallels Desktop ($79)

Fresh boxed copy of Windows XP Professional: Be sure to do buy a new retail copy (not an upgrade) with SP3

Microsoft Office 2007 Enterprise

Two Samsung 24" LCD Monitors (Model 245BW - about $240 each)

If you're thinking of upgrading your IT setup, I would highly recommend a Mac, even if you need to run a PC. Same logic applies for laptops in your organization. Even during a recession, the productivity gained by giving your employees computers that just work can't be underestimated.

Michael Schneider is the CEO of Fluidesign, a Los Angeles-based interactive agency. You can learn more about Michael at www.michaelschneider.com.

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