A debate on Macs Vs PCs In the Newsroom

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Dirck Halstead : One Thread

Date: Sun, 7 Dec 1997 21:41:10 -0800 From: "Shane F. Iseminger" Subject: Re: Macs and PCs (not to start a war . . . please, lets not)

At 8:58 PM -0800 12/7/97, you wrote: >Is the Macintosh / Wintel war still going on in the newsroom? We like Base >View but we keep running into the same hurdles, ( "you want Mac's ha ha ha! >Going out of business , no programs , lots of downtime "...blah blah >blah....etc......) We run Macs (Power PC's) in our composing / pre-press >dept. and I know they can be finicky, but once you get the extensions >Ironed out, they run smooth as silk. What do you guys think? Are Mac's >dead? Will we be forced to bow to the Windows NT monster, and enlarge my >ulcer with the constant cries for help from our unskilled editors / >reporters?! The meeting is Tuesday, so if you have any love for your Macs, >or you have any support fire ( in the form of success stories ) send them >my way, we need all the help we can get !

Glenn and all,

I'm posting this publicly - not to start a war, but to maybe avert one, and clear up some things in the process. Having followed Apple's course closely over the past several months - and having kept up on the Windows side of things as well - here's some factoids, though I won't claim to be unbiased:

* Apple is far from going out of business if you look at their stats - the mainstream press tech articles, which have decided they can't say "Apple" without using the words "beleagured", "ailing", " and "struggling", aren't always accurate. The mumblings that Apple will be gone in six months have been circulating for a year and a half. They have problems to solve, but they've solved most all of the ones threatening their welfare. They aren't losing much money, if any, and have consistently produced some very high-quality hardware and software over the past 9 months. Many companies have been worse off than Apple ever was and come back. And secondly, Apple still has close to $1 billion in cash and lots of assets that can be transformed into cash should it be needed, and that's doubtful. Thirdly, if Apple *were* to go anywhere, the Mac OS and the upcoming NT-class Rhapsody OS *will* be picked up by someone. And the new G3 machines, which generally outperform Pentium II machines of the same clock speed, are selling well as is Mac OS 8. Short answer: the Mac OS isn't going to die soon. Not a concern.

* Statistically there are fewer programs for the Mac OS, but in the real world you will rarely run into problems because you can't get software for the Mac OS unless you are dealing in a specific niche market. Publishing has been one of the Mac's strongholds and software developers know that to maximize profits they need to develop for both platforms.

* NT is a powerful and stable OS but it is not the only answer. As I mentioned before the Mac OS is still popular and being developed at a fast rate. Mac OS 8 is the most stable OS Apple has produced in years. I run it for days on end without a crash. From observing several Windows and Mac OS systems I would say that the Mac OS crashes less than Windows 95 but a little more than NT. The Mac OS is also scheduled for integration of several NT-class technologies within the next 6-9 months. Also, Apple's UNIX-based OS, code-named Rhapsody, is scheduled for release next summer and promises to be a direct competitor for NT. It also promises some excellent distributed-computing capabilities.

* Macs have been proven to have a lower cost of ownership than Windows machines. This isn't conjecture but has been proven in many third-party studies. Less down time and less required maintenance are listed as contributing to this. As long as basic maintenance is done on Macs and you you don't install too many funky shareware extensions on a Mac, stability should not be a problem.

Shane F. Iseminger 415.332.2733 pixelhead@pobox.com

-- Shane Iseminger (pixelhead@pobox.com), December 10, 1997


Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 07:36:08 -0700 From: Jack Kurtz Subject: Re: One last call for help from the front lines

Our newspaper (The El Paso Times) just settled on a pagination system. Our Windows centric systems editor and systems department wanted to go with a Harris system on Windows 95. After considering all of the options, they decided Macs and Quark were still the best choice.

Their reasoning:

1) OS8 is a very stable operating system promises to be around for a while. 2) The new G3 PowerMacs blow away their Pentium counterparts in terms of speed. 3) Most page designers are already familiar with the Mac OS and Quark so there would be less training time involved than there would be if we switched to Windoze. 4) In general Mac users require less handholding and Macs require less upkeep than Windows. 5) And finally Quark is vastly superior to Harris for newspaper pagination.

As far as software goes, it's true that there are more apps written for Windows than Macs, but unless you're looking for a specific program not written for the Mac there are Mac counterparts available for most every Windows app. And the programs you'll probably use the most often, word processing, photoshop, graphics are readily available.

There were other issues involved (like Graphics, Photo and Pre-press are already using Macs) and color calibration seems to be easier on Macs and these may have tilted the equation somewhat in favor of Macs, but ultimately our Windows centric systems folks decided that Macs were the best platform for creative people to work on.

good luck, jack

ate: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 09:07:55 -0600 From: Mark Lent Subject: That Mac/PC thang...(Long)

Hi all,

Hope that everyone had a good weekend.

I've been reading this Mac/PC argument and thought that since I use both Mac and NT systems regularly that I'd offer up some insight...

First, I think that Shane is right on the money as far as the demise of Apple. Even if the company itself dies, the Operating system won't. The Mac's have, as Shane said, been dominant in newspaper work. Outside of this though, they have little mass appeal in common business practices. Having worked outside of newspapers for three years, I find very few- if any people using MacIntosh computers. Most commercial printers are now also making the switch to the NT system. Why? Because most of their clients are the average Joe on the street and most have P.C.'s.. There's no big conversions or special software needed to see their documents.

When I first started my job here at McAbee Construction as the "imaging" guy (read- P.R. flunky) I started out with virtually no equipment. I was told to reaseach what it was that I thought the company should be doing for customers and then find the equipment to do the job. After many months of talking to customers and seeing what it was that other companies our size were doing, I decided that we needed to be able to supply traditional printed materials, electronic imaging (photos and simple video...) video editing, 3-D animations (to enable a customer to walk through their building without it having actually been built...), CD ROM and Multimedia presentations (this covers everything from the simple Power Point demo to the full blown CD ROM) and lastly, be able to read, write and draw AutoCAD drawings (this, since most if not all of the actual imaging for the animations is coming from AutoCAD 14 drawings. Even though both software's are made by the same company- Autodesk, there are translations problems between an AutoCAD file drawing and a 3-D Studio Max drawing. Occasionally, there is a need to redraw part of the image to conform to the needs of the Studio Max image...)

I had insisted for the first few months that the Mac was *the* way to go. Then, I found out two things that were vastly important to us and out plan for imaging. Both AutoCAD (Basically considered the "Standard" for engineering image work...) and Studio Max only come in a PC format. The other consideration was that to do really nice animations takes an awful lot of rendering time (This means that each frame of the animation has to be redrawn into the high-end finished frame). A simple 500 frame animation can take 3 hours and longer- depending on the complexity of the drawing...A nice feature with Studio Max is that it can render over a network. This means that there is one "mother" machine and all other machines on that network can also be used to render images. So, instead of having just one machine cranking out animation images you now have (in our case..)20. Lots faster time to the final product. What takes hours with one computer takes seconds with 20...

So, this was our dominant reason for using the NT system. I could get all of the same imaging software (Photoshop, Quark, Illustrator, DeBabelizer, Macromedia Director Suite, Macromedia Freehand suite, Page Mill, Front Page, Adobe Acrobat) for NT. So, the logical choice for us is the NT system.

After getting my NT system, I have had very few- if any- real problems with it. I find it to be very intuitive coming from a Mac machine and really quite similar. It's not the monster that I think some on the list are making it out to be. We are afraid of the unknown.

I still like my Mac, but I find that with NT there are no really strong advantages to using the Apple for imaging. It's not like it was three or four years ago when electronic imaging at Newspapers was the up and coming thing.

I've also found that my programs- especially the RAM hungry ones like Photoshop- LOVE NT. Believe it or not, I still haven't had a freeze or crash in Photoshop on the NT system (and have on the Mac...)

Because of the smaller differences in the programs I'm considering going to the NT system for my personal use too so that my little boy, now 2, will be well versed in using the operating system that his schools will be using. Plus the fact that I'll be able to work at the house when he's sick- which I can't do now...

Bottom line is pick the right one for the job.

Apologies for the length...

Mark Lent

-- Jack Kurtz (jkurtz@PRIMENET.COM), December 10, 1997.

IMHO, the Macintosh operating system is dead. It cannot work reliably with the Internet due to its 1950s-style operating system. You could probably say the same thing about Windows 95 except that it happens to be backed by the Microsoft Monopoly. There is only one operating system that works reliably with the Net and that is backed by the Microsoft Monopoly: Windows NT. I think that is what everyone will be running on their desktop until they get sick of maintaining/backing up a PC at all and switch to using a Network Computer (e.g., WebTV).

Mostly people think Macintoshes are good because they are comparing them to Win 3.1 or Win95.

(My personal setup: 3 HP Unix boxes and 3 SPARC/Solaris machines running as Web/DB servers; 3 Windows NT desktop machines; 1 Macintosh running 7.5.3 that has to be rebooted every few minutes if I want it to talk to the cable modemm... see http://photo.net/wtr/ for more of my thoughts on the right machines for Web production and service.)

-- Philip Greenspun (philg@mit.edu), December 13, 1997.

In regards to Phil Greenspun's comments:

Most people compare the Mac to Windows because that is the only other comparable system available. However, if you're going to compare systems, compare them fairly. You compare Windows NT, presumably the current version, with Mac OS 7.5.3., which is now almost two years old. 7.5.5 is more stable and I think you'd find that Mac OS 8 is very stable. Look for even more stable systems in the near future as technology is added to the low-level parts of the system (protected memory, pre-emptive multitasking and symmetric multiprocessing for the tech heads).

Also, I'm not sure what data you use to say that the Mac OS is dead. Though its current market share is lower, the Mac has an installed base of about 16% of all computers out there.

Plus your calling the Mac a "1950's-style operating system" is a little hard to take since operating systems didn't exist until the late 70s. And your assertion that it cannot work reliably with the internet is false - many, many companies use these machines as workstations, ftp servers, web servers, mail servers, and intranet servers - quite reliably, I might add - I have set up several Mac-based networks and servers, some for web sites or intranets that I've designed. I also use a Mac with the Internet every day without problems. If you have specific problems with the Mac OS communicating with a piece of hardware, upgrade your system to at least 7.5.5 and contact the hardware vendor.

I think you under-rate the value of the interface itself. Sure an HP/UX or Solaris box is plenty powerful, but people who have to use a computer in work other than in the computer industry itself do not have the resources, inclination or mind-set to learn a system that requires most of its work to be done at the command-line level, and Windows NT is powerful and stable but hard to configure and hard to repair when it barfs. The whole purpose of the interface is to make the computer conform to how humans work - not the other way around.

As I said, look for improvements in the next year that bring the Mac OS to the level of Windows NT. Also look for Apple's release of Rhapsody, which has the potential to outperform NT in many ways - with the Mac OS-like interface and the ability to run all MacOS programs - even on its Intel version. With that and several otther developments on the horizon I think you'll see 1)Apple remaining a very viable alternative to many other OS's, and 2)platform or hardware choice becoming less of a concern because of better cross-platform compatibility.

-- Shane Iseminger (pixelhead@pobox.com), December 18, 1997.

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