Windows or Mac?

The Consumer Electronics Show is currently underway in Las Vegas, and Mr. Gates keynoted with much ballyhoo about Vista, the new version of Windows that is set to replace XP later this year. This got me thinking…

You’re about to launch a small business – let’s say five to ten employees max. Do you go with Windows computers or Macs?

Now, I’ve always been a Windows user. At the tender age of fifteen, I even had a job troubleshooting Windows 3.1 computers over the phone. Ctrl+Alt+Del did the trick every time. Back then it was clunky, and while it still has crufty remnants, Windows has generally evolved into a nice, usable system. As long as you browse the web with Firefox and don’t open any emails with an attachment that looks like "ParisHilton.exe", it does just fine. You can buy every sort of software imaginable for it, and the security is finally getting better. Running Windows XP is like running a 2005 Cadillac CTS with a circa 1960 carbureted engine – its an old technology under the hood that they’ve gussied up over the years with some bells and whistles. But darned if I don’t know how carbureted engines work – I like Windows.

With that said, the old engine is showing its age in the face of the variable valve-timed, fuel-injected MacOS. It is a beautiful, simple operating system. I can still use the Office Suite, the Adobe Creative Suite, and Macromedia Dreamweaver. It’s safe and secure, and because it is built on a Unix core (geek speak for "really powerful operating system"), it runs all of my open-source web server technology (geek speak for "free but powerful stuff that makes my website work"). The MacOS connects easily to Windows file-sharing networks, so its users are not consigned to their own silo of data. Never used it before, you say? No problem – it takes about three hours to learn if you’re on your own, and since Mac boosters are as rabid as some members of persecuted minority groups, you should have no problem finding one to help you out if you do get stuck. Sure, Apple’s superstar is the iPod+iTunes combination, but don’t let that fool you – the MacOS is all business when it needs to be.

Which gets back to my original quandary. Windows PCs have long been the choice of businesses the world over, but I can’t find a compelling reason not to build a small business network around the MacOS. The entrepreneur has to hypertune every ounce of competitive advantage into her business – is there a clear cut winner here?

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