From the Kenosha News on 8-21-05

     Bust the myths about Mac and PC incompatibilities

     Most people have Windows computers, so I usually write on Windows topics. Why don't more people have Macintoshes? Many reasons people give for choosing Windows are based on misconceptions.

      The most common reason is "I wouldn't be able to share files with my family and friends." What files do you want to share? If you have MS Office on a Mac, and the other person has MS Office for Windows, the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files have identical formats and will move from Mac to PC and back seamlessly. The only caveat is that the Mac users need to name their files with appropriate extension (e.g. ".doc") so that Windows will recognize the file type. If you are sharing pictures or other media files, those are universal formats, so Macs and PCs will both read them.

      The second most common reason is that people want to be able to ask for help from friends or family, and if you have a different system, you can't. This is a valid reason, but I will say that the interface on a Mac is VERY similar to that of Windows. If you're motivated and open-minded, you'll quickly make the transition. And once you own a Mac, you'll likely need help less often.

      If you have a router to share your internet connection, there is no problem putting Macs and PCs on the same router. Mac wireless (called Airport) is based on the same standard as Windows wireless, and it's easy to configure and connect to any wireless router.

      Another compatibility myth is that you must have a Mac to connect an iPod or run iTunes. This is not true. You can connect an iPod to and run iTunes on a Windows computer.

      A real compatibility issue is the ability to run Windows software. Most useful software, including MS Office, Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop, and most popular web browsers, exists equally for the Macintosh. Two notable exceptions are MS Access (database) and MS FrontPage (web page creation); these are not available for the Mac. A big issue for some is games. If you're into gaming, you'll really want to stick with a PC as very few of the popular games are available for Mac.

     If you really like the Mac platform but you need to run Windows software, you can purchase "Virtual PC" from Microsoft for your Mac. It allows Windows programs to run by emulating Windows. Thus, it'll run much slower. The cost is about $200, mostly because it includes a license for WindowsXP. Games will not run well on the emulator because the graphics support is based on older PC technology.

     One excellent reason to consider a Mac is that MacOS is much less susceptible to viruses and spyware. While this may change eventually, Mac users are generally oblivious to virus outbreaks and rarely get bombarded with pop-ups. Also, the graphics capabilities of even a low-end Mac rival the best video cards on a Windows platform. If you're doing graphics manipulation, a Mac will outperform Windows, and the pictures will look better on the screen, too. Finally, Macs include Firewire built-in, which allows you to plug in very fast external storage devices.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 8-21-05