Apple vs. Windows? Actually, it’s Not a Simple Question.

Being knee-deep in the technical world, I get asked “Which do you use, Apple or Windows?” more times than I care to count. If I’m being asked by another technically-savvy person, I usually try to tiptoe around the topic because it seems almost everyone is married to one or the other. If I say I use Windows products, Apple advocates are surely going to point out the User Interface issues and abundant viruses housed on Windows. If I say I use Apple products, Windows (or Linux) advocates will be quick to complain about the lockdown of the development environment and the largely proprietary attitude of Apple. Unfortunately for both cult groups my answer isn’t as simple as saying I use one or the other.

I come from the school of thought that teaches that the tool that’s the best for the task at hand is the tool I want to use. I try not to become married to a company or product just because I like what they stand for or because I like their other products. I believe that, when you’re in technical field, it’s important to stay up to date with all technologies and to expand your skills as time goes on. I see so many legacy coders who refuse to move from Assembly, COBOL, and even C++ to newer languages just because they can do anything they want in those languages, but this refusal to adapt usually leads to a stagnant environment that’s incapable of evolution.

So why do people refuse to update their tools when it comes to technology? I don’t think there’s any one answer to this question; stubbornness, or even pride, can cause people to blindly follow a product they’ve always trusted before. But I’d be willing to bet that the lack of information, or even misinformation, from people who should know better is a leading cause.

For example, I was setting up a new printer for my neighbor the other day and we got into the Apple vs. Windows debate. Unlike most of the technical users I interact with, my neighbor was simply more curious about the advantages and disadvantages of each. After I explained the technical differences between the products and policies, she smiled and told me about a friend of hers who made the switch to Apple about two years ago and has never looked back. Her friend continues to tell her that Apple has the best products out there, and to tout their sales numbers, but fails to provide any solid reasoning as to why Apple is superior. In short, she was grateful that I gave her an objective breakdown of the two companies.

In the end, I’ve just accepted the fact that some people will have a positive experience with a company or product and that experience will be enough to encourage blind loyalty. Some people will choose Apple products and then they’ll stick with Apple products; others will choose Windows and stick with Windows. This system probably won’t ruin anyone and there’s always the benefit of familiarity with the product, but if we want to truly continue to progress and evolve, I think we have to be open to new and different products.

The question shouldn’t be “Apple or Windows”, but rather “What’s the best technology for this task?” After all, if we all refused to evolve we’d still be using AOL for our email and internet and Google would be an unknown name in the computing world!

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